Double your pleasure! We are on vacation, folks, so these Up and Comings take you through the next two weeks. Look for the next exciting issue of the Mercury to hit the streets January 8, 2009.
CHRISTMAS HIPHOP: SLEEP, DESTRO, NIO SUPREME, NIGHTCRAWLERS, DJ ZONE, SICK AURA, ATLAS
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) See My, What a Busy Week!
THE BREAKOUT: ILLMACULATE, LIV WARFIELD, MYG, SOUL P, ALPHABET STEW, JAE LAVA, DJ FATBOY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Illmaculate is a renowned—if not downright feared—member of the highly competitive emcee battle world. From Grind Time to Jumpoff.tv, thousands of YouTube hours are filled with a capella round after round of surgical-strength disrespect, driven by the promise of worldwide notoriety and big cash prizes. Conventional wisdom holds that battle emcees can't make actual recorded music to save their lives, but Illmac is a true exception to the rule, lacing killer tracks solo and with his Sandpeople crew. Fuck the battle, man—he's trying to win the war. LARRY MIZELL JR Also see My, What a Busy Week!
FUBAR: DJ JAK, DJ BEATPUSHER, MILGRAM SHOCK, COZMIX VIXEN, PIPEDREAM
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Since Fubar launched six months ago, the night has been steadily growing as one of the better monthly dance parties in town, with consistent bookings, supplementary subwoofers, and interesting visuals. Originally conceived as an electro-house/dance-punk affair reflective of the tastes of founder Eric Leisy (AKA Pipedream), the sound has become more diverse over the short life of the event. Tonight's lineup is evidence of further evolution to come, with the recent addition of Tracy York (Cozmix Vixen) as co-booker. Not surprisingly, for her first night in charge she has arranged an evening of pure techno with a list of experienced and skilled producers, including Subsensory labelmate Jak and Oakland's Milgram Shock. AVA HEGEDUS
ALEATORIC: WYNDEL HUNT, SON OF ROSE, THE OO-RAY, MIKE JEDLICKA
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) See Music
DEVOTCHKA, NORFOLK & WESTERN, VAGABOND OPERA
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Denver's DeVotchKa used to tour with Dita von Teese, for God's sake. The four-piece takes on a lot—Greek, Slavic, bolero, even mariachi—and grimes it up a bit with American punk and folk. Using a hodgepodge of instruments including theremin, bouzouki, and sousaphone, the group plays music that supposedly wasn't "marketable" enough for Warner Bros. It's gypsy punk, with incredibly well-trained players. And the group has a secret weapon in the croon of vocalist Nick Urata. I picture a roomful of people watching as tears stream down their faces, whether it be from sadness, joy, or simply the sheer beauty of it all. MARK LORE Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE INTELLIGENCE, EXPERIMENTAL DENTAL SCHOOL, FIST FITE, THE BLIMP
(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) Perhaps you didn't go home for Christmas. You're not alone. Take, for example, this amazing lineup of transplant Portlanders (with the exception of Eugene's the Blimp), who, instead of visiting their families, are spending the holidays with their other family—that would be you, Portland music scene. Tonight's massive affair is—in terminology developed by the boys in White Fang—total "Gnar Shred." Experimental Dental School are an amazingly tight, skronky, and at times soaring duo. Fist Fite are a proggy hedge maze of D&D keyboard screams. The Intelligence are just good old-fashioned garage rock. And the Blimp—well, even if they nab the opening slot they'll still attack it like headliners, complete with props, encores, destruction, and a whole mess of complex, blistering, abrasive, Beefheart-ian free-jazz wail. As the lyrics of one of their songs go, "All I want is good music with boobs in my face." Merry Christmas, motherfuckers! ANDREW R TONRY Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH, MIMICKING BIRDS
BLUE CRANES, ANDREW OLIVER SEXTET
(Mississippi Pizza Pub, 3552 N Mississippi) See My, What a Busy Week!
PINK MARTINI, FOGHORN STRINGBAND
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!,
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) See Destination Fun
MONOTONIX, PANTHER, THRONES, DJ SPENCER D
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Do Monotonix make good music? Meh, I don't really know. What I do know, however, is that these crazed Israelis are one of the most amazing—and completely unfuckwithable—live bands around, destroying audience members with a joyous and raucous rock swagger that is basically unrivaled. At their Musicfest NW show this year—easily the highlight of the entire festival—the trio finished the night by taking it to the streets, with lead singer Ami Shalev climbing a tree and mooning onlookers while drummer Haggai Fershtman played a drum solo on top of the crowd. A friend of mine was vomited on and I got hit in the head by a flying trashcan, yet we both left the show with giant shit-eating grins—my friend commented that she'd never been so excited to get puked on before. Yeah, Monotonix concerts are that good. ROB SIMONSEN
BUCKETHEAD, PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) If we have learned anything from Chinese Democracy, it's that we should let sleeping dogs lie. The original Guns N' Roses was a powder keg of delicious opposition—screeched melody (Axl) and nuclear blues (Slash)—bursting into anthem. The resultant rainfall of molten GNR cassettes gave the late-'80s mainstream a devious segue into grunge, although the memories of robot-rape artwork, swearing on live national television, and "Your daddy works in porno now that mommy's not around" are now, unfortunately, dashed. (Thanks, Axl!) Chinese Democracy, with Buckethead's would-be amazing shred, is an overproduced plastic wreck. In the bridges of Rose's digitally molested arrangements, Buckethead offers miniaturized could-have-beens. Jarring edits undermine his amazingly speedy technique, which motors 'round and 'round the fret board like a shrunken motorcycle of his own invention. Buckethead actually hasn't been in GNR since 2004, and with his inclusion, it's obvious Rose needs any help he can get. MIKE MEYER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SANDPEOPLE, GRAY MATTERS, SAPIENT, DELMON CREW, OWKWERDS, BO RAT, ANIMAL PLANET
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) See Music
FOGHORN STRINGBAND, PEBBLE DASH
(White Eagle, 836 N Russell) Foghorn Stringband have become a ubiquitous fixture in the Portland music scene, purveying authentic old-timey bluegrass in a way that vitalizes and breathes life into what could otherwise be a museum piece. They do plenty of upbeat "dance" music—in other words, rapid square dance strumming—but their lonesome ballads, with clear-sky melodies and nasal harmonies, are what truly hit home. Oddly, they're opening for Pink Martini at the Crystal Ballroom on December 29, but a cavernous ballroom filled with fancy-pants Martini fans isn't exactly the most appropriate venue for their cozy acoustic music. In fact, I can't think of any music more dissimilar to Pink Martini's preciously whimsical fairy dust than Foghorn's muddy-boot plucking. Instead, mosey on over to the White Eagle for an unpretentious, intimate, probably-more-than-a-little-drunken hoedown; it'll be an unforgettable way to ring in 1909. NED LANNAMANN
LADYTRON, SUGAR SHORT WAVE, RENA JONES, BRYAN ZENTZ, NOAH D., DIG DUG, ELECTROKID & MORE
(The Station, 2410 N Mississippi) The New Year's Eve party at 2410 Mississippi is going until eight in the morning and has two separate rooms of music, yet even with that much time and space to fill, it's hard to imagine how they are going to fit in the seemingly endless list of acts. One room features a barrage of DJs on the house and techno tip, while the other is overrun with drum 'n' bass, breaks, and dubstep pros. The whopping assemblage of quality local musicians is enough to make this show worthwhile, but there is also a special gem in the night's lineup—a peak-hour DJ set by members of ultra-sexy, dark electro-pop outfit Ladytron. AVA
NIGHTCLUBBING VS. HOT MESS, EXPLODE INTO COLORS, WHITE FANG
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Not since the—often rumored, but never actually confirmed—Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson pay-per-view one-on-one game have two great things come together like Nightclubbing and Hot Mess. Will the always-steady Nightclubbing pack the dance floor, or can the "triple platinum certified bananas dance party" that is Hot Mess—who party harder than the "Showtime" Lakers—triumph when the ball drops? I'm not a betting man, but I'd wager that sound artistes Explode into Colors will steal the show. With a trio of 7-inches set to drop in the new year (one of which will bear the Kill Rock Stars logo), expect the world from these ladies, and even a brand-new secret cover song—but don't you dare expect to hear "Auld Lang Syne." Says bassist/vocalist Claudia Meza, "We go on pretty early, so it would be silly to ring in the new year with that festive tune at like 9 pm." Oh yeah, good point. EZRA ACE CARAEFF
SUPERSUCKERS, KLEVELAND, GERALD COLLIER
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) How else would one want to spend New Year's Eve than with the self-proclaimed "Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World"? You can bet the greatest frontman in the world(?!), Eddie Spaghetti, will come armed with a mustachioed smirk, cowboy hat, cop glasses, and an arsenal of rock-cliché between-song banter as he leads his crew through AC/DC-inspired punk anthems. It's some of the most fun I've ever had at a show. Your to-do list: Sidle up to the bar, keep the Jack and Cokes coming, fasten earplugs, and give in to the evil powers of rock 'n' roll. The Supersuckers' music hasn't changed a bit in nearly two decades. But when you're the greatest, you don't have to change a damn thing. ML
DANAVA, BURNING LEATHER, DJ BLACKHAWK
(East End, 203 SE Grand) What better way to ring in 2009 than by pretending 2008 never existed? Danava is artful Portland's hard rock escape route—a postmodern maze of brazen guitar runs and celestial keyboards, with image and tone to match the borrowed good old days (read: 1970). UnonoU, the band's latest, almost made this writer's year-end top five. It defies reality for the benefit of local rockers not feeling so utopian, marrying Michael Schenker to Wendy Carlos in the court of the Crimson King. The troupe's live show isn't always so ceremonial. When it's on, it's like spotting Schenker's UFO riding the skies above Portland. When it's off, it's like falling out of a UFO. But what's New Year's Eve without something to write home about? MM
STARFUCKER, BLUE HORNS , THE HUGS , ASSEMBLE THE EMPIRE
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) When Starfucker emerged from the basement last year and took the stage at PDX Pop Now! and absolutely killed it, it was over before it started. The crowds got bigger, the shows got better, and all the accessories of success—record deal, booking agent, manager—followed in suit. But so did the backlash; no local band bears the burden of the useless "hipster" tag like the Starfucker trio does. It's a contentious label for a group of infallibly genuine boys, and in fact, an argument could be made that Starfucker is the polar opposite of hip—or hipsterism—seeing how their lo-fi dance jams are completely natural and void of all alleged pretension. Ultimately it's an empty insult delivered by those on the outside looking in, left wondering why their tired artistic expression can't touch the white hot music being broken off by the Starfucker three. EAC Also see Destination Fun
FIR BALL: THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS, NICK JAINA , BARK HIDE AND HORN, DJ SAFI
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) With the summer release of the absolutely fantastic debut full-length National Road, 2008 was supposed to be Bark Hide and Horn's breakout year, but around the time of its release, bassist Peter Valois broke an arm, and not long after, trumpeter Brian Garvey left town (and the group). The remaining trio are still one of Portland's best bands; even though Andy Furgeson's songs are based on old National Geographic articles, the band rocks with a surprising amount of muscle, thanks to Valois' growling basslines and Dusty Dybvig's excellent, powerful drumming. If you missed National Road the first time around, it's a diverse, exceptional album that's joyous, moody, folky, heavy, funny, and entirely rewarding; if you've escaped Bark Hide and Horn's tight, soulful live show until now, either get yourself to the Doug Fir tonight, or put BHH on your ever-growing list of New Year's resolutions. NL Also see My, What a Busy Week!
POISON IDEA, MDC, BURNING LEATHER, EMBRACE THE KILL
(Satyricon, 125 NW 6th) If, during the 1980s, someone suggested that I would be ringing in 2009 at a Poison Idea show, I'd have told them to fuck right off. "Poison Idea will be dead by then. And so will I," I would declare as the Black Label-induced living room fight ensued. After a baker's dozen of such inevitable altercations, here I stand on the very eve of 2009 eating my words like a lonely trucker eating so much pussy-for-hire at a rest stop along the freeway near Lodi, California. The lesson here? Poison Idea is in it for the long run. May all of your ill-conceived resolutions and drunken decrees be crushed by the violent forces emanating from the amplifiers of these mighty poison titans. LANCE CHESS
TWO BEERS VIERS, 6 O'CLOCK SHOT GET-ALONG GANG BAND, SCOTT MCCAUGHEY, LITTLE SUE, CASEY NEILL, KEVIN & ANITA ROBINSON, ASHLEIGH FLYNN, JOHN "SPIDER" MOEN, JOHN MCDONALD, ANNALISA TORNFELT
(LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan) The stage of the LaurelThirst is about yay big (I'm stretching my arms out horizontally right now) and I have no clue how the musical Super Friends in Two Beers Viers plan on filling it with so many performers. I assume a few of the musicians will be stacked on each other's shoulders, right? Regardless of the onstage blocking, this evening's performance will be etched deep into your 2008 memories since the already impressive Two Beers lineup (Laura Viers, members of the Decemberists) will be backed by the mysterious 6 O'Clock Shot Get-Along folks, plus a revolving door of openers—from the enigmatic Scott McCaughey (he knows Michael Stipe; you do not), to the Blue Giant/Viva Voce power couple Kevin and Anita Robinson—that will make your head spin faster than all those glasses of bubbly you plan on knocking back as the year ticks away. EAC Also see Destination Fun
TEMPORAL DISTORTION: REGGIE WATTS, DUNDIGGY, BEN DARWISH
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) In the simplest terms, Reggie Watts is a performance artist. No other phrase encapsulates the full range of Watts' abilities, yet "performance artist" seems a wan and insufficient catchall for his varied talents. Watts is a versatile beatboxer with a prodigious vocal range and peerless improvisational skills. He's equal parts musician, comedian, and an unquantifiable something that is probably genius. Watching him perform is a singularly unnerving experience, as though the rules of communication as you know them have been dissolved; as though language is passing through a flux capacitor on its route from his mouth to your ears. An audacious wit, unfailingly poised stage presence, and very big hair complete the Watts package—for my money, this is the place to be on New Year's. ALISON HALLETT
RARE MAGIC: BEYONDA, REV. SHINES, LEROY TRENTON
(Leftbank, 240 N Broadway) Ah, Rare Magic! Not since the Renaissance Faire has a young warlock like myself experienced such a night of wizardry and role-playing adventures...oh wait, so it's not like that? Leave your cloak and 12-sided dice at home, Merlin, since this night of Rare Magic is a "Soul Council Ball": basically a classier excursion into the unhindered bump and grind that you can expect from the thick soul grooves of real-life turntable wizards Beyonda, Rev. Shines, and Leroy Trenton. Considering how the fancy Leftbank digs formerly housed the mysterious Dude Ranch—a legendary club that once featured Billie Holiday and numerous other jazz giants—tonight's affair will be all the more memorable. Oh, and it's a classy affair, so no Ugg boots and cut-off jean shorts, okay? EAC
Today is the day that you find out that, oh no, Sparks and Champale do not mix.
FIREWATER CD RELEASE: KOLVANE, COLIN LAKE & WELLBOTTOM, ALEX WEED
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!
PAST LIVES, METH TEETH , WHITE FANG , DJ SPENCER D
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!
BEN BARNETT, ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD, DAVID J
(The Artistery, 4315 SE Division) See Once More with Feeling
ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Tickets for this Dweezil—definitely not Frank—Zappa show are $100 or $135 for VIP. The mere thought of lining the pockets of Dweezil with that much coin just blew my mind in a way that no Frank Zappa song ever could. EAC
BOY GORILLA SHOWCASE: GHOSTIES, EL COMÉ HOMÉ, WHAT CAN SKULLS TELL US, JORDAN BAGNALL
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) It's about friendship, mostly. The Boy Gorilla ensemble might be known for various things—a close-knit if not incestuous collective of wildly inventive bands and artists; dependable rotation on the house show circuit—but for the most part it's just a bunch of friends making music for each other. If the outside world is interested in the stark emotionalism of Ghosties, then more power to them, but you get the feeling that lone ghostie Devin Gallagher would still be performing the same songs no matter who was listening. And while perhaps it can feel a little insular at times—like a twee cult—the simple notion of friendship that orbits the Boy Gorilla universe is positively inspiring. EAC
THE PENNY JAM 2: SLEEP, WORLD'S GREATEST GHOSTS, DIRTY MITTENS , RYAN DOLLIVER
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See Music
THE PRIDS , LOOKBOOK, MINT CHICKS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Portland's gray skies are a fitting backdrop for locals the Prids. Taking a page from Johnny Marr's songbook and adding a thin layer of stomp-box fuzz, the band plays sad songs made for dancing in front of the mirror. Former husband and wife David Frederickson and Mistina Keith's vocals quiver and echo over the top of a razor-sharp rhythm section—it's beautiful Euro-trash that isn't too trashy. Portland-by-way-of New Zealand trio Mint Chicks join the bill, and don't be shocked if brothers Ruban and Kody Nielson take to the rafters at some point during the set. The Chicks just finished their third full-length on Flying Nun called Screens, which is due out in early 2009 and will no doubt have plenty of herky-jerky pop songs that you can sing along to while your left arm goes numb. ML Also see My, What a Busy Week!
MIC CRENSHAW, ANIMAL FARM, DJ RASCUE, SERGE SEVERE, DJ WICKED, THE WRIGHT FAMILY
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) Veteran Portland "poet, lyricist, emcee, educator" Mic Crenshaw has just dropped his solo album Thinking Out Loud, a stone-solid collection that more than ably demonstrates Crenshaw's multitasking versatility. He's the O.G., house party-rocking, clever-quipping, justice-seeking, freedom-fighting, sage spiritualist, but he's never outside of his comfort zone—which, when considering the vibrantly bubbling organic rock/funk/synth stew of thumping production he utilizes, says a lot. Crenshaw is deservedly considered one of the PDX's treasures, and hopefully Thinking Out Loud will serve to further expand his notoriety. LM
BLACK PUSSY, THE WARSHERS, THE DIVINE NAPALM FLOWER EXPERIMENT, THE WILDE ANGELS
(Twilight Café and Bar, 1420 SE Powell) I do not recommend Googling "Black Pussy" at work. The results—while informative—won't tell you anything about the Portland retro-rockers whose slobbering music is just about what you'd expect from the name. It's loud, dumb, brash, and obnoxious—in a generally good way, particularly if you exchange sober brain activity for a couple 40s and whatever else you can get your hands on. Their degenerate thrashing frequently falls into a void of sticky psychedelia, like Motörhead on cough syrup, or Slayer covering Blue Cheer. They're the kind of band you would hate to have practice anywhere near where you live. Again, I mean that largely as a good thing. NL
MY HOUSE, YOUR NOISE: THE NEXTDOOR NEIGHBORS, KUSIKIA, PEZ DEMENTE
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) See My, What a Busy Week!
SYMMETRY/SYMMETRY , SLEEPWALK KID
(White Eagle, 836 N Russell) See Destination Fun
Nothing at all.
AMOUR ÉTRANGE: LES ÉTRANGERS, POP ART 4, DISCJOCKEY FLIGHTRISK
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) It's a Frenchy night out, so don your berets and wash down your baguettes with ample lashings of wine. Pop Art 4, an ensemble led by Portland jazz drummer Todd Bishop, celebrates the release of 69 Année Érotique, an album of instrumental covers of songs by Serge Gainsbourg. There's lots of hearty saxophone and splashing cymbals, giving the project a decided late-night talk show house band vibe, which isn't particularly French sounding. So for a bit of that je ne sais quoi, look to Les Étrangers, who perform covers of French garage tracks from the '60s. The lustrous voice of Ellen Louise sounds like a more musical, less robotic Nico, and the rest of the band sounds authentically retro, with surf guitar leading the way. If toast and kissing are both done way better in French, why not garage pop? NL
BRAD MACKESON, TANGO ALPHA TANGO, DEEPEST DARKEST
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) After the Carolines split a couple years ago, Nathan and Aaron Trueb formed Tango Alpha Tango, while the remaining members teamed up with Derby's Nat Johnson to form Deepest Darkest. Both bands are logical extensions of the Carolines' unpretentious, melodic pop. Deepest Darkest go for shiny, sheen-y, radio-friendly, classicist rock, with every note carefully in place and every timbre in perfect relief. As generic as that could seem, the songs are mighty fine, and the relaxed, sun-faded vibe is a comfortable fit. Tango Alpha Tango have a bit more urgency to their sound, and cultivate a delicate, damaged beauty; the songs are either folkier and more pointed, or trashier and glammier—more suited for the bedroom than Deepest Darkest's convertible-with-the-top-down groove. It's a genuine pleasure, and no slight against what came before, that both bands are better than the Carolines ever were, and sure, it's not exactly fair, or necessary, to pit the two against the past or each other—but when both share the bill, comparisons are inevitable. Headliner Brad Mackeson celebrates the release of his Nostalgia album, and as its title would suggest, it revisits familiar classic rock and Americana sounds without rocking any boats or embarking on roads less traveled. NL