Festival Preview: PDX Pop Now! Day 2Posted by Aaron Sharpsteen
Once again PDX Pop Now! rises up in our fair city for a weekend of musical greatness. You can read about SSG Music’s picks for Friday, the first day of the festival, here. What follows are the picks for Saturday, Day 2, which features 18 bands over the course of the day. Of course, all the artists playing PDX Pop Now! deserve recognition, but this list should help those who might be overwhelmed by all the options.
Palo Verde | Saturday | 2:45
Audience members in search of a more avant-garde approach will appreciate Palo Verde’s set in the middle of Saturday afternoon. They are a two piece psych duo featuring Lauren K. Newman, who has been in a decent amount of other projects in Portland, including Subarchnoid Space. Their approach to music is entertaining and dangerous, they are known for insisting on a impulsive and improvisational manner, meaning that audience members will likely never hear the same set twice. There’s nothing like an efficient and noisy two-piece to remind everyone that sometimes leaner is meaner.
Billions and Billions | Saturday | 3:30
I have described this year as “a year of heavy psych” many times throughout the last couple months due to the insane amount of albums release which stake claim to that very fuzzy genre title. Portland music fans might start to agree with me, however, with Billions and Billions immediately following Palo Verde. Channeling other hard-rocking Portland acts like Sons of Huns and Black Pussy, Billions and Billions will have the crowd lighting up marijuana cigarettes and head-bobbing/banging along in no time. This weekend is going to be hot already, and Billions and Billions are going to turn up that heat.
Ancient Heat | Saturday | 4:50
If there is one thing Portland does well, it is bands with more than 6 or 7 members (Typhoon should come right to mind). Enter Ancient Heat, a band that has been gaining traction in the scene for the past couple years and are absolutely ready to break out at this year’s PDX Pop Now festival. Rumblings of a band with 9 members who captured the fun and swagger of disco without being overtly referential or cheesy started to fall on Portland ears a couple years ago, and since then Ancient Heat have built a name for themselves by making music not quite like anyone else in this city. Fans of dancing and fun are urged to get down to the waterfront post haste for this set.
Minden | Saturday | 8:25
Every day features a band that encapsulates the name PDX Pop Now!, and on Saturday that band happens to be Minden. Transplants from Kansas City, Minden have been doing what is known in common parlance as “putting in their time,” which basically means they have been playing shows non-stop around the city and regionally. Last year’s Exotic Cakes is a Portland pop masterpiece, with catchy hooks, thumping bass, ethereal keyboards, and dreamy vocals all balanced and blended together perfectly. PDX Pop Now! has been a decent predictor of success recently, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Minden get much more recognition quite soon.
Natasha Kmeto | Saturday | 10:30
One of Portland’s rising stars, Natasha Kmeto is going to bring a completely different kind of feel to the proceedings on Saturday night, turning the festival into a giant dance floor. Her sultry PNWEDM (yes, I did it, if we can have PNWBM [black-metal] then we can have EDM too) will be sure to get bodies moving in tandem on a hot summer night. While a lot of electronic dance music has historically been pushed aside in the past decade, it is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in popular culture, meaning that an accomplished producer like Natasha has shared the stage with some big names at some big festivals, including Coachella. Let’s just say she will know how to work that crowd.
Luck One | Saturday | 11:10
One of the best things about PDX Pop Now! is the dedication to different genres. Luck One represents an entirely different area of the Portland music scene, namely its underground hip-hop contingent. A recent show with The Coup at Mississippi Studios shows the kind of pedigree that Luck One holds, many reports had him slinging rhymes that were just as poignant and socially aware as the legendary Oakland rappers he was sharing the stage with. For the most part, Portland is thought of as a pretty white-bread kind of town, and while that may be true, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a strong underground hip-hop community operating just below the surface. A killer set from Luck One will show a lot of people exactly what they are missing.