PDX Pop Now! is turning ten this year, and the plan is to throw a huge party down on Water Street in Portland, Oregon. A non-profit devoted to spreading the message of accessible all ages shows for the Portland community, they have been curating a free music festival for Portland for a decade now, so at this point they know exactly what they are doing and how to do it well. While all the bands playing at the festival are worthy of attention, each day has a handful of standouts that music fans probably shouldn’t miss.
Like a Villain | Friday | 6pm
Like a Villain is the project of Holland Andrews, a multi-instrumentalist who composes moving and original pieces right in front of the audience’s eyes, with only a microphone, some reed instruments, and a keen ability to loop melodies and harmonies together. Several things about Like a Villain are sure to impress the audience when she opens PDX Pop Now on Friday, including her song-writing range.bThe compositions she weaves oscillate from simple and minimalistic to dense and noise-filled, but they all sound natural. This combined with her powerful and unique voice shows why the members of fellow Portland band AU drafted her into the fold and why she is an apt opener for PDX Pop Now’s 10th festival.
Genders | Friday | 7:20pm
For those who have been seeing Genders’ name around town more and more recently, this festival is the perfect time to catch them. First of all, the entire thing is free, so there really is no excuse. Secondly, they are playing right in the sweet-spot the night, near 7:30, which means it will be late enough for the jaded 20 and 30 somethings to start trickling down from their happy hour posts but early enough that a strong contingent of the all-ages crowd will still be around. Their sprawling, misty pop is made for outdoor festivals like this, with the guitar virtuosity of Maggie Morris and Stephen Leisy sure to inspire some head nodding. Part of the appeal of this festival will be the proximity to the river, and on Friday night, the sound of Genders rocking out will waft over the water and into the city’s heart.
Youthbitch | Friday | 8:45
Portland’s Youthbitch are festival veterans, and anyone who saw them last year is probably eager to see them again on Friday. They are a bit on the silly side aesthetically, but there’s no beating their upbeat mix of Brit-pop, Brit-rock, and punk. There’s also no beating their onstage banter, they had one of the best song introduction’s in recent memory last year when the bassist asked: “Does anyone have a favorite room in their house? My favorite room is the bathroom, and in fact, I wouldn’t mind dying in there. That’s what this song is about, its called “Just Like Elvis.” Hilarious, clever, and a rocking good time. Here’s hoping they bring some vinyl.
Ramona Falls | Friday | 10:50
With a name like PDX Pop Now!, festival goers wouldn’t be wrong to expect some, well, “Portland pop.” Ramona Falls fits that description perfectly, being pop that straddles the “indie” variety without getting overly pretentious or inaccessible. Building a strong local fan base with multiple releases and an impressive touring schedule, Ramona Falls are one of the bigger acts that are gracing the stages of PDX Pop Now, which only solidifies the appeal of the entire affair. Exposing an all ages crowd to a band like Ramona Falls for free (instead of forcing them go to see a packed $20 all ages affair at the Wonder Ballroom, for example) is what this festival is all about.
If this doesn’t provide enough reasons to come out on Friday night, check out the full schedule here. Notable mentions include Wooden Indian Burial Ground and Sons of Huns closing out the first night.