Grand Archives

Grand Archives
March 22, Dante’s (Portland)




The great thing about Myspace is the instant gratification of being able to sample music, find out about shows, or meet people that know where all the good music is. Unfortunately, my page isn’t ever cool enough to get a response so I end up finding my music the old fashioned way – wandering around downtown until something catches my ear.  So I wandered tonight.  I made my way past Jam Bands, Jazz Ensembles, and Hessian Demi-Gods, and found myself in front of Dante’s.  Now Dante’s is usually known for half-naked go-go dancers strutting around while middle-aged punkers bang their heads out-of-sync to a band comprised of ex-members of Agent Orange and X; but this night I found myself being drawn in by a gaggle of Crooners playing up-beat folk ballads. So I sauntered in.

After paying my fare (for once) I made my way around the room, like a pet trying to locate his favorite spot on the rug to lie down.  Unfortunately, the rugs at Dante’s would probably be covered in God knows what, so I was suffice to stand.  Actually, I wasn’t.  I sat by myself in a booth and stared at the band on a TV screen in the bar area.  One of the great things about being Straight Edge and Vegan is the lovely dance of having a beautiful bartender come up, take a seat in front of you, and ask you if you’d like a drink.  You invariably smile, and say, “No, thank you.”  She then offers you a soda.  Soda isn’t usually Vegan so you smile and say “No, thank you.” Again.  Cranberry Juice?  “No” (Red 40).  She then gives up and wanders out of your life.

So I was left to watch the band. They were quite good.  Playing a wide array of tunes from their semi-self-titled album, Grand Archives successfully lifted my spirits and got me to get up and shuffle my way towards the stage before their final bow-out. Utilizing a myriad of instruments- acoustic and electric guitars, Rhodes keyboard, tambourine, floor tom, some sort of glockenspiel, and a beautiful chorus of voices, Grand Archives really lulled the house!   Which I guess is a good thing: I’d rather had a group of subdued, content fans, than play hardcore or metal and get a bunch of depressed Northwestern Hessians cutting themselves because their girlfriend didn’t put up with their “Just until the band gets signed” bullshit.   At least most of the boys that are into this genre have supportive families that will most likely provide for them until they figure out what to do with that Liberal Arts Associates degree.

So, what does Grand Archives hold in their collectively little hands?  Catchy, unconventionally upbeat tunes, pulled off in perfect harmony, backed by a multitude of instruments that the group effortlessly switches between.  A successful meeting of the minds if ever there was one

Mark Johnston, a native Californian, has travelled the world with various circuses, sideshows, and arena rock tours. As a musical monkey he has delighted fans the world over. Upon his return, he has since founded the Atomsmashers Publishing Company, written 2 books in the company's Warm Horchata series, created a weekly comic strip based around LA's more "colorful" characters, written reviews, articles, and rantings under various pseudonyms; this has since culminated in Johnston being named Captain Fabulous by the Superhero Association of America.