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, SEPT. 3
[MANDINKA MASTER] One of the reigning deities of Afropop, the Mansa of Mali, Salif Keita, who just turned 65, is still innovating. After earlier incorporating funk, jazz, rock and even salsa influences over his distinguished career, his latest album adds electronic dance elements, deep bass and even string arrangements to the traditional instruments (n'goni, balafon, calabash), reversing the process that Western rockers like David Byrne, Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel pulled off a generation ago. With a touring lineup featuring guitar as well as traditional instruments including the beautiful kora harp, who knows how much electronica we'll hear? Really, all that matters is the albino griot's sublime tenor singing, which still soars. BRETT CAMPBELL. Aladdin Theater. 8 pm. $35. Under 21 permitted with legal guardian.
Old Age, Lost Cities, Soft Shadows
[DARK DAYDREAMS] Old Age is one of Portland's best rustic rock acts, and Soft Shadows plays superlative dreampop that doesn't hide behind blankets of fuzz, but the true draw here is Lost Cities, a new project featuring Rex Marshall, a.k.a. Mattress, which, from what little is available online, sounds like Nick Cave crooning desert-parched torch songs as if he were auditioning to play a singing narrator on the next season of True Detective. Intrigued? You should be. Holocene. 8:30 pm. $6. 21+.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 4
Castanets, Alameda, Old Light
[FREAK FOLK] Like much of Raymond Raposa’s other work under the Castanets moniker, the swaggering variance on Decimation Blues reveals itself to be the strongest case for his existence in a realm far greater than the folky coffeehouse ghetto. Beyond the stark contrast between the shuffling Rhodes on creaky opener “It’s Good to Touch You in the Sunlight” and the 8-bit electro-clash on the following “Be My Eyes,” the bulk of side one’s tracks hold up well because of their gently loping structures and economical use of space. If it weren’t for Raposa’s mastery of reverb and celestial nuance gluing it together, Decimation Blueswould come off as a half-assembled mixtape of spitballed ideas, which is totally OK given the core strength of the record’s best moments. It’s the stuff between the lines—the flourishes of sax and backing vocals that creep into the mix—that makes the thing jell, even if the record feels like it’s stuck on shuffle. The tender “Tell Them Memphis” is a breathy torch song that would sound great in a power outage, but the addition of skittering Auto-Tune manages to coalesce with the rest of the campfire balladry in a way that’s unique to the Castanets brand. Misfires and all, Decimation Blues is a serviceable entry into the freak-folk canon. PETE COTTELL. Doug Fir Lounge. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
[IDOL WORSHIP] One day, Beyonce's birthday will be declared a national holiday. For now, we'll have to settle for unofficial celebrations such as this, featuring Bey-themed DJ sets, video projections and dance performances, plus a costume contest. Extra points for anyone who shows up in a wetsuit. Surfbort! See our feature on Bey Day here. Holocene. 9 pm. $5. 21+.
Blood Beach, Woolen Men, Hooded Hags
[ROCK'N'ROLL] Psychedelic rock‘n'rollers Blood Beach are reuniting after a year off to play this benefit show to for friend and European booker Jorge Paez, whose family is dealing with serious medical expenses. Paez books shows through his agency Hell Yeah Bookings, which is based in Barcelona. Although he lives across the Atlantic, his efforts have helped many Portland bands reach wider audiences. Having toured Europe earlier this year thanks to Paez, power-pop garage rock act the Woolen Men are also eager to help out. LYLA ROWEN. The Know. 8 pm. $5. 21+
FRIDAY, SEPT. 5
ECSTASY: DJ Deeon, DJ Marfox, J-Cush, Massacooramaan, DJ Rafael
[GHETTO SENSEI AND PUPILS] Some two decades ago on the south side of Chicago, DJ Deeon fused popping house beats with dirty hip-hop samples to create an offspring completely unlike its forebears. Ghetto house quickly populated the globe, changing with the times and surroundings, and there are perhaps no more representative modern acolytes than DJ Marfox and J-Cush. In New York, Cush pushes juke and footwork—themselves cousins of ghetto house—to new levels with his label, Lit City Trax label. And in Lisbon, Marfox has somehow turned wildly energetic kuduro up even further. Both students return to Deeon’s dojo to show him what they’ve learned. MITCH LILLIE. Holocene. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
Bear In Heaven, Young Magic, Miles Cooper Seaton
[DIGITAL PSYCH-ROCK] For a decade now, Brooklyn band Bear In Heaven has been skipping along to its own twisted, radiating style of electronic rock. Percussive rhythms dominate, whether coming from the drums, guitar and effects pedals or the ever-present synthesizers. The trio’s newest record, Time Is Over One Day Old, is arguably the band's best, while also being its most accessible. But an edge reamins. There’s a captivating darkness throughout, as though the group were soundtracking an underworld dance party. Fellow experimentalists Young Magic share the bill and are not to be missed. MARK STOCK. Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $12 advance, $14 day of show. 21+.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 6
Musee Mecanique, Rauelsson
[ORCHESTRAL DREAMSCAPES] You’ve heard the saying, “A smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor,” right? This phrase doesn’t seem to apply to the guys of Musée Mécanique, who, on their most recent album, have created a meandering seafaring adventure that explores the nature of dreams versus reality. With careful instrumentation that delicately mimics water—from the swerving slide guitar of “The Lighthouse and the Hourglass” to the undulating acoustics on “A Wish We Spoke”—the quintet’s long-awaited second LP sways softly through its 10 tracks, with layers of cello, synth and accordion all anchored by seamless, breathy harmonies. Dashes of theremin, xylophone and bright, hopeful trumpet all pile atop the layers, creating a sound that is at once whimsical and haunting. The constant sway gets a bit sleepy after a while, but when the narrator encounters rocky water, most notably on “The Open Sea,” the album finally picks up speed. By the time the album reaches its end, it’s been an adventure—though not always the most exciting journey, a beautiful, intricately orchestrated one nonetheless. KAITIE TODD. Alberta Rose Theatre. 8 pm. $12 advance, $14 day of show. Under 21 permitted with legal guardian.
[EXPLODING PIANO] One of the country's most powerful proponents of contemporary classical music by younger composers, Kathleen Supove has transformed—or, to use the title of a recent album, exploded—the usually staid and stuffy piano recital into a thrill ride packed with new sounds. Not only does she play mesmerizing music by late-20th century masters like Terry Riley, John Adams, David Lang and John Zorn, she's also commissioned and performed pieces from 20-, 30- and 40-something rising stars like Mohammed Fairouz, Missy Mazzolli, Annie Gosfield and many more. She explodes the format by enhancing her shows with electronics, video and other decidedly non-classical features. This paragon of the New York-based new music scene is actually a native Portlander—just like another well known Brooklyn composer who recently returned to his native city, Kenji Bunch, the new artistic director of FearNoMusic, which is bringing Supove back home for her first-ever hometown show. BRETT CAMPBELL. Brunish Theatre. 8 pm. $15-$35. All ages.
[TENDER AND TOUGH] Washington-bred Brandi Carlile has an astonishing penchant for duality. Throughout her folksy, decade-long career, she’s crafted a catalog that is often as saccharine as anything by Patsy Cline while also being as fierce as one would expect from a young talent with little to lose. The quick shift from alt-country rocker to piano-pop star can be startling and somewhat undesirable at times, as her fourth full-length, Bear Creek, might attest, but her searing pipes and exquisite harmonies always bring it home. BRANDON WIDDER. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. 7 pm. Sold out. 21+.
Swans, Carla Bozulich, Grouper
[TORTURE PORN FOR THE SOUL] Rumor has it that, back in its No Wave heyday, Swans would play so loud it’d cause audiences to vomit. That’s likely an urban myth, but it might as well be true. The band was always an uneasy listen, punishing with grinding tempos, torturous volume and the self-flagellating howls of mastermind Michael Gira. You didn’t go “see” Swans—you survived them. But beginning in 2010, when Gira revived the group after a decade of dormancy, the band’s intense physicality, once meant merely to brutalize, has taken on increasingly spiritual dimensions. Each of the three albums it’s released since returning to life is bigger and more dense than the one before, with this year’s To Be Kind topping out at over two hours. Attempting to describe them in strict genre terms would do a disservice. Instead, imagine the band as a rolling void, something like the Nothing from The NeverEnding Story, swallowing everything in its path—sex and love, hate and death, God and nothingness—then expelling all of it back out into the universe in the form of shuddering percussion and monstrous chords that seem to sprawl toward infinity. It’s transcendental meditation by way of punk, the blues and the Big Bang. Swans remains frightening in its severity, and the music is still so overpowering that the notion of crowds losing control of their bodily functions doesn’t seem far fetched. Gird your bowels tight enough to make it to the end, though, and the experience opens up into an almost religious kind of ecstasy. Roseland Theater. 9 pm. $20 general admission, $30 reserved balcony seating. 21+.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 7
The Duhks, Steve Poltz
[ZYDECO INCLUDED] Criss-crossing the nation, playing scattered festivals—including one down in Sisters—the Duhks have become a taut and wildly progressive Americana act, equally suited to playing New York City and the hills of Virginia. After issuing four discs over the course of about a decade amid a few lineup changes, the Canadian ensemble returns with Beyond the Blue, a sleekly produced paean to yearning and jubilation. There’s even a bit of zydeco peppered into “Lazy John” for good measure. And along with the troupe is Steve Poltz. You know Steve Poltz, right? The dude who wrote that song for Jewel and was in the Rugburns back in the ’90s. DAVE CANTOR. Alberta Rose Theatre. 7 pm. $15 advance, $18 day of show.
Taylor Ho Bynum, Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble
[JAZZ BY BIKE] See our profile on Taylor Ho Bynum here. Central Hotel. 7 pm. $5 for students and seniors, $10 general admission.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
[ROCK THE REFUGEES] When life gives you homelessness and civil war, launch your journey as an internationally renowned musician and humanitarian inspiration. Such is the unlikely mantra of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, formed by a group displaced to Guinea during the civil war that ravaged their home country. Since returning home in 2004, the group has risen to be one of Africa’s top bands, delivering traditional rhythms that are damn uplifting. The All Stars released their fourth studio album, Libation, this spring. GRACE STAINBACK. Mississippi Studios. 8 pm. $18 advance, $21 day of show. 21+.
MONDAY, SEPT. 8
[WHITE JAZZ] Less than a decade removed from titillating dowagers at Union Station’s piano bar, Storm Large has so successfully bum-rushed the global celebrity apparatus that her side projects threaten to overshadow the estimable pipes and provocateur instincts first sparking her ascent. Finally, after recruiting an all-star retinue of guests for a jaunt through jazz standards and rock-era classics alongside a pair of originals, La Large returns in full-throated majesty with Le Bonheur. Storm’s sizable vocal range encompasses a lived-in earthiness that grounds the instrumental backdrops before a cultivated precision ever turns antiseptic. Newer tunes sometimes veer toward karaoke theatrics, but the playful phrasing that enlivens “The Lady Is a Tramp” and the pop-metal dynamics propelling “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” toward power-ballad territory impose a distinctly engrossing worldview upon chestnuts seemingly immune to idiosyncratic readings yet unmistakably branded Storm Large. JAY HORTON. Alberta Rose Theatre. 7:30 pm. Sold out.
Tobacco, The Stargazer Lillies, Oscillator Bug
[LO-FI PSYCH ELECTRO] Any schlub in a dorm room can illegally download Ableton Live and dub themselves a "producer." Presenting modern electronic music with a distinctly hi-fi status quo has to be what Tom Fec, aka Tobacco, is railing against with his regressive, acid-fed synth and vocoder jams. Compared to his day job as the glo-fi maestro of Black Moth Super Rainbow, applying the term “synth-pop” to what he does in his off-time may be a stretch. On the excellent new Ultima II Massage, Fec cranks out rickety, stoner-friendly jams on analog equipment that sounds originated from the melted remains of an 80’s Radio Shack fire sale, but the warped melodies and low-riding grooves hit the same spots as Com Truise or Boards of Canada. PETE COTTELL. Doug Fir Lounge. 9 pm. $15. 21+.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 9
Oregon Symphony with Trey Anastasio
[PHISHY CLASSICAL] Both classical and rock fans have reason to be skeptical of the new generation of pops concert, which boosts orchestras' bottom lines with aging rockers instead of their grandparents' big-band arrangements. But the Oregon Symphony has been doing it more often and better than most, sometimes featuring rockers whose music actually uses the orchestra to do more than play chords behind bloated versions of old hits. This crossover concert looks more promising than most: Try Anastasio actually studied classical composition in college before fronting Phish. He's pushed beyond pop before, in co-writing a Broadway musical last year (winning a Tony nomination) and composing other orchestral and chamber works, some of which drew raves from The New York Times. Plus, he's bringing li'l ol' us (not Seattle or L.A., his next stops) the world premiere performance of his newest orchestral piece, Petrichor, which refers to that heady scent that emerges from nature after the first rain of the season—an apt concept for this end of summer show. Anastasio himself will sit in with the orchestra on guitar. BRETT CAMPBELL. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. 7:30 pm. $45-$90. All ages.