The Sound of Nerd
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Features
Doubleclicks' geek appeal keeps it real for sisters
Proudly, they call themselves part of the Nerd Folk genre.
Sisters Angela and Aubrey Webber are The Doubleclicks, a stringin'-and-singin' duo that really have to be seen and heard to be appreciated. Part comedy, part satire, part real-life Portland and all-around geekery, The Doubleclicks are unabashedly unique and weird -- in a good way.
"There are so many people who call themselves geeks in Portland," Aubrey says.
There is actually a Portland Geek Council of Commerce and Culture, after all, and it's like a chamber of commerce for the pocket-protector and Dungeons-and-Dragons types.
"Comparatively, everybody is a geek, with computers and iPhones and such," Angela adds. "Those are the kinds of topics we sing about. You don't have to watch 'Battlestar Galactica' to get our references. The geekery in our music goes pretty deep."
Nerd Folk, for which the Webbers credit others, such as Alaskan singer Marian Call, with starting, has a lot in common with Nerd Rock and Nerdcore Rap. Except, in the Webbers' case, they don't play drums and they don't rap. So, it's Nerd Folk.
Aubrey, 26, and Angela, 24, hail from Boston, Mass. Angela moved to Portland to attend Lewis and Clark College and Aubrey followed her upon finishing her schooling at the Berkeley College of Music. With cello in hands and running commentary with facial expressions and some backup singing, Aubrey serves as sidekick to Angela, who has written most of the duos 30-some recorded songs and sings -- uh, dialogues? -- while strumming along on guitar or ukulele.
Their collaboration started at open mic nights in Portland, when they would get on stage, and everybody would laugh along. It wasn't intended to be comedy, but it sure ended up as such, three and four and five minutes at the time in the form of song. A real gig followed at Mississippi Pizza, and The Doubleclicks have been clicking ever since with shows at the Aladdin Theatre, White Eagle, Tea Zone, Waypost and Backspace and, of all places, the East Portland Eagles Lodge No. 3256 on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard.
"We have a weird musical relationship with the Eagles Lodge," Angela says. "They offered to host a gig for us, with the pirate crew PDXyar, and it turned into a trivia event with Kenna Conklin of Geek Portland. So, it's a weird collection of Eagles Lodge and Portland geeks."
The Doubleclicks put 15 of their best songs on a new CD, "Chainmail and Cello," which followed up their first release, "Worst Superpower Ever," a kids' album.
The duo has played shows in Seattle and Bellingham, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia, and plans a tour of California venues in June and possibly the East Coast later in the year (info: thedoubleclicks.com).
The venues for the eight shows in California, mostly found via fans on Twitter: Coffee shops, comic book shops and two house concerts.
"It's going to be pretty enormous," Angela says, "and scary."
The sisters, who live in Southeast Portland, were part of a rock band in high school in Massachusetts, and never envisioned forming a duo. It just happened. They played and sang on open mic nights and people liked them. They set out to write and record a song a week for six months.
"It was really cool," says Angela, a freelance writer and former reporter for the Beaverton Valley Times newspaper. "Some of it was good, some of it we'll never play again. We started looking at more gigs after that."
"I was definitely on board from the first song Angela wrote," adds Aubrey, a home-care provider for seniors by day. "We made some good friends, got a lot of support, and it was exciting and really encouraging. It launched us on to the path of being a real band."
At the Aladdin, The Doubleclicks have opened for Paul and Storm, an East Coast nerd/comedy band, and Wil Wheaton, an author and actor from "Star Trek," "Leverage" and "The Big Bang Theory."
Now, there's a bit of a following, thanks to the Aladdin appearances, YouTube and flocking fans online. The Doubleclicks play locally May 22 at Waypost, 3120 N. Williams Ave.
Some of their songs:
• "This Fantasy World," an ode to Dungeons and Dragons, the quintessential geek game that Angela plays. "You can get immersed in a different world," she says.
• "Oh, Mr. Darcy," about pride and prejudice and "how you don't let men be jerks to you, even if they're British and charming and look like Colin Firth," Angela says.
• "A Lullaby for Mr. Bear," which Aubrey wrote for the kids' album and "I added a verse that made it not a kids' song," Angela says. One line in the song: "The monsters feed on dreams and they're coming for your soul." People actually laugh when The Doubleclicks play it, they say.
• "Spock Impersonator," about falling in love with a Spock impersonator.
"It's very lyrical focused, and Angela is impressive in her precision of writing songs," Aubrey says. "I'm a huge fan of how she writes songs. There's always something fresh in every song. ... The first time I play songs, it's hard not to laugh. That's why we started the band, she keeps making me laugh."
Angela is a mutual admirer.
"Everybody loves cello, everybody's super excited to see a cellist," she says. "Because we have the cello, we can do things other people can't. I added the ukulele last year -- before that, it was just guitar -- and I'm still figuring it out."
The sisters hope to refine their act, although they'll never worry about mass appeal.
"We make music we're proud of," Angela says. "If people like it, that's good. It's not music for everyone."
"It's been a beautiful experience to have so much support and love from people," Aubrey adds. "We're constantly in awe of our fans who are becoming our friends."