Atlas and the Astronaut, Manx and Blood Panda at The Firkin Tavern

Vortex Music Magazine

Cram into The Firkin and praise John on April 25.

I saw Atlas and the Astronaut in a basement when they were first starting out. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think they were very good. Then, I saw them play at Ash Street Saloon for the Big Ass Boombox festival in January, and I changed my mind. This band has come a long way.

Atlas and the Astronaut have an unmistakable stage presence as lead singer Beau Rosser seems to be possessed by some kind of demonic rock and roll ghost during each and every song. He waves his arms as if about to drunkenly fall off the stage, and he chirps into the microphone, using the audience as his sounding board for the high-octane reverberation. Listening to Atlas is like being backstage at a mid-‘70s rock show, pumping in the H with a blocked view of a crazed crowd of hoodlums.

Manx will also be taking The Firkin stage at this show. I’ve described Manx before as entertaining stoner rock. Thus, I’ll explain Manx with a personal note this time. Manx is partially led by John Barnaby. Those of us involved in the scene know who John is and what John does. Those of you not involved in this scene may only recognize him as the mustachioed singer in Manx. John is the cool uncle of the Portland garage rock scene. He makes tapes for bands, including A Happy Death’s latest, and he generally is one of the biggest cogs in the scene that keeps it alive. He helped orchestrate the Big Ass Boombox festival that I mentioned earlier. Praise John.

Blood Panda is being “introduced” at this show, according to the other bands on the bill. Ergo, I know absolutely nothing about Blood Panda. I will not be surprised if a two-tone bear approaches the stage and appears to have recently been scored by knives. Furthermore, last year scientists discovered a very powerful antibiotic in giant panda blood, so there’s that.

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