Get Hustle’s Sugar and Chaos

Text by Adam Gnade
Photography by Yoni Kifle

­Some people notice their clothes first: Get Hustle pianist Mac Mann’s gelled silent film-star finery, and drummer Ron Avila and singer Valentine Falcon’s Hendrix-gypsy trip. It’s also easy to draw cues and clues from the band’s album cover art and song titles, which give an impression of smoking hashish in a van en route to join the Weather Underground.

The real story, though, is their fashion, aesthetic, and genre-defying music. Avila clatters, taps and warrants “free jazz” comparisons, but jazz it ain’t. Mann zaps out goth-out organ noise over the skittering percussion, while Falcon shouts and pleads in a beautiful, husky bark. Put together, it’s earthy, intense, fractured, and emotional – all in one big, vibrant surge.

Based in Portland’s ever stoned and increasingly psychedelic scene, the former LA band has the heavy air of mystical, pagan spirituality. Rollin’ in the Ruins is the band’s new Three One G release and hints well at their live act. A Get Hustle show draws you in and makes you feel crazy, makes you want to climb up on stage and convulse to the anti-rhythms, the jarring dissonance that stabs out and builds structure from the structureless. On stage, Falcon writhes and stares bug-eyed, stalking left to right, searching for things we can’t see. “I am always waiting for the voice inside to direct me to the moment that will make the song,” she says. “Not just a repetition but a new creation. It is always there. It keeps me humble and the moment mystical.” Their sound is, as it has always been, “a little bit of sugar, little bit of chaos,” according to Falcon.

Before Rollin’ in the Ruins and their recent shows, the band seemed to thrive off anxiety. The recently downsized lineup now appears at ease, confident in their roles. Surprisingly, Falcon recalls that she used to be rather timid. “I was so inhibited. I sang really high like a baby. I didn’t have any opinions about the music we created. I didn’t even know if I liked it. I just knew I was supposed to sing.”

After consistenly losing her voice, Falcon decided she needed to find a new method. It wasn’t until she got hip to MC5 that things began to fall into place. “[MC5 vocalist] Rob Tyner taught me how to sing, and I wanted that energy, love and power from the songs. Next it was all about us upping the energy and me letting go.” After that, just freedom.


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