Portland! Do you know how good you have it?
The gray has lifted. Summer is here. And that means more live music outside in addition to the glut of indoor concerts we get year-round ’round here.
It all adds up to the embarrassment of riches you’ll find below, where open-air hippie gatherings sit alongside grimy dive bars, local faves share stages with touring artists from around the globe, and metal, pop, soul, bluegrass, noise, jazz, country, and more live together in beautiful harmony.
It goes without saying, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep an eye on the Mercury all summer; we’ll point you in the right direction. In the meantime, here’s a taste of what’s to come.
Cheer-Accident, June 1, Mississippi Studios—The veteran experimental prog-pop heroes make a rare appearance in Portland.
Yo La Tengo, June 2-3, Wonder Ballroom—Two glorious nights of legendarily mellow indie rock from one of the best bands to ever do it.
Necrot, June 3, Tonic Lounge—The Bay Area’s gnarled death metal legacy is alive and well.
Sleep and Bell Witch, June 6, Roseland Theater—DOOOOOOOOOOM!
Chris Cohen and Hand Habits, June 12, Bunk Bar—A beautiful double-bill of low-key, zoned-out psych-pop.
Janelle Monae, June 13, Edgefield—The incomparable Monae is an American treasure and an expert mixologist of vibrant funk, deep-rooted soul, buzzy pop, left-of-center hip-hop, and beyond. Her new album Dirty Computer goes down smooth and features guest appearances by both Brian Wilson and Pharrell Williams. How many artists can pull that off?
Thumbscrew, June 20, The Old Church—This modern-jazz super-trio—including Mary Halvorson, arguably the best jazz guitarist going—makes music that’s somehow nuanced, powerful, and ambitious all at once.
Joan Shelley and Marisa Anderson, June 20, Mississippi Studios—You will not come across an evening of prettier folk music all summer.
Serpentwithfeet, June 21, Holocene—A blend of electro-gospel, experimental R&B and operatic vocals like you’ve (likely) never heard before.
Snail Mail and Bonny Doon, June 25, Holocene—Don’t let anyone tell you indie rock is dead. In fact, it’s in very good hands.
Here Lies Man, June 29, Star Theater—An unmissable opportunity to catch this band’s thunderous, fuzzed-out, Afrobeat-inspired heavy psych-rock!
Camp Cope, July 3, Holocene—All the best rock music is coming out of Australia right now, including Camp Cope, whose new full-length How to Socialise & Make Friends spills over with hyper-personal songs, bouncy bass lines, simmering rage, and Georgia Maq’s tractor beam of a voice. It’s one of the best albums of 2018 so far.
A$AP Ferg, July 7, Roseland—Lots of hip-hop tours—J. Cole/Young Thug, Drake/Migos, Gambino/Sremmurd, and Bey/Jay among them—are skipping Portland this summer, so take this opportunity to see rock-solid MC A$AP Ferg when you can.
Forth Wanderers and Illuminati Hotties, July 10, Doug Fir—Two up-and-coming rock bands that know how to write hooks. (But let’s be honest, the kids are running out of band names.)
Northwest String Summit, July 19-22, Horning’s Hideout—The jam-grass event of the year!
Chris Stapleton, July 20, Sunlight Supply Amphitheater—The rough-edged and big-voiced Stapleton is one of country music’s biggest recent success stories and a refreshing alternative to the bro-country junk pumped out by Nashville. Bonus: Openers Brent Cobb and Marty Stuart are great!
Bombino, July 20, Star Theater—The revered Nigerian guitarist brings his inventive take on desert blues back to Portland.
PDX Pop Now!, July 21-22, AudioCinema—The free, all-ages showcase of local artists celebrates its 15th year. Yay!
Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss, July 31, Edgefield—I mean... it’s Willie.
Pickathon, August 3-5, Pendarvis Farm—Look, I know you’re tired of hearing about how great Pickathon is. But there’s a reason you keeping hearing that: It’s a sublime fest-going experience, replete with small crowds, good food, positive vibes, and more, all in a gorgeous setting. Plus there’s a wonderful and diverse lineup year after year! Highlights of this 20th anniversary version of the fest include Broken Social Scene, Jamila Woods, Colter Wall, Bedouine, Sheer Mag, Hailu Mergia, Kikagaku Moyo, and Haram. See you on the farm!
Beach House, August 10, Keller Auditorium—You can stay in your dream-pop lane forever if you drive it better than anyone else.
Amen Dunes, August 15, Doug Fir Lounge—The new album, Freedom, is a beguiling collection of shimmering, shadowy folk-rock songs.
The Punch Brothers and Andrew Bird, August 18, Oregon Zoo—Elegant string band music, neo-classical pop, and virtuosic acoustic jams... within earshot of some giraffes, no less!
Slayer, August 23, Sunlight Supply Amphitheater—Say farewell to the kings of American thrash and one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.
Amanda Shires, August 24, Alberta Rose Theatre—The Texas songwriter and violinist brings her sweet Americana sound to town just a couple weeks before her husband, Jason Isbell, plays the Oregon Zoo.
Smashing Pumpkins, August 25, Moda Center—I know, I know... there’s a lot of baggage here. But if you get two hours of the guitar tone from Siamese Dream, it’s worth it.