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, AUG. 20
[PUNK INSPIRATION] Though you might not know his name, Jason Narducy probably influenced your favorite band, whether it's Guided By Voices or Foo Fighters, whose Dave Grohl lists Narducy as the reason he got into music. Narducy is a scene veteran—co-founder of Chicago punk heroes Verböten, frontman of alt-rock should-have-beens Verbow and bassist for all sorts of other legendary musicians' touring bands, including Bob Mould, Robert Pollard and Superchunk. With Split Single he’s finally stepping into the songwriting spotlight again, and the band’s debut album, Fragmented World, is a pretty, air-tight record that drifts from the string-led “Last Goodbye” to the power-pop burst of “Never Look Back.” Sure, there might be a special guest playing bass—we don't know who it is, but Britt Daniel did play on the record, and Spoon doesn't have anything going on in the three days between its headlining MFNW appearance and this show—but Split Single deserve your attention based on Narducy’s fine songwriting alone. MICHAEL MANNHEIMER. Doug Fir. 9 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.
Sam Boshnack Quintet, Blue Lighters
[ALT-JAZZ] Revival Drum Shop's ear-opening Outset Series generally showcases more "out" sounds than the promising Seattle trumpeter-composer Sam Boshnack, best known for her work in the Reptet, purveys in this ensemble, which also includes clarinet and rhythm section. But Boshnack, who studied with classical composer Joan Tower and has worked with accessible sonic adventurers from David Byrne to Terry Riley to Wayne Horvitz, packs as much originality into her panoramic multi-movement compositions as more avant-sounding improvisers, without leaving behind fans of more melodic jazz. She'll play shorter works (which can embrace styles from funky brass band to chamber jazz) and her newest commission, the Nellie Bly Project, inspired by the 19th century daredevil, feminist and journalist. BRETT CAMPBELL. Revival Drum Shop. 8 pm. $5-$15.
Tara Jane O’Neil, Key Losers, Lavender Mirror
[EXPERIMENTAL FOLK] Has there ever been a better marriage between songwriter and song title than Tara Jane O’Neil’s “Wordless in Woods”? The standout track from her wonderful 2013 record, Where Shine New Lights, is a note-perfect description of why many people, myself included, find her music so powerful. With just a sparse organ and O’Neil’s ethereal, enchanting voice, the song sounds exactly like its title. The rest of the record winds down similar streams, combining lovely folk melodies with some of O’Neil’s more experimental tendencies. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another five years for her to release the next one. MICHAEL MANNHEIMER. Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $8. 21+.
THURSDAY, AUG. 21
Sean Flinn & the Royal We, Cataldo, Dustin Hamman
[FEEL-GOOD INDIE] It’s easy to gloss over The Lost Weekend, the second album from Sean Flinn and the Royal We. With its sunny, medium-tempo indie-pop arrangements and vague lyrics about romance and living the artist life, it’s the kind of record you’ll listen to with a smile before leaving it in your glove compartment for months. But while Flinn’s immaculately crafted songs may go down easy, they demand at least a couple of repeat plays. The tracks on the album all share a relaxed vibe, but there’s a wide variety of flavors in the mix: The jangly, sing-song “City Lights” channels ‘60s psych-pop and the shabby art rock of Grizzly Bear, while “After the Wall” is a slice of finger-picked Americana with strings and handclaps that recall Typhoon’s mellower side. The record’s songwriting is equally adept no matter the style, with twisty melodies like the verse on “Silver String” and tasty diversions such as the title track’s wordless hook. Resting easy on top of the mix, Flinn’s voice is delicate and likeable, sounding like a mellowed-out James Mercer, if the Shins frontman sang a few more low notes. Flinn rarely strains, and the band seems to keep its amps around medium most of the time. But when the gritty guitar enters on closer “The Ravine,” it feels like a well-earned climax. Delicately constructed from start to finish, The Lost Weekend isn’t just immensely likeable—it’s also really good. TREE PALMEDO. Doug Fir Lounge. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.
[POST-DUBSTEP] Listening to Jamie Smith’s solo work, it’s hard to believe he’s produced for the likes of Drake and Alicia Keys. With ominous, minimalist beats and diced-up samples, his brand of tripped-out house feels too claustrophobic for Top 40 radio. Smith’s music works best on festival stages, where he backs up the XX in front of rapt crowds, and in dark and sweaty clubs, where the steel-drum loops and galloping beat of latest single “All Under One Roof Raving” bring the song’s title to fruition more often than not. But all this isn’t to say that producers like Smith shouldn’t break into the mainstream—that Alicia Keys track he worked on, “When It’s All Over,” is the best thing she’s put out in years. TREE PALMEDO. Rotture. 9 pm. $15. 21+.
Halo Refuser, Takimba, Guda, Ninjamonk
[A NEW VOICE] Plodding glitch-hop is not what you expect to hear right up front on Halo Refuser’s third full-length, Into Your Layers: The album’s title and pastoral cover suggest romantic bedroom themes. But if there’s one thing you should know about Asher Fulero, the Portland producer who’s been behind the project for the last six years, it’s to expect the unexpected. Fulero doesn’t bend genres so much as effortlessly channel a half dozen or more of them. There’s the downtempo dub of “Forest Spores,” the monster-truck-sized breaks in “Symbolizer” and buttery, spiritual trip-hop in “Soul Searching.” His production muscles are flexed impressively throughout Into Your Layers, but it’s his voice—making its debut—that brings it together. “Waiting for me/Just like I knew you would be,” he calls out on the airy and passionate “Folding Me Up.” Halfway through the album, his romantic target has finally taken shape. Fulero heavily relies on post-production effects to achieve variation in his voice, but with pipes as technical and confident as his—think somewhere just south of Todd Edwards—it’s not for lack of ability. Fulero has a point to prove: Artists of all stripes need not be confined by genre or theme. It’s an argument that works well, and goes down all the more smoothly when there’s a voice to the beats. MITCH LILLIE. Star Theater. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
FRIDAY, AUG. 22
Amanda X, Beach Day, Is/Is, the Chanterelles
[SURF'S UP] Best Coast, meet the other coast: Florida's Beach Day play girl-group-inspired garage rock with song titles like "BFF's," "Don't Call Me On the Phone" and "All My Friends Were Punks," all with a hazy lilt and handclap-happy rhythms. Though Philly noise-gazer Amanda X headlines here, expect Beach Day to be the band playing somewhere much bigger next time through. The Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., 473-8729. 8 pm. Call venue for ticket information. 21+.
[IMAGINATIVE INDIE] Liam Finn has quietly produced some of the most underrated dream-rock of the last five years. The New Zealand raised, New York-based songsmith played as many as 67 instruments in the creation of his newest solo record, The Nihilist. Expectedly, Finn’s current sound is richly textured, at times busy like St. Vincent while cool and chilly, composed and near-symphonic at others. 2011’s FOMO was a solid effort, but Finn’s present, highly enriched form is tough to beat. MARK STOCK. White Eagle. 9:30 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.
SATURDAY, AUG. 23
Hoverfest: Yob, Danava, Acid King, Witch Mountain, Eight Bells, Wounded Giant, Holy Grove, Mountain God
[AMPS OF DESTRUCTION] Four years ago, Nial McGaughey sat down on his couch and, for no particular reason, decided to build an amplifier. It wasn’t a totally leftfield decision: He went to school for electrical engineering and designed amps for boutique retailers in L.A. But this personal project would lead McGaughey, who returned to Portland in 2010 after a few years working in the tech industry, down a new career path. Today, the bearded musician is the proprietor of Hovercraft Amps, producing highly regarded, specialized equipment made from all recycled material. And now, he’s even got his own festival: The first ever Hoverfest will feature regional skull-crushers like YOB, Danava, Witch Mountain and more—bands all in debt to the customized, vintage sound of McGaughey’s products. “My ear gravitates toward that sound,” says McGaughey, who’s played in everything from industrial bands to alt-country acts. In four years, Hovercraft has built over 500 amps using reclaimed bits and pieces. “It can be just raw parts that go together or something that’s been rotting in a warehouse for 10 years and I buy the whole shipping container,” he says. “I treat it like a chef who goes to the farmer’s market and goes, ‘What’s on special? What’s available?’ And that kind of drives the design and the price.” Though his amps have been used by everyone from Interpol to Keith Urban’s touring band, those on the heavier end of the spectrum have taken a particular liking to them—hence the Hoverfest lineup. “The bands that play the stuff, I love the sound of their music anyway,” McGaughey says, “and when I get to hear, ‘We were using this amp, then we used yours and all of a sudden the sound became three dimensional,’ I know there’s more than just the sum of the parts thing happening.” MATTHEW SINGER. Cravedog Inc., 2119 N Kerby St. Noon Saturday, Aug. 23. $15. All ages.
MUSA Soul Fest: Liz Vice, Speaker Minds, Brownish Black, The Get Ahead, Nicole Berke, Dean
[PDX-GROWN SOUL] MUSA, the just-established brainchild of local musicians Jeni Wren and Juliet Howard, aims to showcase the Portland soul and R&B scene through promotions and event planning. While their long-term vision involves incorporating the entire NW region, the collective’s first major event focuses on all that is fantastic in our immediate surroundings. The MUSA Soul Fest is stacked with local soul and R&B talent, most notably up-and-coming gospel darling Liz Vice, whose stirring vocals—more empowering than preachy—have attracted international interest. GRACE STAINBACK. Hawthorne Theatre. 7:30 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.
Drop Dead, Bell Witch
[EXTREME METAL] The outer edges of tempo will be explored at this show, which the promoter has dubbed, “Fast vs. Slow.” Really, this is a mini-festival of epic proportions, with a touring cadre of leaden sludge colliding with grind extremists. Topping the bill is Providence, Rhode Island, legend Drop Dead. The group formed in 1991 and is still going strong, standing pat on its political hardcore stance, delivering short bursts of intense speed and vitriol. The penultimate slot tonight is filled by Bell Witch, a duo from Seattle that bemoans these end times with melodic anguish, sung from a sinking tar-pit of doom. The whole bill crushes and should take listeners on a trip to heavy frontiers with no middle ground. NATHAN CARSON. Slabtown. 8 pm. $12. All ages.
Crate Diggers Portland
[RECORD FAIR] The online album database Discogs—which is based in Portland—hosts its first ever local pop-up vinyl marketplace, featuring 30 vendors and an after-party with a DJ set from boogie-funk master Dam Funk. White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th Ave., 236-9672. Record is noon-6 pm, after-party is 8 pm-2 am. 21+.
Ganesh Rajagopalan, Dafnis Prieto, Osam Ezzeldin
[CARNATIC JAZZ] In this multicultural, multimedia extravaganza, the Indian violin virtuoso Ganesh Rajagopalan, recently named artistic adviser by the Rasika organization that's presenting this concert, starts with classical South Indian ragas and other Carnatic compositions, accompanied by traditional clay pot percussion. Then he transcends tradition, inviting rising Egyptian-American pianist Osam Ezzeldin (who like Rajagopalan has played with Zakir Hussain) and masterful Cuban drummer (and 2011 MacArthur "genius" grantee) Dafnis Prieto to weave jazzy lines from a very different improvisatory tradition into the expanding musical fabric. To top it off, Portland choreographer Jayanthi Raman incorporates a new dance work. BRETT CAMPBELL. Winningstad Theatre. 7 pm. $22-$34.
SUNDAY, AUG. 24
Moniker, the Tamed West, Lynnae Gryffin
[FOLKTRONIC MYSTIC] See our profile here. Holocene. 8:30 pm. $6. 21+.
Luz Elena Mendoza
[ONE-WOMAN FOLK] There’s a good deal to be said for someone who can command a room whether alone or with a band. Singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza, frontwoman of local outfits Tiburones and the on-hiatus Y La Bamba, is such a rare performer. On the surface, her latest work doesn’t seem as steeped in her Mexican heritage as her previous efforts, but it still shines with her tumbling guitar and unmistakable vibrato. Her songs are entrancingly whimsical as they are haunting, filled with lore and an undeniable sense of spirit. BRANDON WIDDER. White Eagle Saloon. 7 pm. Free. 21+.
MONDAY, AUG. 25
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Fred Eaglesmith
[FLATLAND COUNTRY FOLK] If Fred Eaglesmith had grown up in West Texas instead of southern Ontario and Western Canada, he would have fit in perfectly with the silver-voiced Jimmie Dale Gilmore and prolific, Dylan-influenced Butch Hancock, two-thirds of Texas' legendary Flatlanders, who have been inspired by their rural West Texas upbringings (as well as Buddhist philosophy, fellow Texas legends like Townes Van Zandt, and more) for four decades. All three old school, alt-country singer-songwriters share a propensity for smart lyrics, rural themes, dry humor and deft character sketches—of both people and places—not to mention catchy tunes. BRETT CAMPBELL. Alberta Rose Theatre. 8 pm. $25 advance, $28 day of show. Under 21 permitted with legal guardian.
How to Dress Well, DJ Portia
[EMO R&B] See our profile here. Holocene. 8:30 pm. $15 advance, $17 day of show. 21+.
Cam'ron, Cool Nutz, Ill Chris, DJ Swervewon
[HARLEM'S PINK PANTHER] See our Top 5 Tips for How to Dress Well…For the Cam'ron Show here. Roseland Theater. 8 pm. $20. All ages.
Sylvan Esso, Dana Buoy
[ELECTRONIC BEDROOM FOLK] Given their day jobs, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn’s foray into minimalist laptop pop seems like an odd left turn. The former is one-third of Vermont chorale-folk group Mountain Man and the latter plays bass in Durham’s Megafaun, rendering the economical assembly of Sylvan Esso’s eponymous debut a curious statement on how roots-rock can be buttressed against minimalist electronic sequencing. Atop Sanderson's minimal synth melodies and digitized earworms lies a pile of vocal loops, often teetering like a stack of old books in the corner that have been on the verge of collapse for years. The result is oddly compelling and at times ecstatic, akin to your weird friend’s half-empty room of mismatched furniture that, somehow, manages to work well together. PETE COTTELL. Wonder Ballroom. 8 pm. Sold out.
TUESDAY, AUG. 26
The Afghan Whigs, Joseph Arthur
[TRANSGRESSIVE SOUL SHAKERS] A certain generation may groan upon recounting the boozy, lightly chauvinist bloodletting of Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli, but the proof of what made the Whigs an undeniable force is certainly in the proverbial pudding on this year’s comeback record, Do to the Beast. Out of the context set by their '90s albums—specifically Gentleman—the sulking, orchestral grandeur of the record's high points hit with the kind of bombast Kings of Leon only wish they were romantic enough to conjure. Not even all the whiskey in the world could give modern poseurs the swagger and the stench to pull off what Dulli and co. continue to do with the aplomb of men half their age. PETE COTTELL. Doug Fir Lounge. 9 pm. $30. 21+