SO STRESSED, ARTERIES, SHRILLTONES
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) When So Stressed started teasing its new album, Please Let Me Know, vocalist Morgan Fox provided a key statement hinting at its direction: “We wanted the last one to be cold and digital-sounding and really harsh to listen to, which I think it is. This one is pretty harsh too, but we also allowed ourselves to kind of do whatever we wanted as long as all three of us liked it and it was fun to play. Ugly noise is cool, but so is melody.” For the Sacramento band, “the last one” was 2015’s The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art, a blast of hardcore and noise rock that pummels you with savage drums, buzzsaw guitars, and Fox’s red-faced, veins-bulging yelps and yowls. Please Let Me Know, on the other hand, differentiates itself from its predecessor within the first two minutes of the opening track, “Fur Sale.” The guitars are still buzzy but more restrained, the drums are steadier, and Fox actually sings, in his own flat and unnerving way. About two minutes into the song, he’s screaming again, but an aesthetic shift has been established, and So Stressed packs the rest of the album with catchy riffs and clean, melodic vocals alongside its usual chaotic rumble. The end result is less hardcore/screamo and more post-hardcore meets pre-Nevermind Nirvana. So Stressed had the ugly noise part figured out, but Please Let Me Know proves they’ve got melodies, too. BEN SALMON
BUILT TO SPILL, THE ONLY CHILDREN
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Between a pair of Doug Martsch solo sets and a Built to Spill collaboration with Daniel Johnston, Portland fans of Boise’s finest indie rock export have been living on cloud nine since October. It turns out, a prolonged state of euphoria wasn’t enough to distract devotees from instantly buying up all the tickets to these shows. Godspeed to those looking for a way in, but at least you hopefully needn’t wait long before the band swings back through town. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
THE WHISKEY WEDNESDAY ALL-STARS
(Landmark Saloon, 4847 SE Division) Your New Year’s Eve hangover should be gone by now, but if it’s not, thank the maker for Landmark Saloon’s Whiskey Wednesdays! The cozy honky-tonk hosts a smattering of quality country, rockabilly, and folk, and each week the Whiskey Wednesday All-Stars have the honor of giddying you up over the hump-day hurdle. Ian Miller, Kevin Major, and Tim Acott (along with special guest Mark Shark) provide the soundtrack for your floor shuffles and sing-alongs, which often become unhinged on account of all the sweet brown elixir being imbibed. There’s no cover either, so have fun spending your dough on the reliable tandem of booze and tunes to prolong the weekend party. And tip the hell out of those bands, would ya? RYAN J. PRADO
BUILT TO SPILL, THE ONLY CHILDREN
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See Wednesday's preview.
BRAHMS V. RADIOHEAD: OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) More than a century separates Johannes Brahms and Thom Yorke, but that didn’t stop composer Steve Hackman from artfully introducing them to each other through his exceptional mashup, Brahms v. Radiohead. Using a trio of vocalists and a full orchestra, Hackman cleverly combines the German master’s 1876 Symphony No. 1 with eight tracks from Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer, and the result is utterly beguiling and indisputably unique. If listeners start to weep near the finale, it could be due to a number of factors: Brahms’ lush orchestration, the prescient lyrics of “Electioneering,” or the sheer awe of witnessing Portland’s finest big band produce a night of kickass music never to be heard again. BRIAN HORAY
SO STRESSED, ARTERIES, SHRILLTONES
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Read our So Stressed super pick.
DEAD MOON NIGHT, A TRIBUTE TO FRED COLE: THE THERMALS, P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S, THE RANSOM WITH JERRY A., JENNY DON’T AND THE SPURS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) On November 9, 2017, Fred Cole died, the legendary rocker behind foundational Portland bands Dead Moon, Pierced Arrows, the Rats, and others. Tonight, some terrific local bands—including the Thermals, the Ransom (featuring Poison Idea’s Jerry A.), and Pierced Arrows drummer Kelly Halliburton with Jenny Don’t and the Spurs—pay the great man homage. NED LANNAMANN
HELP THE HOOPLE, A BENEFIT FOR SCOTT McCAUGHEY
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) This past November, Portland musician Scott McCaughey (the Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows, and Filthy Friends) suffered a stroke while on tour with Alejandro Escovedo. Now his friends (including the Mercury’s cannabis columnist Josh Jardine) are rallying together to help raise money for his medical and rehabilitation expenses with the two-night benefit and online auction Help the Hoople. Friday’s show at the Star Theater will feature performances by some big names: Escovedo, M. Ward, James Mercer (the Shins), Patterson Hood (Drive-by Truckers), Justin Townes Earle, along with McCaughey’s bandmates Mike Mills, Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and Peter Buck. The party moves over to the Wonder Ballroom Saturday, with sets by the Decemberists, Casey Neill, Dharma Bums, and more. Two reasons you should go: It’s rare to see bills this jam-packed with legendary musicians, and it’s critical to get McCaughey the help he needs to recover. CIARA DOLAN
PELICAN OSSMAN, RLLRBLL, MONTGOMERY WORD, OLD DEMONS
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) Pelican Ossman’s lo-fi folk experiments sometimes recall the early work of Phil Elverum and his K Records comrades, but over the past few years, the Portland band has cultivated an exceedingly weird vibe all its own. On its wonderful new full-length cassette, The Touchstone, Pelican Ossman explores the territory between pop melody and addled chant, and the result is a cult-like conjuring, a sonic lure spun by a cracked guru on the prowl for burnout initiates. Or maybe it’s a bunch of homeschoolers weaned on psychedelia. Or anarchist homesteaders feasting on the fun kind of mushrooms. Or a family band that puts on shows in their basement after church. Whatever the case, there’s something strange happening here—a signal sent from a skewed reality, a wild kind of magic that lights up the places you don’t usually go. CHRIS STAMM
HELP THE HOOPLE, A BENEFIT FOR SCOTT McCAUGHEY
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See Friday's preview.
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Insisting that they're a "celebration rather than a tribute," Seattle's BowieVision reinterprets the classic works of David Bowie—and does so with a phenomenal amount of verve and charm. ERIK HENRIKSEN.
TORMENT IS FLESH FEST: TRIUMVIR FOUL, FILTH COLUMN, SANGUINE EAGLE, PURITY OF ESSENCE, ROHIT, ANTEINFERNO, DAGGER LUST, OBSIDIAN NEEDLES
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Read our story on Torment Is Flesh Fest.
COOL AMERICAN, THE SHE’S
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) There’s little doubt that late ’90s indie, emo, and punk crews helped shape Cool American, but that doesn’t mean those specters should define the Portland band. Their first two records melded Nathan Tucker’s smart pop songwriting with lethargic observational malaise, making hook-heavy tracks like “Who’s Got the Next Cut?” (from 2016’s You Can Win a Few) feel eerily bleak. On the four-piece’s new record, Infinite Hiatus, they double down on the peppiness, scorching through fast-paced punk and Malkmus-esque cleverness, echoing the tempo shifts of a Sidekicks tune, and invoking the twitchy peaks and valleys of millennial boredom. Songs as catchy as “Maui’s” and “Seems Insane” provide insight into Tucker’s creative wellspring and proof that there’s likely much more to come from this young band. RJP
EMILY WELLS, LIKE A VILLAIN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) For the past several years, Holland Andrews has been producing some of the best and most unique music to come out of Portland with her project Like a Villain. Andrews’ side of a recently released split 12-inch with veteran experimental musician K. Leimer—a single 19-minute composition entitled “Overcoming Emotional Trauma and Finding Your Inner Light Vol. II”—ranks among her most enthralling work. Like its title suggests, “Emotional Trauma” follows a descent into (and eventual ascent from) madness, beginning with a hypnotic wash of voices that gradually expand into a tidal wave of noise. For all their discordant detours, Like a Villain’s recordings ultimately feel structured and deliberate. But in a live setting, Andrews brings emotion and theatricality to the often sedate world of ambient and noise performance. And the chaos she invokes alone onstage makes a conventionally heavy rock band seem like the Wiggles by comparison. If I called it a religious experience, I wouldn’t be exaggerating by much. MORGAN TROPER
SAD HORSE, THE GUTTERS, PLASTIC HARMONY
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, 8 NE Killingsworth) Sad Horse makes some of the best punk to come out of Portland since Dead Moon’s heyday. It’s clear Elizabeth Venable and Geoff Soule draw creative inspiration from Fred and Toody—their releases play like short jolts of unbridled weirdness (“You Are Idiots” and “Old Daze”) cut with sweet, jangly duet interludes (“If I Was a Duck”). The pair’s 2015 Greatest Hits LP is a jarring listen; each of its 26 tracks packs a unique punch, with riffs that feel like they shouldn’t be where they are but work anyway (“Coyotes” and “Loafer”). Though Sad Horse hasn’t come out with any new music since Greatest Hits, their elusiveness makes these rare live sets even more special. CAMERON CROWELL
SQUALOR, WORWS, RUINED IT, NO TRIAL
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) It’s safe to say that everybody hoped the fire and brimstone of 2016 would improve this year, but 2017 whipped its way through each month with a series of face slaps. Thankfully, this energetic thrashcore lineup can help alleviate our collective angst: Salem’s No Trial will open the show with short bursts of power-violent relief. The blistering hardcore of WORWS will release any pent-up aggression boiling deep down inside, as will shouting along to songs from Squalor’s 2016 album Brain Dead Generation. A few laps around the pit might be just what the doctor ordered. CERVANTE POPE
BIG BOI, THE COOL KIDS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Though Big Boi has emerged as an influential solo artist in his own right, it’s hard to separate the Atlanta MC from OutKast, the group that made him famous. Big and André 3000 were just teenagers when they dropped their game-changing 1994 debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, at a time when East and West Coast rappers dominated the genre. In his fantastic 2015 essay “Da Art of Storytellin’,” novelist Kiese Laymon writes that OutKast gave voice to “an urban Southern stank so familiar with and indebted to the gospel, blues, jazz, rock, and funk born in the rural Black South.” The duo went on hiatus in 2007, and despite reuniting in 2014 for festival appearances, Big Boi keeps putting out albums by himself, most recently June’s Boomiverse. None of its songs compare to “Shutterbugg,” his greatest solo track, but Boomiverse does prove that Big Boi’s still an architect of innovative hip-hop who never fails to surprise. ISABEL LYNDON
PHANTOM FAMILY, DARK BLACK, LOWGLOW
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Phantom Family plays the kind of abrasive punk and hardcore that can change moods. The Portland band’s 2016 self-titled debut cassette begins with the explosive opening track “Barricade,” a roiling cauldron of heavy rock that’s big on forward propulsion and grating delivery. It’s angry-sounding stuff, and that tumultuous vibe continues throughout the tape’s four songs, cut only briefly by flourishes of subtle keys. The five-piece released a single earlier this year called “Widower,” which conjures apt comparisons to the likes of Unsane, the Murder City Devils, and yesteryear screechers like Vaux. Opening the night: Las Vegas crew Dark Black, who just released an EP and are currently zigzagging the West Coast. RJP