MEGA BOG Mon 3/27 High Water Mark Adam Gundersheimer

Super Pick

HAND HABITS, MEGA BOG
(High Water Mark, 6800 NE Martin Luther King Jr) Last month, two magnificent records were unleashed to the world: Hand Habits’ Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) and Mega Bog’s Happy Together. Both hit hard for different reasons—the first captures the collisions of the natural world and our lives in dreamy guitar landscapes, while the latter rides the unpredictable whims of the saxophone through jazz-pop frenzies like it’s an escaped circus elephant lumbering toward freedom.

Meg Duffy released her woodsy solo debut under the moniker Hand Habits, though she’s spent the past few years playing in Mega Bog and Kevin Morby’s band. Wildly Idle unfolds slowly and without pretension, like a hillside of flowers blooming overnight. Duffy begins the album with a hollowly echoed disclaimer, “I know I’m not the picture-perfect vision made in your mind,” as though she’s apologizing for the mess before we step into her head. Its 13 tracks expand across vast plains of sound, led by the aimless meander of light-filled guitar tones. Standout “Sun Beholds Me” typifies Wildly Idle—it’s subtly haunting, with earthy lyrics like “I am lemongrass, you are lavender” rooting its spacy, astral melodies in the ground. The whole album sounds like Duffy’s learning to accept the constant presence of “the void” right next to life, but vowing to grow despite it.

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If you live in the Pacific Northwest and aren’t yet a disciple of Mega Bog, please baptize yourself immediately. Happy Together is the Seattle/Brooklyn band’s beautifully strange follow-up to 2014’s Gone Banana. Frontwoman Erin Birgy conducts abstract symphonies where, somehow, art-pop and jazz coexist harmoniously. A clarinet inserts itself into the otherwise straightforward pop melody of “TV MAC,” but saxophone is the album’s true wild card—it pierces the misty atmospherics of “192014,” flurries throughout opener “Diznee,” and provides harsh bursts of percussion in “London.” Closing track “Fwee” is markedly peaceful compared to the rest of Happy Together. Birgy’s vocals are feathery, her lyrics less surreal as she sings, “How could I have known/There’s a person out there who means me no harm.” If you want to see two wildly different songwriters bend and twist pop music into new shapes, Birgy and Duffy are not to be missed. CIARA DOLAN


WEDNESDAY 3/22

PANIC! AT THE DISCO, MISTERWIVES
(Moda Center, 1 N Center Ct) One of the benefits of having memorized “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” in middle school is that now the baroque-pop hit is prime karaoke material. Panic! At the Disco frontman Brendon Urie sings with over-the-top emo operatics that will forever remain a staple in the pop-punk genre (and the hearts of countless millennials). The band’s novelty has worn off slightly since the early ’00s, but a friend recently took her 14-year-old sister (a second wave P!ATD fan) to a show, and they both heartily agreed it was “a fucking blast.” EMMA BURKE

XIU XIU, FORCE PUBLIQUE, MATTRESS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) I can hardly write this Xiu Xiu preview because I keep getting lost in the extensive and rewarding catalog Jamie Stewart has amassed throughout his fine 15-year run. Xiu Xiu’s members have shifted over the years, but the lineup has held steady since 2009 with Stewart, Angela Seo, and Shayna Dunkelman. Together, they’ve covered a lot of territory. Are they best known for electro-pop dance tracks about secretive sexual dynamics, or for industrial-touched, ghost-whispered ballads about oppression and injustice? There’s also their haunting, emotional covers of songs like Rihanna’s “Only Girl (in the World)” and Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Last year a museum in Queensland, Australia, commissioned them to rework Angelo Badalamenti’s score for Twin Peaks. This year Xiu Xiu’s new record Forget returns to the catchy and uncomfortable dance floor. SUZETTE SMITH

THE EPOXIES, SLOPPY KISSES, CONDITIONER, SILVER KINGS
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Hallelujah for the never-dead realism of lo-fi punk rock. Portland’s Sloppy Kisses soundtrack the jangly underground slacker lifestyle with 2016’s 7-inch New Pompeii. Songs like “Wasted Mind” harken to the screechy aural confines of an all-ages show in a suburban Quonset hut, all splashy drums and guitars that sound like they’re on the verge of breaking in half. The satisfyingly high speeds of “No Pity” ameliorate its clichéd lyrics, and on “Party Rock,” even the most cringe-worthy punk rock stereotypes are saved by the band’s pure energy. The 7-inch’s standout is its title track, which opens with a flatulent bass line and morphs into a rough rocker about “living in the shadow of mass extinction.” It’s a fittingly eruptive track for a band enamored with volcanic ’80s hardcore, and showcases the radical potential of Sloppy Kisses when they put their heads together. RYAN J. PRADO

ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY, ERIK PHILLIPS, BOREEN, CLOVVER
(Parkway North in PSU’s Smith Memorial Student Union, 1825 SW Broadway) As Elvis Depressedly, the North Carolinian duo Delaney Mills and Mat Cothran run a gamut of lo-fi sounds—from the hypnotic, ambient surges and muffled shoegaze of 2011’s Save the Planet Kill Yourself to the incendiary “end times prophecy” drainpipe-folk of 2015’s New Alhambra. Complicating any attempt to map their musical trajectory, last year Elvis Depressedly re-released the 2013 EP Holo Pleasures as a full-length with a flip side of previously unreleased material from a similar era called California Dreamin’. It makes me feel like we’re hopping around in time, and I like that. If you’re lost wandering around PSU’s Smith Hall, Parkway North is on the first floor by the cafeteria. SS

OLD 97’s, HA HA TONKA
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) The term “alt-country” might be left for dead, but the Old 97’s—one of the genre’s early practitioners—are still alive and kicking. The Dallas, Texas, four-piece just released Graveyard Whistling, their latest in a long line of hook-laden, country punk gems. The fact that it was made by the same four guys who recorded 1994’s Hitchhike to Rhome is impressive on its own, but Old 97’s remain one of the best live acts around. As with their albums, those performances continue to attract a cross-section of punk rockers, country fans, and everyone in between—a great song is just a great song. The band’s latest single, the foreboding “Good with God” (featuring Brandi Carlile as the titular character) ranks right up there with 97’s classics like “Victoria” and “W. TX Teardrops.” I expect tonight’s crowd will react to the band’s newer material with equal fervor, a testament to the diehards, but mostly to Old 97’s’ amazing consistency. MARK LORE

THURSDAY 3/23

TEENAGE FANCLUB, BRITTA PHILLIPS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Read our story on Teenage Fanclub.

HEX VISION, MALE/FEMALE, MERINGUE
(Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth) The only things on Hex Vision’s Bandcamp are three songs recorded at Mississippi Studios last November. The punkish band’s bio says they’re “generally lurking along the I-5 corridor anywhere between Portland, OR, and Olympia, WA,” which explains why one of those songs is called “Olympia.” But I hope they lurk around Portland more, because these three songs kind of rule. “Sun Titan” is my favorite—I really like when bass lines guide melodies as boldly as this one does, and the way the warbled vocals sound so fiery, like they’re singing around a burning effigy. I also love the name Hex Vision; it sounds like one of the settings on Inspector Gadget’s magnifying glass. Color me intrigued! CIARA DOLAN

GRAN RITMOS: CLAP! CLAP!, DJ SOLO, 2TABS
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) Italian-born DJ and producer Cristiano Crisci’s arrival on the international scene came with the release of 2014’s Tayi Bebba, which he recorded under the name Clap! Clap!. Three years later, it’s still explosive and bracing, with an almost liquid feeling as the music flows around African and Latin rhythms, the bounce of house, and Chicago footwork. This record captured the attention of Paul Simon, who invited Crisci to contribute some production to his most recent album, Stranger to Stranger. Clap! Clap! arrives in Portland on the heels of the release of A Thousand Skies, another devastatingly funky and bass-heavy collection that winds in some elements of Italian folk among his collaborations with South African singer/songwriter Bongeziwe Mabandla. ROBERT HAM

BOYTOY, NICK NORMAL, COOL SCHMOOL, GET REAL
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) New York’s BOYTOY sound like they could be the plucky daughters of Belinda Carlisle. I am currently envisioning an MTV reality show about this imaginary family—there is a lot of door slamming and proclamations of “fuck you, mom!” followed by tearful embraces and group sing-alongs on white sectional couches. IRL, BOYTOY plays power-pop that’s less hooky than that of adjacent bands like Dum Dum Girls and La Luz (there’s definitely some echoed doo-wop “oohs,” though). The guitar riffs are surfy as heck, which is appropriate because they are real-life ocean surfers and land-surfers, which is what I like to call skateboarders. It’s gritty, smoky, fuzz-lovin’ rock music that isn’t revolutionary yet, but their new 7-inch Putty is promising. “Want” is a cool cruiser where they sing about wanting stuff, and “Burning in Orange” sounds like it could soundtrack a slowmo basement dance party. I haven’t seen them live, but I bet this is a trio of sock rockers, which is what I like to call bands that rock your socks right off. CD

FRIDAY 3/24

SLAY DANCE PARTY: DJ RONIN ROC, DJ AUTOMATON
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) A hip-hop dance party designed specifically for minorities, LGBT, and open-minded people? To that I say: YAS KWEEN! Hosted by Bart Fitzgerald and Blaine Provancha, sounds will be provided by DJ Ronin Roc (resident DJ of Ante Up’s ongoing Tribute Night series) and the established DJ Automation, who curates Killingsworth Dynasty’s Cake PDX community dance party. Queer, trans, people of color, and allies can reserve a “fast pass” (in before 10 pm), and pay a discounted door fee. Sounds like a pretty good deal, especially considering there’s no way this playlist isn’t Beyoncé-heavy. JENNI MOORE

WHY?, OPEN MIKE EAGLE
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark) WHY? Because why not? The acclaimed Yoni Wolf-fronted indie band is teaming up with “art” rapper Open Mike Eagle to bring America a healthy dose of much-needed intelligent, hip music. I’d be writing two blurbs if they were performing separately (hop on Spotify and check out WHY?’s chill new album, Moh Lhean, and, if you missed him at Pickathon last summer, listen to Open Mike Eagle’s Hella Personal Film Festival), but they’re doing us all the favor of touring together. See them. DOUG BROWN Read our story on Open Mike Eagle.

AGNES OBEL, ETHAN GRUSKA
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) There’s something about Agnes Obel’s songs that makes them feel almost tangible, as if they’re sitting right next to you in glorious 3D. You can practically hear the air vibrate around them—they expand and contract like living, breathing beings. Ever since the release of her 2010 breakthrough Philharmonics (which went five times platinum in her native Denmark), Obel has constructed exquisite avant-pop mostly out of playful piano melodies, uncomplicated guitar parts, dramatic string-section swells, and her own haunting vocals. The results are tastefully ornate, deeply personal, and undeniably catchy. As the genre boundaries of yesteryear continue to blur and disintegrate, Obel will be at the forefront of those exploring the spaces between folk, classical, and pop. BEN SALMON

MÁRA, THALASSA, NORDRA, DANIEL MENCHE
(Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th) This weekend Sige Records, an experimental ambient label based in Vashon, Washington, presents an all-ages showcase featuring artists that appear on its imprint at Leaven Community Center, a space that lends itself to facilitating connection between spiritual communities. Mára, the project of the label’s co-owner Faith Coloccia, captures the essence of dream-pop with gentle harmonizations between voice and piano. Prolific abstract sound musician Daniel Menche will perform as well—his form of aural exposition defies categorization. Densely layered dronescapes cascade into infinity, providing an interactive experience that can be different every time. Menche’s latest release, Sleeper, encourages listeners to tune into the films that play behind our eyes within the province of the mind, a space that even in slumber presents endless opportunities for exploration. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD

KANE STRANG, CHASTITY BELT, FLOATING ROOM
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) If indie rock were high school, Chastity Belt would’ve already carved out their space in the weird trophy case made for portraits of Laura Palmer or creepy coaches with fuzzy mustaches who won state in the ’80s. The Seattle band refined their almost formulaic catchiness on 2015’s Time to Go Home. Opening track “Drone” begins with grayscale, noodling guitar backed by down-tempo drums, with guitarist/vocalist Julio Shapiro offering witty-yet-dejected observations like “He was just another man trying to teach me something.” This June they’ll release a third LP, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. On its first single, “Different Now,” Shapiro’s observations are less wry and deflated—instead they’re clear and tinged with some genuine sentimentality. Perhaps Chastity Belt has graduated. CAMERON CROWELL

KAYTRANADA, NXWORRIES, LOU PHELPS
(Memorial Coliseum, 300 Winning Way) If you’re reading this, it’s too late—Adidas is hosting a free show at the Memorial Coliseum with Kaytranada, NxWorries, and Lou Phelps, but they’re fresh out of RSVP spots. Those lucky enough to snag tickets will experience the excellent sounds of Haiti-born, Montreal-raised producer Kaytranada, whose debut LP 99.9% was one of the best albums of 2016. With masterfully manipulated samples converging in woozy, surrealist orchestras, its 15 tracks fall somewhere between R&B, acid-washed psychedelia, and dance. The album also boasts features from some pretty big names, like AlunaGeorge, BadBadNotGood, and Anderson .Paak. His younger brother Lou Phelps will open, along with NxWorries (.Paak and producer Knxwledge). Since both Kaytranada and .Paak will be in the building, chances are pretty good they’ll perform “Glowed Up”—the synthy standout of 99.9%. CD

JAMES CHANCE & THE CONTORTIONS, THE VERNER PANTONS, LITHICS
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Avenue) The ingredients that make up James Chance and the Contortions sound like a prototypical ’60s garage rock band: a handsome, well-coiffed leader who sings and plays saxophone; cheap keyboards; vampy female vocalists. But filtered through the no wave aesthetic that permeated the New York rock scene in the late ’70s/early ’80s, the mixture turned into something far funkier and much, much nastier. The feeling of albums like Buy and Off White (both released in 1979) was dangerous, as if the music itself might take human form and mug you on the dancefloor. The now 63-year-old Chance has kept to those same sonic ideals even today as he fronts a new version of the Contortions on a tour in support of 2016’s The Flesh Is Weak, which features strains of ska and Afrobeat in the otherwise searing disco-funk-punk blend. RH

SATURDAY 3/25

STRAND OF OAKS, HEATHER McENTIRE
(Dante’s, 350 W Burnside) Tim Showalter’s art has always been one of complete, transparent, terrifying honesty. Under the name Strand of Oaks, he’s released five albums of painfully soul-searching songs that confront traumatic events like his house burning down, his wife’s infidelity, and a nearly fatal car accident. The music varies from whisper-quiet funeral folk to headspace synth poems to metal-tinged shred rock, although his best work blends these disparate elements into a throaty, fist-pumping brand of heartland rock. With the newest Strand of Oaks album, Hard Love, Showalter’s gift finally seems fully unveiled: He machetes his way through these thickets of pain and extracts something hopeful out of the process, making uplifting music out of heart-wrenching sorrow, and refusing to succumb to anger, hopelessness, or regret. This is difficult and important work, so thank heavens Showalter is so goddamn good at it. Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah opens the show, and she’s no slouch at turning tribulation into testimony, either. NED LANNAMANN

DELICATE STEVE, ALEX CAMERON
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Alex Cameron’s 2016 debut Jumping the Shark landed on many year-end lists, though it was originally self-released for free in 2013. The album’s praise was well-earned, between its subtle synth-pop posturing and Cameron’s carousing lounge singer swagger. But it’s his onstage persona that ultimately endears listeners to his surreal talents. Taking on the identity of a failed entertainer, Cameron’s commitment to the role makes for riveting spectating, specifically on songs with plenty of negative space like “Happy Ending” and “Take Care of Business.” He’s currently touring with the talented guitarist Delicate Steve. Rest assured, this show will be an exposition of extremes. RJP

STRFKR, PSYCHIC TWIN
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Portland’s STRFKR (formerly Pyramiddd, formerly Starfucker, still Starfucker) has never made a bad record. The album art is always on point. Their live shows are original and fun. Their music video for “In the End” is an homage to John Waters—it’s about beautiful drag queens pulling off a heist with toy guns and showering a dance club in cash. I don’t know how we ever got it so good with STRFKR’s indie pop. You can dance to it, clean your house to it, take a long walk in the rain and feel morose to it. For some reason I tried to steel myself for the possibility that last year’s Being No One, Going Nowhere might not be as great as its predecessors, but STRFKR continues to deliver all the great synth-pop and tripped-out Alan Watts audio samples we desire. SS

SUNDAY 3/26

DEATH VALLEY GIRLS, THE SHIVAS, THE TAMED WEST
(The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont) Los Angeles’ Death Valley Girls play music that’s so wild, furious, and unholy, the Liquor Store’s basement might just cave in and reveal a fresh portal to hell when they play there this weekend. Last year the freaky four-piece released Glow in the Dark, 10 tracks of rock ’n’ roll that sounds like it’s repeatedly ramming a fork into an electrical outlet. CIARA DOLAN

ALLISON CRUTCHFIELD AND THE FIZZ, VAGABON, SOAR
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) As Vagabon, Lætitia Tamko plays anthemic but intimate indie rock. Listening to her excellent 2017 debut Infinite Worlds is initially startling, because Tamko sounds wholly possessed by emotion. The way she howls on “Cold Apartment” is viscerally relatable for reasons that are hard to explain. That’s probably why her music is so striking—it’s like a new bold language for navigating our universal experiences. CIARA DOLAN Read our story on Allison Crutchfield and the Fizz.

QUARTET SAN FRANCISCO, ALEX DE GRASSI
(The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th) With its intimate size and kick-ass acoustics, I daresay the Old Church is the best spot in town to catch a bit of chamber music magic, and this gig features one hell of a program performed by virtuosic string players that certainly deserve our attention. The boys of Quartet San Francisco are joined by steel-string guitarist Alex de Grassi to bring a brilliant genre-spanning set list to life, touching down in such varied locales as Mongolia, Spain, and Abbey Road. While violins and a cello will definitely be onstage, expect a decisive detour from traditional classical repertoire, replaced instead with Argentinean tango and the jazz melodies of Gershwin and Chick Corea, topped with a generous helping of unexpected sonic joy that just might have those in the congregation saying Amen. BRIAN HORAY

MONDAY 3/27

KREATOR, OBITUARY, MIDNIGHT, HORRENDOUS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) The most effective way to build a perfect metal show is to mix the old guard with the new. With its sixth annual package tour, Decibel magazine has once again put together a four-band lineup that any metal fan can get behind. At the top of the bill, they’ve provided Germany’s thrash overlords Kreator and Florida’s mid-tempo death metal madmen Obituary to fly the flag for the elders. Both bands released excellent, true-to-form records this year, and are no doubt thrilled to blend the new material with classics. Also on the bill: The experimental death metal of Philadelphia’s Horrendous and the raw and confrontational black rock ’n’ roll of Cleveland’s Midnight. They’ll decimate the room with their violent and unhinged live show, and Horrendous’ melodic yet burly guitar riffs will measure up to the salty old dogs. ARIS HUNTER WALES

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MODERN ENGLISH
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) These days there are plenty of reasons someone might want to stop the world and melt, but probably not for romantic purposes. Modern English have come full circle since the days of their chart-topping hit “I Melt with You,” triumphantly returning to their original lineup (from when they were first known as the Lepers) for the first time since 1986’s Stop Start. Last month the new wave group released Take Me to the Trees, which calls back to the resonant roots heard on their 1981 debut Mesh & Lace. CERVANTE POPE

TUESDAY 3/28

KATE TEMPEST, PHILIP GRASS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) On last year’s Let Them Eat Chaos, London-based poet/rapper/novelist/playwright Kate Tempest unpacks a lot of anti-societal baggage. Through unrestrained verbosity, Tempest’s anger is thinly veiled. It’s typically delivered with quick-tongued flow and thoroughly beautiful poetry, as heard on the record’s bold spoken-word intro, “Picture a Vacuum.” A tale of lonely souls connected through the rigors of their mutual hopelessness drives the narrative through the dizzyingly great “Lionmouth Door Knocker” and equally eye-opening “Ketamine for Breakfast.” The breadth of Tempest’s muses makes for seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics that cover the gentrification of her hometown, the criminalization of refugees, the perils of the selfie generation, and the heavy insignificance of modern patriotism, but all of this only skims the surface of her talents. Tempest needs to be seen live to be experienced at her most powerful, rebellious, and affecting. RJP

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