I RECENTLY DECIDED to spend a quiet Sunday re-watching Dolly Parton’s underappreciated 1982 classic The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas while cleaning my house. I love Dolly, so I may be biased, but it’s truly fantastic from start to finish. Parton stars as Ms. Mona Stangley, the rhinestone-bedazzled madam of a small-town institution whose secret love affair with Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd (played by Burt Reynolds) poses some serious conflicts of interest.

Though the film lightly touches on significant issues, like the legality of sex work, for the most part it’s pure fun and sweetness, the cinematic equivalent of a loaded banana split—at least until any of Parton’s jaw-dropping musical numbers. The Best Little Whorehouse is often recognized for the scene where she tenderly serenades the Sheriff with “I Will Always Love You,” but on this particular Sunday it was a different song that wetted my eyes.

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I won’t spoil anything, but toward the film’s end Ms. Mona gets the rug pulled out from under her and suffers a devastating loss. Cue Parton’s drop-dead gorgeous performance of “Hard Candy Christmas”: “Me I’ll be just fine and dandy,” she sings, “Lord, it’s like a hard candy Christmas/I’m barely getting through tomorrow, but still I won’t let sorrow bring me way down.”

2016 dealt us blow after gut-punching blow—we’ve witnessed the police murders of dozens of black Americans, the mass killing of patrons of the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the judicial victory of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge militia mere weeks before law enforcement sprayed Standing Rock water protectors with water cannons in freezing weather, elected a true-blue bigot to the US presidency, and lost some of our most treasured icons, like Prince, Bowie, and Sharon Jones.

Right now, things are not normal, and the forecast for 2017 looks neither fine nor dandy. But as I sank to my kitchen floor, mop in hand, Parton’s words sounded like a rallying cry: Get through tomorrow. It’s a simple lyric, but hearing her strength and resilience when I really needed to muster my own was probably my most definitive musical moment of 2016. CIARA DOLAN

TAMARYN AT HOLOCENE was by far the best musical performance of 2016 for me. It’s no exaggeration to say the New York City three-piece was pure magic from start to finish. Perhaps it was due to the carefree way singer/songwriter Tamaryn Brown danced onstage with her oversized T-shirt tucked into athletic shorts. Or it could’ve been the hypnotic force with which she sang, throwing every ounce of her energy into her silky utterances and casting a spell over us in the process. Or maybe it was the immersive bubble bath of psychedelic dream-pop that enveloped the room with each sublime tone. Whatever it was, I couldn’t look away. It seemed like an hour had gone by in the blink of an eye. Although the band’s most recent album Cranekiss is pure gold, surely it was Tamaryn’s dazzling delivery that had me sold. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD

FOR ME, live performances rarely have the transcendental effect they’re probably supposed to. I’m more moved by musical moments that happen behind closed doors, but still reflect the absurd, fucked-up human experience, like Taylorgate. The complexity of the Taylor Swift/Kanye West saga is deep and intersectional, and rings with tones of deeply rooted, historical racism and post-feminism—and that fact became clearer than ever in July, courtesy of Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat story. 2016! The video of Kanye and Taylor’s phone conversation when she approved lyrics on The Life of Pablo that she had previously lambasted didn’t validate or justify Kanye’s misogyny to me, but instead highlighted his hyper-social awareness and Taylor’s lack thereof. It gave insight into Kanye’s mysterious production process and derailed the public impression of two major and polarizing pop stars, turning a celebrity feud into a discussion of identity-based power structures in mainstream pop culture. EMMA BURKE

FOR ABOUT A YEAR I edited a zine called Witch Haus PDX that featured friends writing and photographing other friends (with the occasional Rivers Cuomo fan fiction). It was one of those projects I look back on as having not taken seriously, but in reality I took it the most seriously. I spent hours in IPRC trying to figure out InDesign, and just as many hours trying to learn HTML from YouTube tutorials. Since I started the zine, I’d wanted to book a show at Mother Foucault’s with one of my favorite Pacific Northwest bands, Great Grandpa (their Can Opener EP is one of the best Northwest rock releases in recent memory), but things always seemed to fall through. Over the summer I was finally able to convince all five of them to come down from Seattle for the release party of the zine’s third issue. I made a shitty Windows 98-looking poster, asked some of my friends in Turtlenecked, Boreen, and Twelve Gardens to open, and got Craig from Mother Foucault’s to let us use his bookshop as a venue. Come load-in time, I called Craig, who told me that I’d have to wait another hour because he was hosting a wedding reception. What caused me to freeze up with anxiety was soon relieved when the show went perfectly and Great Grandpa singer Alex Menne wailed “Cheeto Lust” while surrounded by full bookshelves, beautiful white sheer decorations left over from the wedding, and friends locked arm-in-arm and singing along. CAMERON CROWELL

A HANDFUL OF my musical highlights are from shows that I attended solo. There was Hundred Waters’ chilling, intimate performance at Branx (now Euphoria Nightclub), where I finally saw opener Moses Sumney perform his single “Plastic” live. Then there was the whirlwind of talent at Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, where Blood Orange, footwork DJ RP Boo, the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra, and FKA Twigs were just a few of the highlights. Not to mention catching Chance the Rapper join Jeremih onstage for a quick set. This summer I discovered more local underground talent than I could keep track of, from the introduction of another monthly hip-hop showcase, Mic Check, to D.U.G.’s open mics, to YGB’s summer day parties with the livest DJs. But to me, nothing stands out more than Kaytranada’s set at Euphoria Nightclub—that probably goes down as the sweatiest show to date. Never in Portland have I seen a crowd move so much. JENÉ ETHERIDGE

THIS YEAR I discovered that THEESatisfaction, a bionic Seattle hip-hop duo and one of my favorite music groups, was done, along with many great people and bands, and my hope for humanity. However, the universe decided to equalize and brought me to KING, a three-woman ensemble that sounds like a friendly relative of my missing Satisfaction. Although upon seeing KING live I was an uncharted level of hungover, their smooth sound and overall grace embraced me and brought my poor, depleted ass back to life. Clad in stunning woven dresses, they had some of the richest voices I’d ever heard, and commanded the crowd’s attention with dreamy soundscapes and tasty three-part harmonies. KING reminds me that female musicians should not have to come in naked on a wrecking ball to attract listeners—KING’s sultry pipes, thoughtful tunes, and genuine, compelling presence stand on their own. ROSE FINN

WHEN CONSIDERING the dumpster fire that was 2016, what stands out to me most aren’t individual moments, but a general lightning rod of spirit and joy. Moving art born from struggle isn’t new or particularly novel, but its presence sure as hell continues to be necessary. What comes to mind is Chance the Rapper performing “No Problem” on TV with Lil Wayne and 2 Chains stomping around the facade of a board room: A dancer stands on top of a table, paperwork raining down around them. What comes to mind is a live performance of Beyoncé’s “Freedom”—people with their fists raised around me, her onstage dancers stomping in a shallow pool of water. What comes to mind are rap songs chanted as protest anthems. What comes to mind is how resilient people at the margins are. How they demand to be seen through their art. In 2016 we kept singing, even in the lifeboats. JENNA FLETCHER

AT THE RISK of sounding like a globetrotting braggart, I have a two-way tie for finest musical moments of 2016 and they both took place outside the US. I got to witness Snoop Dogg turn the crowd at the Estereo Picnic Festival in Bogota, Colombia, into a gloriously chaotic mass of stoned humanity. And I spent one lovely evening in the company of the colorful and groovy Sun Ra Arkestra as they peeled off one space-age jazz epic after another in London’s Cafe OTO. Both shows were powerful reminders about the beauty and uplift that music can provide, be it a sonic trip to the stars or the simple advice to “Smoke weed, motherfuckers!” We’re going to need as many moments like those as we can get over the next year and beyond. ROBERT HAM

OF ALL THE devastating losses we faced this year—David Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones, basic human civility—none hit me as hard as the death of Leonard Cohen. I first discovered Cohen’s music when I was a 15-year-old punk living in a small town, so full of piss and adolescent rage I couldn’t go a day without finding something or someone who had wronged me in some new and unforgivable way. When my mom played me her cassette of Cohen’s debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, I was surprised by how much it affected me. Whether it was the poetry of his lyrics or its calm and honest simplicity, I immediately became a lifelong fan, and have returned to his music throughout all these years when I need to be reminded there is still love in this otherwise maddening world. Like Bowie’s Blackstar, Cohen’s final album, You Want It Darker, was released shortly before his death this year. It is a gorgeous and somber album—and, of course, bleak as fuck. But even in the bleakness I can hear Cohen not just telling us goodbye, but also imploring us not to give up seeking love, hope, and beauty in the world. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY

MY TOP MUSIC moment of 2016 was also the most surreal. At Powell’s suburban location in Beaverton, Portlandia’s Fred Armisen hosted Johnny Marr in conversation. Marr, full-time Mancunian and periodic Portlander, was in town promoting his autobiography, Set the Boy Free. As part of the Smiths, the guitarist was one-half of my favorite songwriting partnership, and perhaps one of the most beloved songwriting duos of all time. Unlike Morrissey, my adulation for Marr is chummier, less complicated, less Freudian—due in no small part to Marr himself being a more down-to-earth and accessible personality. Nevertheless, sitting just a few feet away from a rock ’n’ roll hero and perhaps one of guitar pop’s last great auteurs left me pinching myself. Marr brought along a guitar and an assortment of pedals. I admit watching him fiddle with his gear, only to unleash a stripped-down but no less effective rendition of “How Soon Is Now,” and its iconic tremolo left my eyes misted and a swell of youthful emotion rising in my throat. WILLIAM KENNEDY

IT WAS YET ANOTHER year of personal and incredible musical experiences, some of which were momentary and some that lasted for days on end. But the one that will stay with me the longest is not a single instant or even an entire weekend; it was my accidental discovery of a new way of listening to music altogether. For one reason or another—possibly because for the first time in years my job no longer required me to write about the hottest newest thing—I got bored enough with the current scene to pick out a few of those dusty classical records that had been sitting on my bottom shelf. They were a scruffy lot, inherited from my father or plucked out of free boxes, and at first they tested my patience, only to reward it a hundredfold. First I tried on Mendelssohn’s breezy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Overture, then dipped into Berlioz’s obsessive Symphonie Fantastique, then got knocked around by Ravel’s dazzling string quartet—and on and on, through the graceful cavorting of Mozart to the almost obscenely melodic passages of Rossini, wending past the neurotic orchestrations of Tchaikovsky to the sun-dappled generosity of Dvorák, and, then, finally, summiting the shining symphonic peak of Beethoven. (Turns out the old deaf bastard’s everything he’s cracked up to be.) While 2016 will be a historic year for music simply in terms of the geniuses that left us, for me it will also be the year that I learned how to properly listen for the things that even older, deader geniuses left behind. And it’s a lesson that will feed me for the rest of my life. NED LANNAMANN

THIS YEAR... well, let’s be honest, this year kinda sucked. Bad. Parsing through the negatives from 2016, though, has led me to a few good memories. Finally seeing Cheap Trick. Holding my 18-month-old and headbanging in the front row of a sizzling VHÖL performance—at Pickathon, of all places. But by far the best thing to happen in my musical world was getting to finally interview original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. Not only did I meet the Space Ace, but I conducted the interview at his hotel suite in New York, before good timing and luck led me to continue said interview in the back of a black Suburban on our way to Electric Lady Studios. There I got to watch Ace fire off some of his famous licks (“chicken pickin’” and “Dinosaur bends”) and KISS riffs (“Deuce,” “Shock Me”) while he filmed an episode of the popular web series Guitar Moves. After that I had a beautiful pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen with friends, and got drunk on Sixpoint IPAs. The End. MARK LORE

THIS MAY, I lived most millennial girls’ dreams—I got to witness Queen Bey in action, arguably at the most important point in her career. Beyoncé’s “Formation” Tour stop in Seattle was as close to a religious experience as I ever might get, and her performance should be my favorite musical moment of 2016—and of my life. But what’s stuck with me all year was another moment from May. I was lucky enough to interview Charles Bradley (thanks, Mercury!), who imparted some seriously profound and positive messages about love, compassion, and perseverance. Our discussion feels more and more important as 2016 has progressed. Bradley performed in Portland the day after Beyoncé’s show, and if anyone can follow Bey, it’s Charles Bradley. His moves were fire as ever and he repeated some of his ideas about love, compassion, and the future of our country, ending the show by giving out hugs and roses. ANNA McCLAIN

IN A YEAR when I traveled out of state to see Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ tour a combined total of three times (worth every penny), choosing a favorite music moment of 2016 feels cruel and unnecessary. However, I feel compelled to choose a Portland show that I attended solo: Anderson .Paak at the Crystal Ballroom in September, on the last stop of his Malibu world tour. I was already obsessed with his album prior to the event—.Paak’s distinctive voice has a vintage feel, and tracks like “Am I Wrong,” “The Waters,” and “Come Down” are a modern mix of disco, soul, funk, and hip-hop. Beyond his insanely charming stage presence and a level of crowd control that I’d never seen before in Portland, it was obvious that .Paak is first and foremost a seasoned musician. Every time he sat down at his drum set the crowd would go nuts, and .Paak would simultaneously lead his band while singing and banging with ease. The entire night was an unprecedented euphoric high: a retro-ish dance party that .Paak wouldn’t let end too soon. He stretched “Am I Wrong” as far as it would go, and Portland was genuinely dancing and relentlessly clapping (on beat!) in demand of more. We need more moving nights like these in 2017. JENNI MOORE

OBVIOUSLY, this has been the worst year in modern history. 2016’s incredible shittiness technically started before the year even did, back when Lemmy died last December. To make it even worse, add the loss of Leonard, Prince, Bowie, and Sharon Jones to the fact that we lost our country to a Cheeto puff in a toupee. What really made this year mildly tolerable, especially in music? Black girls ruling everything, that’s what. Best believe I’ll be taking A Seat at the Table, steady sipping on some Lemonade while telling my boo to “Kiss It Better” waiting for those “Beans, Greens, Potatoes, Tomatoes.” Thank you to the Knowles sisters. Thank you to Rihanna, and good God, thank you to Shirley Caesar for providing the best damn Instagram remix to ever be heard. Rest in peace to our fallen heroes, and may 2016 rest in pestilence. CERVANTE POPE

I AVOID the Crystal Ballroom at all costs. Not because I think it’s a trash venue—I don’t—but because very large crowds of strangers are too much to handle for this overly nostalgic spectator that misses the intimate days of Old Portland basement and house shows. For the past three years, though, I’ve happily made an exception to see Dead Moon at what feels like the best possible way to start off any year. Like each time before, this show left me seeping in the love that Fred and Toody Cole emit—for each other, for punk, and for Portland. I also left with a bruise the size of an orange from the steel-heeled tough girl in front of me who stomped her feet to the beat with purpose. Health issues prevented drummer, Andrew Loomis, from joining the set, so Pierced Arrows’ Kelly Halliburton sat in for the second year in a row. When Loomis died just two months later, his loss weighed heavily on the hearts of many punks. This year’s show marked the last time we’ll ever hear a Dead Moon set in the flesh. Long live Loomis, and long live Dead Moon. EMILLY PRADO

WHILE BUMMING around Missoula, Montana, in late October, my company and I came across a live country music drag revue dubbed Cross Country. The event was a benefit for the Blue Mountain Clinic, a women’s health clinic ostensibly in the crosshairs of then-candidate Lord Trump’s pro-life agenda. A few hundred people took in the jovial spectacle of men and women in drag performing renditions of their favorite country tunes with backing band—and my favorite musical discovery of 2016—the Best Westerns, a Missoula-based alt-country sextet. After the individual performances had ended, the Best Westerns took to the stage playing songs from both frontman Izaak Opatz’s forthcoming solo LP, and their super-small press 2014 LP High Country. It could have been the encroaching effects of the Waylon Jennings’ libations (a country take on the Old Fashioned), but that night, the Best Westerns and Missoula, Montana, were the center of the universe. RYAN J. PRADO

MY FAVORITE musical moment of 2016 was witnessing the inspirational power of rock ’n’ roll on Sunday at Pickathon. In the Galaxy Barn, I stood behind a row of young kids watching with rapt attention as the Woolen Men bopped through their DIY post-punk. Later, I grinned ear to ear as four boys headbanged along with psychedelic thrash supergroup VHÖL. And before noon at the Woods Stage, I found myself surrounded by young neon-haired punks and a crew of elementary school-aged girls, all smiling and spellbound as Palehound frontwoman Ellen Kempner played aw-shucks alt-rock guitar hero for an hour. I don’t know Kempner’s story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere along the line, she drew her own inspiration from some other woman who knew how to wrangle killer crunch from an electric guitar. That morning on the farm, she paid it forward. It was a beautiful thing to see. BEN SALMON

LATE ON A Tuesday night in October, my wife sat next to me on a wooden bench at the Old Church. She was pregnant, tired, uncomfortable, and waiting on a performance from Australia’s RY X, whose music she was only passingly familiar with. “He’s sorta soulful folk—kinda like early Bon Iver,” I had assured her days earlier. It all began to feel like a mistake. Not just the show, but moving to Portland earlier in the year. Risking financial instability. Feeling overwhelmed by unfamiliarity. All weighted by the dreaded conclusion of the macabre presidential election now just weeks away. Then the lights dimmed, the crowd hushed, and RY X began running through his gorgeous 2016 debut, Dawn. His tender falsetto felt like a healing agent as songs like “Berlin” and “Shortline” blanketed the room with warmth. My wife nodded she was doing okay. Maybe we both were. KEVIN W. SMITH

STARTING 2016, the bar was high for my best show and I was keeping a list. This year I saw the Roots, Father John Misty, Thee Oh Sees (twice), Kamasi Washington (whose 2015 show was my best of the year), and Warpaint—oh, they were heaven.... But it was Thao & the Get Down Stay Down at the Galaxy Barn on the last night of Pickathon that won my heart in 2016. Thao is contemplative in person, but onstage she’s no holds barred. As she sang the lyric “I take my body back,” I yelled along with her while perched tall at the edge of the venue. This was a year of yelling my truth, and it was solidified that night. 2016 has hardly been a perfect year, but at that one moment in time, I owned my journey and leaped. JENI WREN STOTTRUP

ON NOVEMBER 12, an exhausted America, battered after an unprecedented year of celebrity deaths and a bitter presidential election, turned to SNL to find solace and humor from sorely missed comedy icon Dave Chappelle. Dave was great, but perhaps the most poignant moment of the show was the return of A Tribe Called Quest, arguably the most important group in hip-hop, who delivered a stimulating two-song performance for the ages that felt like drinking cool water after trudging through a sonic Sahara. Nearly two decades and a tragic death had passed since their last album, and in that time devotees have been desperately anointing various heirs to the musical throne they left vacant, only to realize that almost all modern black music drips from the omniscient umbrella of Midnight Marauders. That evening, Tribe reminded everyone of their unparalleled ability to uplift and inspire while also gloriously restoring my faith in humanity. CHRIS SUTTON

ASKING ME TO pick my favorite single moment of music in a year is like asking me to pick my favorite episode of 30 Rock—even a top five wouldn’t cover it. But some of the best recurring moments were the nights when Black Water Bar neared or hit capacity with steadily increasing regularity. That might sound like I’m some sort of schadenfreude junkie, but Black Water’s success as a small all-ages venue that sells alcohol is worth celebrating. The NE Broadway punk bar has singlehandedly exposed the bullshit of all the tired, rote OLCC scapegoating trotted out to excuse the growing but still pitifully small number of venues in this city free of age restrictions. And that’s not all: affordable covers, the vegan-friendly menu, and safe and tolerant atmosphere cultivated by its dedicated staff make Black Water the kind of bar/venue where the only barrier to enjoying live music is the capacity of the room. NATHAN TUCKER

“METAPHORICAL BONER” is the phrase my wife used to describe what I walked away with after attending the Party.San Metal Open Air festival this August. What would you expect from a metal nerd spending two days standing on an airfield in Schlotheim, Germany, witnessing over 30 metal bands from every corner of the planet? There’s nothing more life affirming than watching pillars of flame shoot into the German night sky while extreme metal bands from Switzerland, Norway, Australia, and beyond blast your remaining senses. However, it wasn’t the music alone that gave me my spiritual erection. Party.San had many redeeming qualities. It was quite “green”—after paying four euro for your first beer of the day, you received a small plastic token. If you returned with an empty cup for your next beer, it would cost you three euro. At the end of the day, if you brought back an empty cup and your token, you received one euro back. Consequently, the festival field was virtually free of litter. The thousands in attendance were also very polite. Nobody was belligerent, aggressive, or otherwise unkind. If you wanted to stand at the rail for your favorite act, nobody would touch you. Judge metal and its fans as you will, but put some of the most intense, satanic, blistering bands in front of thousands of bangers, and you will create the biggest love-in with the blackest wardrobe ratio you’ve ever seen. ARIS HUNTER WALES

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