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Favorite Portland music institutions from PSU’s own

1033 NW 16th Ave.

I asked Doug Rogers, owner of Slabtown, what’s going on at the bar and venue today, and he told me that right now he’s hosting the urban golfers, who are getting ready to knock tennis balls around the city.

Favorite Portland music institutions from PSU’s own
Drew Martig / Vanguard Staff

1033 NW 16th Ave.

I asked Doug Rogers, owner of Slabtown, what’s going on at the bar and venue today, and he told me that right now he’s hosting the urban golfers, who are getting ready to knock tennis balls around the city. “My kind of people,” he said. Slabtown carries that kind of offbeat vibe. “I get bored. I always try to have something going on,” he said. A part-time music venue, Slabtown hosts independent, punk, garage, slock-rock and more for low cover charges. “I hate play-clap-play shows,” Rogers said. “I’m always trying to have other stuff going on.” Slabtown has a full bar and all shows are 21+.

The Record Room
8 NE Killingsworth St.

What’s this? You need to buy vinyl? You need to sell vinyl? And you need a beer? The Record Room has got you covered. Sip on your brew while you sort through one of the largest vinyl collections in town, and maybe even catch one of the store’s occasional shows at a low cover. They also offer 30 percent resale value cash or 50 percent in-store credit for your old records.

Tender Loving Empire
412 SW 10th Ave.

Located in inner downtown Portland, Tender Loving Empire is host to an extremely diverse mix of everything “Portland,” in all the good ways. Featuring comics, fiction, crafts, T-shirts and all of the little DIY knick-knacks in-between. It also has a very nice selection of CDs and vinyl from local bands at reasonable prices. Go to TLE just for the eye-popping, overwhelming experience of browsing all the awesome music. TLE also operates a small record label for local and national bands.

Green Noise/Dirtnap Records
3840 SE Gladstone St.

Dirtnap Records is a local record label whose top-selling band is The Exploding Hearts, followed closely by Mean Jeans. And if you purchase records on vinyl, you might have heard of Dirtnap Record’s other operation, Green Noise Records. An interesting tidbit: Dirtnap is actually more well known online than for its brick-and mortar location, so be sure to browse on over to the website if 38th Avenue and Gladstone is too far out for you. The store features punk rock vinyl in that hard to find at a happy-medium price range with an awesome selection that’s just small enough so you’re not overwhelmed.

Bunk Bar
1028 SE Water Ave. #130

Nestled right against the river on Southeast Portland’s Water Avenue, Bunk Bar started improbably as a sandwich shop. But in the last year and a half, it has blossomed into a popular part-time venue, in addition to its status as a full-time bar. Owner Matt Brown is a natural storyteller, and his pace quickened and his face became animated as he told me about the nitty-gritty of their operations. As a part-time venue, Bunk Bar only offers shows a few nights a week, hosting indie shows to crowds of 200–250 people. Attendees can expect quality music for as low as $3, and sometimes free, with national touring acts coming in for covers as low as $8. Part of what makes the experience at Bunk Bar unique is how it tries to strike that perfect balance between being a squared-away, clean club and that more chaotic atmosphere of a house show. The ambiance of the place is completed by a massive mural from the movie Paris, Texas behind the stage by Portland artist Casey Burns. Swing by Bunk Bar for a show or a beer and try a famous Bunk Sandwich.

1001 SE Morrison St.

Hosted at Holocene in inner Southeast Portland, Rockbox is a dance night regularly featuring one of KPSU’s own DJ’s, Matt Nelkin. Expect every type of crowd you can think of to be out dancing to Rockbox’s ever-varying mixes of hip-hop, R&B, house, disco, electro, dancehall, ’80s and ’90s. Then maybe take a break for a drink at Holocene’s full bar.

Music in the Schools

If you attended high school in the Portland Public School District within the last few years, you might be familiar with this program. Established in 2007, Music in the Schools is a nonprofit organization that supports music education at local public high schools, which are desperately underfunded and understaffed. More specifically, the organization provides support for music that is a little closer to the hearts and minds of high schoolers than band class: rock. According to the non-profit’s website, all of its funding is raised via benefit concerts at Portland venues. They also host periodic “Battle of the Bands” events, giving the students a chance to show their talents alongside established musicians.


Since summer 2009, Grandparents have been throwing down psychedelic rock and similar music with an ever-evolving sound. A Portland State artistic success story, the band met while living in The Broadway during their undergraduate years. They gradually started playing together, put out an album and have been playing ever since. “It’s all about the energy of the people,” said Will Fenton, guitar and bass player. “I’m just happy to get people dancing, and you can tell it’s a good show.” The band recently played at the Doug Fir and other local venues—expect to hear more out of them.