As we dip into 60-degree temps, Portland's forecast is looking positively balmy and its music scene decidedly on the up and up. Spring forth into these upcoming shows—featuring a whole lot of Pacific Northwest hip-hop—and a homecoming record release for Latin indie rock star Y La Bamba.


Can’t miss upcoming events.

Friends of Noise: Hip-Hop House

All ages music nonprofit Friends of Noise has built solid cred over the years by producing all ages concerts, workshops, and mentorships with the aim of uplifting both youth and adult BIPOC artists in Portland and creating a more inclusive local music scene. The org’s latest efforts include not one, but two all-ages shows. On Thursday, a multi-faceted event called Hip-Hop House goes down at Alberta Abbey, with a dance demo led by Walle, a live set of celestial rhymes from Bryson the Alien (who, full disclosure, is my future husband), as well as sets from emcees Mxsty and Hatchet, before a one-on-one dance battle for cash prizes! Audiences aged 15 and under get in free. On Saturday, at JaJa PDX, Friends of Noise stacked another lineup with stellar Portland-based emcees that are rare to find on an all-ages bill: charismatic rapper The Dutchess, along with Chicago-to-Portland transplant Bremer Baden, graffito-Jahdi, DaBoi King, and 13-year-old J Prodigy. (Hip-Hop House: Thurs March 16, 6 pm, Alberta Abbey, 15 and under get in free, $5-15, tickets here, all ages; Sat March 18, JaJa PDX, 819 SE Taylor, $10-15, tickets here, all ages)


New release(s) from a Portland-relevant artist.   

“Dibujos De Mi Alma,” Y La Bamba

Led by Luz Elena Mendoza Ramos, Y La Bamba has been making major waves for the last several years with their Latin experimental indie rock, even garnering a showcase on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2019. With the release of indie band Y La Bamba’s new single and music video, "Dibujos De Mi Alma," the band also announced their forthcoming album Lucha will drop on April 28 via Tender Loving Empire Records. The new single was written for Mendoza Ramos’ romantic partner right before the pandemic hit. “It's a song of longing for this person, but at the same time trying to detach myself from the unhealthy parts of connection,” she explained in the album's release info. Alongside mesmerizing, artsy, black-and-white shots of Mendoza Ramos, a pair of dancers in the video take on the story's narration via captivating choreography. During the pandemic, Mendoza Ramos moved back to her parents’ home country of Mexico. The Lucha album title translates to “fight” in English and is also a nickname for Luz. The project promises to explore a multitude of concepts: love, queerness, romance, family, identity, ancestral trauma, and healing. “Lucha is a symbol of how hard it is for me to tackle healing, live life, and be present,” Mendoza Ramos said. More exciting news: Y La Bamba kicks off a spring tour with an album release show in Portland. (Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, Wed April 26, 8:30 pm, $27.50, tickets here, all ages)


Some upcoming music buzz to put on your radar.


Having risen to prominence for radio-ready singles like “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” and “Same Love,” we also value Seattle-proud rap star Macklemore for his profound, self-reflective rhymes and epic social justice epiphanies. This month he released his third solo studio album Ben, named after the rapper’s legal name Benjamin Hammond Haggerty. On a local level, Macklemore still tries to keep it regular—it’s not uncommon to see him walking around town, riding on a float at Seattle LGBTQ+ Pride, chilling at a local fashion event, or making an appearance at TedXPortland. Want a tease of what to expect on his upcoming eponymous tour? Just a few months ago, the rapper went on KEXP for a stellar live set—bringing together a choir, Australian singer Tones and I, and a slew of strings. Tickets for his two-night October stint at the Roseland go on sale Friday. (Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th, Sat Oct 7 & Sun Oct 8, 7:30 pm, all ages)