The Portland indie-pop group—which topped Willamette Week's Best New Band poll in 2012—had hinted that it might be breaking up in a Nov. 16 message to its mailing list subscribers, describing the upcoming concert as "our last show of the year (and maybe ever)." Then yesterday, the band tucked a confirmation into a series of photos posted on its Facebook page:
"It wasn't a totally unanimous decision that it would be this particular show," says singer-guitarist Cameron Spies. "There was some contention there."
Radiation City formed in 2010, forging a style of soulful synth-pop that also incorporated bits of bossa nova, doo-wop and space-age kitsch. According to the press materials for what will end up being its third and final album, this year's Synesthetica, the band nearly splintered prior to its release due to the fraying romantic relationship between Spies and singer-keyboardist Lizzy Ellison. The process of writing the album brought them back together—temporarily, it turns out.
"I think it also kind of destroyed us," Spies says. "It was such a trying process, what we realized, in hindsight, is it broke something permanently, in some way."
Spies says he and Ellison finally broke up last year, and that maintaining their working relationship put more strain on the band than they anticipated.
"I'm probably going to cry a lot," he says of tonight's farewell show. "It's pretty heavy. It was a huge part of our lives for over six years, and it's a really sad thing to see it fall apart."
The members are staying active in the music scene. Bassist Randy Bemrose is already playing out with his new project, Because, while Ellison has formed Cardioid with former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Riley Geare. Spies says he has a collection of songs he was potentially going to use for Radiation City that he plans to eventually release under the name Night Heron.
Tickets for tonight's farewell show, with openers Pure Bathing Culture and Sama Dams, are still available.
And before saying goodbye, Radiation City did manage to make one last video together. Check out "Oil City" below: