PDX Pop Now! 2012 Day 3
The Weekend Comes to a Close
It’s hard to tell quite what is meant by the “pop” in PDX Pop Now. It’s a word usually used to describe music that is popular, accessible, and often one-note. However, the last day of the weekend festival covered the entire spectrum of Portland music, with everything from ambient to death metal and experimental jazz. No matter your tastes, there was something for everyone Sunday night at RefugePDX, providing a wonderfully fluid definition of “pop.”
The afternoon was kicked off with the raucous blues-rock of Sassparilla. Their attitude quickly conjured up images of the American south, while their penchant for instruments less frequently used in the genre made them right at home in Portland.
Much like Sassparilla hearkened back to very old school folk and country, Charts brought the crowd back to the early days of rock music. Their brand of garage had the sweet undertones of ’50s and ‘60s pop-rock, simultaneously unafraid to dirty it up a bit.
A stretch of swaggering rock was continued with the punk of Batmen. Youthful surf rock beats made theirs a fun, energetic set that perfectly soundtracked breaks of sun through an otherwise gloomy afternoon.
Sean Flinn & The Royal We
Sean Flinn & The Royal We played soft folk with indie pop sensibilities. Flinn’s comfortable melodies conjured up visions of artists like Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes with heartfelt songwriting that was all his own.
Everyone inside sat down for ambient musician Pulse Emitter. Described as “music for meditation,” the soloist’s long, spacey instrumentals gave PDX Poppers a great chance to relax in a long day of shows.
Shy Girls, a riveting six-piece took awhile to set up, but captured the crowd as soon as they were ready. Their funky rhythms and three-part harmonies recalled similarly R&B-inspired bands like Dirty Projectors. Audiences responded to it enthusiastically, and were grateful when the band used the indoor-outdoor transition as a chance to play a longer set than scheduled.
Guitarist Edna Vazquez may have the barrier of her Spanish-language music, but overcomes it flawlessly with her astonishing power and emotion. One of the clear highlights of the afternoon, the audience was so riveted by her passionate strumming that they immediately demanded an encore as soon as she got up to leave.
Battle Hymns and Gardens
Though half of the band was gone, the two remaining saxophonists put on an experimental jazz show that captivated the audience. For one song, they were joined by saxophonist Noah Bernstein of tUnE-yArDs.
Sons of Huns
Sons of Huns, a garage rock trio, had one of the best sets of the afternoon, with a youthful energy that made them instantly accessible to the audience. The group was jovial, unpretentious, and fantastically wild. Their unbridled rock made a great preparation for the madness that would follow.
JonnyX and the Groadies
The indoor crowd didn’t know what to expect when a man in a lab coat approached the stages, laying out glow sticks and earplugs for the audience. Those not familiar with JonnyX probably didn’t expect roaring death metal. JonnyX was without a doubt the most hardcore PDX Pop Now could get and displayed the festival’s wonderful eclecticism.
The sweet-voiced Casey Deniel was an interesting follow-up to the preceding debauchery, but provided a wonderful break of electronic pop. Even after overcoming a series of technical difficulties, Deniel still managed to play an incredibly solid, if sadly short, performance.
(editor's note -- due to a technical casualty, the rest of the evening's pictures were lost)
Like his name, Dana Buoy’s beachy pop floats comfortably above the surface. His music is hard to pin down, running the gamut of pop, rock, and electronic with incredibly strong rhythms. His piercing rays of sunlight made for a wonderful show before the sun went down.
AAN’s sunny, spacey rock was similarly hard to pin down, with influences that range from blues to psychedelia and folk. Underneath the wide range of sounds was an intense attitude that tied it all together and made them a special band to see live.
PDX Poppers responded greatly to this group of Reed College kids. Hausu's brand of rock proved to be a complex one, with a demeanor as brooding as it was summery. Their talent and confidence was astounding, making them incredibly seasoned performers for such a young group.
The backyard of RefugePDX was heavy with anticipation for local mainstay White Fang, and the group responded by playing an exciting set with absolutely no holds barred. The crowd had a blast with their sneering stoner rock, making for one of the most fun shows of the night.
Pure Bathing Culture
Pure Bathing Culture broke the streak of harder rock bands with slow, tripped-out electronic music. With the sexy, swooning drone of bands like Beach House, their music both calmed the audience down and took them to dizzying heights. Their PDX Pop performance made it easy to see why this group is a Portland favorite.
The night’s headliners took a bit to set up, but dove right into an incredibly special closer. The crowd danced along to dark disco with a mix of enthusiasm and a bit of sadness that the weekend was over. Onuinu made sure to give them a great show before the LED lights of PDX Pop Now went off and closed the weekend up beautifully.