Perhaps the only thing Portland has more of per capita than food and strip clubs is musicians. Since it’s a lot easier to feature live music with dinner than naked women, it seems only natural that a marriage would emerge. Many restaurants have tried to expand into a music venue without proper consideration of the investments required to do it right. On the other hand, many music venues offer an enormous range of completely typical, anti-climactic bar food that forces patrons to leave feeling worse off than they came. After searching the city, this is a list of the most talked about places to eat and listen, each with their own unique appeal.
That old time rock ‘n’ roll
Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside are not quite like anything else out there. With a quirky style, powerhouse vocals and songs you’d swear you heard on American Bandstand, they’re throwback rock ‘n’ roll meets retro lady blues.
As is evident with countless seasoned musicians, time can often reshape a copycat amateur into an artist. After weaving in and out of bands for over a decade, Drew Grow’s three-year-old solo project has proven his sound, style and approach are fully cooked.
What’s the big idea?
Portland pop-folk group the Big Ideas began as a running joke about starting a band between old friends Matt Halvorson and Louie Opatz. After taking up the guitar and piano, they accidentally started something great without losing any of the casual, good-time charm.
The best multimedia comedians are those who have taken the time to master their medium rather than cheapen the genre for a punch line. Emerson Valentine Lyon and Caws Pobi, the two cerebral cortexes behind the ironic Portland hyphy hip-hop band Thuggage, have been fine-tuning their musical skills for years. Lyon, a Portland State English major, was raised by a trained opera singer and special effects supervisor, forging a unique fusion of classic and contemporary that realized itself in Lyon’s adolescent hobbies.
A new direction
Since forming in 2002, psychedelic rock band The Upsidedown has embarked upon a musical journey not unfamiliar in the music industry.
It’s always a gamble when a real life couple leads a band. Luckily for St. Frankie Lee, and even more so for their fans, the chemistry of the leading duo, Chelsea Campbell and Derrick Martin, creates a contagious vocal dynamic that forms a strong backbone to even their most chaotic tune.
In perfect harmony
Occasionally, a band pops up with a sound so rich you can actually feel the waves go through you. Something in the balance of sounds and tonal composition blend to create music that seems to matter in a way so as to catch you pleasantly off guard.
It’s common for listeners to gain a sense of an artist’s personality based simply on the music they create. If the same holds true for Portland’s increasingly popular indie pop quartet Tiger House, it would be safe to assume they are a sophisticated, ambitious group with their eyes on the prize. Of course, a quick peak at the “Bomb Iran” Beach Boys parody on their MySpace page suggests a slightly less serious approach.
Little drummer boy
A drummer is often considered the backbone of a band, necessary for structure but often overlooked for flashier licks and whistles.
In an odd way, groups like Ah Holly Fam’ly are precisely the reason why there are so many crappy indie folk bands out there.