Seeing Glass Candy, Portland’s Italo/Disco darlings, on a New York stage was, one would imagine, like seeing Elvis play Vegas. You're watching an artist you love, who sound as great as ever, but the setting is cheesy and wrong and it just feels weird. In Portland, Oregon, where Ida No and Johnny Jewel originate and perform regularly, their shows feel like family reunions—crowded, but exciting and intimate. They fill to capacity the same old warehouse space, preferring intimacy over bigger venues, with their post punk/electro/disco dance parties.
The enthusiasm of the New York audience was the first thing that struck me. I found myself feeling spiteful, thinking that none of them loved them like I do. My mild irritation turned to horror when their enthusiasm escalated into sheer frenzy. People to my left offered up booze, holding shots of whisky in the air, yelling “It’s free! It’s free!” People to my right yelled “Johnny! Johnny I love you, Johnny!” They reached for Ida as she sang and danced at the edge of the stage, screaming like it was Justin Bieber up there and we were 13. Ida reciprocated, grabbing people’s hands, soaking up the love like a true rockstar. When someone copped a feel up her thigh, that’s when I knew I wasn’t in Portland anymore.
Despite the feeling that Glass Candy and I were breaking up, the show was one of the best I’ve seen. They opened with “Digital Versicolor” from their 2007 release Beat Box. Ida No was barefoot and rocked what she described as her “Kansas City secretary look.” Spinning records between bands was head of their label (Italians Do It Better), DJ Mike Simonetti. Also performing that night was the New York based Minimal Synth duo Xeno & Oaklander.