Who doesn't love dive bars? Nobody, that's who—although few love a good dive as much as And And And's Bim Ditson. That's why he put together the Underbelly Bender, a six-week crosstown concert series dedicated to celebrating Portland bands and the bars that nurture them. In conjunction, each week here at wweek.com we will be profiling the hosting bar and its local music history. (Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we unfortunately missed last Friday's kick-off show at Slim's in St. Johns. It's an awesome place, though. Visit it!) For the full itinerary, go here.
Underbelly Bender Concert #2: Youth, Animal Eyes, and And And And at the Matador
1967 W, Burnside St.
(503) 222-5822, www.thematadorbar.com
Year Opened: 1971
Description: Dimly lit and somehow still smoky three years after the smoking ban, the Matador is a quintessential rock'n'roll bar, from its Motorhead-referencing shirts to its deep-red vinyl booths to the punk-filled jukebox to the infamous photo booth, which is a magnet for boob-flashing and other illicit behavior. Oh, and the drinks are legendarily stiff, too (all you need to know: Its wine list includes Thunderbird). "When people move to Portland, it's usually one of the first spots they go to," says Casey Maxwell, the bar's current owner ("although it kinda owns me," he adds). "Because they branch out, people come and go, but the Matador is always there for them when they need a bit of bad."
Clientele: "Anyone who's a boozer," Maxwell says. "We get lawyers coming in after work sitting next to Burnside bums who are sitting next to hipsters who are next to middle-age professionals. Generally, it's people who like a good, strong, inexpensive drink."
Memorable Shows: Although the Matador hosts bands infrequently -- it's up to about once per month, an increase from one or two per year -- the shows it has put on have been impressive, including back-to-back New Years Eve gigs from the Punk Group and, for its recent 40th anniversary celebration, a set from Portland mariachi group Mariachi Viva Mexico. But the show that sticks out most in Maxwell's mind featured glam-punks the Taxi Boys playing in Matador's men's room. "It has these old, big urinals that have been there forever, with these heart-shaped sinks," Maxwell says. "We didn't know how it would work out, but all these people were packed in the bathroom watching a rock'n'roll show."
Bim Says: "Shows at Matador seem to happen quite rarely, but I love shows there. They move the pool table that's at the back of the bar. It always feels like the best of both worlds, between some sort of DIY house show and a killer bar with the drink specials to back it up."
The Underbelly Bender continues Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Spare Room. Meanwhile, download or stream Bim's compilation of songs from all the participating bands at Into the Woods.