June: A Month of Portland Concerts in 20 Songs

From legendary filmmaker and composer John Carpenter to local R&B favorite Kimberly Monique, Portland in June promises a killer lineup of live performances.

By Lisa Dunn and Rebecca Jacobson June 2, 2016

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Ural Thomas and the Pain will help soundtrack your summer.

Is it summer already? A spate of 80-degree-and-upwards days may convince you one way, but if you know this city, you know it’s not time to pack away your thermals just yet. In fact, the June motto is pretty much be prepared for anything—rain, shine, and everything in between. But don’t worry: while it’s not quite time to spend idle days on Sauvie, there’s still plenty to do and see in the city.

We’ve compiled a playlist of our favorite artists coming to Portland this month, so you have something to distract you while you wait for the sun to make up its friggin’ mind already.

June 1: La Luz, “You Disappear”: The women of Seattle quartet La Luz call their style “surf noir,” a genre quite fitting for the Pacific Northwest: beachy but raw, pairing sunny sounds with dark subject matter.

June 2: The Kills, “Siberian Nights”: Cool-kid indie rock band the Kills are set to release their first album in five years on June 3. If you just can’t wait to hear it, check out their new single, “Siberian Nights.” It’s heavy on the bass and smoky vocals, for which they're known, with a dancier vibe.

June 3: Tiempo Libre, “Para Tí”: The Miami-based Afro-Caribbean band behind Cuba Libre—an Artists Repertory Theatre 2015 world-premiere musical—returns for an encore of smoking-hot Latin dance numbers.

June 8: Austin Lucas, “Unbroken Hearts”: Lucas’s music is at turns in-your-face honky-tonk, bluegrass, and punk-y folk. Don’t be afraid to nod along to lyrics about Nashville, the moon, and beaten but unbroken hearts. His sound is so infectious, it’ll make you want to break out your boots and your 10-gallon hat.

June 9: The Bad Plus, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: The jazz trio is prolific and idiosyncratic—equally game playing the score to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and covering Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

June 11: Caravan Palace, “Lone Digger”: These Parisians are guaranteed to make the Crystal’s floor bounce with their tirelessly infectious combination of gypsy jazz and electro-swing.

June 11: Ural Thomas and the Pain, “Pain Is the Name of Your Game”: Legendary local artist Thomas will sing the blues and make you mourn lost love and scorn cruel lovers at the intimate Aladdin.

June 13: Future Historians, “Golden Age”: Portland-based Future Historians offers up a sweet mix of melancholy and optimism in their sound, and their song “Golden Age” is the perfect track for the uplifting amber days of summer.

June 14: Battles, “FF Bada”: Instrumental trio Battles’s latest, La Di Da Di, makes a triumphant return to their earlier work—a sound that relies on repetition in order to slowly build tension and intensity. At turns playful and deadly serious, seeing Battles live is like watching a psychological thriller unfold before your very eyes. You’ve really gotta just see these guys live to understand the hype.

June 15: John Carpenter, “Distant Dream”: Without John Carpenter, scary movies would probably be a lot less scary. Or at least less synthy. Now 68, the mastermind behind Halloween, Escape from New York, and They Live will be joined by a live band for an uber-rare performance featuring retrospective work, nonsoundtrack music, and even, we’re promised, some spankin’-new songs.

June 16: Gregory Porter, “French African Queen”: The soulful, big-voiced baritone took home a Grammy in 2014 for best jazz vocal album.

June 17: Luluc, “Without a Face”: The Australian-bred duo has been making achingly beautiful modern folk since 1999, but only in 2014 did they break onto the international scene with Passerby.

June 18: Kimberly Monique, “Love Will Conquer All”: Anyone who says that Portland’s music scene is only good for indie has never heard Monique, a Portland born-and-raised R&B powerhouse.

June 18: Cage the Elephant, “Mess Around”: A beachier version of the irreverent, bubbly rock sound they’re best known for, “Mess Around” is fresh off their latest, Tell Me I’m Pretty. Bonus? They’re touring with Portland favorites Portugal. The Man.

June 20: Yukon Blonde, “Saturday Night”: Yukon Blonde’s synth-heavy music is delightfully reminiscent of every John Hughes movie ever made. You’ll be bobbing your head while yearning for Saturday detention.

June 22: Toy Light, “Birth Archive”: One of four bands roving up and down the west coast with the Alpha Pup Summer Tour, Toy Light’s music is atmospheric, understated, and a touch creepy—in all the right ways.

June 24: Benjamin Clementine, “Cornerstone”: Dreamy singer, poet, and pianist Benjamin Clementine brings his tenor vocals and thoughtful lyrics to Portland this month. Clementine’s music is perfect for staring out a window on a gray day and pondering life.

June 25: Rogue Wave, “What Is Left To Solve”: Best known for their sweet, sad melody, “Eyes,” Rogue Wave is back with their latest album Delusions of Grand Fur, which is a synth-heavy departure from their stripped-down acoustic sound of yesteryear, but has the same sad lyrical content. If you love the sad-kid music of the ‘80s (the Cure, anyone?), this one is for you.

June 25-July 31: Beethoven, “Sonata No. 14, ‘Moonlight’ Op. 27, No. 2”: Five Weeks. 50 concerts. In its 46th year, the Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival returns with a celebration of Beethoven, including performances of all 16 of his string quartets. Also on: Wednesday concerts featuring percussion and jazz, BodyVox dancing to Shakespeare-themed chamber music, and a one-man play about Brahms.

June 28: E.A.S.Y., “Like That”: You can’t help but nod along to the heady music of power duo E.A.S.Y.—comprised of DJs Shiftee and Enferno. With a heavy hip-hop influence and elements of R&B, lounge, and Latin jazz, E.A.S.Y’s music zigs when you expect it to zag and goes beyond your average banger-driven club music.

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