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Four Kentuckians in Oregon: Cicada Omega is out of place, but hardly out of tune 

click to enlarge Perhaps we should have got instruments before blowing the budget on these suits.
  • Perhaps we should have got instruments before blowing the budget on these suits.
Perhaps we should have got instruments before blowing the budget on these suits.
Cicada Omega is a band of Kentuckians living in Portland. The four Southerners are musical expatriates of sorts. They're playing a complicated blend of styles that's anchored in blues but touches on gospel and roots rock in a city where people sometimes might merely stare and wonder what the hell the quartet is doing.

Dave Rue is one of Cicada Omega's two percussionists and says that he often finds his band, which is arguably one of the city's most original acts, nonetheless buried within Portland's music scene.

"I wouldn't say that it's been really easy for us here. It kind of seems like a lot of the music going on here in Portland isn't like what we're doing," says Rue, an admitted "music junky" whose day job has him working in a world music store.

Rue is right. The indie-rock-rich Portland isn't exactly a bastion of the freaked-out sounds that Cicada Omega is known for. But they do have a friend in Portland and it's a band as familiar to Bend as any other act from the other side of the mountains: Hillstomp. In fact, it's Cicada Omega's connection to that band that helped them secure Friday night's gig at the Silver Moon.

Cicada Omega isn't Hillstomp - in fact the former exceeds the latter in the range of sounds they can produce. But there are some similarities - including a slight parallel in junkyard instrumentation (bassist Daniyel Hicks plays a homemade contraption dubbed the "suitcase bass"). There's also the furious energy of both acts' live show that draws a similarity between the two, in addition to the fact that both bands tend to draw bigger crowds outside of their hometown than within it.

With a sinister-sounding name (kinda sounds like a hardcore act, doesn't it?) and a confusing mish-mash of influences, Cicada Omega remains distinctly Southern. On the band's latest record These Bones, Cicada Omega comes off like some sort of demented house band at a Kentucky tent revival with their hand waving beats, howling guitar and the growl of lead vocalist Rev. B.D. Winfield, who Rue refers to in our interview as "Barry." Yeah, this band is different...really effing different and Rue says this is more a byproduct of the band's influences than a desire for weirdness.

"I like the fact that we're a little different than most groups around, but it does make people go 'what is this?' And that hasn't necessarily helped us," Rue says.

Obviously, there's bound to be a different reaction to a band of Kentuckians in Oregon, which is why Cicada Omega toured the Southeast last summer and have recently been primarily playing outside of Portland. They still play in PDX from time to time, but are slowly realizing that the response to their live show has been stronger elsewhere.

"When we toured in the Southeast people were going crazy. But people are catching on and enjoy our live show because it definitely has a lot of energy," Rue says, adding that a typical Cicada Omega show can also include covers ranging from an Ike and Tina style "Proud Mary" to a Dr. John cut.

Bend isn't Kentucky - at all. But this isn't Portland either and I say you'll see some folks going crazy at this show.

Cicada Omega, Larry and His Flask
8:30pm doors, 9:30pm show Friday, February 20. Silver Moon Brewing Co. 24 NW Greenwood Ave. $5. 21 and over.

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