KYLE courtesy of the artist

SUPER PICKS

KYLE, CUSIN STIZZ
(Wed 4/26 at Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) KYLE, a 23-year-old rapper/singer from Los Angeles, doesn’t like being compared to Drake (see “Keep It Real”), but it’s hard not to see the vague similarities in their voices, personas, and appearances. And that’s a compliment! His catalog is filled with summer-vibed songs, silly-but-fun music videos, and collabs with the likes of Kehlani, Lil Yachty, G-Eazy, and Chance the Rapper. The video for “iSpy” is your typical half-nekkid-hunnies-on-the-beach situation, but Lil Yachty and KYLE tromp around with comically enlarged heads and tiny bodies. On the catchy “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” (which samples Jane Child’s 1990 synth-pop song of the same name), KYLE raps verses explaining why he’d be a bad boyfriend, because he’s easily hurt and doesn’t want to be tied down. The video finds him on a beach date that leads to a boxing match with a baddie who hands him an ass-whooping—but not before he and Brick break out some super-slick dance moves in the ring. My favorite KYLE song is his collaboration with Kehlani called “Just a Picture,” which is about phone and social media addiction. It’s got his signature Cali vibe, a valid message, and a hint of nostalgia. I promise it’ll make you want to dance in unison in the sunshine. That being said, his show is likely to be uplifting AF. JENNI MOORE

DIET CIG, LISA PRANK, MINI BLINDS
(Sat 4/29 at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) It’s rare for an album to make me laugh out loud during the opening seconds, but Diet Cig’s first full-length, Swear I’m Good at This, did exactly that. Singer Alex Luciano tells a story about dating a boy also named Alex. “It was... weeeird,” she sings, recounting the awful sensation of calling out your own name during sex. The rest of Swear is just as goofy and giddy, creating the effect of a close group of friends sharing funny, gossipy, sometimes dirty stories at a party. The music, made with Luciano’s guitar and Noah Bowman’s drums, is loud but low-key, with twee, major-chord melodies (“Link in Bio,” “Tummy Ache”) presented cleanly and directly, given only just the slightest bit of punk-rock spit-slime.

Diet Cig released their debut EP Over Easy in 2015 and have constantly toured the country ever since, but for many, the first impression of the New Paltz/Brooklyn duo came from Pitchfork’s review for Swear I’m Good at This. In a hectoring essay, the writer dictated a set of prescriptions for all feminist-leaning indie pop bands to be contained within, and found Diet Cig wanting. In between confusing jabs at the band’s origin story and a side-snipe at Etsy stores selling “Black Lives Matter” patches, the piece said, “Diet Cig are the heavy-handed musical equivalent of the pussy hat: a well-meaning feminist gesture that lacks all nuance.”

In the end, Pitchfork’s review seemed more interested in putting up barriers to the perfumed garden of social awareness—“see how woke we are?”—than in advancing progressive issues. But what’s more puzzling is why Diet Cig, specifically, were selected to be a referendum on these issues at all. Yes, it needs to be acknowledged that the pussy hat is a symbol with limitations, particularly its exclusion of members of the transgender community. But it also functioned, quite remarkably, as shorthand for a national statement of protest. If a band has the potential ability to communicate as widely and as directly as that, they must be doing something right. And if Diet Cig are that band, it’s because the beauty of their songs lies in their simplicity and their concision.

We seem to have entered a period where all social art is—at least initially—valued based on its level of political consciousness. There are positives and negatives to this, of course, all of which should be plainly obvious. But what Diet Cig does to me, for better or worse, is make me briefly forget about this particularly difficult moment in time, reminding me of the shouty, sing-along pop and rock songs I loved as a teenager, and through my 20s, and even last year and last week. Make no mistake: There’s liberation in music like this. And while it’s not the end of the world if some choose not to share in it, it’s a shame they’re trying to shackle it, too. NED LANNAMANN


WEDNESDAY 4/26

VIA ROSA, VINNIE DEWAYNE, KARMA RIVERA, BROWN CALCULUS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Spare yourself the 2000-mile trek to Chicago with this showcase of hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul from artists who’ve lived in the Windy City, co-curated by Holocene and Portland-based rapper Vinnie Dewayne. Headliner Via Rosa spent her childhood touring with her reggae-playing parents, and entered the world of beat-making as a teen. Ever since, she’s collaborated with countless producers to develop hazy, mellow tracks perfectly accented by her velvety voice. Karma Rivera shifts between spitting verses and singing hooks with her distinct delivery. Brown Calculus is the promising new project of Portland-based artists Vaughn Kimmons and Andre Burgos, who meticulously stack sounds into melodies that shimmer and vocals that reverberate in a style the duo describes as “jazzy, intergalactic soul.” EMILLY PRADO

THURSDAY 4/27

KPSU AMP FEST: MOUNT EERIE,HALEY HEYNDERICKX, WHITNEY BALLEN, STRANGE RANGER, LISA PRANK, FLOATING ROOM, CHAIN
(Parkway North at PSU’s Memorial Student Union, 1825 SW Broadway) Portland State University’s student-run radio station KPSU has put together a seriously great Pacific Northwest-focused lineup for its all-day, all-ages Amp Fest. Seriously. Three killer Portland bands hold down the bottom of the bill: the experimental rock three-piece Chain, the gray-pop of Floating Room, and the “yolo-fi” post-punk of Strange Ranger (FKA Sioux Falls). Then there’s Seattle’s Lisa Prank, who plays glitter-bombed pop-punk that could definitely soundtrack an early ’00s teen dramedy. Fellow Seattleite Whitney Ballen also graces this lineup—she just released her latest album, Being Here Is Hard, on Portland’s Good Cheer Records. It’s folksy, acoustic dream-pop that’s so charged and raw, “nightmare-pop” sounds more accurate. Ballen’s strikingly pretty voice carries the weight of her existential anxieties and makes hearing them out loud bearable. The same goes for headliner Mount Eerie, AKA Phil Elverum. The prolific Anacortes, Washington, songwriter’s new album, A Crow Looked at Me, catalogs the days, weeks, and months following the death of his wife with devastating detail. CIARA DOLAN. Read our story on Whitney Ballen.

POND, KIRIN J. CALLINAN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Australia’s Pond makes melodic synth-pop with devilishly morbid timing. “30,000 Megatons,” the opening track of their forthcoming LP The Weather, posits that humankind deserves nuclear fallout. Set to a Kubrick-esque sound meditation, it echoes the futuristic and spacey canvas of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and blots foreboding vibes into the record. Things are rescued with the sugary pop of “Sweep Me Off My Feet,” a perfectly romantic number reminiscent of Portland’s Minden. Pond’s progressive schematics are evident in song titles like “Zen Automaton,” and “Edge of the World Pt. 2,” while their sense of humor peeks through on the moody pop jam “All I Want for Xmas (Is a Tascam 388).” RYAN J. PRADO

HELEN SUNG QUARTET
(Fremont Theater, 2393 NE Fremont) While studying classical piano at the University of Texas in Austin, Helen Sung had a musical epiphany at a Harry Connick Jr. performance. Watching him play solo jazz pieces, the native Texan remembers “wanting to jump out of my own skin... He was banging on a piano in a way that I was never taught to do.” That evening was the catalyst that would lead Sung on a journey into the far reaches of the jazz universe. Whether leading her own combo or playing a supporting role in other artists’ groups, her playing leaps forward, propelled by her splashy phrasing and willingness to try anything, from lonesome ballads to fidgety bop and even Latin-inspired tunes. Sung arrives in Portland with her longstanding quartet that includes the equally impressive saxophonist John Ellis and drummer Darrell Green. ROBERT HAM

LAURA MARLING, VALLEY QUEEN
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) “Semper femina” is at least three things: It’s a phrase from Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid, it’s a pair of words tattooed onto British folk singer Laura Marling’s leg, and it’s the name of her beautiful new record. Released last month, Semper Femina is Marling’s sixth full-length studio album, and like its predecessors, it’s skillful, cozy, inventive, and compelling. According to Marling’s camp, Semper Femina is “an intimate, devoted exploration of femininity and female relationships” that sprouted while she was living in Los Angeles and experiencing “a masculine time” in her life. As such, she raises questions of how the world perceives gender and sexuality without endeavoring to provide any answers. Semper Femina is an intoxicating amalgam of deft acoustic guitar picking, generous melodies, and her warm, rich voice. Translated from Latin, “semper femina” means “always a woman.” Laura Marling is always a delight, and Semper Femina is no exception. BEN SALMON

FRIDAY 4/28

SECRET DRUM BAND, MARISA ANDERSON AND SAM COOMES, MIKE GAMBLE, SAGE FISHER, AND JOHN NIEKRASZ
(Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th) Presented by the Creative Music Guild and Portland’s chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, the inspiration of this concert is twee as heck. Plants! This is a concert for plants. Local musicians like master guitarist Marisa Anderson and experimental indie-rocker Sam Coomes will perform original odes to our state’s native flora while images are projected behind them. CIARA DOLAN

KANSAS
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) Stop what you’re doing and look up a video on YouTube called “Kansas – Live from Canada Jam: Carry on Wayward Son.” This 1978 live performance of the prog-rockers’ FM-radio staple is nothing short of a masterpiece, the kind of artifact we should be blasting into space so civilizations on other planets can judge us by our finest achievements. In this needlessly complicated piece of carefully orchestrated butt-rock, lead singer Steve Walsh performs wearing running shorts, socks, and nothing else, then whips out a wicked bongo solo mid-song. Violinist and backing vocalist Robby Steinhardt shakes the bushiest hairdo you’ve ever seen, with tresses clear down to his waist. Lead guitarist and songwriter Kerry Livgren tears riff after riff out of his guitar like a demon, while rhythm guitarist Rich Williams stands motionless in the background, donning an absurd ’70s-style tuxedo. This is all before Walsh starts doing handstands on his organ. It is ridiculous and sublime and achingly, stupidly beautiful. Unfortunately, most of those members of Kansas will not be present at tonight’s performance—only Williams and drummer Phil Ehart remain from the original lineup. Sic transit gloria. NED LANNAMANN

BEACH PARTY, BOD, SWEEPING EXITS, MALA FIDES
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Three months into his presidency, you’re probably still sitting dumbfounded in your bedroom, compulsively Googling “How long has Trump been in office?” Music will help, trust me: Try the second edition of the benefit show series “Not Without a Fight,” which hits the Know this weekend to raise money for local organizations Outside In, a crucial nonprofit serving homeless youths, and Portland People’s Outreach Project, a charity providing clean injection and overdose prevention supplies to the Portland area. The grungy, experimental weirdoes of Seattle’s Bod return to town just after releasing their new EP, True Cinnamon. The excellent title track’s angular opening riff softens as the four-piece molds the tempo to fit their bizarrely catchy purposes. Local glam-punk heartthrobs Sweeping Exits will also grace the new Know stage with densely packed and theatrically realized tales of queer empowerment. NATHAN TUCKER

ASPHYX, SKELETAL REMAINS, HELLSHOCK, SEMPITERNAL DUSK
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Death metal giants Asphyx are aptly named—formed three decades ago, the revered Dutch band combines machine-gun drum beats, Martin van Drunen’s dying-gasp growl, and beefy guitar riffs that sound like they’re looking for a city to flatten. Asphyx regularly takes its foot off the gas and lets some doomy grooves creep in, but for the most part, this is brutal death metal that feels sonically suffocating, like the walls are closing in fast. The band is touring behind 2016’s Incoming Death, its first full-length since 2012’s beloved Deathhammer. Joining Asphyx on tonight’s bill are California old-school death wreckers Skeletal Remains, local crust/thrash nasties Hellshock, and local doom/death merchants Sempiternal Dusk. Please note: Extremity pulled out of its tour with Asphyx and will not play this show. BS

SATURDAY 4/29

HELIO SEQUENCE, JACKSON BOONE, ORANGUTANG
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Portland’s favorite homegrown indie-rock band, The Helio Sequence, is playing at the Doug Fir. The Beaverton locals will be doing a show in Seattle (ew) the night before, so make sure to show them some hometown love. CLAIRE HOLLEY

DIET CIG, LISA PRANK, MINI BLINDS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our Super Pick on Diet Cig.

CAPPELLA ROMANA
(St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1716 NW Davis) Over the course of her 34-year reign, Catherine the Great expanded the Russian Empire not only geopolitically, but also culturally through her patronage of Europe’s leading painters and musicians. Tonight the homegrown, mind-blowing vocalists of Cappella Romana bring the late 18th century back to life by performing Russian Orthodox choral works from the Imperial Court Chapel in St. Petersburg. If you think hearing the sublime, polyphonic compositions of the Venetian masters Catherine employed, sung live and unplugged by an elite choir in a reverberating cathedral might be totally kickass, I’m here to say you are absolutely correct. BRIAN HORAY

SUNDAY 4/30

RED FANG, THE PYNNACLES, MAXIMUM MAD
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Local heavy-rock stalwarts Red Fang routinely fill Portland’s biggest rooms, but tonight they take over the newly rejuvenated Tonic Lounge for a deafeningly intimate blast of Sunday-night rawk. With garage-rock party-starters the Pynnacles (featuring Crackerbash’s Sean Croghan) and noise rockers Maximum Mad kicking things off, this is a night that you may rue on Monday morning but shall live in infamy thereafter. NED LANNAMANN

BASS AND FLOW II: GANGSIGNS, KARMA RIVERA, RASHEED JAMAL, CHRIS BOWER, BOTTLE KIDZ
(Lola’s Room at the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Portland hip-hop is finally getting the attention it deserves, despite our city’s lack of representation over the years. Thankfully, more shows and dance nights are cropping up in devotion to what’s perhaps the wokest genre. KPSU’s Bass and Flow showcase gives some love to Portland’s electronic producers and DJs, and with the series’ second installment, the focus is at the intersection of hip-hop and electronic. Powerfully provocative local rapper Rasheed Jamal will share the stage with Karma Rivera, producer Gangsigns, the rambunctious DJ duo Bottle Kidz, who’ll hopefully throw more beats than bottles, and Vancouver, Washington, newbie Chris Bower, who’s dropping his first release this year. CERVANTE POPE

TIM KASHER, ALLISON WEISS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Unlike the majority of songwriters operating within the “sad guy plus guitar” paradigm, Tim Kasher is more knowing antagonist than perpetual victim. It’s probably why he’s never had the same mass appeal as his adorable counterpart, Conor Oberst—why waste sympathy on a solipsist? Kasher’s willingness to magnify his innumerable faults is equal parts alluring and repellant. (Think: train wreck.) Nowhere is this more apparent than Kasher’s defining artistic statement, his band Cursive’s emo masterpiece Domestica—a concept album about a crumbling marriage that hurts so good. (Robert Christgau’s review of Domestica is one of the funniest things he’s ever written: “Guitar rageboy marries too young, gets concept album out of it.”) Cursive’s follow-up, The Ugly Organ, which is also a concept album about art or something, is an early ’00s bro-intellectual essential. But Kasher is at his best when he’s tackling his enduring obsession with dysfunctional domesticity, a theme he’s revisited often with his side project the Good Life, and most notably, on his underrated 2010 solo debut, The Game of Monogamy. MORGAN TROPER

MONDAY 5/1

AYE NAKO, BRAVE HANDS, LONGCLAW, ALIEN BOY
(Black Water Bar, 835 NE Broadway) With films like Moonlight and bands like Brooklyn’s Aye Nako, the LGBTQ and Black experiences may at last be finding a voice in mainstream popular culture. Speaking of representative voices, Silver Haze welcomes Jade Payne’s voice to Aye Nako as full-fledged co-songwriter alongside Mars Dixon. (Payne contributed guitar and background vocal work to 2015’s Blackest Eye.) The result is bracing and vital ’90s-era guitar rock with elements of pop punk and enough messy, open-chord Sonic Youth-style tunings to goose Thurston Moore from his middle-aged stupor. As bands like Aye Nako and PWR BTTM explore personal experience with fresh voices, opportunities arise for next-generation songwriters. WILLIAM KENNEDY

TUESDAY 5/2

DAVID CROSBY
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Read our story on David Crosby.

KEHLANI, ELLA MAI, JAHKOY, NOODLES
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage tour is hitting Portland. She recently made a surprise appearance in town for friend (and Portland native) Amine’s show, so maybe he’ll return the favor and come drop a few bars. They’re a winning combination. Either way, this is a show you don’t want to miss. CLAIRE HOLLEY Read our story on Kehlani.

PILE, GNARWHAL, HANG THE OLD YEAR
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) The pure joy I feel every single goddamn time I listen to the track “Baby Boy” by Boston-based rock band Pile is comparable only to the pure joy I felt leaving my high school after graduation—it’s a rush of independence and elation. The way Pile embeds tension into their songs is so affecting, their live performances so electric, and lead singer Rick Maguire’s vocals so guttural, it’s hard not to be overcome by surges of adrenaline while listening to the band’s melancholy shredding. In March they released A Hairshirt of Purpose, which slows down the cacophonous guitars and growls. Even with a change of pace, Pile’s energy is unparalleled. EMMA BURKE

ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES, TOGETHER PANGEA, KID CONGO AND THE PINK MONKEY BIRDS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) It’s been 20 years since Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ one-album experiment somehow turned into a punk rock institution. The super group has rattled off seven studio albums, a live record, and a score of singles, applying a skate-punk sheen to covers of show tunes, Japanese pop, Motown, and everything in between. The band’s popularity shouldn’t be that hard to fathom, though—composed of members of California punk’s Fat Wreck Chords family (NOFX, Lagwagon, Swingin’ Utters, and Foo Fighters... yes, them), Me First and the Gimme Gimmes allows at least two generations to access music they might not have heard. Often sporting Hawaiian shirts or schlocky suits, they look like like rock ’n’ roll uncles playing a cruise ship nightclub. RJP