Want to see some live music? Below, you'll find our picks for the best concerts coming through Portland this week, along with a Spotify playlist of representative songs from each artist.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23
Monty Alexander Trio
[PIANO JAZZ] Though he hails from Jamaica, pianist Monty Alexander is most widely known for playing hard-swinging, straight-ahead jazz with a ripping technique that recalls Oscar Peterson at his most tasteful. In fact, Alexander has become a de facto successor to Peterson, having worked with former Peterson sidemen from Ray Brown to Neils-Henning Orsted Pederson. But Alexander’s smooth, melodic style is all his own. Even at 70, he’s still putting out records at a teenager’s pace, proving time and again that he’s equally at home with 1920s stride, Stevie Wonder covers and, yes, even reggae. TREE PALMEDO. Jimmy Mak’s. 7 and 9:30 pm. $17-$25. Under 21 permitted until 9:30.
The Polyphonic Spree, Sarah Jaffe, Friends and Family (July 23)
[LIGHT AND DAY] The Polyphonic Spree might go down in history as the training ground for St. Vincent, but the 23-piece rock orchestra would have a sizeable legacy even if Annie Clark hadn’t come through its ranks. Who didn’t love its first hit single “Light and Day/Reach For the Sun,” a symphonic explosion that sounded like school letting out for the summer? A lot has happened since those early days of flowing white robes and revival-like shows: There’s been TV appearances, a black jumpsuit phase, even a cover of “Lithium” that vaguely resembled something off a Kidz Bop CD. The Spree’s most recent album, Yes It’s True, features more straight power-pop than choral anthems, but even with frontman Tim DeLaughter’s Ben Gibbard-esque whine further out in front, the band can still sell the heck out of an excessively loud, unabashedly happy chorus. TREE PALMEDO. Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $18 advance, $20 day of show. 21+.
THURSDAY, JULY 24
The Donkeys, the Moondoggies, Old Age
[CALIFORNIA LOVE] For San Diego outfit the Donkeys, California is more than a state of mind—it’s also their muse. The band’s fourth album, Ride the Dark Wave, might try to hide its overt references to the Golden State, but just look at these song titles: “Sunny Daze,” “Imperial Beach,” “Ride the Dark Wave.” These dudes are definitely easygoing, but that doesn’t mean the Donkeys are a jam band. Instead, they use Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and the more structured Dead albums as jumping-off points for a set of gorgeous tunes perfectly suited to both the open road and a beachside campfire. The band’s identity might be tied to the California coast, but why run away from a good thing? MICHAEL MANNHEIMER. Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $11. 21+.
FRIDAY, JULY 25
Hundred Waters, Pure Bathing Culture, Wishyunu
[ENIGMATIC POP] Read our profile here. Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Pickwick
[SOUL] Referring to the music of Charles Bradley as "retro soul" isn't really fair. Sure, the Florida-born, New York-raised singer owes his late-life discovery to the industrywide reinvigoration of the classic Motown sound that began in the late aughts. But the 55-year-old Bradley isn't some new-jack trend-jumper. More than any other vintage-style crooner who's popped up in recent years, Bradley legitimately sounds like an artist who was frozen in the 1960s and happened to thaw at the right time. That's not all that far from the truth: Bradley's much-touted biography is that of a man out of time, a kid who dreamed of being the next James Brown but ended up living on the streets and working odd jobs for decades before getting picked up by Daptone Records and putting out two of the best albums of the throwback soul boom, 2011's No Time for Dreaming and last year's Victim of Love. While most R&B revivalists celebrate the form's elegant romanticism, Bradley's brand aches with genuine pain—on the appropriately titled "Heartaches and Pain," for instance, Bradley recounts, in crushing detail, the day his brother was murdered—bringing soul music back to its blues roots. Now that's a throwback. MATTHEW SINGER. Oregon Zoo. 7 pm. $11.25-$45.00. All ages.
Claude Young, Bryan Zentz, Andrew Boie b2b Jak, Graintable, Coast2c, Ben Tactic, Lincolnup
[DETROIT TECHNO] Forget the wine at New Seasons: Portland’s finest import is Claude Young Jr. The techno producer emerged from the fomenting political and musical tides of Detroit in 1995 and hasn’t looked back since, recently relocating to Portland of all places. Though perhaps most famous for his 1996 DJ Kicks mix, Young has averaged over a single per year since the early ‘90s, culminating in last year's ambient, time-warped full-length, Celestial Bodies. The spacefaring album isn’t always the most Detroit of techno, but then again, Young’s a Portlander now. MITCH LILLIE. Tonic Lounge. 9 pm. 21+. $5 before 10:30 pm, $10 after.
SATURDAY, JULY 26
Andrew Jackson Jihad, Hard Girls, Dogbreth
[FOLK PUNK] Read our profile here. Alhambra Theatre. 7 pm. $15 advance, $17 day of show. All ages.
[ADULT CONTEMPORARY ROCKABILLY] Before seeing Chris Isaak live, all I knew about him was “Wicked Game.” Yes, that song is good enough to carry a whole career, especially when so many of us were introduced to that classic, sexy croon via David Lynch’s oft-misunderstood masterpiece, Wild At Heart. But catching him live at the zoo last summer, I was stunned at not only the strength of his material but his consummate showmanship. That doesn't just go for Isaak but his whole band. Singing, dancing, playing, telling jokes, choreographing routines and rolling with the punches, these guys put on a show that 99 percent of bands these days never had the inclination nor apprenticeship to even consider. NATHAN CARSON. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. 7:30pm. $35-$90. All ages.
Man or Astro-man?
[SPACE NUTS] In the '90s, Man or Astroman was the king rat of retro surf acts. Taking drive-in genre cinema clips from the early '60s and analog sounds drenched in reverb and rocketing them right into outer space, the group was untouchable. But the band also harbored some diehard indie morals, keeping them below the glass ceiling of success. After a healthy break, the Astromen are back, playing intimate stages and bringing new meaning to the word "retro." The reanimated band still packs a punch on stage, with a barrage of short, instrumental cosmic-surf tunes that will please bespectacled dads and their hopelessly undateable sons in equal measure. NATHAN CARSON. Doug Fir Lounge. 8 pm. $16 advance, $18 day of show. 21+.
[SWITCHED-ON BACH] Today's classical music performances often feel as archaic as the music itself. Even when the music is timeless, the way it's presented is frequently outdated and under-rehearsed. Enter the Amplified Repertory Chamber Orchestra of Portland, spearheaded by Classical Revolution PDX, Cascadia Composers and Portland Columbia Symphony stalwart violinist Mike Hsu. The group aims to learn from rock and pop music and bring classical performance into the 21st century, with performances in informal venues allowing dancing and drinking and where one mustn't worry about applauding at the "wrong" moment. Along with Portland Cello Project cellist Skip von Kuske and other musicians from Portland and Seattle, ARCO-PDX performs energetic music by C.P.E Bach (Sebastian's innovative son), Von Kuske and Hsu, the latter of which is influenced by '80s dance music. It's classical music with a rock attitude. BRETT CAMPBELL. Mississippi Studios. 8 pm. $13 advance, $15 day of show. 21+.
SUNDAY, JULY 27
Dub Thompson, Paper/Upper/Cuts, Adventurous Sleeping
[SUBURBAN ART-PUNK] Take it from someone who grew up nearby: Nothing cool has ever come out of Agoura Hills, Calif. Sure, the wealthy L.A. suburb has produced its share of nationally recognizable acts, but those acts include Linkin Park and Hoobastank, which just proves my point. So the fact that a group as peculiarly ragged as Dub Thompson emerged from its gated maw is a bit bewildering. Or maybe it’s not: The music of the not-yet-21-year-old duo of Matt Pulos and Evan Laffer carries the chip-on-shoulder sneer and try-anything desperation of bored teenagers itching to escape the dullness of their hometown. 9 Songs, the duo’s debut, has roots in the art-rock fuckery of Pere Ubu and the Fall, but that hardly helps describe what’s going on with these eight songs. (Yeah, the title is a bit misleading.) Opener “Hayward!” is a garbled blast of scratchy, lo-fi post-punk, which eventually spirals into the psychedelic basement-rocksteady of “No Time.” Standout “Dograces” grooves with a martial punk-funk stomp before exploding suddenly into a starburst of gloriously cheeseball keyboards, while the noisy closer “Pterodactyls” has a chugging insistence midway between krautrock and hardcore. The production, from fellow Agoura Hills escapee Jonathan Rado of Foxygen, is smeared and overdriven, and the arrangements often shift at jarring angles. But those alienating effects are offset by the contagious energy of two kids throwing every trick they know at the proverbial wall. Congrats, guys: Hopefully, the next time you’re forced back home, it’ll be to open the Canyon Club for REO Speedwagon. MATTHEW SINGER. Bunk Bar. 9:30 pm. $8. 21+.
Shy Boys, Sculpture Gardens, Fog Father
[SURF POP] The natural arch-nemesis of Portland's own Shy Girls, Kansas City's Shy Boys make music that is a far cry from Dan Vidmar's well-studied blue-eyed soul but nevertheless has similar bedroom origins. Describing the sound of its debut self-titled LP as "landlocked surf music," the Boys—brothers Collin and Kyle Rausch plus Konnor Erwin, who, unlike their Stumptown rivals, at least get the pronoun right—play indie-pop borne of classic twee jangle, a little beachy twang and sweet, ghostly melodies. The trio formed in traditional garage band fashion—start a band, learn instruments later—and while the amateurism at play is fairly obvious listening to the album, the group never overreaches instrumentally, and proves that technical facility is never a barrier to songwriting talent. Your move, Vidmar. MATTHEW SINGER. Holocene. 8:30 pm. Free. 21+.
Hustle and Drone, Thanks
[SPIRITUAL MACHINES] Blue-eyed electro-pop is everywhere these days, and Hustle and Drone is no exception. After debuting its impending debut LP, Holyland, from start to finish at Bunk Bar a few weeks back, the Portland trio may be outgrowing the rite of passage that is Rontoms Sunday Sessions. The sound system can withstand the fuzzed-out bass and dreamy synth plunking that marries Kid A-era Radiohead with the buttoned-up catharsis of How To Dress Well. It’s the AC unit I’ll be worried about when the celestial crooning of Ryan Neighbors renders the frontman shirtless and the lady-folk foaming at the mouth. PETE COTTELL. Rontoms. 8 pm. Free. 21+.
MONDAY, JULY 28
Thirsty City: Grape God, Drew Slum, Snitches, Montgomery Word
[NARCOTIC HIP-HOP] Read our profile here. The Know. 8 pm. Call venue for ticket information. 21+.
TUESDAY, JULY 29
Rare Monk, Us Lights, Souvenir Driver
[SPACE POP] Read our profile here. Holocene. 8:30 pm. $6. 21+.
The Woolen Men, Cool Ghouls, Dogheart
[GARAGE ROCK] Cool Ghouls are born from the San-Francisco garage scene that also sparked Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. Known for its gritty guitars, heavy reverb and the occasional homage to '60s psychedelia, Cool Ghouls undoubtedly embody that scene. Its 2013 self-titled debut showboats the band's fuzzy coolness via tight chord progressions and sunny riffs. But the Ghouls are able to transcend its trendiness and turn it into timelessness due of one key factor: They’re really, really good. There’s a certain amount of lyrical tenacity the band has mastered, mixing the bluntness of an older sister with the impulsiveness of a drunk text to an unrequited love. Unearthing truths and adhering to the catchiness makes Cool Ghouls more than just a fad. ASHLEY JOCZ. Mississippi Studios. $5. 8 pm. 21+