NEW YEAR'S EVE
For our ultimate guide to New Year's Eve, check out last week's issue of the Portland Mercury, which you can find either crumpled up in the bathroom or online here!
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) On Woman to Woman, former Paper Bird singer Esmé Patterson penned seven tunes from the perspective of the female characters in famous songs. For example, her "Valentine" gives voice to "Alison" from the Elvis Costello song, "Never Chase a Man" gives voice to "Jolene" by Dolly Parton, "Bluebird" gives voice to the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," and so on. Each is delivered in Patterson's understatedly charismatic style, where sprightly folk, shambling pop, and her distinctive lilt nestle together. Lyrically, the songs tend to be defiant in different ways. "I'll put on a dress and I'll take off a dress whenever I want," Patterson sings with sass in "Valentine." BEN SALMON
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Wednesday's listing.
(White Eagle, 836 N Russell) It's New Year's Day. You're hungover. Everyone you know is hungover. Everyone you don't know is hungover. And you don't remember how you got home. But spending your evening in the back of a haunted hotel bar to kick off 2015 sounds like a hot ticket. Luckily for you, you won't be alone: Portland psych-rock quintet Rogue Giant's soothing psych-lite will keep those old ghosts at bay. The band's been working on their debut EP and fine-tuning their live set, pinching together extended jams and heavy-lidded vocal harmonies with the new addition of keyboardist Paxton Gehling. The band's affinity for classic rock and progressive musical corners fills out what might otherwise be construed as yet another Portland psych band. Songs like "It Comes in Waves" showcase the band's artistic dexterity with brass and peppy melodies. RYAN J. PRADO
(Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd) On its menu, the Taco Bell restaurant chain offers a Waffle Taco, which sounds either amazing or awful, depending on your openness to the idea of a standard waffle gently folded around some combination of sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, and "sweet syrup." For the sake of this brief, let's say the Waffle Taco is an unusual idea that actually works very well, because that's a fair description, too, of the Portland band Waffle Taco, which plays Velo Cult tonight. This Waffle Taco is a duo—singer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Beauvais plus trumpeter/electronic musician Kyle Linneman—and together, the two men create quiet, exploratory electro-jazz that wanders but never quite gets lost. They remind me of mighty English space-jazz combo the Greg Foat Group, but even more untethered to the real world. Waffle Taco: It's weird, but it works. BS
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Wednesday's listing.
PRIMUS AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY WITH THE FUNGI ENSEMBLE
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) When a band's been going for 30 years, it needs to change it up to keep from stagnating and slipping into insanity/inanity; for one example, look at the Flaming Lips and their tackling of sacred-cow rock albums in their entirety. So it makes a kind of twisted sense that funky prog-rock smart alecks Primus would cover the soundtrack to the whimsical 1971 cult film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as they did with their 2014 album, Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. Bassist/vocalist Les Claypool & Co. stretch out the super-sweet orchestral-pop trifles from Wonka and apply their show-offy, Zappa-esque chops to them. It's a funny—and annoying, due to Claypool's exaggeratedly goofy singing style—parlor trick that will take on a decidedly trippy tenor if the visuals spotted in YouTube clips from previous Primus concerts are any indication. DAVE SEGAL Also see All-Ages Action!
BUREAU OF STANDARDS BIG BAND
(Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th) At this point, you've slept off the clouds and other residue left over in your brain from your New Year's revelry and might be looking to get right back in the saddle. If that's the case, get 2015 started with a little bit of class and flair by getting dolled up and dropping by Jimmy Mak's to swill highballs and martinis to the sounds of the Bureau of Standards Big Band. The 17-piece-strong jazz throwback orchestra sashays from the hot swing of Duke Ellington and Count Basie to the Vegas-style glitz of singers like Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Dean Martin. ROBERT HAM
FANG, MILLIONS OF DEAD COPS, CHARTBUSTERS
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Those familiar with Fang's history might be most familiar with that highly unfortunate point in 1989 when vocalist Sam McBride (Sammytown) went to prison for six years for voluntary manslaughter after strangling his girlfriend to death. The band reformed in 1995 when McBride was released from prison and immediately started where they left off, forging pissed-off hardcore punk straight out of the East Bay. With Millions of Dead Cops also on the bill, tonight's lineup will remind you that in a not-so-distant past, punk rock was the scariest shit ever. RJP
KING GHIDORA, YOUTH DESTROYER, NOISE COMPLAINT
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) The first two things listed under the "Artists We Also Like" section of King Ghidora's deliciously silly Facebook profile are Dick Dale and Man or Astro-man?, so you can probably guess what kind of music this band plays. Originally from outer space but now living in McMinnville, King Ghidora are a masked quartet that make real-deal surf-rock that falls in line with that genre's traditions: roiling drums, waves of reverberant electric guitar, occasional theremin appearances, and no vocals. Put Dale's tubular tones on one end of the spectrum and Astro-man's space-punk schtick on the other and you'll find King Ghidora somewhere near the middle. They call it "sonic surf rock." You might just call it fun, at least for a night. BS
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Wednesday's listing.
DEAD MOON, LONG KNIFE, DRAWINGBOARD
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Dead Moon ain't dead yet. Fred Cole was onstage this past October just months after open-heart surgery, and now Fred and his better half, Toody, will bring their Portland punk institution back out for a night of classic rock 'n' roll. Dead Moon remains one of the last links to the Portland that once was (Fred and Toody have also been known to still smoke inside clubs as if it were 1989), and the mark they've left on the city is immeasurable. After resurrecting Dead Moon one year ago for the Crystal Ballroom's 100th anniversary, they're sneaking out tonight for another rare show, reminding the city how things are done. Fred and Toody, not Fred and Carrie! MARK LORE Also see My, What a Busy Week! and All-Ages Action!
GRAMMIES, JOHANNA WARREN
(Habesha, 801 NE Broadway) It's unlikely that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will take notice anytime soon, but saxophonist Noah Bernstein (Tune-Yards, Shy Girls) makes some pretty awesome music as Grammies. Bernstein's horn sounds like a Max Headroom-type computer-degenerated version of Kenny G, and drummer Dan Sutherland pounds out mind-bending polyrhythms and stuttering breaks. The result—as evidenced on their first album, Award Winning—is a fascinating mixture of addictive post-funk and experiments in the intersection of no wave, jazz, and avant-garde. The second Grammies album, Great Sounding, makes its debut tonight at the duo's first performance since May. NED LANNAMANN
BEN BALLINGER, SAM COOPER
(Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta) Ben Ballinger writes the kind of confessional, soul-bearing songs that make you want to call up people from your past and apologize. Originally from the Dalles, he hitchhiked to New York at 18 and now lives in Austin; Ballinger has no shortage of songwriting material. Whether relating disappointments in love, disappointments in friendship, or disappointments in success, Ballinger examines life's myriad frustrations and sings about them with a voice strained from use and abuse. He comes from the same country-folk tradition that gave birth to Townes Van Zandt and the like, but also shares similarities to modern, country-soul troubadours like Jeffrey Foucault and Mary Gauthier. Ballinger is touring in support of his latest album, The State I'm In, which could be read as a reference to either his physical location or his physical condition. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY
JERRY JOSEPH AND THE JACKMORMONS, MEXICAN GUNFIGHT
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) I saw Mexican Gunfight play once, a couple of summers ago in a tetanus-trap of a building on the site of an old junkyard in an industrial part of Bend. Every word of that sentence is true, somehow. It was a set in the middle of a three-day festival with dozens of bands, but Mexican Gunfight stood out to me primarily because of "Crazy in June," a melodic powerhouse of a song with an instantly memorable chorus, killer keyboard parts, and beautiful backing vocals. It's the kind of tune that just reaches out, grabs ears, and won't let go. These days, "Crazy in June" is the first song on Mexican Gunfight's 2014 album Long Play, which delivers more of the same kind of classic roots-rock 'n' pop throughout its 10 tracks. Tonight the band opens the second of veteran bar-rocker Jerry Joseph's two nights at the Doug Fir, which is not an old junkyard, so you have that going for you. BS
PETTY FEVER, WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND, HIGHWAY STAR
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) I'm pretty suspicious of tribute bands, but like all things in life, there are worthwhile ones just the same as there are ones to avoid like the plague. Often, the music to which the tribute band is paying tribute doesn't matter as much as the spirit in which it's done. That's why it's mesmerizing when Genesis tribute act the Musical Box copies everything down to Mike Rutherford's doubleneck 12-string/bass guitar and Peter Gabriel's impenetrably bizarre stage banter, and why it's deeply upsetting when Neil Diamond tribute hacks Super Diamond throw a little U2 into their set. (Seriously, what the fuck, Super Diamond.) Petty Fever seems to have everything in order. In Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, they've got a deserving but not oversaturated act to pay homage to (pretty much anything that isn't Pink Floyd qualifies). And in Petty, they've also got a consistent and sizable catalog of durable songs that shouldn't collapse under the weight of the illusion. The addition of a Loverboy cover band to the bill is a little worrisome (Petty's more than an '80s nostalgia act), but it's offset by the presence of a Deep Purple cover band, so at least you'll hear "Highway Star" before the red leather pants come out. NL
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) Tonight's free Sunday Session at Rontoms features two of the best rock acts in the city. On one end, you've got the quick-witted and molten-hot punk-rock trio of Gaytheist. They join forces with Divers, a quartet who have mastered the art of delivering heart-on-sleeve anthems to raucous crowds, and can convert casual bystanders into die-hard fans in a single set. It's a huge year for the group, who are finally ready to release their debut album. Sure, I've got Sleater-Kinney's No Cities to Love on pre-order, and I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to hear Modest Mouse's Strangers to Ourselves when March rolls around. That said, I am not feverishly anticipating either of those big Portland albums the way I am Divers' forthcoming full-length. If that sounds overstated at all, come out tonight and let the band's live show make you a believer. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) Maybe you haven't heard of Cristina Cano, but chances are you've seen her. She's subtly become a staple of Portland's music community, aurally brightening the new surf-rock influenced sound of Sallie Ford, as well as playing in Albatross and her project Siren and the Sea. To wear so many hats takes a polished, versatile style, which Cano will exhibit in a weeklong residency at Al's Den. Under her own name, she'll be most likely focusing on her own songs—soft, ethereal folk pieces complete with velvety vocals. I'd advise you take the time during this week to see her once or twice. ROBIN BACIOR
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Sunday's listing.
(Al's Den, 303 SW 12th) See Sunday's listing.
SYD BARRETT BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: AUX78, STOCHASTIC METTLE UNION, AMY BLEU
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) As much as his former band Pink Floyd has slowly been moldering into a pile of muck, the legacy of Syd Barrett hasn't lost even a bit of its luster. Much of that is due to his releasing only a pair of winsome and spacey solo records before retreating out of the spotlight. Those albums—The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, both released in 1970—are still amazing glimpses into his fracturing psyche and intuitive melodic sense. To celebrate what would have been the late Barrett's 69th birthday, a group of experimental-leaning locals pay tribute to the man, with sets covering his Floyd days and solo records. I'm equally excited to hear how fusion jazz freaks Stochastic Mettle Union will adapt these tunes to their own ends as I am to hear Barrett's freaked-out fare via Nicholas Matta's solo psych-folk project Aux78. RH Also see My, What a Busy Week!
WAXAHATCHEE, THE GHOST EASE, US LIGHTS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Waxahatchee, AKA singer/songwriter Katie Crutchfield, made her debut with a collection of lo-fi, whispered confessionals on 2012's American Weekend. A year later, the slightly amped-up but just as fragile follow-up, Cerulean Salt, established her as one of the most captivating voices in music today. While Waxahatchee didn't release any new recordings in 2014, Crutchfield's presence was certainly felt on some of the year's strongest albums. She contributed vocals to Radiator Hospital's fantastic sophomore album, Torch Song, her twin sister Allison made a striking solo debut of her own with Lean in to It, and Philadelphia trio Cayetana, who garnered attention touring with Waxahatchee, released Nervous Like Me, a set of intimate pop-punk gems that bring to mind the Crutchfield sisters' previous band, P.S. Eliot. Tonight's show offers the perfect opportunity to catch a preview of Waxahatchee's highly anticipated third album, which is due out on Merge Records in early 2015. CT Also see My, What a Busy Week!