Choker Tyler Smith

THURS OCT 24

Blackwater Holylight, R.I.P., Pushy
Read our record review of Veils of Winter by Blackwater Holylight. (Thurs Oct 24, 9 pm, Star Theater, 13 NW 6th, $10)

The Wailers The Wailers

The Wailers
With original bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett at the helm, and the quite excellent Josh David Barrett on lead vocals, legendary reggae band the Wailers are touring to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Survival—their 11th studio album with Bob Marley. While you’re sure to hear plenty of Bob Marley-written tracks from 1979’s militant, pan-African album (such as the title track, “Africa Unite,” and “So Much Trouble in the World”), concertgoers can also expect to hear sparkling, drawn-out versions of some of the classics and mega-hits: “Jamming,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Exodus,” and the highly applicable “Get Up, Stand Up.” (Thurs Oct 24, 8 pm, Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie, all ages, $25-30) JENNI MOORE

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Big Thief Dustin Condren

CRITIC’S PICK: Big Thief, Palehound
In just a few years, Big Thief has built a complex and thought-out discography that’s made them into critical darlings. While arguably creating some of the most intriguing and addicting singles of the past several years—“Shark Smile,” “Masterpiece,” and “Mythological Beauty”—their albums aren’t particularly easy affairs. Each one twists and turns through genres, often touching the heels of perfect pop before quickly backing away. The band’s odd amalgamation of alt-country, art-rock, and minimalist folk weaves around Adrianne Lenker’s versatile and unusual voice—a voice that exists somewhere between the sharp Appalachian drawl of Iris DeMent and the hushed bedroom-pop intimacy of Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline.

UFOF, Big Thief’s album from this spring, takes this genre-bending inclination even further. UFOF’s brightest highlight is the title track, a song that feels like a trick: It’s got a song structure that plays like a Möbius strip, with one part leading into the next and back again, creating the illusion of repeatedly receiving something new. The somewhat baffling album is full of gifts, but those gifts require time, patience, and repeated listens.

Now, just five months later, they’ve released Two Hands, a project they refer to as “the celestial twin” of UFOF. It’s their version of a straightforward folk-rock album: Neil Young-esque moseying beats, noisy lead guitar parts, Lenker’s snarls. It opens easier, but is still full of moments that challenge and push against genre boundaries.

Regardless of whether you’re willing to brave the winding side roads of their albums, each contains several songs that feel like immediate classics, as if the recordings were destined to exist—unlikely, but in some way inevitable. Although the band’s only been around since 2016, they could easily have a “best of” release by now. They’re on the kind of creative run that only comes from a group working in some sort of single-minded fever state. It’s a rare kind of dedication, and it’s worth watching to see where they take it. (Thurs Oct 24, 8:30 pm, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, all ages, sold out) JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON


Guerilla Toss, Blesst Chest
Guerilla Toss were born wild but reassuringly familiar, their lurching no-wave freak-outs kept in check by a reverence for Skin Graft Records’ seminal catalog of noisy weirdos. The New York band has lately evolved into a less abrasive but far stranger beast. On last year’s Twisted Crystal, they gave themselves over to a sci-fi soundscape of squelching synths, cosmic grooves, and saccharine chants. It is Guerilla Toss’ most melodic record to date, but it’s still all sorts of off-kilter—its neon funk workouts are seemingly sent back in time from a super fun and completely cracked future. (Thurs Oct 24, 8 pm, Polaris Hall, 635 NE Killingsworth Ct, $13-15) CHRIS STAMM


Y La Bamba Nadev Benjamin

THURS OCT 24 & FRI OCT 25

Y La Bamba
Portland-based indie band Y La Bamba just released a seven-track EP called Entre Los Dos, the follow-up to their excellent 2019 LP Mujeres, which Rolling Stone called “food for the bicultural soul.” Led by Mexican American singer Luz Elena Mendoza, Y La Bamba puts the frontwoman’s self-contemplation and exploration of her rich heritage at its heart, garnering the band critical acclaim, and a recent performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Y La Bamba is celebrating this new EP with a sure-to-please two-night release party at Doug Fir Lounge, joined by the excellent Brown Calculus and Noche Libre on Thursday and then by Noche Libre again along with Reyna Tropical on Friday. (Thurs Oct 24 & Fri Oct 25, 9 pm, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside, Thurs $16-20, Fri sold out) JENNI MOORE


FRI OCT 25

Karma Rivera, Amenta Abioto, Lisa Vazquez, KayelaJ
Set in the Jack London’s cozy basement bar, the Ladies First: Hip-Hop/Soul Showcase brings together some of the town’s stalwart music acts. From rapper/radio personality KayelaJ to MC/loop-pedal maestro Lisa Vazquez to a high-energy performance from Karma Rivera, there’s lots to see here. But perhaps the most moving part of the evening will be a partially improvised set from soul singer/multi-instrumentalist Amenta Abioto, who also uses looping techniques to create her music, weaving vocal sounds together with kalimba, synths, drum machine, and guitar. Originally from Nashville but residing in Portland, Abioto’s soothing Southern accent and joyful experimentalism are like a breath of fresh air. (Fri Oct 25, 9:30 pm, Jack London Revue, 529 SW 4th, $12-15) JENNI MOORE

The Legendary Pink Dots, Orbit Service
Categorizing the Legendary Pink Dots is a fool’s errand. Led by multi-instrumentalists Edward Ka-Spel and Phil Knight, the long-standing ensemble have dabbled in whatever musical element hooves into their collective view. Over their nearly 40-year existence, that has included excursions into neo-psychedelia, industrial rock, ambient, and arch pop punctuated by bursts of raw noise. On the group’s latest album, Angel in the Detail, the Dots set the wispy vocals of Ka-Spel and his philosophical lyrics over a synthetic backdrop that evokes the throbbing allure of the dance floor or the drowsy visions of an opium den. (Fri Oct 25, 8 pm, Polaris Hall, 635 N Killingsworth Ct, $25-30) ROBERT HAM


Dinosaur Jr. Levi Walton

SAT OCT 26

Oranssi Pazuzu, Insect Ark, WILL
Read our story on Oranssi Pazuzu. (Sat Oct 26, 9 pm, Star Theater, 13 NW 6th, $17)

Dinosaur Jr., Steve Gunn
It’s getting really depressing to note the frequency with which seminal albums from my youth are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. But here we are, trapped in the existentialist malaise of a world where Dinosaur Jr.’s 1994 album Without a Sound is all grown-up. Of course, the project felt mature when it dropped, and it might be the first album by the band where the detached emotionalism in J. Mascis’ songwriting was first fully honed. The band hasn’t lost a step. And while on the surface, their pairing with Steve Gunn for this tour might seem mismatched, Mascis and Gunn are two of the most dynamic guitarists performing in America today. (Sat Oct 26, 9 pm, Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, sold out) RYAN J. PRADO


SUN OCT 27

Kero Kero Bonito
It’s always interesting to watch a band change and grow. London-based Kero Kero Bonito made its name as an ultra-catchy electro-pop act before transforming into a fuzzed-out electro-rock band focused on darker themes for their 2018 album Time ’n’ Place. A year later, the trio has evolved again for their new EP Civilisation I, by emboldening their arrangements, pulling in a broader palette of sounds, and expanding their thematic scope to explore political division, climate change, Biblical imagery, and the end of mankind. Have they lost their penchant for effervescent melodies? They have not! After all, this is still Kero Kero Bonito; it’s just a more fully developed version. (Sun Oct 27, 8:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, all ages, $20) BEN SALMON


MON OCT 28

Danny Brown, Ashnikko, ZeelooperZ
Danny Brown, the tart-tongued rapper from Detroit, set himself a high bar to clear with his last album, 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition, a funky head trip that took on influences of industrial and post-punk. But he was given a huge boost by Q-Tip, co-founder of A Tribe Called Quest, who stepped in to executive produce Brown’s latest uknowhatimsayin¿ (released earlier this month on Warp). With some assists from the likes of Jpegmafia, Run the Jewels, and Flying Lotus, the new record is as rubbery and loose as an ether high and as nasty as a festering wound. (Mon Oct 28, 8 pm, Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th, $25) ROBERT HAM

Moorea Masa and the Mood, Frankie Simone, Blossom
Moorea Masa’s first solo album, Shine a Light, is a soulful, magnanimous collection of songs that sounds fully contemporary even as it boasts vintage garnishments like whirring Hammond organ and Motown-esque stabs of strings. Masa’s voice would likely sound fantastic in front of any backdrop, but Shine a Light is the perfect showcase for her terrific voice, tinged with soul, R&B, folk, and pop. It’s an album good enough to turn Masa into the kind of superstar she so clearly is destined to become. Now’s a very good time to become familiar with her work live as she headlines on this top-notch bill that includes Frankie Simone’s self-empowering pop and the neo-soul of Portland’s own Blossom. (Mon Oct 28, 8 pm, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, $12-14) NED LANNAMANN

100 Gecs Nic John

100 Gecs
Is this a prank? Do I love this? I think I love this. Experimental music duo Laura Les and Dylan Brady have alchemized some of the most annoying music in recent history—like AutoTune, glitch, dubstep, noise, and screamo—into a debut album of highly addictive dance-pop treasures. It feels like they came out of nowhere, but there’s actually a whole fascinating world of SoundCloud tracks to discover from both Les and Brady. So while this show is at an energetic, electro-punk-loving-youths-ready-to-mosh-and-dance level of sold out, you and me (I wasn’t gonna mosh anyway) can still do an internet deep dive and bask in all the bedroom vaporwave hits we missed that foretold the 2019 total pop dominance of 100 Gecs. (Mon Oct 28, 8 pm, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, A, sold out) SUZETTE SMITH


Natasha Bedingfield Kristin Chalmers

TUES OCT 29

Natasha Bedingfield
UK singer/songwriter Natasha Bedingfield has cemented her place in the pop music hall of legends by way of “Unwritten,” her gooey ode to self-empowerment from 2004. But carry on she has in the 15 years since, with less beloved, but equally delightful earworms like “I Wanna Have Your Babies” and “Pocketful of Sunshine,” and the small triumph that is her new album Roll with Me. Working with pop producer par excellence Linda Perry, the record makes great use of Bedingfield’s flexible voice, letting edges of blues grind into her various personae: disco diva, coy princess, screwed-up lover, and pure goofball. (Tues Oct 29, 8 pm, Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark, $35) ROBERT HAM


WED OCT 30

Haley Heynderickx
The aftershock of Haley Heynderickx’s ballyhooed 2018 album, I Need to Start a Garden, is still reverberating in the chests and brains of everyone who’s heard it. I personally witnessed a table full of people scream along in solidarity to the lyrics of the title track at a bar in Southeast not one week ago. It’s rare when a record receives that kind of adoration, and Heynderickx’s live shows are part of that, too. As such, she’ll be performing an early solo show at Mississippi Studios, followed by a full-band set, to appease her rabid fan base. (Wed Oct 30, 7 & 9:30 pm, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, early show sold out, late show $25-30) RYAN J. PRADO


Frankie Cosmos- jackie leeyoung

THURS OCT 31

HTRK, Soft Kill, Choir Boy
There’s always a lot of undue pressure to get as spooky or debaucherous as possible on Halloween night, no matter how old you are. Soft Kill is the kind of band practically ready-made for the gloomy quotient of the Halloween tradition, and have been steadily carving their way into the deep recesses of the goth-rock/post-punk paradigm. The band’s 2018 album, Savior, is a dark, anthemic listen, ruminating on recovery, personal evolution, and salvation, set to moody, Cure-inspired pop production that you can dance to. Australia’s HTRK headline on the heels of their 2019 LP, Venus in Leo. (Thurs Oct 31, 8 pm, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi, sold out) RYAN J. PRADO

Frankie Cosmos, Stephen Steinbrink, Lomelda
For the past 12 years, Stephen Steinbrink has been producing smart, uncommon albums of indie-pop. His latest, 2018’s Utopia Teased, is easily one of the best in Steinbrink’s vast catalog. On it, 1999-era Prince synth grooves combine with Judee Sill-inspired ’70s folk-pop, playing like a strange love-child of Arthur Russell’s Calling Out of Context and Shuggie Otis’ Inspiration Information. Lyrically, the album is a glorious puzzle: the fantastical mixes with the mundane, and the heartfelt with the absurd, revealing and obscuring, over and over. (Thurs Oct 31, 7:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom, 128 N Russell, $17) JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON

Cliterati Angelo Rossi

Strung Out, the Casualties, Cliterati
A handful of bands like Strung Out and the Casualties, who both arguably reached their prime in the mid- to late-’90s punk-rock push, are suddenly rushing back out onto the field. While the skinny high school kid in my heart swoons, it also makes one think about what the political landscape looked like back then versus what it looks like now (shudders). The high energy, brutal truth, and unapologetic attitude of punk rock is needed again. And while nostalgia is awesome, thankfully there are bands like Portland’s Cliterati to bring a fresh, fire-spitting sound. Cliterati’s recent full-length, Ugly Truths/Beautiful Lies, is raw, crusty, metallic hardcore that pulls zero punches. Songs like “Silence = Death,” “Trans Is Beautiful,” and the 50-second shredder “In Crust We Trust” are brash, fast, and fierce. Cliterati make you think and challenge the norms of society right before they rip your fucking head off. (Thurs Oct 31, 8 pm, Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar E. Chavez, $20-23) ARIS HUNTER WALES


FRI NOV 1

(Sandy) Alex G, Tomberlin, Slow Pulp
There’s a song called “Southern Sky” on (Sandy) Alex G’s new album House of Sugar that ambles effortlessly along the borders of country, indie rock, and lo-fi pop, just as there was a song called “Bobby” on his previous album Rocket that did the same thing. Both are achingly beautiful, and they’ll make you want more from this Philly wunderkind. But (Sandy) Alex G seems to have no interest in giving you what you want. Instead, on both Rocket and House of Sugar, he bounces all over the stylistic map, trying out gentle noise, weird jazz, electronic, and other far-out sounds. Which is his right, certainly! But here’s hoping that one day he gives us a full collection of the DIY twang-pop he does so well. (Fri Nov 1, 8:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, all ages, sold out) BEN SALMON


SAT NOV 2

Two Door Cinema Club, Peach Pit
It took three long years for us to hear a new Two Door Cinema Club album, but luckily, the indie pop three-piece from North Ireland is coming to Portland in support of their newest record False Alarm. It’s a good thing the Crystal is all standing room, because you’re going to be spending the entire time dancing anyway. Queue up the classics (“Something Good Can Work,” “What You Know,” “I Can Talk”) and some new hits (“Talk,” “Once,” “Are We Ready?”). Two Door Cinema Club has something for everyone. (Sat Nov 2, 8:30 pm, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, all ages, $39.50) KATHERINE MORGAN

Jonathan Richman
Nearly 50 years into his career, Jonathan Richman remains a singular figure in indie music. A soft-hearted punk legend who approaches the world with childlike wonder, Richman’s career includes leading early-’70s band the Modern Lovers, playing songs in a tree in a ’90s Farrelly Brothers blockbuster, and being covered by everyone from the Sex Pistols to David Bowie and being sampled by M.I.A. One of the most playful and eccentric live performers around, Richman’s shows are an uncommonly intimate experience, even on an off-night. It’s rare he plays any of his songs in a straight, recognizable form, but the immense, unfiltered joy he brings to each performance is something everyone should witness. (Sat Nov 2, 8 pm, Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark, $20-25) JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON


Choker Tyler Smith

TUES NOV 5

Choker
Michigan-based indie/R&B/pop artist Choker has been compared to the prolific Frank Ocean a lot on the interwebs, and I understand why: On previous projects Peak and Honeybloom, Choker’s vocal tones, intermittent rap, and pop tendencies shine inside the artist’s own emotive production and unorthodox song structure. But Choker’s newish singles (“Lucky,” “Starfruit LA,” and “Petrol Bliss”) prove that he has a style all his own. The ironically named artist sounds terrific on recordings, and his music videos—which typically feature shots of Choker hanging out a car window—are beautifully stimulating in all their DIY glory. Choker’s gig at Holocene provides an opportunity to experience the depth of the artist’s multifaceted chops live. (Tues Nov 5, 8 pm, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, all ages, $18-20) JENNI MOORE


Emmet Cohen Trio Emmet Cohen Trio

WED NOV 6

The Menzingers, Tigers Jaw, Culture Abuse
On 2017’s After the Party, the Menzingers raged against the fading light of their glory days and tried to figure out how to grow up without going dark and dead inside. Existential agitation also informs the lyrics on their new album, Hello Exile, but the band sounds more settled than ever, their fest-bound pop-punk inching ever closer to the heart of palatable radio rock. Although bittersweet anthems like “Anna” and “Strangers Forever” will surely inspire sodden dudes to join sweaty sing-alongs in polite pits, they are also perfect soundtracks for tired souls who have to squeeze all of their feelings into the vanishingly brief span between dropping the kids off and punching the clock. Because growing up is really just a matter of scheduling your good cries. (Wed Nov 6, 8 pm, Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar E. Chavez, all ages, $22-25) CHRIS STAMM

Support The Portland Mercury

Emmet Cohen Trio
Still in his late 20s, some might consider pianist, organist, and composer Emmet Cohen to be a rising star, but his impeccable technique, genre-spanning knowledge, and utterly unique style make him an active supernova brightly burning right now in the musical universe. If you can’t catch him later this month in Paris or Stuttgart, the smoking hot Cohen brings his trio sound to town tonight with Russell Hall on bass and Kyle Poole behind the drum kit. Their setlist will be anyone’s guess, but prepare for original compositions, jazz standards slyly interpreted, and maybe, if we’re lucky, a ragtime encore. (Wed Nov 6, 7:30 pm, the Old Church, 1422 SW 11th, $25-30) BRIAN HORAY

Alessia Cara Def Jam

CRITIC’S PICK: Alessia Cara
Last year, Canadian singer/songwriter Alessia Cara won a Grammy for Best New Artist despite the fact the artist’s been around for a handful of years, putting in serious work, and doing big-girl numbers. Cara’s strength as a performer comes from her tightly honed vocal skill, down-to-earth personality, and the fact that her stage presence has continued to blossom ever since quietly marching onto the scene in 2015 with two hit singles: “Scars to Your Beautiful” and her anti-social anthem “Here.” Cara makes pop for outsiders. I rather enjoyed her studio debut Know-It-All (which was written while she was still a teenager), and her single “How Far I’ll Go,” for Disney’s Moana. Her most recent full-length, last year’s The Pains of Growing, is a more mature, cohesive project that explores the mental and emotional experience of aging and life transitions. Highlights include singles “Trust My Lonely,” “Growing Pains,” and “Out of Love,” the latter a heartfelt ballad Cara says was inspired by a friend’s break-up. Cara also just released an EP in September called This Summer, with gems like “Ready,” “Rooting for You,” and the appropriately timed “October.” When the singer played Portland’s Moda Center recently, as the impressive opening act for Shawn Mendes, I remember thinking, “Why isn’t Alessia headlining her own tour by now?” Having extended her North American leg of her “The Pains of Growing Tour,” Cara’s upcoming concert (at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, no less!) should more than make up for the delay. (Wed Nov 6, 7:30 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, al ages, $29.50-187.50) JENNI MOORE