School of Seven Bells made an appearance at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR during their latest tour on Wednesday, September 29th. It turned out that it would be one of the last shows with Claudia Dehaza, who left the band shortly after. It’s a sad and unfortunate split, because one of the best things about School of Seven Bells was the beautiful harmonies that identical twin sisters Claudia and Alejandra Dehaza magically cast upon our ears.
They started out the set with the familiar looping keyboard sounds of "Half Asleep" from their first record Alpinism (QRO review), before quickly jumping into new songs "Heart Is Strange" and "Babelonia". Unfortunately the house sound person at the Doug Fir couldn’t seem to be able to get the vocals out of the mix and the frustration was obvious as Alejandra repeatedly asked to have her vocals turned up. The situation got better, but the sound was never as good as they had it for the opening act, Active Child. Touring drummer Zach Saginaw of Shigeto played well with the band, but maybe his loud drumming was to blame for the sound never being quite what it could have been.
School of Seven Bells definitely pleased the crowd by playing hits off the first record including "Connjur" and "Iamundernodisguise" as well as a number of amazing cuts from their second (QRO review) like "Windstorm", "Bye Bye Bye" and "Dust Devil". Adding live drums to the set definitely created an energy that wasn’t there in previous incarnations of the band. Alejandra sung with passion, bringing her hands up to her face and neurotically twitching her head from side to side as she reached for the high notes. Claudia mostly stood to the side of the set, playing her keyboard and smiling knowingly to her sister. They ended the set with "ILU" and "Cabal", after being called back by the crowd for an encore. Keep your fingers crossed that this incarnation of the band will return soon.