PDX Pop Now!

Four can’t-miss bands rock Portland’s favorite all-ages music festival.

By Bart Blasengame June 22, 2009 Published in the July 2009 issue of Portland Monthly


Blossoming rock gods and adoring fans collide each year at PDX Pop Now.

Image: Jason Quigley

Explode Into Colors

Although barely a year old, Explode into Colors has turned a series of underground singles and furious basement gigging into a full-fledged buzz. The band recently signed with iconic indie label Kill Rock Stars and was named Willamette Week’s “Best New Band” in May. On record, some songs meander, but with a few hundred sweaty people in a room, the group’s throbbing cacophony of bass, bang-on-a-can percussion, and joyous yelping sounds like Missy Elliott remixing Tito Puente. 

The Mint Chicks

Easily the most decorated band in the history of PDX Pop Now, the Mint Chicks have won the equivalent of five Grammys in their home country of New Zealand and have opened for alt-rock royalty like the White Stripes. Since relocating to Portland in 2008, these Kiwis and their electronically warped pop songs have fit right into the city’s vibrant noise-punk scene. Perhaps it helps that their live shows often feature scaffold-climbing, vodka baths, and the occasional chain saw. 

Image: Jason Quigley

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside

Sallie Ford has called Portland home since 2006, but her songs still channel the rustic sounds of her North Carolina origins. Boogie-woogie guitar and shuffling drums are held together by her brassy lungs, giving each song the feel of a front-porch hootenanny. Ford opened two nights at the Crystal Ballroom in May for the similarly twangy Avett Brothers, so her status as an unsigned house-party act might soon be in jeopardy. Catch her now. 

Image: Jason Quigley


If the festival were required to have a headliner, Menomena would be it. Portland’s beloved math-rockers (top-heavy time signatures, angular riffs, propulsive percussion) rouse from their recent slumber for a rare small-venue show. With rumors swirling that a new album could hit at any minute, it’s fair to expect some fresh songs. And since 2007’s Friend and Foe was rightly drooled over by critics, it’s also fair to expect those songs will kick your butt. 

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