A MICHAEL JACKSON CHRISTMAS
FEZTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US: DJ GREGARIOUS, DJ KRINGLE, DJ SUGAR PLUM
FUBAR: MI'KA & KALA, EKIM, NATHAN DETROIT
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) After the yule festivities wind down each year, droves of people rush to the bars to erase the trauma of spending all day with their families exchanging awkward gifts and conversation. And even though it's a known fact that Christmas is one of the busiest nights of the year for drinking establishments, usually there's no music entertainment to be had because apparently people think you're only allowed to watch stupid movies out of respect for Jesus Christ. Thankfully the folks at Fubar have no such respect, and are staying right on schedule with their last-Friday-of-the-month dance party at Branx. Headlining the event are Mi'ka and Kala, whose hard-edged techno set should be the perfect soundtrack for post-family liquor guzzling and blowing off holiday steam on the dance floor. AVA HEGEDUS
RED FANG , WITCH MOUNTAIN, BLACK BUDGET
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) If you consider yourself privy to the heavy rock scene in Portland then Red Fang is no mystery to you. However, you might not realize that the career of these hometown heroes is on the upswing. After their brilliant video for "Prehistoric Dog" hit the web, the doors started swinging open. Now Red Fang has a full-length out on Sargent House Records, a manager, a PR person, a booking agent, and, for a spell, they even claimed the opening slot on tour with Clutch. Bottom line: Our boys might not be playing small club gigs for much longer. Drop that sugar cookie, because you don't want to be the one lamenting, "I could've seen 'em way back when...." ARIS WALES Also see My, What a Busy Week!
YOU WHO: BLUE GIANT, PORTLAND MARACA PROJECT, DJ ANJALI
THE HUGS , FOREIGN ORANGE , HIGHWAY
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) Remember the Hugs? Back in 2007 the teen bubblegummers seemed poised to pop. British music insider Roger Sargent flew out to Portland and fell in love with the group, who were then still in high school. But as is so often the story, the Hugs didn't become the next Strokes or Arctic Monkeys. Their label has since dropped them, and their former taste-making managers have said no more. "Imagine the Dandy Warhols without the hits," a friend said. But while some would see these troubles as the end of the Hugs, I'd call them the beginning. Here's where things get real. As the kids become men and lose their novelty cuteness, they must subsist on music alone. And since the prospects of blowing up have blown out, the boys are going to have to finally make some fans in their hometown. As the saying goes: "If the people on your block don't relate to your music, no one else has a chance." ANDREW R TONRY
Happy birthday, Edgar Winter!
ROOT BEER AND FRENCH FRY
(Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny) Much like the delicious combination to which their name refers, local group Root Beer and French Fry are a band that puts two styles together with pleasing results. The quartet's solid indie rock foundation is enhanced by what they've jokingly referred to as a fifth member—an Apple computer, with which they add a heavy layer to their songs. This "electroacoustic" effect resonates with the Starfucker/Pyramiddd phenomenon, and a cheeky catchiness in music and song titles—"Bonobo Hobo," "Uhgh Uganda"—parallels megastars Vampire Weekend. Their sound is distinct enough to get them chosen from masses of local bands to be one of the musical acts in PICA's Time-Based Art festival this past year. Now we're just waiting on an album, gentlemen. MARANDA BISH
BOAT, BLACK WHALES, TYPHOON, RITCHIE YOUNG , THE RIOT ACT DJ WRECKING CREW
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Before things get all frenzied with New Year's Eve, here's a chance to kick back with BOAT, who are your best friends even if you've never heard their music. The Seattle band's songs are so agreeably friendly, so goofily ready to please, that you'll feel like tucking a copy of their latest album, Setting the Paces, under your arm and giving it noogies all night. (Note: This is not recommended, at least not outside the privacy of your own home.) But seriously, writing songs that sound this fun is harder than it seems, and BOAT's subtle craftsmanship is easy to overlook. Whether you're paying attention or not, though, BOAT is still a blast. BOAT and a clutch of other Seattle and Portland bands are playing for free tonight, but save some scratch to donate to the evening's very worthy cause: the Jenny Hiller Memorial Fund of the National MS Society. In between sets, the Riot Act DJ Wrecking Crew will be exhibiting their good musical taste for your pleasure. NED LANNAMANN Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SHOESHINE BLUE, JUSTIN POWER, THE LOWER 48
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) It's fitting that the cover artwork for the Lower 48's Everywhere to Go EP is a photo of a sun-soaked open road swallowed whole by the looming horizon. The Minnesota band recently packed up their pearl snaps and acoustic instruments and took such a road en route to their new home—which is, you guessed it, Portland, Oregon. Their swaying roots-folk is capped nicely by the tender-voiced Sarah Parson and the subtle viola work of Colin Martindale, and the band fills the gaps between the porch strumming of Horse Feathers and the boozing ballads of Weinland. The Lower 48 might not be old enough to order a round at tonight's show, but that shouldn't stop you from drowning your post-holiday sorrows. EZRA ACE CARAEFF
OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN, JEN MOON, LOVELY HOUSES, ROSS McLERON
(Ella Street Social Club, 714 SW 20th Pl) Local rock band Oh Captain, My Captain makes dramatic, blustery rock of a very enjoyable sort, with welcome '60s baroque moves cribbed from the Beatles' and Brian Wilson's more ambitious moments. Meanwhile, Lovely Houses sound like they're cribbing from much less ambitious musicians, like Jack Johnson and... Jack Johnson. Fortunately a couple good local acts round out tonight's bill: Jen Moon composes moody piano ballads with dark classical overtones, and Ross McLeron is formerly of the band Southern Belle. His terrific solo songs are gently melodic and entirely catchy, exhibiting a fully ingrained pop sensibility, with twanging, glistening guitars like the Flamin' Groovies and a casual vocal delivery like Lou Reed. When McLeron's forthcoming album 1865 comes out in 2010, it'll be well worth tracking down. NL