FIRST AID KIT, VAN WILLIAM
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) The first time I heard the voices of Klara and Johanna Söderberg, I was a Fleet Foxes-crazed teenager feverishly searching for live videos of the Seattle folk band on YouTube. Somewhere in the depths of this wormhole I stumbled upon the Söderberg sisters’ viral cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” and was completely floored. In the video, they sit in the middle of some Swedish forest wearing flannel and singing in mystical harmonies that fit together like Lincoln Logs. In 2010 they signed to Wichita and released their debut LP as First Aid Kit, The Big Black and the Blue, an album of simple, twee folk songs that didn’t quite manage to recreate the magic of their YouTube breakthrough. But the Söderbergs hit their stride with 2012’s The Lion’s Roar, a country-folk record with more opportunities to let their voices soar over pedal steel guitar, fiddle, hand-clapped rhythms, and Johanna’s Autoharp. The chorus of its second track, “Emmylou,” plays like a laundry list of influences: “I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June/If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too.” First Aid Kit’s major label debut, 2014’s Stay Gold, moved into even twangier territory with radio-ready anthems like “My Silver Lining” and “Heaven Knows.” It’s funny that two Swedes got famous for singing Fleet Foxes better than Fleet Foxes, and stayed famous for singing country better than a lot of American country artists. Sweden’s got something going on right now; singer/songwriter and guitarist Daniel Norgren also hails from the Nordic nation, and his aurora borealis blues hypnotized audiences at Pickathon 2016. First Aid Kit just released their fourth album, Ruins, which they recorded right here in Portland with producer Tucker Martine at his studio, Flora Recording and Playback, backed by some notable guests: R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar, and Wilco’s Glen Kotche and Midlake’s McKenzie Smith on percussion. The sisters have another Portland connection: They contributed backing vocals on local singer/songwriter Alela Diane’s forthcoming record, Cusp. Thank the YouTube gods the Söderbergs emerged from that Swedish forest—apparently, we needed to be shown how it’s done. CIARA DOLAN
JOHN MAUS, HOLY SHIT
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark #110) For the past few years, John Maus has been toiling over his fourth album, Screen Memories, in his rural Minnesota hometown. Inspired by civilization’s quickening march toward the apocalypse, it’s a record of monolithic sounds and anxiety-laced lyrics (it even ends with a song titled “Bombs Away”). Like his longtime collaborator Ariel Pink, Maus makes experimental pop with drum machines and synthesizers, and he actually built from scratch the synthesizers he plays on Screen Memories (though I’ll admit my ears can’t tell the difference). It’s ironic that he desired such total control while making music about the apocalypse, the absolute end of humanity’s control. But the fact that he successfully built his own machines is unsurprising—Maus has a PhD in political philosophy, and approaches pop music with the same intellectualism. Reading interviews with him honestly gives me headaches; he has complex explanations for the mechanics behind each song, and I just don’t care. I do, however, love his records: His last, 2012’s A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material, contains the beloved “Bennington,” and 2011’s We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves includes his cover of Molly Nilsson’s “Hey Moon” along with the anti-authoritarian anthem “Cop Killer.” But his 2006 debut, Songs, is still my favorite Maus album. It’s lo-fi baroque-pop with darkly funny lyrics, some of which are completely perverted (topics include sex with Ringo Starr and grandma pee). And a few songs reflect the human experience with intense tenderness and honesty: “Through the Skies for You” sounds like hang gliding through the heaven that is falling in love, and “Just Wait Til Next Year” captures the emotional brutality of having a crush, with its endlessly spiraling faux-harpsichord melody and obsessive, frustrated lyrics (like “I’d cut off all my fingers just to touch you” and “I long for you, I long for you, I hate you”). Maus is known for his sweaty, chaotic solo performances, but he’s currently touring with a full band for the first time ever. If Screen Memories is an album about the end, his show will likely be a frantic wave goodbye. CD
MAARQUII, PLEASURE CURSES, SCHAUS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Portland music wouldn’t be the same without the industrialized hip-hop of Marquise Dickerson (AKA Maarquii). Since releasing 2016’s HeavyPetty, Maarquii’s radiant, soulful energy has been a force in the city’s scene, as anyone who’s seen the vogue pro IRL can confirm. The Chanti Darling dancer performs at recurring parties like Club Kai Kai and Sad Day, and tonight will celebrate the release of a brand-new music video. CERVANTE POPE Also see Sneaker Wave.
LUNA, DAYDREAM MACHINE
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) It didn’t take long for Dean Wareham to form Luna after breaking up his low-key, highly influential project Galaxy 500 in 1991. While Luna’s similar in mood—melancholic and built around Velvet Underground minimalism—the band added more layers and dynamics to the production. It didn’t hurt that Wareham brought in Feelies drummer Stanley Demeski and bassist Justin Harwood from New Zealand band the Chills. Luna’s lush, dreamy pop served the band well for seven excellent full-lengths and a handful of EPs before they broke up in 2005. Luna reformed last year, and made the interesting choice to release an EP of covers and a collection of instrumentals. While not necessarily satisfying, the offerings at least signaled Luna’s return to touring with the hopes of more fully realized recordings in the future. Let’s hope it comes to pass. MARK LORE
PASSION PIT, COURTSHIP
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) I remember when Passion Pit played Sasquatch in 2010, because none of my cool, music-festival-frequenting friends would stop talking about it afterward. After listening to hits like “Sleepy Head” and “Little Secrets,” I quickly understood what all the fuss was about. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to see the band at the Crystal Ballroom a couple years later, and I got to hear all the shimmering complexities and heart-pounding goodness of Passion Pit’s indietronica IRL. Consisting solely of Michael Angelakos, Passion Pit released its fourth studio album Tremendous Sea of Love in 2017. A backing band with heavy synth will join him live. JENNI MOORE
JOHN MAUS, HOLY SHIT
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark) Read our John Maus super pick.
MESHUGGAH, CODE ORANGE, TOOTHGRINDER
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) A Portland show headlined by veteran Swedish prog-metal band Meshuggah is worthy of attention and attendance, especially since the last one was in 2008. As long as you’re going, get there in time to catch the excellent Pittsburgh post-hardcore band Code Orange, whose 2017 album Forever is a bona fide weirdo ripper. Code Orange doesn’t deal in pop music fitted with a store-bought mohawk; no, this band is heavy, aggressive, noisy, and black as midnight. Besides the catchy single “Bleeding in the Blur,” most of Forever—as well as Code Orange’s back catalog—sounds like grimy black latex stretched across twisted metal being shoved through an industrial-strength grinder, dressed up with growls, thuds, hisses, and other audio-terror. Code Orange is a savage beast, worthy of the middle slot on this neck-snapping bill. BEN SALMON
PICKATHON 20-YEAR KICKOFF PARTY
(Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark) The Northwest’s best music festival celebrates two decades this year, and tonight Pickathon kicks off its 20th anniversary with a free party that will reveal the lineup for this summer’s installment, including surprise performances by some of this year’s featured acts. Be the first to know who’s playing Pickathon 2018, and you might win a prize, too! NED LANNAMANN
TYUS, 3AM, ESO.XO.SUPREME, UGLYFRANK, R3X WONDERS, COOL NUTZ AND DJ FATBOY
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) See Sneaker Wave.
FIRST AID KIT, VAN WILLIAM
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Read our First Aid Kit super pick.
DIRTY FENCES, MEAN JEANS, ACID WASH
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) No one makes money selling records anymore, and touring for a living’s no walk in the park, either. These days, the way to cash in on your music is to sell it to a massive corporation, a mom-and-pop shop, the hip local government, or whoever’s got money, really. Enter local garage-pop heroes Mean Jeans, who are taking the antiquated concept of “selling out” to the next level with their new album Jingles Collection. Rather than wait for a company to reach out to them, the band has written and recorded 23 songs about brands like Coors Light, Applebee’s, Skoal, Hot Pockets, and Selsun Blue. Some of these songs are silly, some legitimately slay, and all radiate Mean Jeans’ killer sense of melody and humor. Brands: Get in touch with these dudes. Or show up at the Know tonight to watch ’em do their thing. Yeah, Dunk-a-Roos... we’re looking at you. BS
A TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY CASH: CASH’D OUT, ROAD NOISE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) There are times that call for boldness, for pushing the boundaries of your personal knowledge to discover new things and cultivate new and fiery passions. Then again, there are times to circle the wagons, immerse yourself in the familiar, and go see a man do a good impression of a folksy hellion with a rich singing voice. The San Diego-based Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out is in town tonight, so the choice has been made for you. DIRK VANDERHART
TYLER THE CREATOR, VINCE STAPLES, TACO
(Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 300 N Winning Way) Since his early days in Odd Future, Tyler, the Creator has blossomed from the kid who ate the cockroach to self-described Flower Boy, the title of his newest album. Though Tyler’s peculiar humor has brought plenty of controversy over the years, his last two records, 2015’s Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy, contain cohesive production, abrasive beats, and lyrics that address sensitive themes, even if they’re sometimes harsh. Tyler’s stage presence and uncontainable energy will make for a hype-type performance at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum alongside rising rapper Vince Staples and fellow Odd Future member Taco. CERVANTE POPE
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) I’m feeling quite grateful to live in a city that has its very own amplified repertory chamber orchestra. Tonight the Arco-PDX returns home and plugs in to offer an immense ocean of darkwave at one of the most kickass venues in town. Talking, drinking, and pouting will be encouraged throughout a setlist centered on the music of Depeche Mode and injected with straight-ahead works from folks like Soviet-era powerhouse Dmitri Shostakovich, contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, and early 18th century Italian Baroque master Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni. If you got better things going on than an evening of synthesizers, haunting vocals, and classically trained riffs on a catalog of darkwave masterpieces, then my hat is certainly off to you. BRIAN HORAY
MOOREA MASA AND THE MOOD, BLOSSOM, SIREN AND THE SEA
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Moorea Masa has come a long way since her 2010 stint on American Idol. The sultry vocalist has been a longtime Portland staple, performing with the likes of Ural Thomas and the Pain, the Decemberists, k.d. lang, and with her current project, Moorea Masa and the Mood. She’s made a seamless transition into the lush sonic terrain of R&B, and landed appearances at last year’s Soul’d Out and Pickathon festivals. Masa’s velvety vocals cut like a knife on tunes like the recently released “I Can’t Tell” from her forthcoming debut LP. Tonight’s show will double as a video premiere for “I Can’t Tell,” but arrive early—the equally enchanting singers Blossom and Siren and the Sea will kick things off. RYAN J. PRADO
THE WOMBATS, FUTURE FEATS, NATION OF LANGUAGE
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) In just a few weeks, the Wombats will release their fourth studio record, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Advance singles “Turn” and “Lemon to Knife Fight” cut jangly guitar hooks and stiff-upper-lip vocals with a wry sense of humor. The Liverpool trio’s 2007 debut, A Guide to Love, Loss, & Desperation, was a bit more laddish—on the Arctic Monkeys-esque track “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” Dan Haggis sings, “Let’s dance to Joy Division/And celebrate the irony/Everything is going wrong/But we’re so happy.” Over the past decade, the Wombats have sobered up, perhaps attempting to make the leap from rock clubs to stadiums. Maybe they’re the next Coldplay, but something tells me they’re too snarky to be bothered. WILLIAM KENNEDY
VIET RAHM, PLANET WHAT, GHOST FROG, BODY MASK
(The Know, 3728 NE Sandy) Chicago punk trio Viet Rahm plays the kind of multi-pronged trash-rock that travels well. The group’s two-year existence belies their tightness—2016’s Take Food with Drugs begins with a triple-song mish-mash that segues from the frothing punk of “Drugz” to the nuanced country-rock of “Johnny Cash $uper$tar” to the instrumental jam “Rockability.” The band’s shapeshifting songs offer dynamic energy, smart melodies, and pissy songwriting adventures. Joining Viet Rham are Tulsa-based grunge duo Planet What, whose new album Agnus Yarn sounds like a garage-rock pep rally, and Portland’s own space-punk band Ghost Frog. Their 2017 record Cosmic Bowling is a tour de force, with songs about wanting to be abducted by aliens, poseurs, and all manner of cosmic detritus. RJP