She’s borrowed a fake for tonight, and though it looks nothing like her (and is, in fact, printed on cardboard), she’s going for it anyway, despite the odds. Tonight, Hinds plays, and seeing the best new surf rock band, all the way from Madrid, is something we absolutely can’t miss, no matter what the cops say.
Inside, Amber and Ade, who play drums and bass in Hinds respectively, are holding down the fort at the merch table. Prices for brightly-colored t-shirts and vinyl copies of their debut EP Leave Me Alone are written in neat Sharpied letters on the back of a beer box, marks of last night’s party still visible in the cardboard indentations.
Cotillon, Hinds’ opener, starts up, and their lead singer staggers around on stage in an army coat two sizes too big, an invisible hand obscured by too-long sleeves, holding nothing. Backed by a collection of men playing instruments, one hand clutching his heart and the microphone slightly askew in the other, he sings “la la la” over crashing cymbals, throbbing bass lines, and the sound of all that has been done before.
And then the crowd’s chatter is filling the room again. Hinds’ manager sets the stage, placing a can of Mt. Rainier at each mic stand, ready and waiting and facing the buzz of the room. Bursting in with slow, long, lazy jams, Hinds appears, with every note deliberate, every note expansive.
“¡Hola, Portland!” guitarist and singer Carlotta yells into the crowd. “¿Como estáis?”
“¡Viva Hinds!” yells back someone in the crowd. “¡Viva Hinds!”
Their set is raw and honest and absolutely beautiful. Despite this being the second time Hinds has played in Portland, the crowd is as excited as if it was the first. Ben, standing next to me in the crowd, drove all the way from Vancouver, Canada to see them, and now he’s whooping and hollering and dancing along, making the hours and hours of driving worth it.
They launch into “Easy”—“the next single off our first-ever album,” Carlotta says. As they push off into the sea of glittering guitar and easy vibes they are beloved for, a faint waft of stale sweat rolls over the dancing, jumping crowd. I think that this is exactly how it’s meant to be.
Hinds has one song left, and then they have to jump back in their van, get back on the road. Before then, Ade, Carlotta, and Ana, their guitarist and singer, all line up, like musical dominoes or mirrors of each other. They play, laughing and smiling and doing what they do best: spilling beautiful riffs from their guitars, driving their music with a come-dance beat.
After the gig, I check my phone and am roused by a deafening “GABBA GABBA HEY!”
I look up and it’s Ben shouting across the room at the merch table, hugging Carlotta like his life depends on it as the flash lights up their faces. She sticks out her tongue, and he grins in pure ecstasy, and there the photo is: a snapshot in time, forever preserved.
Flooding out of the venue, I see a woman with a LEAVE ME ALONE tote dangling from the crook of her arm and I think about what that might mean on the street—the radicalness of an all-female band and the guts it takes to say those three simple words: leave me alone.