Categories: Art+Culture Music

The Sounds of September in Portland

written by Ben Salmon | featured photo by Nick Simonite


Explosions in the Sky

September 1-2 | Crystal Ballroom

There are post-rock bands and then there’s Explosions in the Sky, the Austin, Texas quartet that plays the most polished brand of post-rock on the planet and has pushed the genre to new commercial heights. With a roiling rhythm section and an endless supply of shimmering guitars, Explosions in the Sky builds monuments to emotionally evocative instrumental rock ’n’ roll, one crescendo and decrescendo after another. This is music for laying in the grass, staring at the stars and feeling feelings. Don’t miss opening act Preoccupations, a gang of Canadian noisemakers with a nasty streak.

The Mavericks

September 10 | Roseland Theater

They say you shouldn’t be a member of any club that’d have you. If that’s true, then The Mavericks are card-carrying Mainstream Country Music Good Ol’ Boys Club lifers. For 30 years, the Nashville-based band has found itself on the outside looking in at Music Row, despite being one of the finest genuine country bands on the planet. Fronted by charismatic crooner Raul Malo, The Mavericks are equal parts spicy Tex-Mex and smooth Bakersfield Sound, a bridge between traditional honky tonk and modern twang. If anyone can turn the cavernous Roseland into a vibrant celebration of American roots music, it’s them.

Julian Lage Trio

September 12 | Mississippi Studios

Julian Lage’s birthday is on Christmas Day—which seems appropriate, not because he’s the new Jesus of jazz guitar, but because he’s a gifted young player who, at just 28 years old, is already well-established as one of the world’s six-string savants. A former child prodigy, Lage bounces from style to style these days, exploring jazz, classical and roots music with jaw-dropping skills and a positively sublime feel for the guitar. The guy has played with basically everybody, from new-school trumpet hero Ambrose Akinmusire to newgrass banjo wizard Bela Fleck to avant icon (and Wilco guitarist) Nels Cline. In extraordinary company, Lage holds his own.

Northwest Hesh Fest

September 22-24 | Dante’s

This annual gathering of heavy bands scored big with its 2016 lineup, snagging three of the buzziest acts of the past few years as headliners. On night one, fun-loving stoner-rock riff-lords Red Fang will level their hometown hell-themed bar. Night two brings in English cult faves Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, whose psychedelic garage-doom echoes Black Sabbath. And night three will wrap up with San Francisco’s Deafheaven, whose blend of black metal and shoegaze has made them one of the most polarizing bands in the heavy scene. The opening acts—including thunderous Rose City bands Witch Mountain and Danava—are simply icing on this dense, dark, delicious cake.

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals

September 5 | Crystal Ballroom

Certainly, Los Angeles has never been a musical ghost town. But over the past few years, a new wave of cool sounds has given the city a bit of a sonic makeover. Kendrick Lamar. Miguel. Kamari Washington. Flying Lotus. Thundercat. Each makes forward-thinking music with an old soul. Anderson .Paak is originally from Oxnard, but he came up through the L.A. scene, and his breakthrough album—a low-key amalgam of head-nodding beats, sing-song raps and grainy R&B—is titled Malibu. It’s an addictive listen from the latest in the City of Angels’ long line of bright lights.

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