Port O’Brien is a nautically-named collective of five musicians based out of the California port city of Oakland, the neighbor across the bay from San Francisco. Their songs are mostly written by lady baker Cambria Goodwin and her commercial salmon-fisherman boyfriend Van Pierszalowski. Their self-released 2008 album All We Could Do Was Sing contains one of the most vibrant tunes of this year (and hey, M. Ward agrees):
I Woke Up Today – Port O’Brien
Part of the reason this song hit me so viscerally is due to the first time I saw it performed live. This February I was out in San Francisco to cover the Noise Pop Festival. Every event all weekend long had about twelve good artists on the bill, including a happy hour at the Diesel Store on Post Street.
So maybe we can call it the four free vodka/fruity concoction dealies that the excellent amateur bartender made for me amidst the overpriced denim, but the spirit in the air when Port O’Brien kicked into their free set was nothing less than jubilant. I would even call it riotous as people sang along, the percussion beat at full-force, and the vocals keeled into an almost war chant.
That mood of spur-of-the-moment explosion served the song better than cutesy sailing videos, in my opinion, because it’s a song that feels chaotic and wonderful – akin to this session that my Blogotheque peeps captured a few weeks after I caught the Port O’Brien set in SF:
They’re playing tomorrow night (June 23) in Boulder Creek, California, with none other than Black Francis of the Pixies (who has that new EP). Folks closer to these Rocky Mountain climes can catch Port O’Brien on Saturday afternoon at Monolith this September.