Starting Monday, January 9, my favorite venue in town is celebrating its seventh birthday with a weeklong showcase of Portland's finest punk bands. I wrote about The Know and its tireless booker David Rose in this week's paper, but I didn't get a chance to drool all over the sickening line-up. That's what this column is for! So here is a night-by-night preview of what is sure to be the punk party of 2012. Let's all cross our filthy fingers for another seven years...
Monday, January 9th: Company, Freedom Club, Eiger Sanction
Ken Cheppaikode of Dirtnap/Green Noise fame once told me that Freedom Club sounded like a hardcore version of the Marked Men. I think Mr. Cheppaikode wanted to see me get a boner, because Iâm pretty sure he knows I love the Marked Men more than almost any other band on the planet, and the name alone makes me feel kinda funny, like when we used to climb the rope in gym class. When I saw Freedom Club at the Know last November, I actually did catch a whiff of that hyperactive Denton sound that Ken has so tirelessly promoted via Dirtnap. Freedom Club has that tightly wound antsiness that Marked Men and its splinter factions share, but these Portland punks are meaner, louder, rougher.
Tuesday, January 10th: Gallons, Hookers, Grapefruit
This show is the weekâs wild card event. Letâs call it the âmembers ofâ sweepstakes. Gallons features members of Sun Angle and Pluvial. Hookers sports members of Joggers, the Jicks and Scout Niblettâs crew. I canât find any music by these bands anywhere. Go to the show and tell me what they sound like! Meanwhile, I have no idea who is in Grapefruit, but I heard a few of its droning, blooping, bleeping, trippy songs on the internet. If you like White Rainbow and Golden Retriever you will like Grapefruit. Go to the show and tell me what he/she/it/they look like!
Wednesday, January 11th: Nucular Aminals, Koko & the Sweetmeats, Still Caves
At some point last year, while I wasnât looking--okay, fine, I was watching my dog clean her butt--Nucular Aminals put out an LP on K Records and a 7-inch on K imprint International Pop Underground. Iâm going to chalk my oversight up to the sheer ubiquity of Nucular Aminals, whose presence on seemingly every single bill in town has rendered the band name invisible to me. Iâm trying to catch up with Portlandâs noise-poppers as we speak, but Iâm having a difficult time getting past âNobodyâs Manâ, the title track of the new-ish 7-inch. Itâs my favorite Nucular Aminals tune yet, a sweet tease that plods spookily along, threatens to become a cover of âCelebrity Skinâ, finds its haunted groove again, and then ever so fleetingly echoes Pinback. Itâs one of those songs that seems to be hiding a naughty secret.
Thursday, January 12th: Arctic Flowers, Mundo Muerto, Autistic Youth, DJ Skell
Arctic Flowersâ Reveries made just about every punk-oriented end-of-the-year list last month, including mine. An introduction is unnecessary, right? Mundo Muerto is a far less familiar name, at least in these parts. Hailing from El Monte, California (call it L.A.), this band of proud punks is responsible for one of my favorite recent Facebook status updates: âDue To Some Fukked Up && Extreme Tooth Ache Pain MUNDO MUERTO Will Not Be Playing Tonight.â And it turns out âfukked up && extreme tooth ache painâ doubles as a pretty good description of Mundo Muertoâs raw sing-along punk rock. Note: must know Spanish to sing along.
Friday, January 13th: From Ashes Rise, Tragedy, Bi-Marks
The Know is insane for even considering putting these three bands on the same bill. From Ashes Rise and Tragedy fill far more capacious venues than the Know. Shit is going to be TIGHT, and I donât mean rad (although it will be that too), but PACKED. Like have-sex-with-your-neighborâs-armpit crowded. And thatâs assuming Bi-Marks, one of Portlandâs rowdier bands, doesnât break everything before the co-headliners have a chance to take the stage. Suggestion to all nervous Nellies: stay away from this one.
Saturday, January 14th: Rabbits, Fist Fite, Nasalrod
I frequently forget about Rabbits, but then Iâll mosey on over to its corner of my iTunes on a cloudy morning such as this, and I will listen to Lower Forms and berate myself for forgetting that Portland is home to such a fantastic crafter of baleful music. If Rabbits wasnât from Portland, or if Rabbits played less often, I would not take it for granted, and I would be so stoked for this show. Itâs kind of disgusting that Portlandâs metal and punk scenes are so happening that a band this good can get lost in the mix. Oh well. Rabbitsâ loss is your gain.
Sunday, January 15th: Trauma, Raw Nerves, Ripper, DJ Smooth Hopperator
The Knowâs booker, David Rose, described Trauma to me as âreally âtoughâ shit.â I agree with his assessment. Members of Trauma also do time in Tragedy, and while the latter bandâs towering crust throws shadows in Traumaâs direction, the demo I have is a far more straightforward, fuck-it-all affair than anything Tragedyâs ever done. Itâs pissed, spiky, possibly intoxicated hardcore punk rock that sounds like it came out of Minneapolis circa 1997. Bring your dog!