BIG ASS BOOMBOX
(Various locations) It's the return of the Big Ass Boombox festival, which means the return of the city's greatest totally free wintertime music fest! Over 40 buzzy, local pop and rock bands—including Summer Cannibals, Adventure Galley, and Lubec—will be spread across five downtown stages in two days, with all-ages sets and absolutely no cover charges whatsoever! NED LANNAMANN Check out tonight's lineup here.
TOXIC HOLOCAUST, EXHUMED, RAMMING SPEED, MAMMOTH GRINDER
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Well, if this isn't one hell of a lineup: Portland's Toxic Holocaust are keeping the dream of '80s thrash alive in Portland, and Joel Grind & Co.'s latest release, Chemistry of Consciousness, drives it home with a sledgehammer. And Exhumed's blackened gore grind continues to taste great while going well beyond good taste. Ramming Speed and Mammoth Grinder round out the bill, bringing elements of punk into their metallic finish. Needless to say, if you're not exhausted after this one, you're not doing it right. There should also be some bruises and soreness—four hours of head-whipping action is just what the doctor ordered. MARK LORE
URBAN WILDLIFE, SWANSEA
(The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell) Strangers, the second album from Portland quartet Urban Wildlife, is an album of involving, tendril-like folk that feels both natural and ominous—like a building gradually getting consumed by moss and vines, or once-living carbon-based matter slowly turning back into dirt. Jazzy but restrained vocals by Emily Logan keep the music's dramatic flourishes from dipping into the realm of ostentatious; in fact, the entire ensemble works well within the realm of taste and moderation. This allows Urban Wildlife's mature sound to weave its quiet but undeniable spell, planting hooks in the listener's imagination and offering a sound unique within Portland's crowded folk-music wildlife preserve. NL
TIGERFACE, GRANDHORSE, FUR COATS
(Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick) A mysterious series of postcards, designed to look like vintage telegrams, have recently turned up in the Mercury mailbox. Suggesting an overseas trip—possibly during wartime?—it turns out they're the work of local band Tigerface, whose debut EP, On the Beach, doesn't quite contain the widescreen scope or romantic desperation of the namesake work it mines for inspiration (Nevil Shute's 1957 post-apocalyptic novel, and its accompanying Gregory Peck-starring film from 1959). Nor do the bedroom recordings have the same stoney, tossed-off vibe of the classic 1974 Neil Young album, although they do share the same sense of jangled nerves. The apocalyptic weirdness of opening track "Control" gives way to the more conventional, ear-pleasing "Leaving (for a While)," but this is a bleak offering, with strange and inventive arrangements. Like the postcards, it's a little more cryptic than heartfelt, but that may not be the case when Tigerface performs these songs in the flesh at tonight's record-release show. NL
THE SHIVAS, BOOM!, MOPE GROOVES
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) All three of the bands on tonight's bill are part of the Gnar Tapes family, Portland's cross-eyed but venerable cassette label. Well, that is, the label that grew up in Portland. Word is that Gnar's head honchos, Rikki Gage and Unkle Funkle of White Fang, along with the rest of the group, have headed south for greener pastures, relocating in LA. The move is bittersweet. First, here's wishing the bad boys continued success in spreading their top-notch lo-fi pot pop and free lovin' across this great land. Second, here's hoping Gnar's influence continues to be felt in their former home. Take Mope Grooves, for instance, a band of winking slackers that Gnar hipped us to. Check the video for the eponymous single, "Mope Grooves." It's marvelously catchy and proudly stupid—in other words, total embodiment of the Gnar ethic. ANDREW R TONRY
JOSH RITTER, GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) It's not often that incredible Idaho folk singer Josh Ritter shares the stage with a songwriting equal, but that will happen twice this weekend at the Aladdin Theater, where Coloradoan Gregory Alan Isakov will open both of Ritter's sold-out acoustic shows. Isakov is a brilliant tunesmith with three terrific albums under his belt, including last year's rich, self-released The Weatherman. But the highlight of his career so far is 2009's This Empty Northern Hemisphere, a dusky collection that is both deeply rooted—Isakov is a trained horticulturist and owner of a small gardening company—and delicately luminous, as if its creator has crafted modern songs about love, life, and land using only an ancient star chart as his guide. If exquisite, enchanting folk-pop songs appeal to you, find a way into one of these shows. No doubt, Portland will host few, if any, bills better for that kind of thing this year. BEN SALMON
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