WED FEB 3
Rvivr w/Dead Cult, Blowout; Black Water Bar, 835 NE Broadway
Olympia's Rvivr are a complicated article, even within the punk community. Their self-titled debut, released in 2010, was a terrific slab of melodic, mid-tempo power pop that brought to mind early Superchunk or the catchier hemisphere of '90s emo—bands like Braid and the Promise Ring. Just as pronounced as their music is the group's penchant for evangelizing social change and gender equality at their live shows and on the internet—a noble message, but one that tends to get buried beneath confused rhetoric and an almost rockstar-ish bravado. It's something that can make the atmosphere at a Rvivr show feel more isolating than inclusive.
It's true: Moshing has always been stupid, the punk scene is disproportionately male, and if someone's being a shitty bro they probably deserve to be called out. But how much progress are we actually making when the biggest platform is given to a band whose members and fanbase are largely people like me—relatively privileged white kids with mild to moderate punk-rock sensibilities? Probably not a lot, but I guess it's the thought that counts.
THURS FEB 4
Hop Along w/Dr. Dog; Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside
Hop Along's Painted Shut was one of the best records released in 2015. It's an album that portends indie rock's bright future while also evoking the genre's simpler past. Early-era Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley, and Life Without Buildings all spring to mind in Hop Along's crystalline guitar interchange and the subtle complexity of songs like "The Knock" and shoe-gazing "Texas Funeral." And yet Hop Along are a beast all their own, owing in large part to Frances Quinlan, who could very well be the best vocalist in the country right now.
FRI FEB 5
LiquidLight w/Naked Hour, Hard Sulks; SMART Collective, 6923 SE Foster
Portland's LiquidLight might be the only currently active DIY band in the city that exhibits a shameless, tangible affection for classic prog rock, and it's blowing my mind. "My Mission," the opening track to the group's debut LP, Uninitiated, sounds unmistakably like a delicate Greg Lake interlude on one of those early King Crimson records, and songs like the title track and "All Others Pay Cash" are like an alternate reality in which the Fall of Troy were reared on Guided by Voices instead of shitty hardcore.
SAT FEB 6
Sabertooth Micro Fest: Red Fang w/Yob, Witch Mountain, Eternal Tapestry; Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside
Pizza-metal fixtures Red Fang continue to be one of our city's most treasured musical exports. Their last album, the Chris Funk-produced Whales and Leeches, follows the band's tradition of releasing metal records that are also palatable to non-metalheads. It's their greatest strength—or weakness, depending on whom you ask. Don't let the gloomy airs fool you: This is basically Fountains of Wayne with guitars in C standard tuning.