The Angry Orts lighten the mood at Cat Cab
The “not-so-angry” Angry Orts encouraged students to get up and dance during a Cat Cab performance April 15.
The Angry Orts played upbeat, high-energy music, with several songs that incorporated an accordion, a tambourine and a xylophone.
Guitarist Aaron Ettlin rocked out on his electric guitar during a couple of solos, bassist James Puryear strummed away at a fast-paced rhythm and drummer Matthew Hernandez kept the beats coming, sometimes blending right into another song.
Singer Sara Hernandez whirled around the stage as the audience crowded toward the front to get a better glimpse of her wild dance moves and air guitar. There was never a point during the show where she stopped dancing — or did the audience. She even stepped out into the crowd to dance with them.
“I loved the band’s energy; they were really engaging, and I liked that they had the audience up and dancing along with them,” freshman Ryan Nolan said.
At one point during the show, Sara Hernandez handed out instruments to the audience members, such as a tambourine, maracas, bells and a Kabasa (percussion instrument similar with shekere) so that they could play along to the beat.
“It was really fun performing here because a lot of times in Portland people in the crowd just stand there and nod their heads; here, people were dancing with us,” Sara Hernandez said. “Usually we only play 30- to 35-minute sets, so I’m glad we were able to last this long. It was rad.”
The Angry Orts began as a three-member band with guitarist Ettlin, bassist Puryear and singer Sara Hernandez in 2003. However, drummer Matthew Hernandez, now Sara’s husband, began playing with the band shortly there after.
Ettlin and Puryear attended high school together and played in bands during that time. The Angry Orts’ name came from a friend of theirs who noticed that “orts” often appears in crossword puzzles. It means crumbs or scraps left over from a meal. The title literally means “the angry leftovers.”
The Hernandezes, who met after joining the band, united with Ettlin and Puryear after individually answering their ads. They all decided to keep the name because it is metaphoric and actually the opposite of their high-energy, garage-pop music.
“Playing together has been a work-in-progress because we come from different musical backgrounds and have started listening to more similar music,” Sara Hernandez said. “We have grown and developed similar tastes, which we now use in writing our own music.”
Sara came from a musical family that raised her to believe that singing all the time was normal. Her parents sang constantly and encouraged her to do the same.
“My parents had the rule of ‘no singing’ at the dinner table,” she said. “I’m sure other families don’t have weird rules like that, though.”
Matt began playing the drums in band during his teenage years. His teacher needed a drummer, so he agreed to do it and has been playing since, Sara Hernandez said.
James’ family is also heavily involved in the music scene. He began playing the guitar when he was young, and he later switched to the bass after playing in different bands.
Aaron was encouraged to take up an instrument at an early age. He started playing the bass when he was in junior high school and then later switched to the guitar.
“It was funny because James and Aaron started out playing each others’ instruments and then swapped after playing in bands together for so many years,” Sara Hernandez said.
Senior Jesse Hughey, Linfield Activities Board co-musical chair, first discovered The Angry Orts when he purchased the then newly released record, “The Purple Rhino Squad versus The Blue Whale Super Heavy Assault Troops” in 2008. Since then, Hughey has been to a few of its shows and his band, Jack Ruby Presents, once opened for The Angry Orts.
Hughey and the other co-musical chair, senior Chris Hernandez, worked with LAB to choose and book this year’s band performances. The group booked The Angry Orts six months in advance after Hughey presented the band to the board members.
“This year, we have been too folk heavy, so we wanted to find something completely different because it is important to represent all groups of music,” Hughey said. “The Angry Orts is more disco-punk or dance-punk, but I hate putting it in a category because it’s in its own league.”
The Cat Cab was The Angry Orts’ first college performance. However, Sara Hernandez said she hopes that the band will become more involved in the college scene because the students are enthusiastic. She also said there is talk of a possible collegiate tour in the fall.
In the meantime, The Angry Orts just finished working in a studio mixing its second album, which will be released August 14, 2010.
“This album is a big improvement from our last,” Sara Hernandez said. “We are proud of our last album, but this one is more garage/indie-pop focused and has better lyrics and rhythms; it is more dance focused.”
Culture reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org