Tonight in Music: Superchunk, Animal Collective, Unknown Mortal Orchestra & More
SUPERCHUNK, TITUS ANDRONICUS, NAOMI PUNK
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) I pity the poor bastard who doesn't enjoy bopping around to Superchunk's infectious, spastic power-pop. Maybe you've loved the North Carolina band since their '90s heyday, or maybe you're a new convert. Either way, let's play fuzzy air guitars and pogo around to some timeless indie rock! Fingers crossed for "Hyper Enough." COURTNEY FERGUSON Also, read our article on Superchunk.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, DAN DEACON, HAERTS
(Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th) It's become increasingly clear how Animal Collective's neon-pagan electronic innovations speak across a variety of genres. As their fellowship grows, the band—superficially defined by drugs and internet-as-audience—has staked its claim as a heady, albeit family-friendly, brew of kinetic energy through a hallucinatory veil. With a stage set like a day-glo playground, Animal Collective's cyberdelic plateau invokes the spiritual reverie of open-air music as hypermodern ritual and communal tradition. Although this one is for the kids, boomers in the audience should expect an obligatory flashback or two. WYATT SCHAFFNER
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA, WOODEN INDIAN BURIAL GROUND, THE WE SHARED MILK
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Even if Unknown Mortal Orchestra were to shrug off some slapdash renditions of tunes from their amazing second album, II, that should be enough to get you in the door. But Ruban Nielson leads a firebrand trio that's responsible for positively explosive live shows. It helps that he's a world-class dervish on lead guitar, turning UMO's basement-psych recordings into freakouts that need to be experienced in the flesh. Much has been made of Nielson's move from New Zealand and the anonymity of the original UMO recordings that were posted online, but the narrative has already moved well beyond that. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a can't-miss band, and if Nielson isn't Portland's biggest rock star, he very well might be its best. NED LANNAMANN
TYPHOON, NEAL MORGAN
(The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th) You've seen Typhoon, right? Us too. But see them again at their two MusicfestNW sets, which will showcase the populous Portland outfit's brand-new White Lighter before they hit the road and bestow their sounds on the rest of the continent. Tonight they play with Like a Villain, and Neal Morgan is the opener on Friday. DIRK VANDERHART Also, read our article on Typhoon.
BONNIE PRINCE BILLY, MT. EERIE
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie)That it falls under the banner of a music festival is startling enough, but tonight's pairing is truly extraordinary. Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Will Oldham), on his first solo tour since 2007, and Mount Eerie (Phil Elverum) are artists of the highest caliber—singular, iconoclastic, unspoiled, and, many years in, every bit inspired as they are inspiring. Each draws from the distinctive musical tradition of their respective homes, Oldham of the golden country-folk of the American South, and Elverum from the elemental indie rock of the Northwest. Each has built dedicated fanbases while largely eschewing commercial and corporate opportunity. Each employs wry senses of humor, yet cultivates tangible emotional connection with deceptively straight talk. Both too, are insatiable students of the craft, artists outside of music, and prolific collaborators. Speaking of collaborations, Elverum provided backing vocals on Bonnie "Prince" Billy's stirring "Go Folks Go," in 2010. Whether or not they'll share the stage tonight is anyone's guess. As Oldham relayed through his publicist, "Who knows about the collab possibilities?" ANDREW R TONRY Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SURFER BLOOD, AGESANDAGES, WILD ONES, HOLIDAY FRIENDS
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) People are waiting and wishing for Surfer Blood to fail. Even before frontman John Paul Pitts was arrested for domestic battery last year (the case was later dropped), he exuded a vaguely off-putting vibe that belied the sunny fuzz-pop of his band's instant-hit debut, 2009's Astro Coast. And that album's overnight success didn't exactly endear the Florida band to indie rock's cred hawks, who want to see some dues paid before the praise starts pouring in. If its new album is any indication, however, Surfer Blood is not going to just wither and fade. Pythons is a taut collection of snappy pop-rock potshots that are musically sweet but lyrically sour; many of its songs revolve around the crumbling relationship that ended with Pitts' arrest. The chorus of "I Was Wrong" lays out the past, present, and future quite succinctly: "In a place riddled with liars and fools, you are now taking the high road out," Pitts sings. "All along I was wrong, I was wrong. I'm moving on with or without." BEN SALMON
FIDLAR, MEAN JEANS, YOUTHBITCH
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) Forget self-absorption, top-button fashion, and reading between the lines—this is, without question, the dumbest show of MusicfestNW. And to be clear: To these bands, dumbness is a badge of honor, worn proudly like a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil dunking a basketball. By now you know about the Mean Jeans, the world's pre-eminent party punks. Newer to playing the Northwest, however, are FIDLAR, from Los Angeles. The acronym says it all: "Fuck It Dog Life's a Risk." Much like their Northwest contemporaries, FIDLAR burp, fart, and scratch out pop nuggets about getting wasted, fried, and fucked. It's in the song titles; names like "Cheap Beer," "Stoked and Broke," and "Wake Bake Skate" lay it bare. There are differences, of course. While the Jeans bang major chords with Ramones-style precision and unshakeable harmony, FIDLAR gnarl in a more burnt-out garage, a bit more trash and thrash. And though the Jeans chuckle at sadness, FIDLAR stumble toward full-on nihilism. Think of it like this: While the Jeans' eyes are crossed, FIDLAR's roll back. ANDREW R TONRY
FRANK FAIRFIELD, HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF, THE LONESOME BILLIES
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) There is a video on the internet in which guitarist/fiddler/banjo player Frank Fairfield performs two songs in the studio at the KEXP radio station in Seattle. Everything around him—the microphone, the festive lighting, a wall clock straight off the shelf at Target—comes from modern times. And then there's Fairfield, a native Californian who appears to have been beamed in, 2Pac-hologram-style, from another era. From his bulky pre-war suit and sculpted black hair, to his mannerisms and song selection (including the traditional song "Nine Pound Hammer"), to the thin piece of twine—no really, twine—holding a grimy old banjo over his shoulder, Fairfield isn't a throwback, he's a time traveler. He's also a marvel, musically, whose nimble picking and sense of melody put him at the forefront of a class of old-time outsiders pushing their way in. BEN SALMON
TY SEGALL, MIKE DONOVAN, OLD LIGHT, LA LUZ
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) Ty Segall continues his uncanny ability to crank out records at an astonishing pace, with a consistency that should give bands that have been around twice as long something to think about. Segall hasn't put out a single dud. His latest full-length Sleeper isn't aligned with the raucous noise of Melted and Slaughterhouse, instead stripping away the fuzz and the lyrical ambiguity in favor of acoustic guitars and personal sentiments. Those who attended Pickathon last month got a taste of Segall's stripped-down acoustic set (his first such performances, as he told NPR recently)—it was quieter, but no less powerful. Segall has written some of the best pop hooks in recent memory. Sleeper shows that whether they're cloaked in fuzz or or left threadbare, they still dig deep. MARK LORE
SAVES THE DAY, INTO IT OVER IT, HOSTAGE CALM
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Saves the Day have been a couple different bands (or many more, if you count the never-ending lineup changes). The group's first two records, Can't Slow Down (recorded while singer and sole constant member Chris Conley was still in high school) and Through Being Cool are considered by many pop-punk enthusiasts to be among the genre's crowning achievements. The following two records, however, revealed that Conley's relevance as a songwriter extended far beyond the Warped Tour's boundaries: 2001's Stay What You Are represented everything great and pure about emo before it was co-opted by the mainstream, and 2003's In Reverie (which was produced by legendary Elliott Smith producer Rob Schnapf) showed the band moving in a mature, promising direction. Unfortunately, the group's last three records have all been separate installments in a convoluted, vaguely conceptual rock opera trilogy, something Conley—or anyone—can't pull off interestingly. But here's the good news: The group's forthcoming, self-titled record has been touted by the band as a return to form. My fingers are crossed for songs about girls. MORGAN TROPER
PREFUSE 73, NATASHA KMETO, THE GREAT MUNDANE, BRAXTON PALMER
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Located somewhere in between the legacy established by the MPC-soul-vival of J Dilla and the futro-jazz of Flying Lotus, Guillermo Scott Herren's work as Prefuse 73 functions as an essential layer in the bedrock of contemporary sample-centric beat production. A true alchemist of style and source, Herren enacts an aural concoction of psych-rock, jazz, SFX, and other disparate origins of sound to fabricate a visceral realm of fusion as an elemental foundation of songcraft. Prefuse 73 is best known for constructing cinematic, head-nodding instrumentals, yet his collaborations with members of Sunn 0))), School of Seven Bells, and Hella point toward Herren's talent for enveloping concrete beats with ambient soundscapes and dedication to sonic ambiguity. Together with Natasha Kmeto, this show guarantees to entertain and elevate with electronic music that moves mind and muscle.
WASHED OUT, LE1F, SHY GIRLS, LARRY G(EE)
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) For Ernest Greene—the Georgia-based musician behind the dreamy soundscapes of Washed Out—the idea of creating an imaginary universe comes to full fruition on his second full-length, Paracosm. Digital beats swim through analog oceans on watery tunes like the appropriately named "Weightless," as Greene draws out syllables, elongates cadence, and forges a temporary fantasyland of swarming sounds. The album's second single, "Don't Give Up," blips in at a different clip, pouncing disco-tinged pulses over swirling synth for a dance-heavy jam that's just as stony-sounding as the rest of the album. Is it music to zone out to? Totally. But there are enough temporal parameters to keep you moving, and there are few artists of the chillwave persuasion composing as compelling a mesh of noises as Washed Out. RYAN J. PRADO
ABBA—THE CONCERT: OREGON SYMPHONY, WATERLOO
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) Read our preview of the Oregon Symphony's 2013-2014 season.
NW HIP HOP FEST
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash; Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) It may seem counterintuitive to schedule a music festival the same week as MusicfestNW. Yet NW Hip Hop Fest, now in its third year, does exactly that. This year, the festival takes place at both Kelly's Olympian and the Ash Street Saloon over three nights, featuring densely packed bills of talent at both venues. While most performers are Portland-based, acts from Salem, Spokane, Seattle, and beyond are represented. Highlights include Thursday's Proper Knocks Showcase at the Ash Street featuring Big Bang, Lucas Dix, Soopah Eype, and more. Friday night's We Out Here showcase features Cassow, Load B, and Stewart Villain at Kelly's Olympian, prefaced by Hungry Hungry Hip-Hop standouts Theory Hazit, Zoo, and others. Saturday's closing night at Ash Street might be the highlight, with Portland favorites Chill Crew and the Resistance as a prelude to Northwest supergroup Oldominion. RYAN FEIGH
HUCK NOTARI AND THE RIVER, JENN AND BASHO
(Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta) Huck Notari's third album, Huck Notari and the River, cuts like a New England winter wind. Although it was recorded here in the Northwest (at Skyler Norwood's Miracle Lake Studios in Camas), the clean, careful country-folk contains echoes of Notari's childhood home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Beautiful opening track "Old Dirt Road" ducks the expected clichés in writing about a lane Notari hopes never gets paved over; "In the Candlelight" is a sweet, supple twilight love song. At tonight's record release show, Notari will be joined by members of the presumed River: vocalist Karin Nystrom, guitarist Joel Shimmin, cellist Jessie Dettwiler, upright bassist Nadine Landry, and drummer Ned Folkerth. Jenn Rawling and Basho Parks will also be on hand with their new record, Tarantula Arms, a lithe collection of wine-red, gypsy-tinged folk. NED LANNAMANN
THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
(Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon) Whether it was you and your brother singing along to "What a Fool Believes" in the car, or hearing "Black Water" at your high school graduation, chances are, the Doobie Brothers are connected to your past. Since the '70s, the Doobs have added on seasoned musicians that have played with everybody from Steely of Dan to Tower of Power. Their most recent album, World Gone Crazy, recalls their classic rock/country roots, but with far more experimentation with salsa, folk, and varied instruments, all encompassed in well-written songs. You have almost certainly not heard it. Still, seeing the Doobs at the Zoo will offer a heaping helping of those sweet, sweet melodies that have been a part of your life, whether you wanted them to be or not. (Doobies Fun Fact™! Former guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is now a missile defense consultant.) ROSE FINN