THE SONICS, PIERCED ARROWS, THE PYNNACLES
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE CÉsar E. ChÁvez) Read our article on the Sonics.
111TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: WOW AND FLUTTER, SOUVENIR DRIVER, TALKATIVE, BUZZYSHYFACE, MIKE COYKENDALL, AUTOPILOT IS FOR LOVERS, BEVELERS
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Kelly's Olympian is in the business of delivering great music at a great price—you can often catch a good, free show at their venue for the whopping sum of zero dollars. This Friday and Saturday they celebrate their anniversary with a slew of performances from local bands. A couple honorable mentions for tonight: Souvenir Driver, who write epically charged pop ballads that blur the line between Smashing Pumpkins and the Pixies, and Talkative, the joy-folk, psych-rock crooners who'll remind you that "experimental" is a good thing. Check back tomorrow for celebratory shows from Portland favorites And And And, the Morals, and Fanno Creek. RACHEL MILBAUER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
THE GREATER MIDWEST, TIGER HOUSE, THE HAGUE
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) The most captivating thing about Consumer Confidence, the debut album from the Greater Midwest, is how elegant the Portland band makes their fucked-up, ragged sentiments sound. Tracks like "I Do a Great Impersonation of Myself" and "Clean Sheets Are Important" sound almost stately in their poise and grace—but these are songs about refusing to grow up, about getting wasted and playing rock 'n' roll, about working that shitty job because every other option seems even shittier, about cutting and running when a relationship starts getting too real. The quartet finds a spacious and inviting sound that's perhaps halfway between the National and the Cure, and singer Shawn Pike sounds like he can't decide if he's about to break down or freeze up completely. Consumer Confidence isn't always a comfortable listen, but it's a deep and rewarding one, and the Greater Midwest celebrates its release with an all-ages show tonight. Make no mistake, though; this is the furthest thing from a kids' album. NED LANNAMANN
SYSTEM AND STATION, DINOSAUR HEART
(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) System and Station have been doing it longer, and better, than just about any band in Portland. Their latest, self-titled full-length is their 10th studio recording, marking their 15th year together. System and Station is yet another impressively played and written collection of high-voltage rock, as we have come to expect from the Portland-via-Boise band. And while System and Station certainly offer some aural fireworks, for the most part they are content to function as a fully integrated team of immaculate craftsmen, letting the songs lead the way. There are tangled guitar showdowns in the vein of Built to Spill, manic pop crackups À la Modest Mouse, and in "Saturday Night Friends" even a bluesy stomp that will unquestionably please the Black Keys' bafflingly large fanbase. The real question is why System and Station still isn't one of the biggest bands in the Northwest; as they've proven time and again, they're absolutely one of the most consistent. This weekend's dual record-release shows tackle opposite ends of town, with tonight's show in North Portland rock temple the Kenton Club, and tomorrow night's at SE Foster neighborhood dive O'Malley's. NL
PORTLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL: AFRO-CUBAN ALL STARS, ALFREDO RODRIGUEZ
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) While the corporate entities have got their fingers all over this year's jazz festival—the correct title, I believe, is the US Bank Portland Jazz Festival Presented by Alaska Airlines—its 10th year sees a solid lineup that should appeal to most jazz diehards, if not casual dabblers. This year kicks off with a show from the Afro-Cuban All Stars, who found international prominence in the wake of Buena Vista Social Club's enormous popularity. The fest also hosts Blue Cranes, fusion drummer Jack DeJohnette, and a performance by all-female super-trio ACS (that's pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and Portland-born Grammy-snatching bassist Esperanza Spalding). But the most intriguing performances look to be tributes: the Jazz Message's homage to the incredible, overlooked Art Blakey, and the music of Fellini film composer Nino Rota performed by New York downtown extrapolators Sex Mob. See pdxjazz.com for more info, including dates and venues. NL
BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY, RCG, KAUSE N EFFECT, MDOT, CHRIS B, GONDI, VICIOUS DEMENTED
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) We can't be friends anymore if you don't agree that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's debut single "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" was one of the highlights of 1994. Their overall presence on the music scene since has been... spotty, but all five members have reunited for the Rock the Bells tour, featuring a tribute where tribute is due: to gangsta rap grandfather Eazy-E. MARJORIE SKINNER
IOMMI STUBBS, CRAG DWELLER, THE GNASH
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Iommi Stubbs is sort of the precursor-slash-intermediary for local doom band Witch Mountain's two incarnations. Those who followed metal before metal got hip know what this means. Prior to the formation of Witch Mountain in 1997, and before their rebirth in 2009, guitarist Rob Wrong served up choice riffs and punk 'tude in Iommi Stubbs. The band released a handful of 7-inches and played with some punk-rawk greats of yore, including Chokebore, Steel Pole Bathtub, and NoMeansNo. With Witch Mountain 2.0 slooooowly but surely taking over the world, this rare one-off is worth checking out. ML
THE RESOLECTRICS, STEELHEAD, JEFFREY MARTIN AND ANNA TIVEL
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Sloan Martin called it a day with longtime local band Celilo and went down to Los Angeles to hang with his brothers for a spell. There, he came up with the songs that make up the debut EP from his new Portland-based band, Steelhead. Tonight sees the release of Blue Sun, and it jettisons some of the overtly Americana sounds of Celilo in favor of a more contemporary, urban, noir-ish vibe. The smog of LA hangs heavy over Blue Sun, finding room for a slicker, smokier sound that's a good fit for Martin. Over the years, Celilo—through circumstance and chance—became a haunted band, most notably when drummer Kipp Crawford was killed in a bike-auto collision in 2009. Steelhead, and Blue Sun, is the sound of Martin putting his ghosts in the rearview mirror. But what makes the EP so compelling are the shadows those ghosts still manage to cast, even all the way down to sunny Los Angeles. Blue Sun is the sound of wishing to become numb and, thankfully, failing. NL
THE RUBY SUNS, PAINTED PALMS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) By all reports, the Ruby Suns' new one is a breakup album, but the cryptically titled Christopher is more notable in that it sees Ruby mainman Ryan McPhun wholeheartedly embracing the synth-y, '80s-gazing glow-pop that's all the rage nowadays. Some truly gaudy synthwork graced 2010's experimental Fight Softly as well, but that felt more like a collection of willfully weird experiments than the familiar pop pastiches that make up Christopher. Granted, there's some interesting stuff buried under the rote house beats and warbly vocal overdubs—and at least one masterwork in the heartfelt and devastatingly gorgeous "Dramatikk"—but for the most part it feels like McPhun is following trends rather than either leading them or, better yet, ignoring them. Considering how miraculously inventive and unique the 2008 Ruby Suns' Sea Lion still sounds today, that's a letdown. NL
THE GROWLERS, THE NIGHT BEATS, GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH
(Star Theater, 13 NW 6th) The sandy, salty party hits of the Growlers are rickety and melty at the same time—a 24-hour retro beach circus of psychedelic enchantment, sung by a being that is equal parts surfer and skeleton. Some of their songs are raucous and wild, while others (the newer ones, off their most recent album Hung at Heart) are more thoughtful and, dare I say it, romantic. On top of that, the unpredictable live shows these vagabond party-punks put on make for an excellent post-Valentine's Day date option. EMILY NOKES
DRATS!!!, BAD ASSETS, ROLLERBALL
(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) The deranged dementos of Drats!!! have been together for 10 years, and tonight's show not only celebrates that milestone, but ushers the Portland six-piece's latest EP, Minor Label Interest, into a world that's probably not ready for it. Flaunting a truly eclectic approach to rock 'n' roll, there is no sound or technique Drats!!! are too bashful to attempt—or can't pull off, for that matter. On Minor Label Interest, heavy, metallic rock butts up against funk-prog precision and '80s-movie-soundtrack pop; a theatrical sensibility and an absolutely ruthless punk aggression cap things off. Driven in large part by the over-the-top, one-of-a-kind vocals of bassist Chairman (also of Nasalrod), Drats!!! very literally sound like nothing else, and are all the more vital for it. Happy anniversary, weirdos. NL
(Spirit Mountain Casino, 27100 Salmon River Hwy, Grand Ronde) Air Supply made the softest, gentlest rock the world has ever known, soundtracking department stores and dentists' offices the world over. It was impossible, from the years 1981 to 1984, to visit a public place and avoid hearing the dulcet voice of Russell Hitchcock singing immortal lite-FM classics like "All Out of Love" or "The One That You Love"—or, best of all, the epic "Making Love Out of Nothing at All." If ABBA was too raunchy and emotionally complicated for you, and those punks in Little River Band rocked far too loud for your sensitive eardrums, Air Supply was your jam. Apparently, the Australian duo has been active all this time, for which they deserve medals and riches and sainthoods. This is solid-gold adult contemporary; if you're too young to remember it, you were probably conceived to it. Either way, Air Supply is a part of you. NL
Tip for End Hits?
Email them here.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!