Tickets and official site: musicfestnw.com
[POST-ROCK] A duo making instrumental music out of nothing but drums, vibraphone and ephemeral noise isn’t taking any shortcuts to success, but vibes player Jose Medeles and drummer David Coniglio have made it work. Howl & Bite, the Portland-based group’s debut, underpins simple, glimmering melodies with big, shuddering beats. (MPS) Aladdin Theater, 9 pm.
[SINGER-SONGWRITER] Noted for her collaborations with Bonnie Prince Billy, Angel Olsen sings with a dramatic vocal range somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Roy Orbison. The Chicago-based singer-songwriter’s intense bursts, cracks and whispers entrance and jar in equal measure. (EB) The Old Church, 8:30 pm.
[RETRO ELECTRONICA] For all the ’80s revivalist trappings residing at the heart of Beat Connection’s music, the quartet deserves credit for succeeding in bringing glassy synth melodies and low-saturated drum-machine beats into a modern context. The latest album by this Seattle-based outfit, The Palace Garden, is blooming with earworm hooks and a slightly tropical flavor that runs counter to its sodden birthplace. (RH) Branx, 11 pm.
[STONER ROCK] Portland’s Bison Bison puts forth a caustic brand of shoot-first-ask-questions-later hard rock that’s brazen enough to wake the sheriff. Granted, that’s a lot of hyphens, but BB moves with such spastic disregard that tagging the band with a singular name would be a disservice to everyone involved. In short, hold on to your hats. (MAS) Dante’s, 10 pm.
[PUNK ’N’ ROLL] Volatile, Philly-based act Bleeding Rainbow likes it loud. Like contemporaries Yuck and Veronica Falls, the band must’ve grown up studying Sonic Youth albums like textbooks. Latest record Yeah Right foams over with supercharged guitar thrashing, primitive drumming and Sarah Everton’s airy vocals. (MAS) Star Theater, 10 pm.
Booty Bassment DJs
[HIP HOP] Oregonians are famously
suspicious of their Californian neighbors, so it’s in the spirit of
mutual understanding that the monthly Booty Bassment party migrated
north to Portland. Locals Nathan Detroit and Maxx Bass are the regulars,
while Cali-based founders Dimitri Dickinson and Ryan Poulsen will visit
to deliver ass-clapping hits from the last three decades. (ML) Holocene, 9 pm & 1 am.
[SOUL] There ain’t nothing retro about Charles Bradley. Sure, his grooves are mighty dusty, and he sings and shouts like a tortured James Brown. But unlike so many other modern soul singers now invoking the sound of the ’60s, Bradley is truly living it in the present. (MPS) Crystal Ballroom, 10:30 pm.
[SOULFUL ELECTRONICA] As Chet Faker, Nick Murphy blew up after releasing a sultry, minimalist cover of Blackstreet’s ’90s R&B classic “No Diggity.” In his version, as with most of his songs, the Australian musician places his soulful, languid voice atop simple, sexy electronic beats, creating a compelling fusion of genres. (EB) Doug Fir Lounge, 11 pm.
[POST-HIP-HOP] So much of what makes the Chicharones the Chicharones—the dance moves, the frenetic live band, DJ Zone’s pig-masked hijinks, the band’s innate ability to perform its silliest songs with heartbreaking earnestness—has to be seen to be believed. While last year’s Swine Flew just may have been too personal, complex and funny to go supernova, the almost painfully smooth “Hi Hey Hello” did recently land in a Samsung Galaxy ad. (CJ) Hawthorne Theatre, 9 pm.
[ELECTRO NOIR] A Johnny Jewel project carries the same weight of expectation as a Quentin Tarantino film, and is often just as cinematic. The Portland-based synth maestro has enjoyed the spotlight of late, not least of all for curating the widely acclaimed soundtrack for the film Drive. Long before Ryan Gosling entered his life, though, Jewel was making music evocative of driving through a city at night. Under the Glass Candy moniker, he and singer Ida No have produced irresistibly iridescent glam pop since the ’90s. And over the last six years, his side quartet, Chromatics, has evolved from a ponderous electro outfit into a well-manicured ambient force, peaking with last year’s critically lauded Kill for Love.
In both groups, Jewel is abetted by alluring femmes fatales. In Glass Candy, No is a source of energy, a physical and vocal acrobat capable of converting Jewel’s glimmering keyboards into sweaty fits of hyperactive electronica. Her tireless stage presence and encouraging yelps go toe-to-toe with Jewel’s bassy beats and starry riffs. Between 2007’s outstanding Beatbox and a smattering of intoxicating singles, Glass Candy has affirmed itself as Portland’s late-night adrenaline fix. Meanwhile, in Chromatics, Ruth Radelet’s brushy, hypnotic voice offers a much-needed exhale. Over bubbling guitar, ’80s pop structures and Jewel’s layers of synth, her furtive singing is so dreamy it’s indecipherable at times. At 90 minutes, breakthrough record Kill for Love might seem long-winded, but Radelet makes every breath vital.
In all his projects, Jewel carries a keen understanding of pop and the crucial difference between copying your influences—his include Kraftwerk, Alan Vega and Daft Punk—and drawing from them. And just as a late-night jaunt in the city is always unpredictable, it’s comforting to have Jewel acting as both spark and sedative. MARK STOCK. Wonder Ballroom. Chromatics play at 10:30 pm, Glass Candy at midnight Saturday, Sept. 7.
Deep Sea Diver
[INDIE ROCK] Although she’s now a regular
member of the Shins, Jessica Dobson, the lead
singer-guitarist-keyboardist for Seattle’s Deep Sea Diver, possesses the
kind of vocal pipes suited for center stage. Deep Sea Diver’s album History Speaks encompasses a nice blend of upbeat badassery and lush beauty, proving Dobson to be a spellbinding leading lady. (EB) Pioneer Courthouse Square, 5:30 pm.
[DIRGE POP] Re-formed in 2004 after a six-year hiatus, Dirtclodfight continues to balance on the knife’s edge of melody and heaviness. The former Portland group now calls Eugene its home base and has focused on acoustic tunes of late, but still wields its loud-soft dynamics with prowess. (NC) White Owl Social Club, 11 pm.
[UBER-INDIE] Between Carrier and No Color, the beloved Bay Area duo the Dodos has turned out some of the strongest indie rock of the last two years. Meric Long and Logan Kroeber play with a fierce, nervous energy, creating tension through a percussive backbone and antsy guitar work. (MAS) Star Theater, 11 pm.
[DRONE LORDS] Seattle’s Earth can boast one of the most critically successful comebacks in recent memory. Once the laughing stock of the Sub Pop roster, it is now considered a seminal founder of the heavy drone movement, inspiring glorified tribute acts like Sunn O))). (NC) Roseland Theater, 9 pm.
[PUNK METAL] Metal at its core but bleeding into post-hardcore and punk, Gaytheist’s sonic onslaught is spiked with lyrics mixing political statements with biting sarcasm. As heavy as the band’s instrumental attack is, as you might guess from its name, absurdity is a big part of the deal. (ML) Dante’s, 9 pm.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
[POST-ROCK] Since forming in 1994, Montreal’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor has received critical acclaim for an intense live show that leaves fans in a daze—and all without saying a word. On record, the vocal-deprived band prefers to speak through dynamic rhythmic shifts and battering crescendos. In concert, the group adds another dialect to its wordless language: a video reel.
While contemporaries Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai use the quiet-loud-quiet format to conjure panoramic scenes of triumph and dread, GY!BE’s slow-burning approach to instrumental guitar rock eschews economy and melodrama for suspense and dissonant uncertainty. If society were to be dismantled in one week’s time, this is what day eight would sound like. This is not the soundtrack to a zombie apocalypse: It is the sound of what comes after. This is truly post-rock.
While the band was on hiatus from 2003 to 2010, a bumper crop of heavy-handed also-rans sprang up across the globe. While several young post-rock bands cashed in on the promise of being the next “crescendo-core” group to watch, it still wasn’t Godspeed. If excellent 2012 comeback record ’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is any indication of what’s been bottled up for almost a decade, then there’s a torrential assault in store for our senses. PETE COTTELL. Roseland Theater, 10 pm Saturday, Sept. 7.
The Head And The Heart
[INDIE FOLK POP] Pure, unadulterated optimism is a rare thing to stumble upon in a music industry fraught with uncertainty, but the Head and the Heart is bursting with it—and well it should, given the band’s recent, whirlwind success. Born from open-mic nights in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 2009, the sextet self-released its eponymous debut—an album featuring a homespun blend of folksy Americana and melodic pop—and, with no promotional push behind it, sold more than 10,000 copies. Within a year, the group was signed to Sub Pop, which re-released The Head and the Heart in 2011.
The album beams with nostalgia and big-hearted sentiments. Singer-songwriters Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, along with violinist-vocalist Charity Rose Theilen, juggle leads in round-robin fashion, their soft-spoken tendencies offset by a mélange of jaunty piano and exuberant percussion. Bits of cello, glockenspiel and other orchestral arrangements ebb and flow throughout the album. Amid all the warmth, the album is underscored by a sense of longing—a heavy sense of what was, what is and what will become as people inevitably age along with the world around them—which only makes it more relatable.
With follow-up Let’s Be Still coming in October, the band is looking to capture its rapid transformation from coffee-shop revelers into a headlining tour de force while expanding the thematic elements of its debut. Whether it can maintain its grassroots appeal remains to be seen. But something tells me they’ll be fine. BRANDON WIDDER. Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8 pm Saturday, Sept. 7.
The Helio Sequence
[POWER DUO] Helio Sequence isn’t dissimilar to such other turn-of-the-century “power duos” as the White Stripes and the Black Keys. But Benjamin Weikel’s ecstatic drumming and Brandon Summers’ multi-textured guitar travel a subtler path than those monochrome twosomes, and they seem content with being Portland’s (well, Beaverton’s) pride. (JR) Aladdin Theater, 10 pm.
[INDIE FOLK] A Portland mainstay since
2004, Horse Feathers is perpetually pushing the line between solemn folk
and hushed indie ambiance. The beguilement lies in the delicate string
arrangements and singer Justin Ringle’s grating vocal delivery—always
piercing but never pushing you away. (BW) The Old Church, 9:30 pm.
[ROCK] The guys in Lonnie Winn aren’t going to blow you away with their slightly fuzzy and dreamy midtempo rock sound, but the ultimate result of their pleasant, languid music is to make you imagine sitting on a beach at sunset, and God knows there are worse things than that. (BP) Bunk Bar, 10 pm.
[COUNTRY BLUES] With swinging guitars, keys and percussion, Aaron Mortenson and Jay Rutherford of Nashville’s Los Colognes make classic country and blues which, on their infectious debut album, Working Together, combine into a sound lifted straight from the ’70s. (EB) Mississippi Studios, 9 pm.
Love as Laughter
[PSYCH BLUES] If you told anybody in 1994 that Love As Laughter’s Sam Jayne would stick it out for almost 20 years, evolving from ADHD fuzz rock to yelping Stones-y psychedelic blues before briefly making drifting backporch music—and then departing right back to stoner-blues territory—they’d laugh your ass straight into Unabomber isolation. But that’s what happened. (MK) Bunk Bar, 11 pm.
Mariachi El Bronx/The Bronx
[PUNKIACHI] While known mostly for playing fiery, straight-ahead punk, in 2011 L.A.’s the Bronx released its second serious mariachi record under the name Mariachi El Bronx, erasing any doubts that the first had just been a practical joke. Remarkably, the band is adept in both of these two wholly disparate styles. (JD) Mariachi El Bronx: Dr. Martens Store, 1:30 pm. The Bronx: Dante’s, midnight.
[FANTASY FOLK-STEP] Portland pianist and composer Ben Darwish has spent the last seven years blazing trails. Morning Ritual, his current genre-bending group, featuring sisterly singers the Shook Twins, combines folk, jazz, dubstep and R&B, and never feels schizophrenic or aimless. (BP) Crystal Ballroom, 8 pm.
[TRAP] Strip hip-hop of everything but the bass and the libido and you get something like Most Custom. Formed in 2012 by Portlanders Tyler Tastemaker and Quarry, they’re both an indictment and endorsement of trap music’s rise. (ML) Branx, 9 pm.
[CHILLOUT] On their radiant LP Summer’s Gone, college buds-turned-collaborators Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight stretch the season out of the region with lounge-worthy electro grooves. The Washington state duo sculpts sound waves with an ear to loopy, lilting melody and sexy percussion. (AS) Branx, 10 pm.
[NEW DISCO] Easily one the best and catchiest Portland records of 2012, Onuinu’s Mirror Gazer remains a sizzling, summery collection of stoned disco. Dorian Duvall has become the local house-party standard, combining lounge, R&B, house, pop and experimental electronica into a vibrant, hip-loosening mosaic. (MS) Doug Fir Lounge, 10 pm.
[RAP] Stef Alexander, aka P.O.S.,
approaches his brand of hip-hop a bit differently than the rest of his
Rhymesayers labelmates deploying an “us versus them” dynamic. Last
January, the punk rocker-turned-MC had both kidneys replaced. Now back
to 100 percent, P.O.S. is healthy enough to occupy Portland all by
himself. (JD) Hawthorne Theatre, 11 pm.
[DISCO] Phone Call is the phoenix that rose up from the ashes of Strength, Portland’s beloved longtime disco machine. The remaining two members have shifted to an ’80s-centric bump-’n’-grind approach, and have become regulars at Holocene under the new moniker. (GS) Doug Fir Lounge, 9 pm.
[DAYTIME DISCO] L.A.’s Poolside loves the heavy kick drums, claps and melodic, meandering bass lines of disco, but its version sounds as if the record was left in the sun, melting the vocals and adding shimmering bells and sharp synths to the high end. (ML) Doug Fir Lounge, midnight.
[GARAGE PSYCH] The Pynnacles, helmed by semi-legendary local frontman Sean Croghan, opens its debut record with punchy guitar chords reminiscent of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” but that’s before Tamar Berk’s organ oozes over the track. Suddenly, it’s apparent that while the Pynnacles’ sound—playful and urgent—finds inspiration from the wild garage rock of the ’60s, it refuses to handle its source material with cotton gloves. (CJ) Backspace, 10 pm.
[MONSTER GARAGE] Slaying devoted crowds across Europe and the states with a larger-than-life stage persona, Carré Callaway—a former protégée of Trent Reznor—has grown from a cottage-industrial chanteuse to frontwoman of towering rawk dynamo Queen Kwong. On hard-charging releases like last summer’s Bad Lieutenant EP, Callaway’s Los Angeles trio scales the height of abandon with a primal ferocity. (JH) Star Theater, 9 pm.
[PUNK WHIMSY] A guitar-’n’-drums duo of blistering intensity and sparkling bonhomie, the signature songs spun by local luminaries Elizabeth Venable and Geoff Soule are remarkably short, and despite the Sad Horse moniker, delivered with anything but a long face. (JH) Backspace, 9 pm.
[FLOW-ETRY] Highly literate, socially minded and artfully executed—and funny, too—Vancouver, B.C., rapper Shad’s intricate, old-school wordplay harks back to positive hip-hoppers like A Tribe Called Quest, Blackalicious and on the Pacific Northwest front, Blue Scholars. The MC’s third album, TSOL, won a 2011 Canadian Grammy for Rap Recording of the Year. (AS) Hawthorne Theatre, 10 pm.
[OVERDRIVEN PUNK] Canada could become the next hotbed of fury-driven, in-the-red garage punk, and if it does, Single Mothers—a four-piece from London, Ontario—will be the band leading the charge. The quartet’s recent brooding and heartbroken self-titled EP often makes your stereo speakers sound like they’ve been punctured by knitting needles. (RH) Dante’s, 8 pm.
Sonny and the Sunsets
[NARRATIVE FOLK] San Francisco-based artist, playwright and musician Sonny Smith is a twisted storyteller, blending long-form lyricism with alt-countryish freak folk. The prolific singer-songwriter’s newest record, the aptly titled Antenna to the Afterworld, just about sums him up: It’s fun, adventurous and unlikely, blending spacey effects with traditional folk elements. (MAS) Bunk Bar, midnight.
[RIOT GRRRL] When all-female punk quintet Team Dresch first got together in Portland in the early days of the Clinton administration, its agenda was clear: anti-misogyny and pro-gay. Eighteen years later, the group hasn’t had to alter its targets a single inch. (MPS) Backspace, 11 pm.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
[FOLK POP] It is virtually impossible not to like the ebullient and quirky Thao Nguyen. Her tracks combine everything from Americana to ambient pop, hip-hop beats to Asian-tinged guitars, and the appeal of her sometimes Feist-like vocal delivery is nearly as wide. (BP) Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:30 pm.
[POWER PUNK] Ten years in, it’s easy for Portland to take the Thermals for granted. Desperate Ground, the power trio’s sixth full-length, doesn’t mess with the group’s three-chord buzz-saw approach. But after a few records of personal journal reading, frontman Hutch Harris returns to the sociopolitical declamations of 2006’s Bush-baiting The Body, the Blood, the Machine, and once again, the band sounds reborn. (MPS) Mississippi Studios, midnight.
[HARD FOLK] Portland staples Luz Elena Mendoza and Nick Delffs team for this folk-punk mélange of percussion and plugged-in power. The result is a driving, curious new project, whose bite is tempered by its knack for harmony. (AS) Dr. Martens Store, 12:30 pm.
[STREET RAP] Chicago MC Tree didn’t explode onto the scene so much as simmered within it until he caught fire. With a gruff voice embodying his upbringing, Tree waxes about life on the streets with a humility and clarity often missing in the genre. (APK) Mississippi Studios, 11 pm.
[PUNK ROCK] White Lung could throw in with any of today’s revivals de rigueur—spooky post-punk, nostalgic grunge, noisy hardcore—and rule it within minutes. Instead, last year’s Sorry merges the aforementioned kindred schools into a fanged punk monster, and it is spectacular. (CS) Dante’s, 11 pm.
The Woolen Men
[POST-PUNK] When Portland garage-rock trio the Woolen Men signed with New York label Woodsist late last year, the city gasped. Would our beloved punk-tinged lo-fi group be cleaned up beyond recognition? The answer, according to the group’s self-titled debut LP, is a resounding no. The trio is as self-made, unified and explosive as ever. (MAS) Mississippi Studios, 10 pm.
[DOOM METAL] Though guitarist-vocalist Mike Scheidt has been concerning himself more with his solo acoustic explorations lately, now is the time to reacquaint the world with the devastating Sabbath-like burn of Yob’s slow squall. The trio is strapping in once again in an effort to whet local appetites for the re-release of its second album, Catharsis, out this fall. (RH) White Owl Social Club, midnight.
[SAXY BASS MUSIC] Since stomping onto the electronic-music scene in 2009, Big Gigantic has become pretty big and, well, pretty gigantic. The project of producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken combines the improvisational elements of jazz with DJ-style production techniques, creating a sound that is fundamentally electronic but cut with Lalli’s saxophone like a laser beam through a murky storm of bass drops. (GS) Crystal Ballroom, 10 pm.
[GLITCH] While males have characteristically dominated the DJ realm, Ill-esha has paved her path wielding a weapon most of her male counterparts lack: a searing set of windpipes. She has garnered a reputation for simultaneous singing and live production, and established herself as a tastemaker on the glitch-hop and dubstep scenes. (GS) Crystal Ballroom, 9 pm.
[COSMIC AMERICAN MUSIC] The Moondoggies’ brand-new third album, Adiós, I’m a Ghost, finds the Washington roots-rockers growing in both power and subtlety. These Musicfest three-peaters have had past buzz from the likes of Rolling Stone and NPR, and the new album’s “Stop Signs” sounds like the kind of tune to land them on the late-night TV shows this time around. (JR) Pioneer Courthouse Square, 5:30 pm.
[NEO-SOUL] Pickwick’s transformation from neo-folk to neo-soul was something of a musical about-face, but in terms of ethos, the Seattle sextet merely traded one plainspoken, heartfelt genre for another. Pickwick, which released its debut full-length, Can’t Talk Medicine, in March, is among Seattle’s biggest current acts, with a sound that’s equally groovy and garage-y. (JF) Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:30 pm.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Emilee Booher, Ruth Brown, Nathan Carson, Pete Cottell, Joe Donovan, Jonathan Frochtzwajg, Robert Ham, Jay Horton, Reed Jackson, Matthew Korfhage, AP Kryza, Mitch Lillie, Haley Martin, Brian Palmer, Jeff Rosenberg, Amanda Schurr, Matthew P. Singer, Grace Stainback, Chris Stamm, Mark A. Stock, Brandon Widder.