AGAINST ME! Sun 9/10 Wonder Ballroom CASEY CURRY

SUPER PICK

AGAINST ME!, BLEACHED, THE DIRTY NII
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russel) Since its inception in 1998 as a raucous Floridian two-piece, Against Me! has defied expectations of what a punk band should look and sound like. Their songs not only take on the usual punk rock villains—authoritarianism, capitalism, wage slavery, musical ability—they challenge members of the punk community to own up to their prejudices and complacency. From the beginning, Against Me! never shied away from criticism, and at times even seemed to encourage it. Cries of “sellout” regularly greeted the band when they moved from a tiny record label to the independent Fat Wreck Chords in 2003, and when they made the unforgivable jump to major-label Sire in 2007, those cries became bloodthirsty. But as they began to find international stardom, and as they graduated from DIY basement shows to festivals and stadiums, their songs started to have an increasingly darker tone, confronting things like drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. When frontwoman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012, it wasn’t really a bombshell to longtime fans—she’d been addressing gender nonconformity in her lyrics for years, albeit subtly. Now that it was finally out in the open, Grace could at last reveal her lifetime of suffering and confusion, as she would in her heartbreaking 2016 memoir, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. Though the band’s music has been hit-or-miss since their major label debut, 2007’s New Wave, Against Me! and Laura Jane Grace are still busy doing what they’ve always done, what they set out to do, and what they do best: challenging prejudices and defying expectations. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY


WEDNESDAY 9/6

EMERGENCY RELIEF BENEFIT FOR HURRICANE HARVEY: SKY SYMBOL RITUALS, COLLECTIVE DISPARITY, LASERS OF LOVE
(The Lovecraft, 421 SE Grand) This community-run concert will feature the minimal techno project Sky Symbol Rituals, electronic beats by Collective Disparity, and more musical acts. All funds (excluding bar sales) will be donated to Heart to Heart International to support Hurricane Harvey flood relief efforts. Donations for canned food, clothing in good condition, toilet paper, and menstrual products accepted. EMILLY PRADO

THUNDERCAT, PBDY
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) It took Stephen Bruner years of working as a session musician with artists like Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus before his alias Thundercat was born. Played on a custom six-stringed Ibanez, Bruner’s signature bass lines cut deep and reek of funk. They’re so good that he’s continued working with artists like Kendrick Lamar since dropping his solo debut in 2011. Earlier this year Bruner released his third full-length, Drunk, a melancholic blend of cosmic soul and comedic (though sometimes morbid) lyrics. Each of the record’s 23 tracks bleed seamlessly into one another. Although songs like “Them Changes” highlight his ability to mesmerize with modest scales and velvety vocals, others like “Tokyo” are upbeat and futuristic. “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II),” however, finds Thundercat pondering what life is like from the purrspective of his own cat, and spoiler alert, “It’s cool to be a cat/Meow, meow, meow, meow.” EP

SASSYBLACK, BLOSSOM, DNVN, VNPRT
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) It’s been a few months since Seattle’s Catherine Harris-White, better known as SassyBlack, dropped her second solo album, New Black Swing. A play on the new jack swing sound popularized in the late ’80s and early ’90s, New Black Swing finds the psychedelic soul songwriter/producer delving even deeper into the identity she’s developed outside of her former duo THEESatisfaction. It’s got a nostalgic, old-school R&B vibe, which Harris-White juxtaposes with futuristic synth sounds and emotionally available lyrics. But she was nervous about creating an R&B album of her own, specifically “the fear of ultimate vulnerability and judgment” that can come from opening up. But her openness pays off: Tracks like “I’ll Wait for You” and “Games” are relatable for anyone who’s experienced the cycle of love. With cuffing season quickly approaching, the funky tenderness of New Black Swing is the perfect soundtrack. CERVANTE POPE

QUICKSAND, NO JOY
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) A reunited Quicksand is the ’90s revival you didn’t know you wanted. And now, with the New York band’s first release in over two decades coming in November, it looks like you’re going to get it. “Illuminant,” the pummeling lead single of Interiors, is a dynamic, mathy exercise in tension and release. Quicksand’s two major-label LPs, 1993’s Slip and 1995’s Manic Compression, remain artifacts of sludgy, hammering guitars and emotive but aggressive vocals along the lines of Fugazi, Helmet, and Deftones. But since those two records failed to rise above the noise of post-Nevermind grunge, Quicksand’s a prime candidate for historical revisionism. They were before their time, and somewhat miscategorized alongside the Seattle sound that the mainstream gobbled up so voraciously. Quicksand is worthy of that second look, and their early work is now seen as foreshadowing and influencing the rise of emo and post-hardcore—two of the most dominant rock genres of the past 20 years. WILLIAM KENNEDY


THURSDAY 9/7

THE THESIS: STEVO THE WEIRDO, RASHEED JAMAL, CHOVIE, VERBZ
(Kelly’s Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Every month the Mercury and a bunch of other great organizations help bring you The Thesis, one of the best places to hear rising local hip-hop. September’s no different: Thesis veterans Stevo the Weirdo and Rasheed Jamal top the bill, with opener Chovie and, as always, Verbz at the turntables. CIARA DOLAN

BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT, BLACKWATER (HOLYLIGHT), SHORTLINE
(Fremont Theater, 2393 NE Fremont) Read our story on Black Belt Eagle Scout.

THE CHAMELEONS VOX, SOFT KILL, DRAA, HUMAN LEATHER
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) From the Chameleons Vox to Soft Kill, this bill is stacked with outstanding post-punk. But the highlight is Human Leather, an electro-pop duo from Salt Lake City that released one of the best debuts of the year, Lazy Karaoke. Across nine songs, Adam Klopp and Chaz Costello—who are also members of rising SLC bands Choir Boy and Sculpture Club—resurrect the 1980s with dark and glittering synths, thumping electronic drum beats, and Klopp’s androgynous vocals, which he attributes to a childhood spent singing in Mormon church choirs. It’s intoxicating—the kind of music you’ll want to crawl inside and inhabit forever, especially if you’re a fan of Kate Bush, John Maus, Drab Majesty, or Arthur Russell. With its gothic imagery and hauntingly romantic melodies, Lazy Karaoke could soundtrack video games or horror movies. The record’s standout is “Ugly Sister,” a downtempo ballad that orbits around the too-relatable lyric “Everything is fucking scary/Everything is arbitrary.” Expect to lose yourself in dry ice clouds and Human Leather’s transfixing dance moves. CD


FRIDAY 9/8

MR. WRONG, WAY WORSE, PLASTIC WEATHER, TOXIC SLIME RECORDS
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Read our review of Mr. Wrong’s new record, Babes in Boyland.

BENJAMIN BOOKER, SHE KEEPS BEES, THE NEW RESPECTS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Hailing from New Orleans, blues singer Benjamin Booker brings electrifying authenticity to the genre. Though modern blues-rock bands like the Black Keys and Alabama Shakes get a lot of radio play, they can feel like regurgitations of the same polished sound. Booker’s approach is distinct—he puts an indie-rock spin on the traditional roots music he loves. In June he released Witness, a soulful, funky smattering of his many genre-spanning talents. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what genre you call it, though—if you can dance to it, who really cares? DELANEY MOTTER


SATURDAY 9/9

CIGARETTES AFTER SEX
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Cigarettes After Sex isn’t a very good band name. In fact, it’s horrendous, and invokes the pseudo-noir aesthetic of moody Instagram filters and reclaimed Edison bulb lamps and writing on a typewriter in 2017. But frontman Greg Gonzalez leans into this curated vibe on the Brooklyn-via-El Paso group’s self-titled debut, released in June on Partisan Records. It’s an excellent dream-pop record, if you can tune out the lyrics—the worst offender is “Apocalypse,” with the profoundly lazy rhyme “Your lips, my lips/Apocalypse.” It’s an album about modern love, but as the Guardian said in their review, “Gonzalez has a habit of writing about sex in a manner that somehow suggests he only saw a lady naked for the first time last week and is still reeling from the experience.” He’s a master of ambient melody, though, whisper-crooning his subpar lyrics like he’s singing lullabies in a sleeping bear’s cave. Cigarettes After Sex slingshotted into the mainstream this past spring, when their song “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” (from the 2012 EP I.) was featured in an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. And like all Cigarettes After Sex songs, the music is gorgeous and hypnotic, but the words are eyeroll-inducing: “Nothing’s gonna hurt you baby/As long as you’re with me, you’ll be just fine.” CD

MAC DEMARCO, THE GARDEN
(Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon) Pop-rock jester Mac DeMarco revealed a soft underbelly on his new record, This Old Dog. It’s a sharp left-turn from his jangly, island-flange guitar freakouts. Buoyed in sentimental lyrics, DeMarco sizzles on the Sea Change-esque title track, which trades the happy-go-lucky prankster’s Salad Days abandon for a self-reflective meditation on the fragility of life. He still resurrects crisp, vaguely schlocky guitar runs from the bowels of the mid-’80s on the trippy “On the Level” and the peppy “Baby You’re Out.” The newfound levelheadedness of This Old Dog suggests that DeMarco will probably be around for a while. I can only imagine the fun he’ll have performing at a zoo. RYAN J. PRADO


SUNDAY 9/10

AGAINST ME!, BLEACHED, THE DIRTY NIL
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Read our Against Me! super pick

MDOU MOCTAR, GALAXY RESEARCH, SÁVILA
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Every few years or so, a new artist (or group of artists) emerges from the Tuareg people of Saharan Africa and breaks through to a larger audience in North America. Tinariwen is probably the oldest and best-known example; more recently, Bombino, Tamikrest, and Imarhan have found success stateside. Now, it’s Mdou Moctar’s turn. The distinctive guitarist from Abalak, Niger, is a self-taught musician with a disarmingly magnetic style and a new album, Sousoume Tamachek, out on the Portland-based Sahel Sounds label. Its eight tracks feature a softer side of Moctar, pairing low-key guitar licks and burbling drones with the man’s mellow musings on love, spirituality and beyond. He calls it “music for desert picnics,” a callback to his days quietly learning how to play in an area that shunned the guitar. Other words for Moctar’s sound: lovely, intoxicating, addictive. His Portland show is one of the first stops on his first-ever major tour of America. BEN SALMON


MONDAY 9/11

UNITED WE STAND, A BENEFIT CONCERT AND SILENT AUCTION FOR UNITE OREGON: TEZETA BAND, MUVHURO MARIMBA BAND
(The Oregon Public House, 700 NE Dekum) This daylong event is jam packed with opportunities to give back! Whether you opt to eat in (or out,) bid on snazzy items, laugh at Andie Main of Revolution Comedy, or dance to multiple bands, you can rest easy knowing that all proceeds will be donated to Unite Oregon. EP

TOPS, SHE-DEVILS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Read our story on Tops.

JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT, FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS
(Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay) There’s a great Colbert sketch from last year in which Jason Isbell narrates a fake infomercial, claiming to have achieved a lifelong goal after years as a celebrated alt-country singer/songwriter: “None of my songs were the saddest country song ever written—until now, that is.” The segment goes through a laundry list of the stereotypically whisky-soaked woes supposedly featured in this new masterpiece, a joke that works in part because Isbell’s life really does read like an archetype for Americana misfortune. A rising star in the early ’00s with storied country rockers the Drive by Truckers, he was kicked out of the group in 2007, followed by a divorce and a downward spiral into alcoholism. Since going sober in 2012, Isbell’s solo career has leaned on a comfortably redemptive twang, and now that he’s at ease in his own skin, this year’s The Nashville Sound sees him turning his narrative powers outward. NATHAN TUCKER