Seven nights. Seven shows. A special program for self-improvement, ja?
Winter sucked. Spring--slow. Now temps hit the 90s, great bands descend on Portland like starving carnivore locusts, and you fear you just can't do it. Night after night. Show after show. You need personal training. Starting now.
DAY ONE: SPELUNK CAVERNS OF FORBIDDEN MYSTERY WITH ANDREW BIRD
Bird's interest in antiquated and unusual music led him to stumble into an actual hit with the Squirrel Nut Zippers. With his own Bowl of Fire, he added Kurt Weill glower and plain weirdness to retro-pop. Now more or less solo, he's built a studio in an Illinois farmhouse and recorded the strange and beautiful Weather Systems, folkishly haunting, flavored with extra-subtle electronic trappings.
Andrew Bird plays Wednesday, June 11, at the Blackbird, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd., 282-9949. The Court and Spark and Tim Blehm also appear. 10 pm. $6. 21+.
DAY TWO: BURN YOUR EYES BY STARING INTO THE
WHITE-HOT SUN OF POP PERFECTION WITH THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
Electric Version proves it is still possible to write classic pop songs with such energy and skill, they glow eerily. We are talking radiance and heat, imprisoned in a few chords and some bold swatches of vocal harmony. And did we mention Neko Case? Oh, yes, we did. (ZD)
The New Pornographers play Thursday, June 12, at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., 233-1994. Cinerama and The Organ also appear. 8 pm. $14. All ages.
DAY THREE: ENJOY A REFRESHING CAMPARI AND SODA WITH NICOLA CONTE
You wish you were Nicola Conte. Italian. Wearing a nice suit. Creator of racy, Space Age pleasure music for Now People. Skipping from continent to continent, no doubt donning immaculate track suits or cotton "leisure pants" in off hours. Of an evening, presenting your pastiche of bebop, cocktail jazz and '60s cinema-pop. (ZD)
Nicola Conte plays Friday, June 13, at Fez Ballroom, 316 SW 11th Ave., 282-4083. Ursula 1000 and Thunderball also appear. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
DAY FOUR: YO LA TENGO
What's up with these indie-rock bands (and granted, there aren't many) lasting 20 years or more? Are we going to have to start up a Senior Circuit? And what's with the venerable Hoboken team of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew staying good for so long? The trio's music remains as adventurous and sneakily infectious as ever. BONUS: You will probably hear someone call the band simply "Yo La" at the show, and the exercise you get pummeling them will help you last the week. (ZD)
Yo La Tengo plays Saturday, June 14, at Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., 225-5555 ext. 8811. The Clean also appears. 9 pm. $15. All ages.
DAY FIVE: THINK BAD THOUGHTS WITH ALKALINE TRIO
Chicago's Alkaline Trio suffers the usual evils of emo: glossy pop-punk guitars; seaglass-smooth vocals; the requisite Vagrant Records contract. But fiends and phantoms--revenge, alcoholism, suicide--lurk in the lyrics. One song found them "shaking like a dog shitting razor blades." And the new album kicks off with the touching thought, "I've got a book of matches/ I've got a can of kerosene/ I've got some bright ideas involving you and me." (John Graham)
Alkaline Trio plays Sunday, June 15, at Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., 224-2038. One Man Army and The Start also appear. 7 pm. $11+ advance (TicketsWest/Fastixx). All ages.
DAY SIX: MAKE STICKY-SWEET, HOT-BUTTERED LATIN LOVE WITH A.B. QUINTANILLA AND THE KUMBIA KINGS
Quintanilla, bro to late tejano martyr-goddess Selena, is widely seen as the Latin pop equivalent to that Florida guy who hatched O-Town in his basement. And no doubt, when Kumbia Kings suck, they suck with gale strength--some of the R&B/pop treacle on 4, their new album, is much worse than the sickest boy-band atrocity ever committed in English. On the other hand, when Quint and the boys fire up the accordion and the turntables in one of their fruit-flavored hybrid dance hits...chill the goddamn Coronas and lock up your daughters! (ZD)
A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings play Monday, June 16, at Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave. 8 pm. Cover. All ages.
DAY SEVEN: JETS TO BRAZIL
Blake Schwarzenbach hasn't done much--just written an endless series of romantic, literate and fiendishly melodic guitar rock songs stretching back more than a decade. Some nostalgics miss the gruff broken-glass Lothario of Schwarzenbach's Jawbreaker days, and don't dig Jets to Brazil's plusher pop. Well, they may have a point. But the only thing really wrong with JTB's most recent, Perfecting Loneliness, is that the songs are too long. Three minutes, Blake. (ZD)
Jets to Brazil plays Tuesday, June 17, at Berbati's Pan, 231 SW Ankeny St., 248-4579. John Vanderslice and Whysall Lane also appear. 9:30 pm. $12 advance. 21+.
HISS and VINEGAR
SATYRICON MORPHS INTO MOODY'S
Portland music fans wept (metaphorically, at least) last month when Satyricon, the West Coast's oldest rock club and easily the city's most legendary dive, shut down after nearly 20 years of artistic mayhem. The storied bar/restaurant at 125 NW 6th Ave. did not long sit idle. The former owners of Moody's take command this month, reviving their defunct mid-'90s 4th Avenue club within SatCo's shell--at least in name.
According to Moody's partner Joe Brooks, the former Fellini (Satyricon's restaurant wing) will transform into Moody's Cafe Lounge. The music venue next door, where everyone who was or would be anyone in Northwest rock played over the course of two decades, will be rechristened Icon. Brooks declined to detail music plans but said DJs and a live-music direction decidedly different from Satyricon's steady diet of punk and indie rock are in the cards.
"Like anyone else who's been around Portland for a while, I've spent quite a bit of time down there over the years," Brooks said. "We're going to try to clean the place up a little, and make it more of an eclectic thing."
Brooks said the use of the Moody's name is more of a coincidence than an attempt to recreate the bygone downtown club. "This all happened pretty fast, and we happened to have the name and the logo ready to go," he said.
Brooks expects Moody's Cafe Lounge to open by mid-June, with Icon kicking off by month's end.
VOODOO SURVIVES BAD JUJU
There is no good time for a bar to land in Oregon Liquor Control Commission's penalty box. The very worst time, however, might be the very same week state liquor czars considers a new bar's sauce-license application.
Thus, things did not look good for Voodoo Lounge, which is trying to re-open the former Balzer's location, when OLCC undercover agents busted a Memorial Day weekend booze bash in the Old Town club. Just after midnight on Saturday, May 24, incognito OLCC operatives entered the as-yet-unlicensed premises, finding between 30 and 40 people partying down, red plastic mugs in hand. One unidentified white male genius reportedly told liquor sleuths that "it was a good thing [they] weren't cops, because the party was illegal."
Actual cops soon arrived. Perhaps seized by nostalgia for Untouchables days, the Finest kicked in the club's west door. OLCC cited two men for serving alcohol sans license.
Doom for Voodoo Lounge? After all, OLCC's staff was set to issue a recommendation on VL's application to the five-member booze commission just days later. However, further investigation revealed the prospective club's owners had nothing to do with the illicit fete. Instead, according to OLCC reports, a "friend" (and with friends like these...) apparently leased the place for a private party.
That in mind, OLCC staff recommended that Voodoo Lounge get its license. The Commission's decision could come as soon as June 20. The bullet-dodging bar's manager had not returned Hiss' phone call at press time.
NUMBER NINE...NUMBER NINE...NUMBER NINE
You are now sitting in the ninth-most-"rock & roll" city in America, at least according to Blender magazine's "20 Most Rock & Roll Towns in the U.S.A." The music mag's May issue ranks PDX two slots above Seattle, and well-above Johnny-come-lately pretenders such as Providence, Omaha and Louisville. The Brooklyn enclave of Williamsburg came in No. 1--though the accompanying write-up made the neighborhood seem a better candidate for "most insufferable" honors.