JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION Tues 5/12 Doug Fir
Micha Warren

WEDNESDAY 5/6

DAN DEACON, PRINCE RAMA, BEN O'BRIEN
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See My, What a Busy Week!

GLENN WACO, MIC CAPES, RASHEED, JAMAL, MIKEY FOUNTAINE
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Portland hiphop trio the Resistance burst on the scene in summer 2012 with their eponymous debut single appearing on North Portland rapper Mic Capes' mixtape, Rise and Grind. Since then, Glenn Waco's released his solo project, Northbound, in winter of 2013, followed by Rasheed Jamal's Sankofa, which dropped earlier this year. As a group they've performed some high-profile gigs, most notably an energetic, crowd-pleasing performance at the 2014 PDX Pop Now! music festival. Tonight finds them at the apex of their careers as solo artists, joined by opening act Mikey Fountaine, whose latest, Blak $ushi, proves he is one of the most talented emcees in town and more than enough reason to arrive early. RYAN FEIGH

DANIEL MENCHE, JOHN HAUGHM
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) Daniel Menche is a name that should be familiar to anyone with an interest in extreme noise and dark ambient. The tall, blonde musician is downright synonymous with the genres at this point, having released solo music in heaps since the early '90s. His presence on this experimental bill put together by Creative Music Guild is no surprise, but the addition of John Haughm sure is. Like a lot of his doom metal peers, the Agalloch frontman dabbles in a fair amount of dark solo material that plays up his band's drone underpinnings. Haughm's latest release, The Last Place I Remember, is a particular delight: two long tracks of heavily-processed guitar evoking a denatured and desolate landscape. ROBERT HAM

GEOGRAPHER, IDLEHANDS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) If you wanted to host a fun party with some soon-to-be legal weed, PBRs, and occasional dancing, you could do worse than put Geographer on the playlist. The San Francisco-based outfit consists of singer/founder Mike Deni, with a cellist, a drummer, and a guitarist/bassist. Together they create a sound somewhere between the New Radicals and Big Black Delta, bouncing between angsty and danceable, with catchy indie-pop riffs. Geographer's new album, Ghost Modern, experiments a bit more with styles and rhythms, but will still keep your head bobbing through that conversation with the cute person in the corner. ROSE FINN

THURSDAY 5/7

HOT VICTORY, NOISE-A-TRON, A VOLCANO
(The Foggy Notion, 3416 N Lombard) See My, What a Busy Week!

HATS OFF, HAUTAHUAH, SANCHO
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) After releasing a full-length in 2013 and a follow-up EP last year, Portland power-pop outfit Your Rival announced in January they would be hanging up their spurs. The band played scores of shows on their way to becoming a linchpin in Portland's DIY and all-ages scenes, so if somehow you missed catching them live, that's on you. Fortunately, you've got a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor for Sancho, a new band fronted by Your Rival singer/guitarist (and Mercury contributor) Mo Troper. The band's fantastic debut EP, What If, was quickly recorded and released last month on Troper's Good Cheer Records, a label he recently started with KPSU's Blake Hickman. What If picks up right where Your Rival left off, offering four tracks of illuminating and impassioned pop-leaning punk-rock that's just begging to be spilled out of rolled-down car windows all summer long. CHIPP TERWILLIGER

LOAD B, STEWART VILLAIN, CHILL CREW, MAZE KOROMA, DJ VERBZ
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) The Thesis is a monthly hiphop showcase that began late last year as a collaboration between college radio station KPSU and hiphop website We Out Here. It has since become a primary destination for those in the know to witness the best hiphop acts in the Northwest. Tonight's headliners, Load B—the proudly debaucherous duo of emcees Milc and Brill—bring a fresh irreverence to the Portland hiphop scene that's best experienced live. A recent post from Brill on social media purports, "Milc is gonna do interpretive ice sculpting as I hum the Color Purple soundtrack." Chill Crew, the duo of Portland emcee Jon Belz and Seattle emcee Jesse Desean, will also be in the building, while Maze Koroma of the Renaissance Coalition gets the party started. RYAN FEIGH

STEVE BARTON
(Music Millennium, 3158 E Burnside) Steve Barton spent the better part of the '80s co-fronting Translator, one of power pop's most underrated acts. Best known for their still-fantastic 1982 single "Everywhere That I'm Not," the Bay Area band released four albums of heartfelt jangle and lovelorn psychedelia before splitting up around 1987. Though the group has since reconvened for a new LP, 2012's Big Green Lawn, and some great live shows, only Barton is swinging through town this week. He hits Music Millennium for an in-store to promote Sometimes People Forget, a collection of demo tracks from Translator's heyday, which should hopefully draw some interest from longtime fans and some new seekers of unfettered pop brilliance. RH

FRIDAY 5/8

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See My, What a Busy Week!, and All-Ages Action!

TIPPER, KALYA SCINTILLA, TAL NATIONAL
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Read our article on Tal National.

HELMET
(Dante's, 350 W Burnside) Helmet is not the band it was in the early '90s, when the New York City bruisers released seminal records like Strap It On and Meantime. In fact, guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton is all that remains, and he's trotted out a crew of freshly shorn musicians in recent years that don't resemble John Stanier, Peter Mengede, or Henry Bogdan. That's okay; those songs still deserve to be heard. So do the ones on Helmet's lesser-loved album Betty, which the band will play in its entirety tonight. Released in 1994, Betty combined the staccato riffs and tin-can snare-snap of their previous records, but included more quiet sections, more melody, and more memorable moments. Their best? To my ear, yes. Sure, there are plenty of Helmet fans who would probably not-so-politely disagree. But it is. MARK LORE

HORSE FEATHERS, THANKS
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark #110) Prior to the writing and recording of the fifth Horse Feathers album, So It Is With Us, bandleader Justin Ringle was tired of the focus on the melancholy quotient of his band's music. Hoping to present less woeful-sounding scenarios, Ringle and longtime collaborators Nathan Crockett and Dustin Dybvig forged their new record in a barn in rural Oregon, working to transform their darkened opuses into something lighter... and maybe even fun. So It Is With Us still finds its footing in sweeping, string-heavy arrangements, but at a quicker pace, added by a tight rhythm section and more a straight-ahead rock foundation than you might have thought possible for a Horse Feathers record. The Portland crew, for the first time, sounds more like a band and less like a solo project, and they're all the better for it. RYAN J. PRADO

NEIL MICHAEL HAGERTY, THE WOOLEN MEN, CHRIS SUTTON
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) The latest chapter in the long, unruly, and unpredictable career of Neil Michael Hagerty arrives May 19 from Drag City, a 7-inch record by his band the Howling Hex that's buttered on both sides with songs that are efficient, hooky, hypnotic and—for Hagerty—relatively accessible. Gone (for now, at least) are the extended experiments in fucked psych-blues-rock and disorienting fuzz-gunk that have made the Howling Hex such a wonderful challenge over the past several years. In their place are two mutant pop songs that lock into strange grooves, ride 'em for a bit, and get out before they overstay their welcome. It's a nice, unexpected step from Hagerty, who has specialized in unexpected steps since his days in Pussy Galore and Royal Trux. Tonight, he takes another one: into Kelly's Olympian for a show that's part of his first major tour in a hot minute. BEN SALMON

BLOWOUT, BLACK MARKET PINE, FOOLS RUSH
(The Foggy Notion, 3416 N Lombard) In the span of a year, Blowout have gone from surprise standouts on local bills to full-crowd sing-along showstoppers. Their first and only tape, We All Float Down Here, showcases a mature, self-assured set of catchy indie jams, reminiscent of the nü-pop punk of Swearin', Hoppus-penned Blink-182, and Northwest guitar pop. The comparisons are pointless, though, because soon the kids in the scene will be comparing other bands to Blowout. Go see them on Friday as they take the tiny stage at the Foggy Notion with freak-punks Fools Rush for a pre-wedding bash. Personally, I blast Blowout to celebrate the fact that I'm still not married, but art is in the eye of the beholder. Mazel tov! MAC POGUE

DIVERS, UNWELCOME GUESTS, SWEEPING EXITS
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) One listen to Wavering, the 2014 full-length from Buffalo punk quartet Unwelcome Guests, and it should become evident that the band's name probably won't match your delighted reaction to their sound. The follow up to the band's 2010 album Don't Go Swimming, Wavering makes the four-year gap well worth the wait, delivering a dose of bouncy, uptempo punk with a country-tinged, heartland-rock backbone and some razor-sharp hooks. Tonight they're joined by the great Divers, plus Portland's Sweeping Exits, the long-running rock outfit spearheaded by frontman Sean Archer. Sweeping Exits just released a collection of demos from their upcoming album, Glitter and Blood, via their Bandcamp page, offering up a small taste of the catchy and delightfully warped glam-infused punk rock that's in store when the main course arrives. CT

SATURDAY 5/9

ST. JOHNS BIZARRE
(St. Johns Plaza, N Lombard & Philadelphia) See My, What a Busy Week! and All-Ages Action!

US LIGHTS, BIKE THIEF, THE WHEREWITHALS
(SMART Collective, 6923 SE Foster) Following the release of their self-titled album, Us Lights will play one of Portland's few all-ages DIY venues, the SMART Collective. In addition to providing a safe and sober space for all audiences, SMART Collective consistently puts on shows with great local lineups and Us Lights is no exception. Their sound falls somewhere between synthesized new wave and psychedelic '60s jams, mixing acoustic instrumentation and live drums with spacey electronic sampling (like Youth Lagoon with more straightforward vocals). The five-piece's recordings have very high production value for a homegrown local outfit, but they maintain a real, emotional rawness. CAMERON CROWELL

JAMES CARTER, OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) For three nights, the Oregon Symphony's music director, Carlos Kalmar, puts Portland's biggest band through its paces with an all-American program sporting 20th-century masterworks and a pair of more unfamiliar gems from contemporary composers. The evening's staggering setlist explodes from the start with Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, a series of brilliant orchestrations based on Leonard Bernstein's perennially cool score. It will be a tough act to follow, but James Carter is up to the task. The jazz saxophonist is in town to blow, squeal, and honk his way through a blazing concerto composed especially for him by Roberto Siena. Following intermission, a sea change occurs with Samuel Barber's heart-wrenching Adagio for Strings, a work that offers a beautiful opportunity to witness the Symphony's impressive violin, viola, cello, and bass sections—unadorned and absolutely glorious. The night ends with an utterly bombastic finale from composer Christopher Rouse that's a mere seven years old, and it's guaranteed that Carlos and the Gang are going to kill it. BRIAN HORAY

GRAND OPENING PARTY: LAST REGIMENT OF SYNCOPATED DRUMMERS & MORE
(Drummer Town, 6935 N Fessenden) Percussionists provide the world with a backbone, a rhythmic, syncopated beat that we can all move around to. And while Portland institutions like Revival Drum Shop have held down the beat for several years, it's becoming clear that the continued influx of musicians to town means some healthy competition was inevitable. Enter Drummer Town, which I envision as a roofed village of people banging around on tightly skinned toms and snares for hours on end. In reality, it's a cool new place to snag drum gear, take lessons, talk shop, and rent kits, opened and organized by Shanna Doolittle, better known in local music circles as sts. In celebration, Drummer Town is hosting its free grand opening with perennial parade favorites the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers, followed by DJ sets and more. There will be local art and snacks, and the whole thing coincides with the St. Johns Bizarre. RJP

PUSHY, BREAKER BREAKER, FUZZY DICE
(The Foggy Notion, 3416 N Lombard) Portland power unit Pushy likes to riff, choogle, and blow the roofs off places. It's no-nonsense rock 'n' roll, which is the way rock 'n' roll should be. And tonight they're not alone. Fuzzy Dice and Breaker Breaker are just as rock 'n' roll, making this bill the most rock 'n' roll thing since KISS opened for Blue Öyster Cult and Nazareth in 1974. This calls for drinking warm Budweisers in the parking lot before the show, smoking weed from the very can you drank out of, and letting the good times roll. ML

SUNDAY 5/10

R. RING, HURRY UP, BED
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE RENTALS, REY PILA, RADIATION CITY
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Read our article on the Rentals.

JAMES CARTER, OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) See Saturday's preview.

MONDAY 5/11

WOLF ALICE, GATEWAY DRUGS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See My, What a Busy Week!

OTHER LIVES, RIOTHORSE ROYALE
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Read our article on Other Lives.

JAMES CARTER, OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) See Saturday's preview.

LESS THAN JAKE, REEL BIG FISH, PACIFIC DUB
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) My editor's prompt for this preview was: "Who goes to see Reel Big Fish these days?" I don't have all the answers, and I'm not bold (or bored) enough to find out for myself. To say that Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake are "confined to an era" would be a generous overestimation. Unlike a few other bands from the same '90s period, there's little redeeming about these groups' canons; nothing about a record like RBF's Turn the Radio Off begs for hipster reevaluation. (Last year it was reissued on vinyl and available at select Hot Topic locations, which should give you an inkling as to who will be attendance at tonight's show.) Most egregiously, both bands are partly responsible for leaving an indissoluble blemish on a formerly credible genre (ska) that most people my age just reflexively assume is interchangeable with comedy music. Both bands are on tour supporting sorta newish releases, an EP from Reel Big Fish released last winter called Happy Skalidays (it opens with "Skank for Christmas" and comes full circle with a predictably brassy take on "Auld Lang Syne"), and a two-song single by Less Than Jake titled American Idle. I almost feel sorry for them. MORGAN TROPER

SÓLSTAFIR, ANCIENT VVISDOM, JOHN HAUGHM
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Iceland's best-known band at the moment, Sigur Rós, is an acquired taste. The group's soaring post-rock straddles a tricky line: Some find the reliable stream of crescendos triumphant, while others hear too much preciousness in the group's emotionally charged sound and Jónsi's piercing wail. If Sigur Rós intrigues you but you fall into the latter camp, check out Sólstafir, an excellent Icelandic band that put out a gorgeous album, Ótta, last year, which plays like Sigur Rós' murkier, burlier cousin. Here, Sólstafir continues its evolution from a thrashy black-metal band into an ambitious rock 'n' roll machine with a road case full of weighty riffs, walloping rhythms, and dark tones, but also lots of beautiful moments to burn through the arctic fog. And unlike Jónis, frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason never sounds like he's communicating with sea creatures. BS

TUESDAY 5/12

JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION, WE ARE HEX
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

STEPHIN MERRITT
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) A noted letter fetishist, Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt has already released an album made up entirely of songs beginning with the letter I (2004's appropriately titled i), and a book of 101 two-letter words (last year's 101 Two-Letter Words, obviously). It's only natural, then, that tonight's performance is part of a tour that finds Merritt exploring his considerable back catalog with the help of the alphabet. Along with Magnetic Fields cellist Sam Davol, he'll perform 26 songs in the set— from (perhaps) "Andrew in Drag" to (maybe) "Zebra" (and don't worry, "100,000 Fireflies" fans, that one's occasionally been appearing in the set under F). No, there won't be room for all 69 Love Songs, but there will still be plenty of space for the curmudgeonly Merritt to exhibit his beloved tragicomedy. (Can anyone make it through a Stephin Merritt preview without using the word "curmudgeon"? Apparently not.) JEREMY PETERSEN Also see My, What a Busy Week!.

WILLIS EARL BEAL, LIKE A VILLAIN, SKIN LIES
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) While most modern soul-inspired singers aim for charming pastiche or infectious homage, Willis Earl Beal prefers to use his disarming vocal cords to venture beyond expectations. After some unlikely cult success and a resulting record deal, Beal voluntarily stepped away from his label last year to follow a vision less bound by monetary agendas. His newest recordings sound like '50s soul crooner Johnny Ace using the delivery of Coil's John Balance to sing over Angelo Badalamenti tracks. Beal has a philosophy called the Church of Nobody that also functions as a video series and sometimes a backing band. He often dons masks for photo shoots and performances. He most often performs live with just himself and a reel-to-reel tape machine. And he now resides outside of Olympia, making home recordings while planning his lo-fi symphony. Given these facts, tonight will surely be interesting. JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON