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January 23rd, 2013 MATTHEW SINGER | Top 5
 

Top Five Live Recordings Made in Portland

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Nirvana (2/09/1990, Pine Street Theatre)
Appended to Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary edition of Bleach in 2009, this show captures an epochal band winding down the “regional upstarts” phase of its career. In this performance, Dave Grohl is not yet behind the drums, Kurt sings like he’s trying to vomit his vocal chords, the guitars are extra grungy and the enthusiastic crowd couldn’t possibly have fathomed that, a year later, this is what all the corporate assholes up in Big Pink would be listening to.


Black Flag, Who’s Got the 10 1/2? (10/23/1985, Starry Night)
By the time punk’s hardest-touring sociopaths pulled up to the venue currently known as the Roseland to record their second live album, they were running on pure disdain. Key moment: During the medley of “Slip It In” and “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie,” when Henry Rollins pauses to taunt the audience. “Are some of you boys girls?” he asks. “If so, this is one strange town.”


R.L. Burnside, Burnside on Burnside (1/2001, Crystal Ballroom)
It’s the street he was born to play! Once the cause célèbre of late ’90s hipsters, the Mississippi-born Burnside was real-deal mean, and the grimy, guttural blues he scorched the Crystal with would’ve scared the shit out of the folks who only know the music from what they hear at the Waterfront every summer.


Dave Brubeck Quartet, Live in Portland (4/1959)
Taken from a radio broadcast, the recording, unearthed in 2010, suffers from technical problems, but remains an intriguing artifact of the late pianist and bandleader just before “Take Five” made him a jazz immortal.

Various, Portland Punk Live at the Earth, 10-29-79 (Earth Tavern)
An entire era summed up in a single show, at one of Portland’s original punk clubs. Only Greg Sage—who released the album through his label—and his Wipers exist as more than a faded memory today, but that just makes this hard-to-find document more crucial.
 
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