Shows of the Week: Built to Spill Is One of the Best Indie-Rock Bands From the Northwest

What to see and what to hear.


Boise’s Built to Spill is one of the most revered indie-rock bands ever to come out of the Northwest. And unlike many bands that turn amateurism into a virtue, they’re led by a bona fide guitar innovator in the form of Doug Martsch—even if he himself would tell you he isn’t that great of a musician. That mixture of innovation and old-fashioned garage-rock humility is crucial to why Built to Spill records like Perfect From Now On and There’s Nothing Wrong With Love remain touchstones for young bands to this day. Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., 971-808-5094, 8 pm. $30. 21+.


That Steve Vai started as a teenage transcriptionist for Frank Zappa should give you an idea of the level of his skill, even if you’re never heard him play guitar. The 62-year-old is nearly synonymous with virtuosity on his instrument—and though he’s most associated with the ‘80s tradition of hair-metal histrionics, he’s still an in-demand session player and an inspiration for up-and-coming shredders. His Roseland show is an opportunity to see one of the all-time masters of fretboard fireworks in his element. Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave. 8 pm. $39.50. 21+.


Whether as Grouper or with collaborative projects like Mirrorring and Slow Walkers, Astoria’s Liz Harris has spent nearly two decades as Oregon’s resident master of hazy, haunting ambient music. Helen, her group with bassist Scott Simmons and drummer and Freedom to Spend label co-boss Jed Bindeman, lets her weld her gauzy guitars to a rock-band chassis. If you love Grouper but wince at the idea of spending one of her soporific shows on your feet, here’s a Harris project you can actually move around to. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St. 9 pm. $15. 21+.

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