THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM!
For the third year in a row, the Portland Mercury and the Oregon Brewers Guild are hosting the best beer-and-music bash around. It's the third annual Malt Ball, and this year is going to be the biggest and best ball yet. It's a joint celebration of our thriving local music and craft beer scenes—both of which, it could be argued, embody the Portland DIY spirit perfectly. In other words, the Malt Ball is a party that could only happen in Portland, and we're really excited to invite you.
The Malt Ball is such an elementary idea that we're still surprised, three years in, that no one had thought of it before. Sure, there's no shortage of local beer festivals around town—scarcely a month goes by on the beer-drinker's calendar without an event celebrating the bounty of this city's suds scene. And music festivals aren't exactly in short supply either. But what if we took the best local breweries and the best local bands, and put them together for one shining, glorious day?
Thus the Malt Ball was born, and this year, for the first time, we're expanding the festivities to two days: Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8, at the Wonder Ballroom. We've got 12 terrific local bands playing, from the boulder-crashing firepower of Red Fang to the wry, stunningly smart folk of St. Even. And we've got beers from 25 Oregon breweries, ranging in style from Widmer's Chuggernaut—a premium American-style lager brewed specifically for Red Fang—to Fort George's Genders Bender IPA. You can fill your glass with choices that run from bocks to Belgians to stouts to ryes.
Every band on the bill was paired with a participating brewery. That means the Malt Ball will host a dozen unique beers produced especially for the festival. These beers were designed to either reflect the specific band's taste in beer, to convey their music in beer form, or, in some cases, to make a connection with the band in a more intangible manner. Some of the bands actually helped out with the brewing process; others provided inspiration in different ways. In all cases, the bond between band and beer has never been more pronounced.
And 13 additional breweries are bringing what's good, what's fresh, what's new, and what's in season, to ensure that both days of Malt Ball are filled to the brim with good beer and good cheer. The philosophy that sparked the first Malt Ball is stronger than ever in year three: If there's a song that sounds better without a delicious beer in hand, we haven't heard it.
This year's Malt Ball is split into three separate sessions over two days. Friday evening's session goes from 7 pm to midnight, and includes the bands Genders, Thanks, Grandhorse, and Night Mechanic. The Saturday afternoon session goes from 2-6 pm, with Summer Cannibals, Your Rival, St. Even, and Melville performing. And the Saturday night session, from 7:30 pm to midnight, is headlined by Red Fang, who are joined by the Woolen Men, Hot Victory, and Campfires.
To purchase tickets, go to themaltball.com, where you can get tickets for the particular session you want, or get a two-day festival pass to see the entire thing. Each ticket comes with tasting tokens, and all attendees get a souvenir Malt Ball tasting glass—that's glass, not your typical plastic beer-fest mug.
FRIDAY NIGHT SESSION (7 pm-midnight)
8 pm—Night Mechanic (paired with Ecliptic Brewing)
Last year's Working Late album put Night Mechanic on the map, offering eight excellent jigsaw puzzles of jangling rock that would make Elvis Costello and the Attractions fine-tune their light-night dials.
9 pm—Grandhorse (paired with Breakside Brewery)
Grandhorse's expansive rock is filled with melody and scope, and their impressive live show brings their recent album Portraiturefolio into breathing, bleeding flesh.
10 pm—Thanks (paired with Claim 52 Brewing)
The shadowy, sexy soul music of Thanks doesn't skimp on rock firepower, turning heartbreak and blues into something contemporary and kicking.
11 pm—Genders (paired with Fort George Brewery)
All four members of Genders are like eyes in a hurricane, turning swirling maelstroms of elemental sound into gorgeous canyons and vistas of melodic rock.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON SESSION (2-6 pm)
2:15 pm—Melville (paired with Alameda Brewing Co.)
There's country in the guitar-driven sound of Melville, and there's '90s indie rock, too, but what cuts through clearer than either of those is the band's own sense of possession, adding a bit of molten lava to their dramatic songs.
3:15 pm—St. Even (paired with Uptown Market Brewery)
Steve Hefter's songwriting lens is startlingly clear, offering magnificent, arresting songs that transcend their folk trappings.
4:15 pm—Your Rival (paired with McMenamins Crystal Brewery)
To hear a Your Rival song is to instantly love it. By braiding ecstasy and agony into songs that touch upon '90s alternative rock, emo, and classic power pop, songwriter (and Mercury contributor) Mo Troper pours sugar directly into listeners' ears.
5:15 pm—Summer Cannibals (paired with Gigantic Brewing Company)
The punky attitude and no-bullshit volume of Summer Cannibals make for one of Portland's best live shows. Get ready to get rocked.
SATURDAY NIGHT SESSION (7:30 pm-midnight)
8 pm—Campfires (paired with Base Camp Brewing Company)
Excavating the burbling, lo-fi jangle of Campfires is like discovering a lost trove of love letters, or a collection of mint baseball cards.
9 pm—Hot Victory (paired with Lompoc Beer)
With two drummers—and no one else—Hot Victory make percussive, interstellar music that will transform body, mind, and soul. Well, that, or it'll make your head explode.
10 pm—The Woolen Men (paired with the Commons Brewery)
Pairing perfect songwriting chops with amiably shambolic playing makes the Woolen Men one of the comfiest and most reliable bands in town—not to mention one of the best.
11 pm—Red Fang (paired with Widmer Brothers Brewing)
Red Fang needs no introduction. There isn't a better band to bat cleanup at a two-day beer-and-music festival. Hope you brought your earplugs.
SPECIAL BEERS BY
13 Virtues Brewing Co.
Burnside Brewing Co.
Crux Fermentation Project
Full Sail Brewing Company
Seven Brides Brewing
Stickmen Brewery and Skewery
Visit themaltball.com for information and tickets.