WHAT HAPPENS when four Portland venues open up their doors to 20 local bands for one night of free music? It's called Big Ass Boombox, it's going down this Friday, January 13, and it won't cost you a penny. According to event co-founder Eirean Bradley, the event is an "intelligent, loud pop festival" featuring a lineup of Portland's most promising pop acts, and you can bet it's going to be a good time—each of the four downtown Portland venues are within a block of each other, so you'll be able to pinball between stages to your heart's content.

And what's more, the whole thing is under-21 friendly—three of the clubs are all ages. It's one of those rare festivals that local underage fans crave, but unfortunately only get once or twice a year. Think of it as an off-season PDX Pop Now!

Sure, there are other nascent music festivals being organized in Portland, but this one's unique in that its ideals extend beyond just "rocking out." Actually, the more you learn about Big Ass Boombox, the more sense a festival of this structure seems to make for a city like Portland. When you've got four trendy venues operating daily within jaywalking distance of each other, why not utilize their proximity and resources to host a festival? Get all the bands and venues on the same page for a night, and you've got yourself an event worthy of a much larger audience.

There's potential for this to be good not only for Portland music fans and the bands, but also the local businesses who are showing solidarity with each other by reaching out to the local music community. The systems to put together a successful festival are already in place—Big Ass Boombox is just tapping into them—a point that Bradley's partner (and Boombox co-founder) Arya Imig is keen to hone in on. "My favorite words when it comes to music lately have been 'community' and 'access,'" says Imig. Access for the people, and access for the bands.

For Imig and Bradley, Big Ass Boombox is about more than just exposing the city to some of its unheralded talent—the process they're pushing here is to strengthen ties within the local music scene by "fostering a community of bands who play a like-minded brand of high-energy rock music, who may not necessarily have gotten a chance to have been exposed to each other." Right on, guys. And you know what? The lineup is pretty damned good. BAB's Facebook page is even promising that you'll find your new favorite band in Portland, and with all the names on board for this one (including Charts, the We Shared Milk, and Sons of Huns), it's quite possible that you will.

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Backspace (all ages)
7-7:30 pm—Profcal
7:45-8:15 pm—Torn ACLs
8:30-9 pm—The We Shared Milk
9:15-9:45 pm—Queued Up
10-10:30 pm—Sons of Huns
10:45-11:15 pm—Scrimshander
11:30 pm-close—Tiger House

Someday Lounge (21+)
8-8:30 pm—Gamma Knife
8:45-9:15 pm—Charts
9:30-10 pm—My Autumn's Done Come
10:15-10:45 pm—Hollywood Tans
11-11:30 pm—Blue Skies for Black Hearts
11:45 pm-12:15 am—Little Volcano
12:30 am—Pigeons

SoHiTek Records (all ages)
7-7:30 pm—Rob Gray
7:45-8:15 pm—The Morals
8:30 pm-close—Fanno Creek

Floating World Comics (all ages)
7-7:30 pm—Fasters
7:45-8:15 pm—Awkward Energy
8:30 pm-close—Mo Troper