Super Pick: Sun 4/2 & Mon 4/3

(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark #110) When the original alchemists invented the guitar, they probably had no idea the impact their creation would have on modern society. This sacred wand is an endless wellspring of vibrational gifts, as evidenced by the work of North African sound-smiths Tinariwen.

Born from a collective of Tuareg rebels who enriched their revolutionary aspirations with the sounds of Santana and Hendrix, the group melts these western medicines into their regional sound, creating a sweeping Saharan mutation of glittering rhythm and soulful mantras. Commanding the center of this swirling maelstrom are Tinariwen’s golden axes, which weave flourishes of fluttering distortion into hypnotic melodies as a majestic Bedouin backbeat anchors the soul. Their music is a gift from the electric guitar, and demonstrates the instrument’s ability to make indigenous sounds beautifully universal.

Formed as a tribute to ’60s Cambodian artists like pop king Sinn Sisamouth, the Los Angelinos of Dengue Fever perfected his legendarily groovy Khmer rhythms, conjuring unique dreamlands with groovy mini-operas starring singers Chhom Nimol and Zac Holtzman. In this setting, the guitar plays the cool spectator in the band’s new wave sonic cinema, exhaling cigarette smoke into the camera. Dengue Fever may stretch beyond this environment occasionally, but their fierce brand of global groove is always intoxicating. CHRIS SUTTON


(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Justin Townes Earle’s the first musician I ever interviewed, and if he was at all impatient taking questions about heroin and his famous dad (Steve) from an introverted 21-year-old with no paid journalism experience, he didn’t let on. His perfectly sad Americana shelves well beside Wilco and Josh Ritter. But JTE’s got a streak of mischief and bottom-of-the-barrel sorrow that lets you know he’s the real deal. For the final night of Earle’s Doug Fir residency, he’ll be joined by Pacific Northwest country singer/songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews. MEGAN BURBANK


(White Eagle, 836 N Russell) Coming off another live-recorded TeamBackPack cypher earlier this month, March’s regular Mic Check hip-hop showcase features headliner and Portland-raised rapper Tope, who nowadays takes up an Oakland residence. Despite recently having his laptop stolen and losing three-plus years of music, Tope continues to make moves and garner recognition. He’s produced for Slum Village, licensed music to Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club, and released singles “The Man,” and “Thank You,” featuring vocalist Erikka J and jazz trumpeter Farnell Newton. The Rare Vibe crew will also perform (“OH GAWD!”), and of course, additional sounds from DJ/producer TROX. JENNI MOORE

(North Star Ballroom, 635 N Killingsworth) This Thursday, three pioneering female electronic acts will utilize the North Star Ballroom’s expansive sound system, which was intentionally created for audiences with a range of hearing abilities. Under the moniker Raica, co-founder of the internationally celebrated Further Records Chloe Harris exposes audiences to avant-garde electronica, from deep ambient to full-on techno. The Seattle musician works with modular synths to pull previously unheard sounds from the ether. Fellow Seattleites Bardo:Basho’s work features an atonal aesthetic that uses vocals as a textural component in lush compositions. Tastesweet (Felisha Ledesma, Kathleen Hong) is a live modular synth duo with a multidisciplinary approach to art. Ledesma is a co-founder of Women’s Beat League, a local collective aimed at creating inclusive environments for female-identifying artists to thrive in the male-dominated electronic music culture. CHRISTINA BROUSSARD


(Black Water Bar, 835 NE Broadway) The tumult is blaring from just about every corner of the US right now. During such helter-skelter times, there’s absolutely nothing more important than protest, free speech, art, or some combination of these. Enter the explosive hardcore of Portland’s own Cliterati. Last year the band released Cliterati, a clenched fist of an EP featuring five songs that challenge the ideologies of the current administration and speak to the rights of the marginalized. Furiously blazing for just under 10 minutes, the EP swells with buzzsaw riffs and D-beat rhythms cranked out at breakneck speeds. Match Cliterati’s unbridled instrumentation with the intense screams and political fervor of vocalist Ami Lawless, and the result will inspire you to smash your soapbox and take your message to the streets. Or, as the band puts it, “Get your clit in the pit.” ARIS HUNTER WALES

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) It must be frustrating to be a José James fan. After debuting in 2008 as a buttery voiced, smooth jazz crooner, James reinvented himself two years later as a jazzed-up R&B singer. In 2013 James released his masterpiece No Beginning No End, which sounded like it could be D’Angelo’s lost Voodoo outtakes. But then he dropped the uneven, Hendrix-riffing While You Were Sleeping in 2014, followed a year later by a touching yet conventional tribute to Billie Holiday. With his latest album, February’s Love in a Time of Madness, James has reinvented himself once again, as a sexed-up contemporary R&B singer. MIDI drums and synths have largely replaced live instruments, and mellow grooves exist alongside uptown funk. Whether Love in a Time of Madness will bring James his elusive mainstream success remains to be seen, but here’s hoping he doesn’t lose his longtime fans in the process. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY

(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) As one of the few Bay Area artists to opt out of the region’s popular hyphy era in the late ’90s, Andre Nickatina cemented his persona as the consummate lone wolf and a bastion of independent music, throwing down a bevy of underground releases laced with tales of street bacchanalia. His rapid-fire wordplay lays out intensely cinematic cocaine scenarios in the most intelligent fashion, straddling the line between psychotic and charismatic with a street hustler’s ease. To see him connect with his rabid fan base live reveals that Nickatina’s absence on the charts hasn’t muddled the staying power of his material. I was lucky enough to witness a gloriously claustrophobic show where Nickatina and the late Mac Dre traded legendary sets in the spirit of grassroots Blackness. The true essence of hip-hop was indelibly palpable that night, and changed my life forever. CHRIS SUTTON


(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Rumours is not the most danceable Fleetwood Mac album (what’s up, Tango in the Night; not so fast, The Dance!), but tonight the Fleetmac Wood roving rave troupe are celebrating the blockbuster 1977 album’s 40th anniversary with their recurring dance party, remixing all your favorite Rumours chestnuts for body-moving on the dance floor. Yes, your witchiest Stevie Nicks attire is most appropriate. NED LANNAMANN

(Dante’s, 350 W Burnside) Scott H. Biram has been taking his self-proclaimed “dirty old one-man band” on the road for over a decade now, and though he’s gotten both older and dirtier with time, his performances are still unhinged as ever. Of course, even for a longtime fan such as myself, Biram’s recorded output is, like his shows, unpredictable. After releasing one of his best albums, 2014’s Nothin’ but Blood, he followed with the lackluster The Bad Testament, released in February. Adhering to the familiar ground of country-metal and blues-punk, The Bad Testament sounds like even Biram is beginning to tire of his shtick. But it’s really all about the live show, where he stomps and shouts like a Pentecostal preacher. If you want to know exactly how much you’ll enjoy a particular show, take the number of drinks you’ve had, then add that number to the amount of drinks Biram has had. If the resulting sum is in the double digits, you can be sure of a good time. SEH

(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) It’s easy to see why this show sold out. Not only does it happen to be another benefit to help everyone’s good bud Jonny Harbin (founder of Portland’s Jonnycat Records) pay his medical bills after his cancer diagnosis, but it’s also signaling some firsts, lasts, and once-agains for local legends. The Observers were born from a great punk act and later formed another (the Speds and Defect Defect, respectively), but there’s nothing quite like seeing the band in its truest form. They’re reuniting tonight for their first and only show since 2005, and will undoubtedly play some of the hits that influenced hardcore punks Bi-Marks (tonight is their last show ever), Clorox Girls (who still come together for a set every now and then), and the Spits (who never fail to bring a good time). Now’s your chance to celebrate reunions and farewells with some of Portland’s most legendary punk bands. CERVANTE POPE

(The Whiskey Bar, 31 NW 1st) It’s hard to imagine how Global Based, the monthly dance night that’s showcased Portland’s Latinx talent since 2015, could get any better. But the bar has been officially raised with April’s lineup, which consists entirely of women-identifying performers. Florida-based DJ and producer Ma-LESS will headline and spread the wealth of her fuego combination of EDM blended with the sounds of her Jamaican and Panamanian upbringing. She’ll be supported by local favorites Casual Aztec, B2B, (Mercury music writer) Daniela Karina, and DJ Suavecito. Partygoers will also be treated to live art in the club by Black and Latinx creatives Yuriko Zubia, Jontajshae Smith, and Frida Gamez. It’s officially hip to show up on time, as attendees arriving before 11 pm will be bestowed with free gooey quesadillas and salsa, all lovingly homemade by event organizer Adan “Heysus” Torralba’s very own Tia Magdalena. EMILLY PRADO


(Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay) Soviet-born singer/songwriter Regina Spektor has made seven albums of wry pop songs that sparkle and smile, then take jagged left turns; her latest, Remember Us to Life, incorporates orchestral textures, which prove to be a perfect fit. Tonight Spektor plays some new tunes while also traveling through what’s shaping up to be a very impressive back catalog. NED LANNAMANN

(Analog Café, 720 SE Hawthorne) There are certainly bigger bands than Power Trip. There might even be better bands than Power Trip. But few—if any—bands embody the heart-pumping savagery and confrontational spirit of heavy music more vividly and viscerally than this Dallas, Texas, five-piece. The promise Power Trip showed on its 2013 debut, Manifest Decimation, blooms into full-throated sonic destruction on the band’s February follow-up, Nightmare Logic. Listening is like dropping into a firestorm of breakneck rhythms, 10-ton riffs, charred melodies, political hostility, and hellish vibes. Fronted by whip-smart howler/growler Riley Gale, Power Trip sounds like it was hatched under the overpass at the intersection of thrash metal and hardcore punk, where it’s been training all its life to soundtrack the current resistance. Power Trip is the band we need, people. BEN SALMON

(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) Lila Downs will surely go down in history alongside the legendary Mexican folk performers who paved the way before her, like Chavela Vargas and Mercedes Sosa. Hailing from Oaxaca, Mexico (a state that holds over half of the country’s indigenous population), Downs is best known for blending native and traditional Ranchera-style songs with elements of modern pop music. Activism continues to drive her work, and she’s made a career of proudly proclaiming her Mixtec roots. Singing canciones in Spanish and several indigenous languages, she’s similarly inherited the outspoken qualities of her predecessors and uses her music to speak out against water privatization, border crossing deaths, and the isms that plague her native Mexico and beyond. Downs contributed several songs to the killer 2002 Frida soundtrack and her 2004 album, One Blood, earned her a Grammy award for the cringe-worthy but esteemed category of “Best Album of World Music.” Don’t miss out on the opportunity to catch Downs and her infamous, eccentric ensembles in the flesh. EP


(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) Read our piece on Black Violin.

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(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Australian band Methyl Ethel’s primary auteur, Jake Webb, shares many similarities to Shins frontman James Mercer: a reedy tenor, baroque-pop sensibilities, a penchant for trebly reverb. So it makes sense that Methyl Ethel’s latest, Everything Is Forgotten, inhabits the same inverted world as the Shins. Webb’s music seems like a conversation between his own head and heart, and we’re just eavesdropping. He’s a reluctant rock star, an intellectual under the spotlight, and he’s not sure how to feel about it. So it’s notable that the most self-confident track on Everything Is Forgotten, “Ubu,” is also its best. Surefooted, pulsing grooves bolster Webb like they’re pushing him to the edge of the stage. “You’re going to have to explain yourself, it’s personal,” he sings, “but to face it is the main thing.” Lyrics like these aimed directly at Webb’s audience act as his mea culpa in advance. But when he stops worrying, little explanation is necessary. WILLIAM KENNEDY

(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) It’s been 15 years since Senses Fail pop-punked their way onto the scene, 11 years since Still Searching came out, and just two years since the band’s lead singer Buddy Nielsen came out to the world as queer. Nielsen has steadily opened up about his sexuality, struggles with addiction, and extreme longing for inclusivity. Though the band’s last full-length album, 2015’s Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, was filled with aggressive post-hardcore harshness as Nielsen sorted through his feelings, their brand-new EP, In Your Absence, seeks to do the exact opposite with soft, acoustic tracks. But it doesn’t seem like Senses Fail is focusing on the EP, as the band’s entire tour is centered around hits from Still Searching and other fan favorites. Though the emo movement isn’t as strong as it used to be, Senses Fail fans will understand the message Nielsen has struggled to convey through his lyrics for years. CP

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30