I’m not quite sure how Strange Weekend has become one of my favorite albums of the year. It subconsciously crept into my world, and I found a great solace in its nebulous universe. Perhaps it was just the right timing — at a time when the physical world all feels so weighty, the amorphous soundscape of Porcelain Raft (aka Mauro Remiddi) was the perfect antidote. Some people find his diaphanous songs easily digestible and elusive. But for some of us, its empathy realized in simple beauty.
As one of the most popular supporting act for today’s hottest indie bands from M83 to Smith Westerns, Porcelain Raft was starting to get weary of the peripatetic touring life and missed recording new material. He politely declined few shows like Hultsfred Festival in Sweden. Lucky for the Northwest, Remiddi said yes to opening for Phantogram. After a day off from Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle, the Brooklyn-based musician arrived in Portland, just as Obama was en route to Seattle.
Since the release of his debut album a half year ago, Remiddi has been thrusted into a new realm of countless press and attention. As his Facebook page likes accumulate over 12,000, the Italian has retained humility and level-headedness. At 8:55 p.m., the tour manager gives him the five-minute warning. Remiddi uttered nonchalantly that no one will be out there except for us (my video assistant and I) because people are coming to see the headliner. With a good dose of southern whiskey, Remiddi headed for the stage, while we submerged into the myriad of warm bodies that had gathered at the Wonder Ballroom.
Remiddi stood alone in the dark abyss of the platform armed with his keyboard, programmer, and guitar. His falsetto and hazy music could have easily got lost, but the receptive crowd allowed the slumberous tunes to envelope. Cheers and claps followed at the end of every song. Michael Wallace, who had accompanied Remiddi much of 2012 dates with his drum kit, was absent this time around. While the aching “Dragonfly” still had its poignant moments, and Remiddi shredded his guitar to resonate a mourn, the drum machine was a no substitute for the visceral presence of Wallace. The more upbeat and catchy songs like ”Put Me to Sleep” and “Tip Of Your Tongue” felt almost anthemic at times, disremembering that there is only one musician on stage. Though Remiddi was told he had forty-five minutes, somehow the set was cut short about fifteen minutes with seven songs representing the current LP and its preceding release, Gone Blind EP.
In almost four decades of Remiddi’s life, the peregrinator has earned his daily bread in many guises. But he has always been married to music and doesn’t look like the multi-instrumentalist will ever seek a divorce. Like his airy pop songs, the assured Remiddi has a weightless personality, exuding openness and jollity. Before delighting the crowd on stage, the affable Remiddi got serious, light-hearted, and excited on a diversity of topics from his Seattle lodging to christian rock (?!). It was easy to see why he should never give up his craft.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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