SOUL'D OUT MUSIC FESTIVAL: MAZE FEATURING FRANKIE BEVERLY, RONNIE LAWS, MARLON McCLAIN
(Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay) See My, What a Busy Week!, and read our article on the Soul'd Out Music Festival.
BEAR IN HEAVEN, BLOUSE, DOLDRUMS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Bear in Heaven has done a good job of confusing its fans over the past year. First they offered a preview of their latest record, I Love You, It's Cool online... sort of. What people found on arrival was the album, yes, but slowed down so much that its playtime lasted longer than three months. When the record itself dropped, it evidenced a change in direction for the band, whose foundation is in psychedelic, proggy pop. I Love You, It's Cool sounds downright retro, and if some of the tracks wanted to retroactively sneak onto the soundtracks of certain teen movies circa the mid-'80s, nobody would be the wiser. At the same time, the songs' bones may feel familiar but their structure is opulent and winding, and trippier songs like "Sinful Nature" still lead you down long, fuzzy paths of discovery. Such is the duality that has always been associated with Bear in Heaven, at once recognizable and madly inventive. MARJORIE SKINNER
FIRST AID KIT, PEGGY SUE
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) First Aid Kit sings with the world-weary twang of rural America. You'd never guess that the sisters Söderberg are Swedish and definitely too young to have ever worked in a coal mine. Klara, 19, sings lead and plays guitar; Johanna, 22, plays keyboards and her harmonies haunt every song of The Lion's Roar, their second LP, released at the beginning of this year. Their sound is country-western, evoking the big sky of an idealized American West, and their voices are almost gratuitously like Emmylou Harris'. Not coincidentally, the best song on the album is called "Emmylou" and features an earworm of a hook: "I'll be your Emmylou and I'll be your June/If you'll be my Gram and my Johnny too." It's catchy, but completely misguided: These ladies don't need any tragic country heroes to flesh out their harmonies and break their hearts; they're doing just fine on their own. REBECCA WILSON
WHISKEY PUPPY, MIGHTY GHOSTS
(Alberta Street Public House, 1036 NE Alberta) Raise a glass to Mighty Ghosts, the rootsy string band that's been on the Portland scene since 2005; the group initially started as Mighty Ghosts of Heaven in Bellingham in 2000, shortening their name in 2008, which also marked a shift in the band's focus to original material. Frontman Gus Smith writes folksy, dusty, rollicking songs in the finest string-band tradition, evidenced most recently on their solid 2010 record Aberdeen. Now Mighty Ghosts are calling it a day, hanging up their banjoes and porkpie hats, so stop in for a chance to say farewell before they pluck that final note. NED LANNAMANN
SEPULTURA, DEATH ANGEL, KRISIUN, HAVOK, PROVEN
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Sepultura and Krisiun are essentially the same band. They're both Brazilian, they were both founded by a pair of brothers, and they both play ripping death-thrash. Currently, the only difference between the two is that Krisiun is the band that Sepultura should've been. Sepultura most definitely had its time of importance and influence, but now that both Cavalera brothers have left the band, it seems like Sepultura isn't really Sepultura anymore, a sentiment that was clarified with last year's Kairos album. Krisiun, however, has always been Krisiun. It's had zero lineup changes since its inception, and all of its albums are as blood-soaked and brutal as the next. There isn't much growth between its records, but there's something to be said about not trying to force an evolution out of your band when it already kicks extreme ass. ARIS WALES
ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE IMPOSTERS
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) If it seems like Elvis Costello's been on the road pretty much nonstop these days, it's because he has been. The once-bristly Brit has embraced his status as living legend over the past decade with live dates, television appearances, and as host of his own musical variety show, Spectacle. He's also managed to perpetuate his reign over contemporary songsmiths with a slew of spectrum-spanning LPs with the Imposters. On the Spectacular Spinning Songbook Tour, Costello combines game-show theatrics with a setlist boasting over 200 different classic tunes. During each performance, lucky fans get the chance to go onstage to spin the wheel, clicking across categories like "hits," "rarities," and more. As if this wasn't spectacle enough, the stage will be flanked by go-go cages—and likely covered in the panties of all genders in celebration of Elvis' first Portland appearance since forever. RYAN J. PRADO Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SOUL'D OUT MUSIC FESTIVAL: PIERCED ARROWS, THE LOVESORES, DI DI MAU
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Let's check in with Fred and Toody Cole, shall we? Last I heard, they were engaged in legendary badassery, churning out gritty rock 'n' roll with their buddy Kelly Haliburton, and being ridiculously in love—as can be seen in a recent OPB clip of their latest song, "We Won't Break," which Fred describes as "about me and Toody hanging together forever." The indefatigable duo also continues to bring new Portland bands into the fold, such as Di Di Mau, a foursome that formed in the fall and just released a new EP. Incorporating elements of Pierced Arrows' unapologetic rock and speed, Di Di Mau's intriguing recordings are marked by the performance of vocalist Austin Paradise, who employs an uneasy, Jim Morrisonesque warble to deliver unsettling meditations on serial killers and general malaise. MARANDA BISH Also read our article on the Soul'd Out Music Festival.
MICHAEL THE BLIND AND THE ELS, NO REY, TOWERING TREES
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Classically trained Michael Levasseur, who performs under the name Michael the Blind, is without a doubt one of Portland's most exceptional musicians. As a songwriter, he's nearly impossible to pigeonhole: "Another Circle of Fifths," the first track off his latest LP Are's & Els, combines eccentric, opaque lyrics, and the velocity of punk rock with mellifluous traditional folk instrumentation, a hybrid which in Levasseur's hands sounds fresh and effortless. The Mountain Goats-esque "Have It Out," which is actually a superior, extended rerecording of one of Levasseur's older songs, is definitely the standout despite being an old composition, with a breathtaking vocal melody and cathartic chorus that is guaranteed to take you by surprise in all its heart-stirring beauty. Are's & Els not only showcases Michael the Blind's versatility—it's a crash course on solid songcraft. MORGAN TROPER
SOUL'D OUT MUSIC FESTIVAL: DOM KENNEDY, RICH HILL, POLY, COOL NUTZ
(Peter's Room at the Roseland, 8 NW 6th) A native of Leimert Park, LA, Dom Kennedy's unique brand of independent self-promotion and steady touring schedule has earned him a loyal fanbase across the country. Kennedy's career began by releasing a series of free mixtapes from 2008 to 2011, culminating in his most recent project and the first available for purchase, From the Westside with Love II. His previous hustle certainly paid off, and he ended up selling over 6,000 copies on iTunes the first week alone and eventually cracked the top 10 worldwide. His long awaited follow-up, Yellow Album, is dropping very soon, featuring collaborations that have not been announced but that promise to be legendary. Local legend Cool Nutz gets the party started, having just returned from touring in Japan as an international ambassador of Portland hiphop. RYAN FEIGH Also read our article on the Soul'd Out Music Festival.
PORCELAIN RAFT, PURSE CANDY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) My problem with a lot of dream pop is that it's so gauzy and ethereal that I feel like I need to stuff my ears with coarse gravel just to get some edge back. Mauro Remiddi, AKA Porcelain Raft, manages to balance soothing and sexy, woozy and wasted on his first LP, Strange Weekend. This is largely the result of good production, which combines bleary-eyed arrangements with the occasional electric guitar. It also helps that Remiddi's androgynous vocals aren't a mixed-low afterthought. The real secret is that, despite the overall spaced-out aura, nearly every song is built around choruses with hooks so groovy that they will be soundtracking the revelatory scenes in self-conscious indie movies for at least the next decade. RW
GUITAR WOLF, THE TRANSISTORS,
THE MEAN JEANS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) I learned the essence of Japan's Guitar Wolf personally from lead singer/guitar player Seiji the last time they played in town. About halfway through their set he grabbed my wrist and, with a little push from my friends, he pulled me up on stage. He gestured toward his screeching guitar; I picked it up and tried to hand it to him. He pushed it back hard into my chest, and motioned for me to put it on instead. He grabbed my wrist again, produced a pick from his mouth, put it in my hand, and with a fiery look in his eyes, he said, "Rock and roll!!" He pointed at me yelling repeatedly, "Rock and roll! Rock and roll!" He counted the band down from four, and then I rocked and rolled with them. I fretted furiously and strummed the strings until I bled. It didn't sound very good (I'm a drummer after all), but the experience showed me what was at the core of Guitar Wolf's philosophy—anyone can rock and roll. It doesn't just come from an instrument. AW
TRUST, VICE DEVICE, ASSS, DJ MAXX BASS, MUSIQUE PLASTIQUE
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) The new 7-inch single from Vice Device is jittery, juddery, shuddery synth pop with stabbing synths, grumbling bass, and yelped vocals covered in smears of reverb. It's tense, claustrophobic, and compelling. The A-side, "Breathless," gets gruesome mileage out of the track's Reeperbahn sax and relentless synth-drums; the B-side, "I Sign My Name with an X," is even more ominous, with a slow buildup to a tense beat that never quite lands where you expect it to. Both sides manage the feat of being simultaneously robotic and roilingly seasick—and both demand repeat listens. Tonight's show sees the release of the 7-inch on 2510 Records, and if that number looks familiar, that's the street address of Clinton Street Record and Stereo (2510 SE Clinton), the excellent record shop of label head Jared White, AKA DJ Maxx Bass. NL
FOXY SHAZAM, MANIAC, CADAVER DOGS, GHOST ANIMAL
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Artists with a marked Queen adoration traditionally don't stay afloat in the cutthroat waters of rock 'n' roll for long. The Darkness, for example, plummeted to the sea floor after its debut and has since become a pathetic interminable mess, and the obnoxiously innocuous Mika is currently wriggling in the recesses of obscurity (where he belongs). Foxy Shazam, however, has proven to have a little more staying power. While the guitar tones and histrionic background vocals are unmistakably Queen, frontman Eric Sean Nally's voice is actually pretty distinctive, if anything sounding more like Pat Benatar and Dee Snyder's hypothetical lovechild than Freddie Mercury. The group's latest record, The Church of Rock and Roll, would have likely been too smart and self-aware for most '70s cock-rock audiences. MT
SOUL'D OUT MUSIC FESTIVAL: SLAUGHTERHOUSE, ILLMACULATE
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) Supergroup Slaughterhouse was born from a collaboration track of the same name on Joe Budden's 2008 release Halfway House. In addition to Budden, the group features Brooklyn rapper Joell Ortiz, Long Beach's Crooked I, and Detroit emcee Royce da 5'9". All four artists have a shared history as top-notch lyricists who haven't reached their maximum potential due to setbacks and squabbles with the music industry and major labels. This should change now that the quartet has signed to Eminem's Shady Records, benefiting not only from the inherent business connections, but also obtaining a producer, mentor, and protector. If the first single "Hammer Dance" is any indication, the forthcoming album promises epic production combined with gritty street-level subject matter. Portland emcee Illmaculate is on the verge of releasing his own full-length, Skrill Talk, which is one of the most anticipated local releases in recent memory. RF Also read our article on the Soul'd Out Music Festival.
THE REVIVAL TOUR: CHUCK RAGAN, CORY BRANAN, TOM GABEL, NATHANIEL RATELIFF
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) When Chuck Ragan decided to broaden the range of his guttural, melodic punk-core attack with the release of 2007's Feast or Famine, he'd already decided the traditionalist in him needed to be freed. The former Hot Water Music frontman's curation of the annual Revival Tour is evidence enough of that. Now in its fifth year, the tour serves as a largely acoustic outlet for bandying rockers hell-bent on rallying around the not-so-Old-World idea of rotating musicians, surprise collaborations, and onstage brotherhood through song. This year's fare features Ragan—whose 2011 LP Covering Ground was another formidable touchstone in what's becoming a legendary career—as well as Against Me!'s Tom Gabel, Lucero cohort Cory Branan, and the fantastic Nathaniel Rateliff. Unscheduled guests are known to pop onstage from town to town, making each stop a unique experience, and Ragan is also raising funds for re-forestation projects and impoverished communities. RJP
BLITZEN TRAPPER, YOURS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) It all started back in the year 2000—that's when Blitzen Trapper first poked its furry, wild mountain head into the world. Tonight the band celebrates its 12th anniversary with a show at a venue whose size they outgrew years ago. In those dozen years, Blitzen Trapper has showed stunning stylistic diversity while keeping an envious level of quality in their records, with particular strengths shining in their low-lit beery ballads, their twin-guitar monster rock jams, and their synth-frenzied avant pop. This is one of our city's best bands, and now among our longest-lived. Oh, and the proper gift for a 12th anniversary is silk—so, you know, wear whatever you gotta wear. NL
SICKOIDS, ARCTIC FLOWERS, TRAUMA
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Sickoids hail geographically from Philly and sonically from the definitive era of American hardcore. The trio of Rob Fitzpatrick, Vincent Klopfenstein, and Eric Montanez have put in years in the Midwest underground circuit (as members of Witch Hunt and Government Control, among others), and joined forces as Sickoids to reach a pinnacle of chaotic, crushing sound and speed, set to geopolitical themes. Their inaugural visit to Portland occurs as they traverse the US on a five-week tour in support of their first release, a self-titled LP on Residue Records—a Chicago outfit that continues to press small batches of cherished vinyl. Something tells me there are some Portland people along these lines, too, and that they'll make a point to be at the Know tonight. MB
PERFUME GENIUS, PARENTHETICAL GIRLS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Horrifying manifestations of sexual depravity aren't pretty or entertaining, but they are what inspire Seattle singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas to make gorgeous music as Perfume Genius. From its title, one might easily mistake the subject matter—or genre—of his second album, Put Your Back N 2 It. I can't emphasize this strongly enough: There are no dance anthems on this album. This is music to contemplate suffering to (your own, the world's). Most of the songs are under three minutes, over before they seem like they should be, and, thanks to Hadreas' sweeping piano and hints of rockabilly, leave you wanting more. They are also heartbreaking, even if you don't listen to the lyrics, which I don't recommend if you're already feeling down. But despite theatrical percussion, Hadreas is never dramatic, singing with quiet, relatable clarity even when confronting incest and semen-covered corpses. RW