PDX Pop Now, the youngest of Portland's trifecta of summer music festivals, kicks off its 9th annual rendition tonight at Refuge in SE Portland, the Parson Red Heads taking the outdoor stage beginning at 6pm. From there, 44 more acts will grace the two stages over the next two days and three nights-- all of them local, all playing free sets to all-ages crowds. Those specs alone are enough to set up PDX Pop as a unique festival experience-- combine them with the fact that the fest's revolving band of organizers have excelled at delivering consistently diverse, enjoyable and well-thought out line-ups and you have the potential for magic.
And dare we say that potential this year abounds! A particularly strong opening night tonight should set the tone nicely for the weekend-- an outdoor closing set featuring TxE, The Shivas, AU and Radiation City (in that order) is assuredly can't miss. Elsewhere, there are plenty of opportunities to catch the much talked about and up and coming (Houndstooth, Grandparents, Charts, AAN, Dana Buoy, and Pure Bathing Culture, among others, spring to mind) and a band that's only been at it for 40 years in noisy experimentalist legends Smegma. A lineup as diverse as this one is bound to challenge, expose and introduce-- it seems safe to say that no one will love everything, nor will anyone find nothing to love. View the full schedule here.
Just in case you can't make it this year, you can still stream live video of performances here courtesy of Stagedive, and you can also listen in on sets via Radio23.org. We'll have photos, reviews and more here (as well as Facebook) throughout the weekend, plus up to the minute happenings on our Twitter. All of our 2012 coverage is/will be collected here.
The other role at which PDX Pop Now excels is that of memory-maker-- the festival is easily the source of some of my most vivid, cherished live music memories of the past five years, including but not limited to:
•Can it really have been four years since I rushed out of the radio booth to catch the end of a PDX Pop Saturday with a joyous and sublime set from Starf***er? Apparently so. Atole had just finished working a jammed to the gills Rotture into a nice lather before Josh Hodges and company, still pre-debut, played a sublime, joyous set in that sauna-like room. I'll never forget it.
•Of all of the great sets and pairings PDX Pop has delivered over the past few years, maybe none was so epic as the great AU-Menomena 1-2 punch that closed out the '09 edition. It probably didn't hurt that it was my first time seeing each of them, but even the seasoned and jaded would have been swept up in the sweaty, chaotic passion of it all.
•Following a Parenthetical Girls set that saw singer Zac Pennington laying atop the giant main speakers before getting slugged by the sound guy, Typhoon brought their minions to the stage during 2010's final outdoor set. Everyone was hotly anticipating hearing songs from the band's Hunger & Thirst debut that had released that past spring and things began well enough before the power cut out on lead singer Kyle Morton's guitar. Continually, he tried to soldier on, electricity returning briefly before leaving again, once, twice, three times (or more), leaving a visibly exasperated Morton in front of an increasingly restless (if supportive) crowd. Still, he persevered, and in a scenario that played out not unlike that of his songwriting life, eventually succeeded in delivering a typically moving Typhoon set, perhaps made all the sweeter for the waiting.
•Witnessing the return of The Minders and the coming out parties for Radiation City and Lost Lander, among many other things, last year.
Onuinu, he of the Jam of Portland Summer 2012 (below), may very well be one of those creating lasting memories this year. He closes out the weekend Sunday night beginning at 11.
Tagged: PDX Pop Now 2012