On what will hopefully be a perfect, sunny weekend, the 13th annual PDX Pop Now! Festival will be held July 22–24 underneath the Hawthorne Bridge at Audiocinema (226 SE Madison St.). This year’s edition of the festival showcases a staggering 44 Portland artists across two stages, including food carts, a street fair and a band-on-band basketball tournament known as Rigsketball.
With a festival lineup that encompasses nearly every sound or genre in Portland, 2016’s PDX Pop Now! Festival has something for music fans of any affiliation or age group, bringing them all together to a gathering of the best local music that Portland has to offer. Full disclosure: I served on the booking committee for this year’s festival, meaning that I helped vote on which bands would play the festival. That being said, here are just a few of my top picks for PDX Pop Now! 2016.
Dragging an Ox through Water—Friday 8 p.m.
With a voice reminiscent of fellow Party Damage artist Andy Shauf and sweetly played, timeless folk guitarwork, Brian Mumford’s noise-folk project Dragging an Ox through Water sounds like something your grandfather might like before all the feedback, static and noise convinces him to insist that something must be wrong with the speakers. Dragging an Ox through Water’s latest release, Panic Sentry, showcases Mumford’s eerily beautiful ability to juxtapose melancholy folk-ballads fit for a rainy, hungover morning with the harsh-noise textures and warm feedback loops that could soundtrack a panic attack.
Force Publique—Sunday 3:20 p.m.
Force Publique is a decidedly Pacific Northwest electro-pop band, splicing together swelling, moody synths with rapid-fire drum machines evocative of Crystal Castles or Salem. What separates Force Publique from their electro-pop peers is the addition of richly textured, grey-skied shoegaze ala A Sunny Day in Glasgow, creating intricate and rewarding songs that can appease both the electronic music geeks and goths alike (probably a decent amount of crossover between the two groups anyway). If we’re lucky and we behave, they might even grace us with their gorgeous cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today,” which you can find on their Bandcamp page.
Blowout—Sunday 1:20 p.m.
It’s been a long time coming, but one of Portland’s loudest and catchiest bands, Blowout, is finally prepared to release their debut album, No Beer, No Dad, on August 5 via a split release with West Coast–based labels Lauren Records and Making New Enemies. If you haven’t hopped aboard the hype-train for the Willamette Week’s 8th Best New Band of 2015, this year’s PDX Pop Now! is the perfect opportunity to do so before this band blows up! The lead single “Indiana” on their upcoming album is a tightly wound amalgamation of technical, fast-paced guitar work and pristine emo-pop hooks with sing-alongs ala Swearin’ or The Get Up Kids.
Other PDX Pop Now! Picks: Little Star, Ali Muhareb, Mr. Bones, Sabonis, SAOLA, A Volcano, Landlines, Love Cop, Mic Capes.
Support local music and enjoy the show! Full line-up and schedule available at pdxpopnow.com