There’s not a ton of new music coming out of Portland as of the last couple weeks. And that’s totally okay, because it gives us yet another excuse to listen to Beyoncé’s new Renaissance album—for the fifty-eleventh time. This week we’re focused more on PDX Pop Now!, a headliner show from Sunbathe at Doug Fir, and a new Dungeons &Dragons in space compilation on the Kill Rock Stars label.
Two can’t miss upcoming events.
On Monday, August 29, indie pop four-piece Sunbathe—the solo band project of Cali-to-Portland transplant Maggie Morris (Genders, Youth)—will headline a show in the Doug Fir basement. It's hard to believe that we haven't heard many tracks from their most recent album Something In Between live, but it was released March 20, 2020, the week after COVID rampaged everyone’s 2020 plans. There’s also a good chance fans will get a taste of any so-far unreleased material from their next forthcoming album. The bill gets some more dreamy support in the form of Dallas indie folk pop band Skirts, and New Orleans genre-fluid artist Palm Sunday. Be advised: Even with air conditioning, the venue’s basement can get hot—so be wise and dress in cool clothes. (Mon Aug 29, 9 pm, The Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, $15, w/Skirts, Palm Sunday, tickets here)
Unlike previous years—where all of PDX Pop Now!’s all-ages shows were located at stages under the Hawthorne Bridge or on closed Southeast streets—this year, the local-focus summer music festival is going down at several independent venues across town: Kenton Club, Kelly’s Olympian, Jack London Review, the Fixin' To, Blackwater Bar, Speck’s Records and Tapes, and more. As if making up for time from taking off two pandemic years, the 2022 fest spans the course of a week, and instead of being entirely free, some shows will cost $10, and some will be open to 21+ concertgoers only. “We decided to make some big changes to our festival this year, including initiating our longtime goal of paying participating artists (the festival has long been a 100% volunteer event), and collaborating more closely with music venues in our community,” a message on the festival’s website explains. Unmissable sets include high femme rapper/singer/dancer Maarquii, North Portland MC Mic Capes, soul singer/songwriter Kingsley, bedroom rock outfit Phone Voice, as well as indie punk and surf group Wave Action, outlaw country artist Horse Pills, and rapper/producer extraordinaire Fountaine, as well as some so-called “Secret Headliners.” Many groups are playing all ages sets, in addition to their 21+ shows, and local music nonprofit Friends of Noise has curated a show at the Eastbank Esplanade showcasing Chainsaw Girl and Teeth. Check out the full lineup here. (Mon Aug 22-Sun Aug 28, various venues and times, $0-10, pdxpopnow.com/schedule)
One new music release from a Portland-relevant artist.
On August 16, Chris Funk (The Decemberists) and Chris Perkins (story architect at table top roleplaying game company Dungeons and Dragons and lead designer of Spelljammer, a space-based campaign), teamed up for this D&D-inspired album released via Pacific Northwest label Kill Rock Stars (KRS). Spelljams aims to provide proper background music for Spelljammer navigation, with a tracklisting of Portland artists like rock band Red Fang, fantasy metal act Cardioid, and indie Latin/experimental band Y La Bamba. Other contributors are Seattle alternative hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces, and even more-famous acts like Lucius and Reggie Watts. "Each artist was given a character or plot prompt from the storyline, then challenged to write an original composition based on [our newest Spelljammer adventure] Light of Xaryxis," Funk wrote, via the project's Bandcamp page. “Helping facilitate bringing this world to life through music and the amazing artists' visions that were selected was an honor of a lifetime."
ADDED TO THE QUEUE:
Some upcoming music buzz to put on your radar.
Back in June, Demi Lovato announced her Holy Fvck Tour, which just kicked off on August 13 and will come through Portland on Sunday, September 25. The queer powerhouse singer/songwriter recently re-designated her pronouns to be more fluid (encompassing both she/her and they/them), after announcing her non-binary status in April while promoting her forthcoming album Holy Fvck. Regardless of Demi’s current gender identity, it’s indicative from recent chill-inducing performances on Instagram Live, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and last year’s NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert that this Demi Lovato sounds particularly incredible live. She may be making some of the best/most authentic music of her career. While fans are still waiting with bated breath to hear Holy Fvck the album, Lovato has been dropping singles one by one. “Substance,” a fun, old school pop-punk song sees her vocals effortlessly soaring, even after a couple epic key changes. “29” is reportedly about the 12-year age gap between her and ex-partner Wilder Valderrama (when Lovato was 17, and he was 29). The album is expected to be a departure from Lovato’s poppy, R&B influenced music, and instead embody a heavier emo and punk rock—early era Lovato—sound. (Sun Sept 25, 8 pm, Moda Center, 1 N Center Ct, $25-421, all ages, tickets here)