BACKSPACE 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY: TIANANMEN BEAR, TEN FOOT MOUSE, FAIR WEATHER WATCHERS, MISS MASSIVE SNOWFLAKE
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) Half a year ago, things weren't looking too good for Backspace. The all-ages music venue and internet café was bombarded by an overwhelming variety of financial problems, including late-rent penalties and a pending lawsuit filed by music publishing mafia ASCAP for permitting cover songs and playing copyrighted material over the venue's PA. Thanks to a few successful benefit shows and countless generous donations, Backspace met their goal of $10,000 and are in the clear (for now)—and that's a really, really good thing. Backspace's role in the Portland music scene, as one of the only strictly all-ages venues in the city, is absolutely invaluable. Tonight's anniversary show consists of unruly booze-rock staples Tiananmen Bear, upstart hopefuls Ten Foot Mouse (whose lone single, "Papercut," sort of sounds like T. Rex), Eirean Bradley of the Portland Poetry Slam, and will be hosted by man-about-town/resident tastemaker/Backspace employee Arya Imig. Happy birthday Backspace, and hopefully many more. MORGAN TROPER
ONUINU, WAMPIRE, MAGIC FADES, DJ ZACK
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Follow the sounds of summer to Holocene's kickass musical pairing of Onuinu and Wampire. The two local popmakers are shimmering embodiments of sweaty nights spent dancing and biking and staring at the stars. You'll leave this show in love with everyone and everything, especially dreamy summer jams. COURTNEY FERGUSON
THE ESTRANGED, FREEDOM CLUB, DIVERS
(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) I don't think there is a 7-inch in my collection that has gotten more play in the past year than Divers' 2012 release. The free download of the tracks from the Rumbletowne Records website might be the only thing saving it from having the grooves worn out. Getting to see Divers' mind-blowing live show every couple weeks also helps. A full set of heart-on-sleeve rock songs that are packed to the brim with fist-pump and shout-along moments make them one of the must-see live bands in Portland. They package a huge Springsteen-esque vibe into a show that gets delivered to rowdy and joyous audiences in dive bars and sweaty basements. By the time the band closes out the night with 7-inch B-side "Montrose," complete with a bit of a curtain call moment toward the end, it doesn't just feel deserved, it's pretty much demanded. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
NICKI BLUHM AND THE GRAMBLERS, STONE FOXES
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers make hot-weather music, singer/songwriter grooves for sweaty nights. On their second album, Driftwood, Bluhm & Co. dabble in Americana ("Women's Prison" and a cover of Doug Sahm's "I Wanna Be Your Mama Again") with all the banjos and fiddles and other signifiers of that tuckered idiom. But they are at their best when they stop playing tourist and get comfortable in the West Coast sophistication that makes the album more tasteful than trendy. "Jetplane" is a standout, highlighting Bluhm's Ronstadt voice and lilting, clear-eyed songwriting. Bluhm is from San Francisco, where she lives with her husband, Tim, AKA Grambler Number One. Tim Bluhm—also of the Mother Hips—wrote a few of the songs on the album, including my favorite, "Wall of Early Morning Light," which begins more like an outtake from Dark Side of the Moon than a California country track. REBECCA WILSON
VOLCANIC PINNACLES, LAVAS MAGMAS
(Revival Drum Shop, 1465 SE Prescott) Tonight's event by the Creative Music Guild promises to be a seismic eruption of experimental innovation. For a few years now, the Guild has been responsible for promoting and showcasing Portland's most inspired left-field musicians and sound projects. Lavas Magmas and Volcanic Pinnacles are forged from the same igneous ore as all acts for CMG showcases, displaying an improvisational spirit that makes these shows a dynamic and unique experience for both audience and performer. Volcanic Pinnacles set a course for the center of the earth with Sun Ra-esque explorations into the free jazz inner core as a two-piece of saxophone and drums. In contrast, Lavas Magmas are the musique concrète project of Luis Gonzalez, who creates a rich drony ambience using a few oscillators and scrap metal, imbuing performances with a deep meditation into the elements of sound. WYATT SCHAFFNER
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