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High Notes: The Best Live Music in Portland This Week, Sept 15-20

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Photo credit: Ratatat courtesy of XL Recordings

As we used to say in the scouts, be prepared. You’ll need 3D glasses for Kraftwerk, a notepad for Destroyer, and industrial-strength earplugs for SkullDozer. However, if you keep these items in a fanny pack you’ll be brought on stage and soundly ridiculed.

Mac MacCaughen

Sept 15 @ 9pm

Merge Records label boss, and the front man for both Superchunk and Portastatic, MacCaughen is hitting the road behind his very first solo album, ‘Non-Believers,’ after a quarter century of guiding his North Carolina-based groups (and record label) to middle-aged indie-rock respectability. On his debut, MacCaughan explores his fascination with (in his words) “the early ’80s era of music when punk evolved into something more introspective, focusing on themes of isolation and eventually turning into post-punk and new wave.” And we’re looking forward to it!

$12-14. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St.


Sept 16 @ 8pm

I’ve long appreciated the fact that this Big Apple instrumental duo doesn’t rely on inducing drone fugue states to achieve its finest moments. Instead, keyboardist Evan Mast and guitarist Mike Stroud create memorable rock conspiracies between their instruments that occasionally resolve themselves into dazzling grooves as on “Cream On Chrome.” At other times they simply follow intuitive cues that are only visible to each other, as on “We Can’t Be Stopped” and “Bob Gandhi” which suggest dignified mood music for a film you’re really looking forward to seeing.

$28-30. Roseland Theater, 8 NW Sixth Ave.


Sept 18 @ 9pm

When he’s not on the road or in the studio with Canadian supergroup New Pornographers, suave singer and guitarist Daniel Bejar makes sly and wonderfully baroque pop music under the unlikely name Destroyer, a moniker perhaps better suited to a Kiss tribute band. If luxuriating over dexterous and droll wordplay is your jam, then Bejar is the man. When he casually wields stanzas like “I travel light towards the light/I suffered a terrible fright last night/And I’ve got no interest in getting dressed today,” amidst the trumpet swells, plaintive strings, and dainty bongos of “Midnight Meet the Rain,” it’s a swoon-worthy moment.   

$20. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St.

Photo credit: Kraftwerk by Peter Boettcher


Sept 19 @ 8pm

Seeing four stationary chaps gazing downward at control panels might not sound like the most thrilling concert experience of a lifetime, but imagine it in 3D! Techno pioneers Kraftwerk will conjure highlights from their influential back catalogue, while robotic avatars caper about on the big screen. It’s hardly futuristic; they’ve been at it since 1970! Bonus trivia: The nihilists in ‘The Big Lebowski’ were loosely based on Kraftwerk.

$70-91. Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.


Sept 19 @ 9pm

Though they’re featured on last year’s ‘Doomed In Oregon’ compilation album, Portland hammerheads SkullDozer are way too frisky to be saddled with any glacial “doom rock” handle. The bass-less trio is capable of near-capricious tempo changes even during lockstep martial metal passages. “Vocal alchemist” B. House wails and warbles like Ozzy magically augmented with Klaus Meine’s leather lungs, and Justin Morgan’s “stringed sonic assault” methodically grinds every song into dryer lint, which should then be stuffed into your favorite pillow. This is heavy stuff, man.

$5. Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash 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's BarFly 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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