PDX Pop Now
July 18–20Every summer, PDX Pop Now! offers an aural pupu platter, serving up what's new in the Portland music scene (read our profile of the fest on their 10 year bday last year). The lineup is generally diverse, but this year in particular offers a delightful range of genres. So don't fall into the rut of seeing the same bands you've seen opening for music you already like. Branch out and discover something new. Here are seven bands, with seven distinct sounds, that perform this weekend.
Horn-fueled funk jams: Tezeta Band
Friday at 6:45, Outdoor Stage
Tezeta Band calls itself "Oregon's premier 70's Ethiopian dance band." Granted, it's likely Oregon's only such band, but with reunited members of the hip-hop group Five Fingers of Funk, it still trades motown, soul, R&B, and traditional Ethiopian melodies that will get you on the dance floor (or pavement, as the case may be).
Spacey surf-rock throwback: Psychomagic
Saturday at 3:30, Outdoor Stage
The garage and surf bands of the '60s are far enough away that some musicians foolishly believe that they can feign originality by recreating their sound. Psychomagic is not one of these bands. With liberal application of effects, made approachable by a sensibility for beats and melodic hooks, Psychomagic feels more like the next logical step in a lineage that includes Portland's own the Kingsmen and the Dead Boys, with a strong detour through 70s psychedelia.
Cumbia dance grooves: Orquestra Pacifico Tropical
Saturday at 4:30, Outdoor Stage
Do you have those friends who never dance? The ones who sit with their arms folded at every show, even if they rave about the music afterwards? Want to get them moving? Take them to Orquestra Pacifico Tropical. Their hot electric leads, bursting horn section, and rolling Latin rhythm section are gauranteed to get anyone with ears moving. And, unless they speak Spanish, they won't be able to use that lame "I was focusing on the words," excuse.
That NW indie-pop sound: Old Age
Saturday at 5, Indoor Stage
You live in Portland for a reason. You like the outdoors, think uniqueness is an admirable quality, and can appreciate a good IPA. You probably like indie-pop, too. Old Age captures what it means to be a pop musician in Portland today, right down to the beards and flannel. Their sound combines sweet, melodic vocal harmonies with power-pop electric guitar and heavy keyboard use—all with a tinge of lumberjack twang.
Rapid-fire, Lyrical hip-hop: Tre Redeau
Saturday at 9:30, Outdoor Stage
Local hip-hop rarely surfaces to Portland's mainstream awareness. Which means you might not have heard of Tre Redeau, who has been churning out beats and rhymes since 2012. He, along with locals T Soprano, Manny Monday, and fellow PDX Pop Now! performers Stuart Villain and Myke Bogan, formed the collective Soar Losers, and aim to change Portland's passive attitude toward hip-hop. Redeau's lyrics come quickly and flip between Spiderman comics and drug violence so rapidly, you don't know whether to smile or double take. Plus, he makes a mean music video.
Sunday at 3:15, Outdoor Stage
This husband-wife duo uses layer upon layer of synths, guitars, and drum beats (electric and acoustic) to build electronic landscapes. Depending on the setting, or state of mind, their songs could either lead to a sweaty dance pit, or a roomful of dreamy gazers.
Bob Dylan Reincarnate: Vikesh Kapoor
Sunday at 7:45, Outdoor Stage
The genre pretty much says it all. Kapoor's songs feature intricate acoustic chord progressions and harmonica riffs that Dylan often used. His lyrics would make the recently-passed Pete Seeger proud, exalting the "working man" onto the pedestal that early folk heroes established during the first half of the 20th Century. He's a better singer than Dylan though, if we're speaking simply in terms of pure, melodic capabilities.