Instead, Willamette Week’s Best New Band issue aims its spotlight through a reasonably democratic process. Every year, we poll hundreds of local music-scene insiders—club owners, bookers, journalists, label heads, publicists and past winners—about their five favorite new local acts. The word “new” is subjective and the word “band” can mean any music-making entity. This year, the 204 voters provided us with a list of 420 different Portland bands. We totaled the votes, and this is the result.
We want to make all of this clear not just because the process behind the Best New Band issue is often misunderstood, but because it’s truly startling that 45 of those 204 voters—from vastly different scenes and cliques within the Portland music community—agreed on Radiation City.
This nod of approval won’t get anyone a record deal or land them on an arena tour, but it does serve as proof that their art is having an impact. That said, we don’t see this issue as activism. Sometimes it is a predictor of great careers to come. But, more than that, it’s a snapshot of the most exciting new acts in Portland’s music scene right now.
If there’s one thing we hope this issue does—especially this year’s list, which is arguably the most diverse group of bands we’ve ever featured—it’s getting you out to a local show. Because, as excited as we are about these 10 acts, the poll is evidence there are at least 410 more (OK, 409 if you take Blazers head coach Kaleb Canales off the list) bands playing around this city. Our music scene is thriving, vibrant and worth discovering for yourself.