I had every intention of spending the entire weekend at PDX Pop Now's Refuge-hosted shindig. I'll definitely be there on Sunday at 1pm, when Batmen, possibly Portland's best punk band, plays its last show before going on an indefinite (read: probably permanent) hiatus. But I'm gonna have to pass on the rest of the sprawling three-day festival. As much as I appreciate the chance to get a suntan while watching small children experience mall music for the first time, this year I will be opting for rowdy house shows instead. There are a few phenomenal ones going down this weekend. Out of respect to the houses hosting the bands below, I shan't be divulging any information about where these shows are going down. But that's what Google is for. You can figure it out.
This young quartet from San Gabriel, California shared a split with Joyce Manor a couple years ago, which should give you a pretty good idea of the sweaty, heartfelt pop-punk uplift in store here. But Summer Vacation mixes things up by adding a smattering of Northwestern noodling (think 764-Hero or early Built to Spill) to the raucous formula, resulting in the perfect basement party band: you can dance to it up front, cry to it in a rear corner or get real messy and do both in the middle of a roiling mass of drenched bodies.
The Sky Above and the Earth Below
I donât know what to make of this band. Or rather, I have no idea what the Sky Above and the Earth Below is planning to do when it opens for Summer Vacation on Saturday. The Portland duoâs recordings fall two ways: there are the distorted acoustic ambles that have me imagining what Gastr del Sol might have gotten up to as a punk band, and then there are the proggy post-hardcore panic attacks that make good on screamoâs bygone promises. Iâm hoping itâs the latter iteration that shows up, because drummer Sam Pape is one of our townâs great pounders, and Iâm dying to see the guy flail.
Franceâs Bitpart moved to Olympia last year, and the pop-punk two-piece has its adopted cityâs rough hewn sound dialed in. The influence of fellow Olympians RVIVR is especially evident on Bitpartâs Where We Are, a frenetic collection of patch-friendly anthems that basically demand you ride a shitty bike to the corner store for the cheapest forty and gnarliest tobacco you can find before you ride your shitty bike back home quick-like because your shitty dog is prone to eat shitty furniture when youâre not around drinking shitty forties and smoking shitty tobacco. Which is not to say Bitpart is shitty. Itâs not. Itâs beautiful. And so is your shitty life.
I havenât written about a straight edge hardcore band for this column before. Does Portland even have a straight edge scene? Where is it? Tell me, for Iâd like to give it a wide berth should I ever unwittingly risk brushing against its margins. But Iâm thinking there must not be much of a scene to speak of, because New Jerseyâs Outlast, straight edge as all motherfucking get out, find themselves headlining a show padded by folk-punk and spoken word acts. Which is cool, way better than five Gorilla Biscuits soundalikes leading a crowd through hours of floor punching, lemme tell ya. And Outlast does the beefy, bellicose east coast hardcore thing pretty well. Very well, in fact, and I think I might just go and start a few lawnmowers with my crew and tear down some walls and try not to stab any friends in the back. Stuff like that.
Yes, Sharkpact. Again. This Olympia synth-pop-punk duo canât seem to stop playing Portland, and I canât seem to stop bellowing its name from my tiny corner of the internet. I will refrain from repeating myself, leaving you with this imploration: check this band out already. It sounds like summer joy, all addled and blissed and slick with river slime.
SEE IT: Summer Vacation and the Sky Above and the Earth Below play with Darto and Lee Corey Oswald on Sunday, July 22 at a place you can find out about on the internet if you are so inclined. 8pm. $5 donation suggested. All ages.
Sharkpact and Bitpart play with Prankwar on Sunday, July 22 at a place you can find out about on the internet if you are so inclined. 9pm. $5 donation suggested. All ages.
Outlast plays with Fools Rush, Loâ There Do I See My Brother and Trey the Ruler at a place you can find out about on the internet if you are so inclined. 6pm. $5 donation suggested. All ages.