photo by Kirk W. Johnson, @kirkinsonian

Live Review: New Here

Beer Bunker Portland, OR

Contact: Mackenzie Price, mackenziero.m.25@gmail.com

Web: instagram.com/newherepdx

Players: Mackenzie Price (she/her), vocals, guitar; Ruune (they/them), lead guitar; Kyle Tabb (they/them), drums; Andy Kravitz (they/them), bass

Material: Aptly described as “queer and sincere” by frontwoman and songwriter Mackenzie (Mac) Price, New Here brings an eclectic and eccentric urgency to the scene in Portland, OR. Originally written and performed acoustically in an “I just gotta get these ideas out there” fashion, Mac turns her set on its head by finally finding accompaniment with other wildly talented local musicians. The songs are achy cries of abandoning abusive systems and trying so hard to fall in love with life and the people in it.

Musicianship: The sound has shifted from its folk, singer-songwriter setup to pop-punk, which makes space for an angst the band’s songs thrive on. There is an equal part witty and cynical edge to all of the lyrics, which lends itself well to heavier, faster, and louder backup. There’s still a tenderness to the sound, an earnest need to be felt, which makes sweeter songs like “Trains” and “All the Time” work across the board.

Performance: This show was the group’s debut public performance, so there was a learning curve in terms of  tech, speed, and confidence, but all were mended and recovered from seamlessly. It was obvious that the band enjoyed each other’s company on stage, and the audience joined in on the fun, loving on and subtly dancing with their parties to a jumble of simmering rage and cathartic thrashing. The set ended in homage to the music project’s roots with “Good Things,” performed solo by Mac, and those in the crowd who knew the lyrics were invited to sing along. It was a necessary deep breath that I recommend other bands try, like a yoga cool-down in shavasana.

Summary: New Here dares to be honest about the messiness of life and queerness in a way that is unique in its confessions, yet approachable in its universal wisdom. The type of crowd it collects gives a warm, inviting space to those hurting, and patches them up with a lavender latte and the funniest joke you’ve ever heard. May there be many more New Here shows in the Pacific Northwest.