MusicWatch Weekly: Noise, searching for its voice

Monster surf, homebrewed string quartets, double drumming, and the musical tyranny of evil men

You may have noticed I’ve been putting genre labels in scare quotes lately. That’s because “genre” is as “dead” as “opera.”

“Rock,” like “Protestantism,” has split off into factions as diverse as metal, surf, psych, punk, post-punk, prog, pronk–all represented in the coming week’s musical picks. Same goes for “classical,” a marbled old word from which we chisel a wide variety of music, from pious Bach to the dreamy Rachmaninoff you’ll get two chances to hear in the next week.

Then you’ve got things that are truly ineffable–and we’ve got some of that this week too.

“Rock” Music

For your first post-genre concert of the weekend, allow me to introduce a Portland duo that describes itself as “FreneticSynthBeatFemmePoetScreamPop for the Apocalypse.” Xibling (technically pronounced “sibling,” but “disobedience was humanity’s Original Virtue”) performs Friday night at Southeast Portland’s Lovecraft Bar, and the show doubles as release party for their new Yesbody EP and tour send-off shindig. Last chance to get tapes (!) and seedies before they sell em all to The Californians.

“History excludes every night’s revolution.”

Follow the forking paths: “rock” gave birth, early on, to “surf” (a slippery “genre” which has almost nothing to do with surfing). Later, “rock” gave birth to “punk,” and it was a matter of time before punk and surf hooked up and spawned “surf punk” (I’ll let you decide whether that’s Tommen or Joffrey in this incestuous metaphor). Later, “surf punk” got post-punked and psyched out and gradually transmogrified into a near-synonym for “Americana garage, but harder and weirder”–and that’s where local crampsters Roselit Bone, Texas monster posse Daikaiju, and McMinnville’s King Ghidora come in.

Let’s start with the last one, a trio of masked psych-surf-punk weirdos named after Gojira’s ancient three-headed foe. A different ineffable Portland surf-punk band–the one your present author plays drums for–opened for these guys a few times, and it was always a riot. And I mean sometimes literally a riot–one memorable show in KG’s hometown pool hall ended with an honest-to-Odin bar brawl that had your fearless writer-drummer pinned behind a pinball machine while the band jumped up on the tables and kept going with their fan-fave spaced-out rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Now, there just happens to be a shorter “genre” label we could use for these masked psych-surf-punk weirdos: “Daikaiju Rock.” Way back in antediluvian 1999, four Southern Dudes decided to put on kabuki masks, light their instruments on fire, and fight Godzilla by bringing back surf rock.

“You’re fired.”

Daikaiju’s been freaking everyone out and surfing monster mosh pits ever since, and the impact on McMinnville’s favorite aliens is incalculable. And, just for the sake of filling out this ridiculous metaphor cluster, Roselit Bone is going to have dress up as either Rodan or Mothra at their show together at Dante’s on Saturday. Hail Hydra!

Portland drum duo Hot Victory isn’t headlining the the High Water Mark show on SaturdayThrones and Darsombra and Erin Jane Laroue are the bigger names–but they’re who I’d be going to the show for if I weren’t packing my sarongs and Saraswati sculpture and getting ready to finally Leave Paradise. The percussive synthwave duo used to be my favorite band to chaw down a handful of [redacted] and melt the walls at Berbati’s with, and for good reason: these two have the musical intimacy of musicians who’ve been drumming together for a zillion years, sharing approximately 1.618 drum sets and a mastelottosworth of samplers and electronic drum triggers and other scifi laserwave shit, weirding out and interlocking like a couple of kendang drummers. Their albums are sweet too, in a Tangerine Dream vs. King Crimson kinda way, but their live shows are pure chaotic bliss.

“Hot Victory is mine,” saith the drummers.

According to expert witness reports, the Portland-based instrumental “psych-prog-punk-pronk-whatever” trio Fruit of the Legion of Loom won the day a few weeks back at Portland Not Portlandia IV. I’ve wanted to hear these guys again ever since they debuted their heavy-goofy album Humandatory Genocide at NoPo’s Foggy Notion (RIP) way back in post-apocalyptic 2013, and if I weren’t wrapping a goddess in Bali on Saturday night I’d be taking a vanfull of friends out the Columbia Gorge to Hood River’s River City Saloon for their only show of the season.

“Fruit rock.”

And how do you label a band like Portland’s Reptaliens, celebrating the release of their dickhead sophomore album VALIS at Mississippi Studios on Tuesday night while I’m watching superhero movies at Singapore’s Changi Airport? Is it “pop” music? It certainly isn’t very popular, despite the agave-sweet melodies and the honey-gooey harmonies. Is it psychedelic? Well, sure, but what isn’t psychedelic these days? Is it “rock” or “post-punk” or what? The band calls their music “dreamwave,” and I guess that’ll do for now.

“Classical” Music

Speaking of weird timelines, doesn’t the first letter of ARCO-PDX stand for “amplified?” Aren’t they Portland’s premier electric chamber orchestra, infamous for cranking up their violins and rocking out Gorecki and Depeche Mode at bars and farmer’s markets all over town? Then why are they playing an “unplugged” show at Southeast Portland’s Artichoke Music on Friday night? Has the world gone insane?

“Amplified.”

Of course it has! File this one under “edgy classical chamber music” and go sip coffee at nine in the damn evening while you listen to Dr. Mike Hsu and company play Shosty, Brahms, and music by Hsu and Addison Wong.

But I suppose some of you want to hear “normal classical” music this weekend. The Oregon Symphony Orchestra joins the other animals at the Oregon Zoo on Saturday, and they’re playing all the hits: Mozart, Wagner, Sibelius, Gershwin, Ginastera, Williams, Barber, token living composer Adolphus Hailstork, and a “revolutionary” closer, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (hopefully sans cannons). Stay tuned for a tag-team pictures-and-words review by photojournalist Joe Cantrell and composer Charles Rose.

If you want some meatier “classical” music–or if you just don’t like the smell of suffering elephants–you might wait til next weekend take a trip around the Goose Hollow roundabout to First United Methodist Church and listen to Portland’s other symphony orchestra play Brahms and Florence Price. The Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra performs “Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony” and Florence Price’s rediscovered Second Violin Concerto with violin soloist Er-Gene Kahng and conductor Steven Byess at FUMC on Friday the 13th. You could also take Marine Drive along the river out to Gresham and hear the same concert at Mount Hood Community College on Sunday afternoon, the 15th.

The Price is right.

If you live in the Eugene region, or feel like taking a longer drive this weekend, you can hear a whole program of local music performed by the industrious Delgani Quartet at Springfield’s Wildish Theater on Saturday and Sunday. Six Eugene-based contemporary “classical” composers fill the bill for this one, with nary a Brahms in sight. John Lundblade, Andrew Lewinter, David Sprung, Cascadia composer Paul Safar (who turns 50 this year) and UO professor Terry McQuilkin all have works on the program, but it’s Anice Thigpen we’re really excited about.

Evidently Dr. Thigpen, a biochemist who immigrated to Oregon from the Deep South in 2005, didn’t get the memo that “opera” is “dead.” In 2017, with encouragement from opera singer Laura Wayte and composition lessons from Wayte’s husband Larry, Thigpen completed her one-act chamber opera The Woman of Salt, based on the harrowing tale of the woman known only as Lot’s Wife–one of the bible’s many disobedient history-making women, here given the name AhDoo.

“Noise, searching for its voice.”

It’s a tragic tale of motherly love, loss, and bigotry (it is a bible story, after all), and if Thigpen’s new work What Death Can Touch–for string quartet and singers, with visuals by local artists Lillian Almeda and Sunny Shelby–is anything like the operatic samplings you can hear here, I think it’s gonna be a doozy. (You can read Senior Editor Brett Campbell’s Delgani/Cascadia preview right here.)

They say there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, but The Old Church has got different “facts”: they’ve been hosting free lunchtime shows since Nixon was in office, and they haven’t gone broke yet. Next Wednesday at noon, it’s pianist Kristy Moore and cellist Jerry Bobbe playing Bach, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. Didn’t get enough Rachy at “A”RCO-PDX? Here you go.

“Musical” music

Funhouse Lounge, a “fringe theater” playhouse at the edge of Ladd’s Addition in Southeast Portland, is full of crazy people. It’s mostly experimental stand-up and other clownery, but they also produce the occasional Drammy-winning movie parody musical. They put on a musical version of Die Hard (of all damn things), and it sells out a month-long run every year. It’s rapidly becoming a holiday tradition in Godless Portland. Weirdest possible timeline, remember?

“Splatter zone.”

This year, Pulp Fiction gets the Funhouse treatment, and that’s probably going to be just as fucked up as it sounds (though it’s hard to imagine them outdoing their Evil Dead musical splatter zone). Pulp Fiction: The Musical Parody opens tonight and runs through October 5th, beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men, shepherding the weak through the valley of darkness.

Sounds like I’m getting back from Balinese Bandcamp just in time.

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