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High Notes: The Best Live Music in Portland This Week, May 5-10

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Horse Feathers courtesy of Kill Rock Stars

Bad news: Sleater-Kinney’s Cinco de Mayo show at the Crystal Ballroom is sold out. Fortunately, High Notes is here to fill your idle time with a concert calendar worthy of your consideration—from an aging metal maestro to a superb songbird’s ’60s soiree. 


May 5 @ 9pm

Any group that gets tagged with the unfortunate designation “experimental” has a tough row to hoe, as our attention spans get simultaneously shorter and more expansive. Over the course of a dozen albums, Bay Area collective Deerhoof has certainly proven to be one of the most adept at keeping things both fresh and familiar, thanks to a combination of singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s breathlessly enigmatic repetitions, and all manner of dexterous sonic collages, none of which will remind you of anyone else. 

$3-12. Dante’s, 350 W Burnside St. Sandy Blvd. 

Michael Schenker Group

May 6 @ 8pm

In my opinion, the best metal guitarist of all time. That’s a bold statement, but Schenker, who served time with both UFO and the Scorpions, and is still cooking at 60, has always been an amazingly nimble and highly flammable player who never relied on pedals or sound manipulation to achieve cathartic meltdown. His jaw dropping performance on “Lights Out” and “Rock Bottom” from UFO’s crucial double live album ‘Strangers in the Night,’ is required listening and all the evidence you’ll ever need. Malmsteens need not apply. 

$30-35. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St. 

Horse Feathers

May 8 @ 8pm

Whether it’s the thawing warmth in his voice or his willingness to dance on a perilous musical limb (e.g., a spirited chamber-folk cover of Nirvana’s “Drain You,”), Horse Feathers’ main man Justin Ringle manages to evade the thrusts of reactionary critics, who’ve lately felt it necessary to emasculate every acoustic-leaning band that prominently displays its admiration for the likes of Pentangle, the Band, or Fairport Convention. On songs like “Thistled Spring” and “So Long,” the Portland band achieves a gorgeous balance between respect for rock’s past and a positive road going forward. 

$17-20. Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St. 

Nellie McKay by Rick Gonzalez

They Might Be Giants

May 8 @ 8pm

The Johns (Linnell and Flansburgh) could easily fill an evening’s program by playing “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Don’t Let’s Start,” “Istanbul,” and about a zillion other squirrelly audience favorites that they’ve accumulated since their mid-’80s heyday. This time around, though, They Might Be Giants are drumming up support for their 18th album, ‘Glean,’ and really, only an irredeemable sourpuss would frown over newer tunes like “I’m a Coward” and “All the Lazy Boyfriends,” which overflow with TMBG’s trademark catchy choruses and kooky verses. 

$22. Roseland Theater, 8 NW Sixth Ave. 

Nellie McKay

May 10

On her new album, ‘My Weekly Reader,’ politically progressive pop chanteuse McKay revisits the ’60s via an eclectic array of covers, including songs by Country Joe and the Fish, Herman’s Hermits, and Frank Zappa. Rather than regurgitate a passel of Top 40 ephemera from that turbulent era, McKay explores the margins from protest to pretty, delivered in the same humbly expressive voice that she used to pay tribute to Doris Day on her remarkable 2009 record, ‘Normal as Blueberry Pie.’ Her take on Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” is exemplary, as a happy, swinging day in the park launches into a lovely little psychedelic episode.  

$20-25. Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta 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'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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