The stars seemed to align in the 120 year old neighborhood of Brownes Addition in the fair city of Spokane. We had downright miserable weather just a few days prior, but with the 5th Annual Elkfest well underway, it was bright, shining, and thunderous with activity as the big night came upon the thousands of locals who would flock to the neighborhood known for it’s classic homes turned into kitchenette apartments and friendly bungalows.
With an out of town headliner for the evening I was a bit skeptical of the turn out, though many might have felt mandated to be there by the simple fact that this was fucking Elkfest. I was almost wounded to think that one of the finest indie acts of today would be headlining the most important show of the year for a city that thrives on local celebration. But I would be gratefully proved wrong beyond all belief. Portland’s fantastic indie-disco trio Strength put on a performance that many are surely never to forget.
As Strength hit the stage, they could have rightfully been staring at the relevance of a fresh piece of paper with nothing to write on it. Or they could have seen a staggering bunch of drunken music lovers looking to be entertained. From the bro’s with the Camelbacks obviously filled with something other than water, to the girls waving their stumbling cigarette filled hands into the air, one could hope that they felt the confidence that they would rock this crowd as hard as they possibly could. And it is suffice to say, that is exactly what they did.
From the band’s opening, the crowd seemed to instantly realize they had something special to observe on this damp Saturday night. And by the time Strength began to play their sex crazed, stellar tracks “Metal” and “Brandy”, this tremendous trio had the Lilac city attendees hooked. As well as creating a haphazardly amount of crowd surfing and cracking unwarranted PBR’s amongst a pendulum of new found friends. All this from a band that was probably initially met with irrelevant hesitation only one hour before, the tyrannically entertaining cats hit the stage. A parameter of smiles never seemed to leave the scenery as Strength continued to work the audience with a stage presence that is completely unrivaled by so many artists of the now.
As obvious as it might already seem, the most impressive aspect of Strength’s performance at Elkfest was the way they moved the crowd from show-going, to complete oblivion. I was there in the middle of it all, and I felt isolated from nobody. They could have gone on forever, and it would have been absolutely fine with not only me but the plethora of folks around me. Strength’s mesmerizing and dance-worthy tunes were an absolute delight to a crowd of residents who might otherwise be known for a dependency on homegrown talent only. Lessons might have been taught, but that is really of no importance. The only thing that mattered on this June night was that so many listeners were left amazed.
As the boys wrapped up their set, it was only then that most listeners learned that the summer sun had disappeared. Our focus had been entirely upon the amazement before us. Strength were superheroes that night, posing for photos, giving handshakes, and signing a white tee shirt of a new fan sporting the simple words, “Drunk” upon the front.
Strength were Gods for a night. Not bad for a band that has created some of the sexiest indie rock songs fused with disco rhythms and an utterly sensational sense of bewilderment that is impossible to avoid, and not nearly as holy as a God should be. These guys might very well be one of the funnest acts to exist in the indie world, and as Elkfest celebrated their 5th year in existence, they definitely ensured the show was an immaculate success.