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High Notes: The Best Live Music in Portland This Week, Mar 31-Apr 5

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Pete Rock, courtesy peterock.com (image cropped)

This week, we bestow Guest of Honor status on fabled French prog-rock band Magma, a group that made its recording debut more than 40 years ago with an album of monumental sci-fi songs sung in a made-up language. If that’s a little too “out there,” get grounded with mix-master extraordinaire Pete Rock, a man whose thorough understanding of beats is second to none.  

Pete Rock

Mar 31 @ 7pm

East Coast hip-hop deity Pete Rock is best known as a producer and remix wizard, a busy man with clients ranging from Nas and Cypress Hill to indie-rock mainstays Yo La Tengo. But Rock made his bones as a rapper in partnership with CL Smooth during the ’90s, and still drops albums when his schedule permits. Among other projects, he’s currently working on the second volume of his ‘PeteStrumentals,’ albums loaded with funky electric piano grooves and sinewy bop beats for all occasions. 

$18-20. Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th Ave. 

Máscaras, Down Gown, Bozart

April 1 @ 8pm

Concert ticket and publicity company dBMonkey is throwing a festive spring fling, stocked with an intriguing roster of local talent. Global psych-rock improvisers Máscaras (one of approximately 147 bands that includes drummer Papi Fimbres) are on the bill, as is Down Gown, an inventive and nimble post-punk crew, and the latest landing pad of 30.06 guitarist Dave Blunk. Another blast from the past comes courtesy of Bozart, a metallic math-rock combo led by guitarist Peter Hawkinson, who used to play in a band called Holgator around these parts way back in the 20th century.  

$4-8. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St. 

Elliott Brood

April 3 @ 9pm

So you’re a fan of instrumentally dexterous country music, but find that it’s just not dark enough to suit your morose worldview? Canadian trio Elliott Brood is the solution to this sticky situation, with enough songs revolving around regrets, death, and dying to fill a funeral home. Yet tunes like “Lines” and “Will They Bury Us?” dispense with histrionic dirges, allowing a galloping banjo and Neil Young fuzz guitar to sell the story. Elliott Brood is currently touring behind last year’s ‘Work and Love’ album, which appears to be a more personal and comparatively upbeat record. 

$11-13. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St. 

Magma, courtesy of Seventh Records (image cropped)


April 4 @ 8pm

Amongst prog-rock cognoscenti, pioneering French band Magma needs no introduction. For the other 99.7 percent of the population, they are a startlingly visionary group of space-jazz that exist somewhere on the continuum between King Crimson and Frank Zappa’s “serious” compositions. Grandiose works like “Kohntark” are performed with choral arrangements in a language invented by bandleader-drummer Christian Vander to tell an epic science fiction fable about the people of the planet Kobaïa. I have a hunch one or two of these cats may have experimented with hallucinogens.

$25-30. Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave. 


April 4 @ 8pm

This Seattle outfit served as the backing band for late Fat Possum Records bluesman T-Model Ford, and has successfully forged a sturdy marriage of trance blues and mule-kicking rural rock on albums like ‘Psychedelta’ and ‘I Shot the Devil’. Like their former boss, GravelRoad doesn’t bother to spruce up these holler-and-bellow anthems, correctly assuming that real bad-news stompers like “Death Bed Blues” and “Bottom of the World,” shouldn’t be fussed over. Without real scar tissue, it just ain’t the blues, man.  

Turn, Turn, Turn, 8 NE Killingsworth St. 


John Chandler has been writing about rock and/or roll for 25 years with The Rocket, Portland Tribune, Portland Monthly, Magnet, Dagger, No Depression, and Puncture. He also writes about beer, booze, and bars for Portland'sBarFly website and plays in a couple goofy bands when the mood strikes him. He can most often be found at the wheel of horrificflicks.com, a review website dedicated to horror movies.


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