Picture Book & Live Review: Thao and The Get Down Stay Down w/ Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside @ The Black Cat 3/20

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Photos & Review by: Tommy Dingus

Jukebox rock is alive and well in the form of Portland, Oregon’s Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. Especially when bassist Tyler Tornfelt swaps the guitar for the standup. He provides the groove that Sallie rides while jamming on her retro-inspired guitar. The thing is the same mint green as an old Frigidaire or Chevy. It even has the fins, the chrome, and looked freshly waxed. Sallie & TSO take you from the diner to the beach with their surf sound and then down south with a cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City”. On the expletive-laden “Lip Boy”, the crowd got to hear what a jaded Sallie Ford sounds like when she lets her man have it. The resulting sing-along resonated with all the couples, egged on by Sallie’s juvenile dress-swinging and stomping. These were among the most active moments of her performance, but that fiery attitude never faltered, regardless of her otherwise docile demeanor. Sallie has the proverbial loud bark, but I would not want to see her bite.

Thao Nguyen of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down looks and sounds like the girl next door. And for some of the sold out crowd at D.C.’s Black Cat, she might actually BE the girl next door. The Falls Church, Virginia native reminisced at this “hometown show” about her stint as a greeter at the Guitar Center in nearby Seven Corners. She also mentioned her summer spent playing at “every Potbelly in the D.C. metro area” for $20 an hour and a free sandwich. Now she fronts an incredible four (and sometimes five) member band and calls San Francisco home.

Thao herself seems to play every shape and size of guitar-like instrument imaginable. She switched between four different shapes and sizes of guitars, one of which stood on its own frame, much like an ironing board. Thao’s guitar playing, combined with some jaunty keyboards maintain a compelling backdrop for Nguyen’s sweet and savage lyrics. Pepper in some ‘ooh-wah’s’ and ‘bum-bum-bum’s’ that have a cinematic quality and that’s how you get around 700 people to clap in unison. Nguyen even raises up on her toes for the last syllable of a line to bring the party up an octave. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down have a presence capable of bringing you out of whatever funk you may be in, but performing in her home town really brought out Nguyen’s infectious smile. Catch this tour in support of their new album, We The Common through early April.

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