In March 2020, every member of Portland band Glitterfox got COVID-19. Yet with sickness came a symptom never reported by the CDC: the urge to create music.
For Glitterfox, downtime meant having more hours to work on the songs that would eventually form their most recent album, Night. And their pandemic-defying desire to create wasn’t an outlier.
COVID-19 may have slowed Portland’s bands, but it didn’t stop them. Over the past few years, a new class of musicians has solidified, bringing enough passion and invention to cheer even the most jaded listener.
That’s where WW’s 2022 Best New Bands Issue comes in.
This year, we partnered with MusicPortland, a grassroots nonprofit that advocates for local music. We then asked creatives, music insiders and well-informed clubgoers to vote on the city’s finest emerging groups.
In this issue, we profile Portland’s 10 best new bands (from an original list of 165), an impressive lineup that ranges from the overlapping melodies of Sean Battles to the next-generation blues of The Macks. The top six will play July 18 at Mississippi Studios in a battle of bands to see who survives and is chosen Band of the Year. We will also announce a special audience favorite. You can purchase tickets to the showcase here.
Best New Bands means something more in 2022. It’s not just a celebration of the talented musicians who have risen from the ashes of the pandemic. It also calls attention to the importance and vitality of the music industry in our city.
Prior to COVID, Portland had 330 spaces where live music was hosted and more than 700 small businesses related to the music industry, from clubs to gear makers to sound engineers to recording studios. The music business is central to this city’s DNA. So this year’s showcase is a fundraiser for MusicPortland’s Echo Fund, which makes grants to local artists.
The bands we’re spotlighting vary in genre and style. Yet they all have one thing in common—they took one of the hardest times to make music and made it their time.
These are their stories.
—Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
Sean Battles Has the Ear to Bring Genres Together
Glitterfox Plays Indie Folk With Rock ‘n’ Roll and Americana DNA
Raw Emotions are Kingsley’s Rocket Fuel
The Macks are the Masters of Controlled Mayhem
Night Heron Is Heeding the Call of R&B
Pool Boys Plays Outside the Box
Amulets Creates Analog Nature in a Digital Suit
Dim Wit Isn’t Giving up Their Iconic Costume
The Magic of M A N E’s Musical Fusion
Lo Steele Wants You to Feel Seen
GO: The Best New Bands Showcase will be held 6:30 pm Monday, July 18 at Mississippi Studios. 3939 N Mississippi Ave, 503-288-3895, tickets available here. 21+.