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High Notes: The Best Live Music in Portland This Week, May 26-31

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


This is one of those weeks in which whittling down the possibilities to a mere five concerts proved quite a daunting task. But that’s a grenade we’re willing to throw ourselves on every time. Drink deep, darlings.   

Wire courtesy Pinkflag.com


May 26 @ 9pm

Wire is a puzzle to describe, as its members refuse to remain stationary, continuing to evolve and sprout new limbs over the course of nearly 40 years and 14 captivating albums. Usually we journalists settle for “art punk,” although this handle is woefully inadequate. Front man Colin Newman summed it up recently by saying, “Wire always manage to sound like Wire, even though there’s no actual brief that says what Wire are supposed to sound like. That’s a key element in how it all works.” Suffice to say these inscrutable English gentlemen have built an incomparable body of work that includes a new self-titled album that’s as artfully spine-tingling as anything in their storied repertoire. Seeing them live is a privilege. 

$20. Dante’s, 350 W Burnside St. Sandy Blvd. 


May 27 @ 8pm

As noted in the theme song for Netflix series ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ females are strong as hell, perhaps none more so than veteran British metal maidens Girlschool, who are touring the country behind a new album called ‘Guilty As Sin.’ Active since the late ’70s, this tougher-than-leather quartet will undoubtedly deliver a night to remember studded with a bevy of heavy hits like “Please Don’t Touch,” “Don’t Call It Love,” and “Demolition Boys.”

$20. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St. 


May 28 @ 8pm

Though their best-known videos might lead one to believe that the Slovenian collective Laibach is a propaganda tool of the totalitarian state, it’s important to consider the knife-edge that Eastern European artists traditionally walk. Twentieth-century composers Shostakovich and Prokofiev, for example, were constantly running afoul of the (Communist) party line, and this tension was reflected in the complexity of their music. Employing grandiose choral arrangements, industrial beats, and a martial aesthetic, Laibach disguises its political ambiguity in immense pageantry that could be viewed alternately as nationalist fervor or stunning parody. Have your tickets ready, comrade. 

$20-23. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St. 

Vursatyl courtesy of BBE Records


May 29 @ 9pm

Serving as the primary MC for Lifesavas, Portland’s most high-profile hip-hop crew, Vursatyl has proven himself to be a rapper with few peers. With his remarkably fluid flow and knack for tapping into serious soul grooves, Vursatyl steps into the spotlight on his solo debut ‘Crooked Straights.’ It’s every bit the triumph one would expect, especially the guitar-and-scratch monster “Bring It To a Halt,” where Vursatyl boasts, “I’m not the average entertainer, I’m an entity.” Who else would have the juice to sample Statler and Waldorf? You can’t touch this. 

$10. Analog Café, 720 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 

Nuggets Night: A Benefit for Rock and Roll Camp for Girls

May 30 @ 7pm

This annual fundraiser is always a major blast as more than a dozen local groups tear up their favorite garage/psych tunes to benefit Rock and Roll Camp for Girls. Bands including the Satin Chaps, Wild Bells, Pynnacles, Verner Pantons, Welfare State, Cool Whips, and Beyond Veronica will hustle on and off the stage after shredding three or four songs each. Full disclosure: I am honored to be among the 60 or so musicians performing at this concert. 

$10-12. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave. 

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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