First of all, apologies on being so late on this review. Now, let’s get down to it.
A couple of weeks back, the School of Rock hosted, for the fourth year, an amazing night for local music. Best of Portland, for those not familiar, is a show hosted at a venue in PDX (this year, the Wonder) that features many of Portland’s best bands playing their songs with the talented kids of the School of Rock. Essentially, it is two hours of local music, cramming 20+ bands into a one-night musical extravaganza.
As I said last year, reviewing this big of a show in its whole is a near impossible task. So, it’s in these times that we must look well upon the always trustworthy “favorite moments of…” overview.
You may say I’m a little biased in this decision, basing off my recent interview, multiple SC shows, etc., but let’s face it. Summer Cannibals rock! They’re one of Portland’s best bands, and if you don’t agree with me yet, just wait until the record drops. For their song at the BOP show, Summer Cannibals pulled out a track off their first album, No Makeup. “Take Me Out” sounded phenomenal with the School of Rock kids on lead. They were having fun with it, and you could so tell Summer Cannibals were having a blast with it as well. Even in the background, leading the kids through the track, you could see the band couldn’t contain their energy. Their music is just such a fun thing to watch and to listen to. That’s why I can’t wait to see them finally play an all ages set at Star Theater next month! I’ll never stop loving this band…
If you’re a frequent reader, you’ll know who The CRY! is. Last time we saw this epitome of Spinal Tap (the lead singer is literally Nigel), they were playing Portland’s PDX Pop Now! Fest, another big event in local music. During their set, the lead singer puked on stage, yet kept on going through the song. Dedication. Rock on. That’s just a taste of who they are, and every time you see them, you’ll see this shine through. For the BOP set, The CRY!’s lead strolled the stage like nobody’s business. “This is my song, and this is my show,” he seemed to be thinking. During the track, he came down into the crowd to rock out with the audience, as the School of Rock kids backed him up on stage. It was a fun time, mostly because The CRY! are just some real fun guys.
This is one moment where the talent of the School of Rock really made itself evident. Modern Kin played a spot at MFNW this last summer, and then, it wasn’t a big standout (especially comparing to the power of Haim that same day), but it was really good none the less. With the School of Rock talent on their side, Modern Kin’s track, “Groundwire”, sounded better than ever! The kid that held lead vocals had a powerful voice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds talent in a band of his own in the near future.
Okay, let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I’m not a screamo fan. I actually hate it. It’s one of the worst kinds of music out there (Sorry to any screamo fans out there). However, I have to give credit to a couple of things in this set of songs. First of all, aesthetically, Like A Villain are incredible. The sound design and lighting pair for their track “Stay Posi” was enchanting. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it all. Second of all, the SOR vocalist assigned to this set could scream like no other. I may not enjoy screamo, but I know when someone can scream.
Though this wasn’t a huge standout performance, it was really a beautiful piece. Musée Mécanique have such a chill vibe about their music, incorporating beautiful musical imagery in an acoustic setting. It was beautiful, and relaxing. I can’t say much else about it, but in the midst of some hardcore rock, it was a nice break to a pastoral kind of soundscape.
I knew going in that this would be one of the mega-highlights of Best Of Portland, and boy did I hit that nail on the head. Last year, Natasha Kmeto and School of Rock student (and member of Redfox) Astrid Scherlie dazzled when they teamed up to become one awesome force, a powerhouse duo of voice. When I saw Kmeto’s name once again on the bill for this year, I prayed Scherlie would fill her same role. Sure enough, the duo was back, and better than ever with a rendition of Kmeto’s song, “Inevitable”. It’s simply dazzling to hear two such powerful voices in one track. Kmeto’s alone is gaining attention. She opened for TV On The Radio this last December to Remember. But add in the refined skill the School of Rock provides, and it’s something you need to experience for yourself to fully grasp.
I used to absolutely hate rap (save that period in seventh grade where I was super into Nicki Minaj *shudders*), but after shifting my love and focus to indie rock, I started to develop my taste and discover that some rap is actually pretty great. If the storytelling and sound design of the track fits and doesn’t just involve the overuse of autotune and the phrase “booty-poppin”, then you have a good song and talented writer on your hands. Such is the case with one of my favorite artists in the genre, Kendrick Lamar. And, in TxE’s case, the rap he spits alongside the School of Rock is just hands down fun. You can’t say a song isn’t good if you find yourself dancing and smiling and putting your hands up. So, I only had to conclude that TxE had it in the bag with his track, “Change A Thing”. One of the best and most unusual parts about this too was that his partner in crime was a female senior student at the School of Rock. “I’m gonna do something I’ve never done before,” she said. “I’m gonna rap.” And rap she did. Do it well? Yeah.
I don’t know what it was about this band I loved so much, but I’d love to see it again. I left BOP thinking about this band, and deciding they really had the potential to be one of my next favorite locals. Tiburones music lends itself to be a kind of indie rock you just can’t help but love. With some unique drum sounds, and catchy melodies, “Ray” was one of my favorite tracks from BOP, given to us by this largely female fronted band. Check ’em out if you have the time.
I’ve seen Wild Ones three times now. Once at last years Best Of Portland, another at MFNW. One thing is certain: every time I see them, I love them. Wild One’s music is colorful, light, bouncy, and fun. It is one of the best in Portland, and some of the best quality indie rock/pop you can find. Aside from this, leading lady Danielle is pretty adorable. She has a great voice suited for the band, is incredibly fun to watch, and if I had to use a mainstream phrase to describe her, I think the teens would say Dani is my “cinnamon apple”. Accompanied with School of Rock, Wild One’s track, “Teenage Love Haze”, proved to be one of my favorite parts of this year’s BOP.
Though these two weren’t my all time favorites of their show, they need to be mentioned. Red Fang acted as the night’s “headliner” (if there really was one). Their music is definitely heavier, more mosh around and swing your long hair in swirling circles. It’s not my favorite, but of all the names on the bill, they were arguably the biggest. The School of Rock kids were pretty fun to watch, too. Especially the School of Rock student with the dreadlocks. He shreds!
Aside from Red Fang, the other big name on the bill was Stephen Malkmus. The show was advertised with him doing a “special performance”. This was a four song set placed at the tail-end of the show. For those of you who don’t know, Stephen Malkmus is best known as the lead singer for 90s rock band, Pavement. For his set, he performed a couple of songs from his days in the band, as well as a couple from his solo career. Contrasted with the music given to us during the rest of the show, it lived up. Malkmus was backed of course by various members of the School of Rock. Though it wasn’t a major highlight, it was a great way to close out an excellent night in local talent.