THE MALT BALL: GENDERS, THANKS, GRANDHORSE, NIGHT MECHANIC
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) The objectively GREATEST beer and band festival returns for the third terrific year. It's the Malt Ball, and if you love sampling the BEST craft brews while listening to the BEST bands in town, this event cannot be beat. Genders, Night Mechanic, Summer Cannibals, the Woolen Men, Red Fang, and other fantastic groups are paired with delicious new brews from Widmer, Base Camp, Fort George, and many more! WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Read all about the Malt Ball here!
SALLIE FORD, LUZ ELENA MENDOZA, REBECCA GATES, SWANSEA
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Sallie Ford's somewhat abrupt announcement in late 2013 that she was dissolving her band the Sound Outside caught lots of people by surprise. The band's meteoric ascent was catapulted by their feminism-forward sophomore album, Untamed Beast, which ended up on many year-end best-of lists. The blow was quickly smoothed over when Ford formed a new all-girl quartet featuring Cristina Cano (Albatross), Anita Lee Elliott (Viva Voce), and Amanda Spring (Point Juncture, WA). The supergroup of sorts is already in the studio recording with the Decemberists' Chris Funk, and, per Ford, is keeping up the tradition of "all babe rockers: Blondie, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Exene Cervenka (of X), PJ Harvey, the Breeders, and Heart." Outside of a Lou Reed tribute night performance, this is the band's live unveiling, and the opening of a new chapter for one of Portland's best and feistiest artists. RYAN J. PRADO
THE MINUS 5, THE MY OH MYS, HOOK AND ANCHOR
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) You'd have thought it'd be easy to write off the Minus 5 as a mere novelty: Sole constant member (and amateur Ian Hunter impersonator) Scott McCaughey's concept for his Young Fresh Fellows follow-up was to enlist a different backing band for every record released by the project—with the exception of a few VIPs, including Peter Buck, and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies, who appear on several Minus 5 records. More than half of the time, though, McCaughey's premise has resulted in brilliant things: Wilco marvelously complement McCaughey's AM-pop predilections on 2003's Down with Wilco. "The Town That Lost Its Groove Supply" is a pitch-perfect Harry Nilsson pastiche, and "Dear Employer" is a beautiful, heartbreaking I-quit anthem for the bookish crowd that toes the line between optimistic and despondent. Even on the Minus 5's iffier releases—such as the Decemberists collaboration Killingsworth, which is a little too narrowly "clap-your-hands-and-stomp-your-feet"—McCaughey's writhing, resplendent melodic sense and impeccable turn of phrase manages to shine through brightly. MORGAN TROPER
CEREMONY OF SLUDGE: LAMPREY, SERIAL HAWK, TSEPESCH, BEARD OF BEES
(Club 21, 2035 NE Glisan) You know damn well what you're getting when a two-day fest bears a name like Ceremony of Sludge. This year kicks off with a peek at the Pacific Northwest's up-and-coming metallurgists (of which there's no shortage). Locals Lamprey do doom with a blast of '70s Camaro exhaust, and Tsepesch sounds like an awakened mythical beast laying waste to New York. Not much is known about Salem two-piece Beard of Bees—not to be confused with the Illinois band of the same name—but I'm hopeful they'll be sporting beards o' bees. Serial Hawk will make the trip from Seattle. Their stuff is slow and doomy, but also dexterous; at high volumes, they might make you lose control of your bowels. Dress accordingly. MARK LORE