Nick Schroeder

Nick Schroeder

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Missed Connection — Leverett Release Final Album 'Wires & Tubes'

For a band on the precipice of breaking up, the amount of trust and respect the four musicians of Portland rock band Leverett demonstrate is palpable. Evolved years ago from a solo project by bandleader Jesse Gertz, the cohort’s first official full-length as a foursome, Wires & Tubes, is both a ravenously complex modern record and a lesson in how to share and delegate responsibilities.

A chirpy opener shows the group in full gallop, strutting their shit like Room On Fire-era Strokes. The ponderous, melancholy verse of the title track, in which Gertz waxes like in a Barney Sumner-esque nursery rhyme, is later spun by guitarist Cormac Brown into an unexpectedly ecstatic thrall. The stoneserious “Prewar Comforts” catapults drummer Harry Gingrich to one-time-only vocal duties, where he shines. It’s enough to make the listener wonder just how many bands are contained in this single group.

In a less damaged world, “Signs” would be the sort of entrée single that catapults Leverett into public consciousness. Teased last winter with a terrific video (featuring Portland art-punk wunderkind Sigrid Harmon of The Asthmatic), it’s an anthemic, yearning indie-rock song, the sort only a young band on a mission could write without ending up sounding like they’re trying to sell their music for Gap ads.

Yet for all its highs, Wires & Tubes does fit the part of the parting work of a band about to break up. Its eight proper songs (a noisy Gertz composition makes up the untitled ninth and final track) can sound like a band trying on eight different party suits, if not eight separate experiences entirely. Even Gertz himself, whose vocals lead six of the eight songs, can sound like a different singer track to track.

This “musical chameleon” effect extends beyond him as well. Gingrich’s “Prewar Comforts” pulls off tricks Interpol were stealing from groups like the Comsat Angels and, er, The Chameleons. Track two imagines Blur as fronted by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, leveraging the niche timbre of a steel drum into an eerie stereo melody, while “Everytime,” driven by Brown, vacillates nicely between a Pink Floyd confessional and a wellearned post-punk catharsis-by-guitar, propelled by drummer Gingrich's sputtering rhythms and flourishes.

But pedantic “spot the influence” games aside, this genre-hopping attests to Leverett’s depth of musical knowledge and sophistication. One might assume that a band that can tear off genres and eras like a second skin is hiding beneath some veneer, but this doesn’t seem so. Wires & Tubes holds its emotional weight like a fist wrapped around a diamond. It’s not overwhelming, but Leverett’s album is one of the few examples of a rare and sometimes radical honesty and vulnerability in Maine music — hardly core components those look to when trying to make it today.

Leverett’s split doesn’t seem to be the volatile sort; it just needed to happen. As with every type of hindsight, there’s enough wayward energy on this album to see how things might have unraveled. Without in any way diminishing the efforts of Brown, Gingrich and bass player Harry Gilman, it marks, at this point, a final chapter in the Maine era of Portland musician Jesse Gertz, who’s made some really wonderful documentation of his approach to composition and production, and on Wires & Tubes especially, shows an emotional depth that’s rarely shown (or prized) in local music.

While some may lament that we’ll never know what the “true” Leverett sounds like, I’d offer that a myth. When styles are worn through, the friendships and feelings that informed them are the important things. Plus, let’s recall that some of the most complex and admirable personalities in American life have the same chameleonic traits as this young band, and are no less passionate and genuine for it. Among the many strengths of Leverett’s short life is a willingness to let the listener witness how delicate the connections are that holds projects together at all.


Leverett | Wires & Tubes album release | with Jeff Beam + Midwestern Medicine + The Asthmatic | Aug 24 | Thu, 8 pm | at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | $10 | www.space538.org

This article has been modified to reflect more proper instrumentation credit for the band members. 

8 Days a Week: Disney Burlesque, Haitian Pop, and Showin' Up

THURSDAY 17

 

FINGERS CROSSED FOR URSULA | In a reckless world, onight's burlesque show is something you can put some faith in. Produced by the smart, silly, multimedia-friendly Voulez-Vous Cabaret, who've become one of the foremost such troupes in the city, audiences by now know they're not getting an old-school, male-gazey show complete with hot cars, leopard prints, and pin-up girls. Tonight's act has broader designs. And, titled Bippity Boppity Boobs, it packs a little something extra for those into getting weird with Disney lore. | $15adv, $20 day of | 9 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | www.portlandhouseofmusic.com

 

COME TO LIFE | Little known fact about Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell's 1998 musical that centers a gender nonconforming musician during the fall of the Berlin Wall, is that it was built in rock clubs instead of in a theater. As the story goes, Mitchell and lyricist Stephen Trask insisted that the show required a certain propulsive energy you couldn’t conjure in rehearsals alone, and felt (correctly) that ‘90s rock clubs had an urgency missing from standard theater musicals. We can only imagine that the team at Cast Aside Productions, who mount the modern classic this weekend and next in the Portland Ballet Studio, bring that same touch to this show, which Portland audiences haven't seen in years.| $25-40 | August 17-26, Thu-Sat 8 pm | Portland Ballet Studio Theater, 517 Congress St., Portland | www.castasideproductions.com

 

SEE FOR DAYS | Protests are important to defend these days, but life is so nuanced that you can protest without even knowing it. For instance, if enough folks gather in Fort Allen Park tonight to see long-running reggae band/ stewards of chill Royal Hammer, nothing will happen. But it may shape broader opinion among the powers-that-be that this particular park is an invaluable part of public city life — particularly its view. And placing condos in its way would be like insisting a death metal guitarist play through Royal Hammer's set. Not chill.| FREE | 6:30 pm | Fort Allen Park, North St., Portland

 

COMPLEX RHYTHMS | The New York singer Taina Asili specializes in AfroCaribbean rock and reggae, and her band, a five-piece unit called La Banda Rebelde, contains former Mainer Dylan Blanchard, formerly of the flamenco-folk band Olas. Continuing a tradition of poetic, politically astute genre-hopping that rarely travel up here much, her show in the outdoor dancing space at midtown pizza-place Slab should feel early weekend-right.| FREE | 7 pm | Slab, 25 Preble St., Portland | www.slabportland.com

 

FRIDAY 18

 

TAKE TO THE AIR | Out on the outstretches of town, Circus Maine readies their bi-monthly cabaret, a weekend's worth of aerial events, juggling, clowning, acrobatics, and more. Situated in the increasingly all-purpose entertainment complex at Thompson's Point, families numbering one person to a dozen could hang at one of these three-weekend shows, as food trucks, music by the Hadocol Bouncers, and alcohol is all within reach.| $12-16 | Fri-Sat 7 pm; Sun 4 pm | Circus Maine, Thompson's Point, Portland | www.circusmaine.org

 

INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENTS | Recall how hungry the world was in the year 2000 for an obscure martial arts film set in the Qing Dynasty in the eighteenth century. Now what in your life are you that hungry for? Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon grossed over $213 million, though the profit margins counted among filmgoers hearts are incalculable. Expounded from a piece of sixth-century Yu Xin poetry and beautifully shot with dialogue in Mandarin, it's a major touchstone of film lore, and according to many one of its precious gems. See it in public tonight, where you can try to grab one of those oversized, crayon-colored wooden chairs. | FREE | 8:15 pm | Congress Square Park, Portland | http://congresssquarepark.org

 

LIFETIME SALT DIET | Long ago, the inimitable Boston songwriter Thalia Zedek fronted the gritty, moody, haunting post-punk bands Uzi, Live Skull and Come. Those Since, she's amassed a good 20 years of work as a solo artist — including some heart-wrenching albums on Sub Pop and otherwise. These past few years, Zedek co-fronting a noisy garage-blues trio called A Band Called E, with Jason Sanford of Neptune and Gavin McCarthy of Karate. The three play a show as part of a live studio recording at Bayside's tape recording studio Prism Analog. Should be intimate as hell, and watching musicians who've spent 75 percent of their lives making noise is a beautiful thing.

| $5 | 8 pm | Prism Analog, 222 Anderson St., Portland | www.prismanalog.com

 

ATLANTIC MUSIC | In the bygone days of this city, the Maine-folk band Devonsquare were one of the premier (read: only) bands around. The New England trio of Tom Dean, Alana MacDonald, and Herb Ludwig formed in 1976. They signed to a major label in '87 — an unheard-of accomplishment for a band north of Boston — and went on to produce music into the nineties. Ludwig passed away several years ago, so the present-day incarnation features longtime Maine bassist Teg Glendon. The group play with Boston folk act Aztec Two-Step in a throwback show tonight in Ogunquit. | $37.50-41.50 | 8 pm | Jonathan's, 92 Bourne Lane, Ogunquit | www.jonathansogunquit.com

 

CUTTING FROM NEW CLOTH | One of the highlights of this summer's PortFringe — and hell, the last couple years of Portland theater — has been Bare Portland. The brave and experimental outfit of young artists have been in the process of evolving from a troupe heavy into Shakespeare into a collective that incorporates the dérive, audience interactivity, critical literary readings, improvisation, and more. They're super fun, and are some of those helping take the form to where it next needs to go. This weekend and next, they present The Yellow Wallpaper, a devised original play based on a short story published in 1892 by New England feminist writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. You can find the performance in the off-road locale at the end of Anderson Street in Bayside. No password. | $10 | Fri-Sun 8 pm | Through August 26 | 229 Anderson St., Portland  

 

SATURDAY 19

 

EVER-BUILDING | Hopefully last weekend's appearance by legendary hip hop group Das Efx stoked your fire for the genre and its history. Today, there are two events celebrating the legacy and importance of hip hop culture — the first is at noon in Congress Square Park, where the 5th Annual Maine Hip Hop Summit folds in breakdance, street art, music, and more. Tonight, a block down the road at Geno's, see several of its adherents put the words into motion, from Ben Shorr, Words of Phrase, Indigenous Immigrants, and more.| $5 | 9 pm | Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland

 

NECESSARY ART | Formed in Port-au-Prince after Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010, the nine-piece collective Lakou Mizik are a stunning example of music in its grade-A form. Born from the necessity of building community and connecting with one another spiritually, and involving musicians spanning several generations, Lakou Mizik sound exactly like the type of hopeful music the members needed to make given the time and circumstances they've been in. Their appearance tonight is thoroughly recommended. | $12adv/$15 | 9 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org  

 

KEEPING MENTALLY FIT | Portland's roots reggae act Mystic Vibes have been at it since 1998, and having shared stages with Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, the Wailers, and more, we imagine founder Dequhn Lobutua and company have grown incredibly intimate with the whatness of Rastafari. Pushing their twentieth year as a band, they get their own show this evening at Bayside's Mayo Street Arts. | $12 | 7:30 pm | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | www.mayostreetarts.org

 

SHOWIN' UP | As we go to press, President Trump is doubling down on last weekend's condemnation of "both sides" of the Charlottesville attack, and berating journalists to better cover the "alt-left" as though they were some type of extremist group. As false dichotomies go, this is a big one. On the one hand, the alt-right are neo-Nazis now showing up in large groups in public — without wearing masks — looking to halt immigration and threaten to enact or perform violence on people of color, women, LGBTQ people, Jews, and anyone else who isn't a white dude. On the other, the "alt-left" wants ... what? Oh, right. Universal health care and basic human rights. We don't know what's going to happen for the planned "alt-right" rally in Boston Saturday, which features some of the same planned speakers as last weekend's violent gathering in Charlottesville. (We don't even know if it'll happen — Boston mayor, Marty Walsh, was reportedly looking into ways to shut it down as of Sunday.) But a Fight Supremacy Boston Counter-protest in Boston Common will surely number larger than the demonstrators themselves. If you wish to count yourselves among them, it'd likely be one of your more honorable Saturdays. | 10 am | Boston Common, Boston

 

SUNDAY 20

 

FINDING YR BREATH | In the '60s and '70s, the jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk was known as the guy who could play two saxophones at once. (Occasionally three.) At least one young dude took note. Colin Stetson, the classically trained saxophone player from Montreal, gets compared frequently to Kirk for similarly being able to pull off the trick of circular breathing, which basically turns your body into a set of bagpipes. Stetson has been a contributor to acts like The Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, but the music he's made under his own name is a different and bewildering beast entirely. So too is Ex Eye, the supergroup he's formed with drummer Greg Fox (of New York black metal band Liturgy and jazz experimentalists ZS), Shahzad Ismaily (of desert-prog group Secret Chiefs 3 and bleak folk darling Bonnie Prince Billy), and Toby Summerfield (of the Chicago free-jazz noise scene's Crush Kill Destroy). Jazz-meets-metal assemblies like these take John Zorn's Naked City as a touchstone, but Stetson's outfit is arguably a lot richer and modern (and with less obsession with Ennio Morricone). For those who enjoy pushing the limits of musical expression without sacrificing the form. Ex Eye play with Dirty Projectors' bassist Nat Baldwin and Foret Endormie, with members of black metal band Falls of Rauros. | $12adv, $14 day of | 8:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org/

MONDAY 21

 

TALK AT IT | Still plenty of summer left, which could mean plenty of excuses to go out on a Monday. Six fine comics line up the "Worst Night of the Week" series at Blue tonight — Kevin Neales, Jordan Handren-Seavey, Catherine Goding, Owen Kane, Al Ghanekar and Sam Pelletier inherit an audience that may have a lot of muck through, but they should be up to the task. | $5 | 8 pm | Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland | www.portcityblue.com

 

TUESDAY 22

 

BATON-PASSERS | Don't be fooled by the smarmy-ass title, the 2014 film She's Beautiful When She's Angry isn't some Judd Apatow rom-com. Mary Dore's powerful documentary about the early years of the women's liberation movement in the U.S. covers 1966 to 1972, including dramatizations, performance, and archival footage. This evening's screening is produced by the Maine Women's Lobby and civil rights action group March Forth Maine, and highlights important work being done by the Southern Maine Workers' Center. Childcare will be provided on-site. | FREE | 6:30 pm | Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray St., Portland

WEDNESDAY 23

 

PAIR IT UP | If, say, your partner's a Virgo or you're looking to make a late-summer splash, maybe you'd wanna pony up for a special five-course dinner tonight in the Old Port. Part of the Chef's Dinner Series produced by Hugo's Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor, tonight's meal pairs dishes with five wines courtesy of James Christopher Tracy of Long Island's Channing Daughters Winery. | $150 (incl. tax and service) | 6 pm | Hugo's, 88 Middle St., Portland | http://www.hugos.net/ 

 

THURSDAY 24

 

ART PARTIES | Get a bead on next Thursday's events by gobbling up the new record Wires & Tubes by Leverett (or at least the review on page 18), who play a classic album release/last show tonight at SPACE Gallery (with Jeff Beam, The Asthmatic, and Midwestern Medicine). Quietly some of the most original musicians in town, Leverett's albums have illustrated a depth of musical knowledge that far outstrips their peers, and Wires & Tubes attests to a maturity to match. Best wishes to these talented, large-hearted lads wherever they end up. Elsewhere, the excellent Peaks Island art photography magazine Wilt Press throws a release party at the Apohadion, featuring sets by Greef, Jared Fairfield, and Altar Boys.

City Council 'Thinking Outside the Box' to Get Rent Stabilization Ordinance on November Ballot

Advocates pushing for rent stabilization in Portland were thrown a curveball Monday when was reported that the citizens initiative submitted by Fair Rent Portland containing over 2,500 signatures was not received in time for consideration on the November 7 ballot. According to Fair Rent Portland (and confirmed by the city), the group had been told by city officials that they must submit signatures 90 days before the ballot — August 7 — but according to a "clerical error," the deadline had been weeks prior.

While city officials were working toward a next step Tuesday, many expressed confidence that the error in City Hall would ultimately not affect Fair Rent Portland's proposal for a referendum question on rent stabilization in November.

"The council is now working with the city attorney [Danielle West-Chuhta] to see how we might be able to rectify the situation," wrote City Councilor Justin Costa to the Phoenix. "I have heard nothing but full support for trying to get these items on the November ballot in one way or another."

In a statement, Fair Rent Portland said that they were informed multiple times over several weeks by the city that they were required to submit 1500 signatures on a date three months before the November 7 election date to be considered on the referendum ballot. They submitted the signatures the morning of August 7.

"We at Fair Rent Portland are surprised, disappointed, and shocked to learn of the erroneous instructions provided to us by the City Clerk's office," wrote Fair Rent Portland in a statement. "Our organization was in close communication with the City Clerk from the start of the campaign, who on multiple occasions confirmed that if at least 1,500 valid signatures were submitted by August 7, the referendum would be reviewed by the council in early September and be included the November 7 ballot."

The group cited “scores of volunteers, hundreds of hours of donated time, and thousands of engaged citizens" involved in the process. Despite the supposed missed deadline, officials appeared to recognize the severity of the error the referendum process and the necessity of squaring the issue.

"I am truly sorry about this mistake," wrote City Councilor Jill Duson. "Our clerk is a dedicated public servant who works incredibly hard to preserve the integrity and transparency of the elections process. This is an outcome that none of us anticipated or would have wished for.”

"Corporation counsel is working to review and recheck to identify any possible action the council might take to fix this,” continued Duson. “We are absolutely thinking outside of the box and hope to come up with a solution."

Sentiments from city officials echoed the perspective that the city could effectively suspend the rules and come up with "a creative solution" to get the Fair Rent Portland initiative on the ballot in light of the error.

"The error doesn't invalidate the citizens' initiative," wrote City Communications Director Jessica Grondin. "It just doesn't make it possible for November 7 through the established rules for citizens' initiatives. However, I can tell you that nobody wants this postponed, not the city nor the petitioners, so at this point the City Attorney is researching the options available to the Council."

If passed, the proposed ordinance submitted to the city on August 7 would allow landlords to increase rent each year at the rate of inflation (an estimated two percent) and provide additional protections for renters and landlords. The ordinance would exempt landlords with fewer than six units.

Last week, Fair Rent Portland committee member Bre Chamberlain appeared on a panel on NPR's On Point Live! Chamberlain linked the fight for affordable housing in Portland to the national fight for health care.

"It's very hard for me to take what's happening with the Trump presidency and not [link it] to what's happening in Portland and what secure housing looks like," said Chamberlain. "In regards to health care, we know that when people have financial insecurity, they will always put housing over health care. You have to live somewhere. And when it comes down to it, you can put off that pesky cough or a lymph, but you can't put off the need for housing. So what that does over the long run, it makes for greater instability over the long run because you have mounting bills. And with unaddressed health care concerns, you have people getting sicker. They pop up in emergency rooms, and it becomes a really vicious cycle of greater financial insecurity."

Richard Barringer, a professor emeritus at the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, also appeared on the On Point Live! panel.

"An affordable housing problem is actually a welcome thing to have," said Barringer on the panel. "I say that because housing is certainly affordable in most of Maine. In Portland, it's not. It's not because of the demand and the limited supply. Portland has one of the oldest housing stocks in New England. So when it gets very popular, prices go up. It's that simple."

Barringer added that Portland was more financially stable at any time since the Civil War, and agreed that one of the reasons for the surge in prices is that baby boomers have found the city to be a fine place to live after retirement.

On the panel, Chamberlain addressed that while her appearance was "sort of representing" Fair Rent Portland as well as the population of renters in the city (roughly 60 percent). She also addressed the that issues of housing insecurity have historically disproportionately affected people of color. "I'm able to be here and speak about this because I'm white, I'm privileged, and I have housing security right now."


Nick Schroeder can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  • Published in News

Capture the Sun Traverse the Fantasy on 'Terra Ignota'

All music is a kind of storytelling. But it’s 2017, and you’d be forgiven for being tired of hearing stories.

Lately, words can feel totally meaningless and status updates rule the land. For many reasons, the basic act of telling a story can be a hard sell. Attentive audiences are hard to come by. Stories are often deployed to move products. The ubiquity of data and search capabilities make it possible to fact-check every single plotline. Or, simply, they’re boring.

But imagine a story where it’s acceptable to embellish, whisper, emote, yell, and thrash without actually lying? Because that’s what the world of instrumental post-rock fantasy metal affords you. Untethered from traditional narrative arc, political context, and anything resembling the dreary truth of reality, the members of Portland progressive metal four-piece Capture the Sun spin an impressive yarn in their second full-length album, the bombastic, fantastical Terra Ignota.

Written over three years, the young wizards of this quartet fully inhabit the fantasy world of their creation, showing us how lush and warm it can be. Save the occasional blastbeat or two (somehow still a frightening element of modern music), Terra Ignota exhibits a type of fantasy metal as inclusive to audiences as it is relentless. These long, desultory tracks could easily be deployed as soundtracks to an RPG. Even putting it on to do the dishes feels a little epic.

Through advancements in studio capabilities, today’s progressive metal isn’t quite as off-putting to mainstream ears as it once was. Listening to Terra Ignota reinforces this. The guitar leads are smooth, slick, and clean, as lyrical as any vocalist and no less emotionally resonant. When Aaron and Jordan of Portland black metal minions Falls of Rauros enter as guest vocalists on “Tides,” a cathartic metal moment seven tracks into the record, the brutality feels almost out of place.

Mostly, the world Capture the Sun create on the album is inhabitable for all walks of life. It's hardly a crime to flee the aggressive and sometimes antisocial affects of metal, and there's something to be said for making stuff like this sound accessible without getting corny. The winding, tortuous guitars on “Carving the Atmosphere” give way to a shimmering ambient passage. The four-minute “Cloudless” and its lovely resplendent intro recalls the folk guitar of Mark Knopfler before settling into a brainy syncopated rhythm that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Don Caballero epic. It never sounds tedious, but at an hour long, some of the album can sort of blur into the atmosphere. After a nifty 6/8 intro to “Artificial Landscapes,” the soaring lead that enters a minute into the eight-minute track six feels somewhat more formulaic than emotionally driven. For the listener, it’s just some slight fantasy fatigue; if Terra Ignota shows any weaknesses, it’s the band’s affinity for peaks.

In genre terms, Terra Ignota is very much a fantasy prog metal album. To these ears, it sooner tilts toward a kind of refined, slicked-up guitar jazz as often as it goofs with post-hardcore or math-rock breakdowns. But there are surprises. There’s a dueling lead guitar section halfway through the title track that’s on par with contemporary melodic black metal, and the chiller, ambient moments are more than gestural, offering needed reflection and contemplation.

And in cultural terms, the vocabulary of fantasy metal is hardly something to be hidden in the basement, and this album shows why. Identifying as a “gamer” these days is a mainstream act, particularly for young men in the U.S., and the seven-year reign of certain HBO dramas have repositioned mythological narratives as the terra firma of mainstream American discourse. In fact, the timeline of the latter fits Capture the Sun’s own arc neatly. There’s only scant vocal work on this album, but track one of the band’s first album, released in 2012, is titled “A War is Coming to This Island.” Per the band, Terra Ignota tells the story of the creation of a planet, and the various societies that dwell within it. In an era where most young men are encouraged to learn finance or how to code for Fortune 500 companies, we should appreciate that some would rather build this world instead.


Capture the Sun | Terra Ignota album release | with Destination: Void + Objet | Thu August 10, 9 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | $7 | www.portlandempire.com

 

Love is Longevity — Big Blood Pumps Out New Album 'The Daughters Union'

There’s little more tiresome than those who complain that music ain’t what it used to be. Times change and people change — let alone vast, corporate-controlled industries — but the reasons to come together for making art and documenting a life are always within reach.

Indifferent to classification and rigorously do-it-yourself, the players in Portland’s folk group Big Blood have been evolving the reasons to make music for more than 10 years (and, considering their work in old Portland experimental folk group Cerberus Shoal, many more beyond that.)

But The Daughters Union marks a novel next chapter in the band’s quixotic legacy. After a steady output of more than one release per year since their inception, this is the first Big Blood album it could be said that pre-teen Quinnisa Kinsella Mulkerin, the daughter of Caleb and Colleen, is a full-time member.

At least that's true from a listener’s ear. But in Big Blood lore, she’s arguably been there all along. Caleb and Colleen’s first recording output, a 7-song live album titled Strange Maine 11.04.06, bore a rendering of an infant child on the cover. (All the band’s artwork has been handmade by Colleen.) On the following album, another live recording from two months later, we heard the standout track “The Ballad of Quinnisa Rose.” From an outsider’s perspective, the arc of the band is nearly co-linear with the kid’s life.

At nine songs and roughly 48 minutes, The Daughters Union functions more like a proper “album” than most of the spirited, experimental output in the Big Blood’s history. The album is — let’s say roughly — the band’s sixteenth in their ten-and-a-half-year history, and while the Big Blood aesthetic has seemed anchored by a radically prolific schedule, The Daughters Union contains greater cohesion, and noticeably higher stakes. Bookending the album’s nine tracks is the rhythmically mesmerizing “Blind Owl,” a six-minute harmony built from Colleen and Quinnisa’s vocals, looped into a rhythmic bassline and interlocking in warm choruses. The track weaves and flutters, the group showcasing a will for more electronically produced sounds amid their typical comfort with noise.

The songwriting chemistry between Caleb and Colleen has always been a distinct strength. Here, the songs seem deliberate and less experimental. “Thank You For the Path” lurches along like a typical Caleb song, glowering and swampy, fleshed out by a fuller sonic range than his songs usually tread. His lurching bassline pushes along nearly eight minutes of repetitive, rhythmic ballast of Colleen-track “Reproduce & Get Dirty,” a mud which the feminine vocals cut through to frame the band’s ethos in dizzying effect.

But it’s the band’s choice of covers that may ring the loudest. “Our Love Will Still Be There,” a 1966 fuzzy pop ballad by British proto-garage group The Troggs, is transformed gorgeously, its guitar wall and errant noise effects more Jesus and Mary Chain than we’ve ever heard from Big Blood. Proud, matter-of-fact and anguish-free, Colleen delivers the lyrics in her soaring high register as if the principles of devotion were declarations from on high. Later, the band covers Silver Apples’ monolithic 1969 “I Have Known Love,” spinning it into another beautiful testament. At nearly twice the length of the original, the Colleen-sung version smooths out the trippy declarations of the psyched-out original into calm, sober affirmations of a life having been lived. “I burned my fingers on the sun / I’ve been imprisoned on the moon,” rings Colleen’s inimitable peal, triumphant. “I’ve done some things that can’t be done. I’ve known love and love has won.”

What Big Blood model is a nothing less than a new definition of what it means to be a band. As the rest of the world spins into chaos, I look forward to another ten years of peeking in on the one they've created.


Big Blood | The Daughters Union album release | with Village of Spaces + Colby Nathan | August 5 Sat 8pm | The Apohadion Theater, 107 Hanover St., Portland

8 Days a Week: Rainbows, Moonlight, Ghost Stories, and Dark Stars

THURSDAY 3

PICTORIAL BUCKET LIST | Maine folks could soon be running out of chances to see Moonlight, Barry Jenkins's gripping 2016 coming-of-age tale about a young black man growing up in Miami. The Best Picture Oscar-winner ran through Portland months ago, but Frontier twinkles a week of screenings at us from up north, with scattered times through August 6. See it tonight at 7 pm. | $8 ($7 seniors/students) | Thu-Fri 7 pm; Sat-Sun 3 & 7pm | Frontier, 14 Maine St., Brunswick | www.explorefrontier.com

 

MARKETPLACE | The wine bar Blue staggers their donation-only shows to start every hour or two, allowing West Enders to pop into their warm and noirish confines for one or two drinks pre- or post- their evening's real plans. Tonight at 9, watch on as three ace Portland songwriters trade tools. Max Garcia Conover's solo folk compositions are intricate, vulnerable and lovely, while Griffin Sherry and Max Davis (of the holler-folk band Ghost of Paul Revere) may tend to be a bit rowdier, while no less revealing. Grab a table near the back. | By Donation | 9 pm | Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland | www.portcityblue.com

 

ANOTHER TIME, PERHAPS | If you're tuned into the old folkie circuit — or one of them yourself — and have managed your life in such a way to have some spare twenties kickin' around for pleasure, congrats to you! You might throw a few of them at Arlo Guthrie, the now 70-year-old kin of legendary songwriter Woody Guthrie, who swoops through Southern Maine for two nights in Ogunquit, the latter of which happens tonight. Tickets are steep, but remember: days, like all things, are numbered. | $82.50 | 8 pm | Jonathan's, 92 Bourne Lane, Ogunquit | www.jonathansogunquit.com

 

EARN YOUR STRIPES | If you haven't stoked your karaoke flame yet this summer, allow me to acquaint you with old pal DJ Cougar, one of the longest-running, most committed karaoke DJs in the polis. He holds court tonight and every Thursday at Flask Lounge, a room dark with denizens tipsy enough not to be able to see how your face stretches as you reach for the high notes. | FREE | 9 pm | Flask Lounge, 117 Spring St., Portland | www.flasklounge.com

 

FRIDAY 4

THE NEEDLE AND THE DAMAGE DONE | The 80s, we'll never get 'em back. But is there an art in trying? Whipped into tonight's art walk schedule is a party at the downtown house of weirdness, gadgetry, and curios known as Pinecone + Chickadee. Folks there found last year's warp into the world of eighties VHS tapes successful enough that they're reprising it with a spirited celebration of vinyl. In an art party titled "Hi-Fi: A Tribute to '80s Music," Portland DJ Ms. H maestros some array of analog wizardry for the amused masses. Look for beer from Bissell Brothers and doughnuts from HiFi Donuts. | FREE | 5-9 pm | Pinecone + Chickadee, 6 Pine St., Portland | www.pineconeandchickadee.com   

 

CIRCUS OF CONSENT | According to certain animal rights organizations, virtually 96 percent of a circus animal's life takes place in chains. And y'all think you're stressed! This evening, allow humankind to take a step toward developing better ways to throw a circus, as the animal-free Circus Olé and the Feast of Fools lay the proverbial rings down on Congress Square Park. Thrills here include stilt-walking, aerial silk, hoop dancing, giant puppets, and contact juggling. Also, crucially, all performers are cool to perform. It's First Friday; you'll run into it anyway. | FREE | 5 pm | Congress Square Park

 

MELTING ICE CAPS | Bayside being where everyone wants to hang this summer, Zero Station hosts a lil' pop show, with the eclectic pop mind of Jesse Gertz (who fronts the band Leverett, here playing as Glass Fingers) with futurist prog act Superorder and 300 Calories, the complex post-punk act formerly known as $300. Sometimes it feels like parties on the edge of town like these hit a note that gets fainter every year. | $5-10 suggested donation | 8:30 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St., Portland

 

SOAR, THROAT | Originally hailing from Kennebunk, the bandleader behind indie-folk band Death Vessel is in possession of one of the most beautiful, distinct voices you've ever heard. Joel Thibodeau and company play a haunting, gorgeous style of orchestral folk that only faintly alludes to the bleakness of their moniker (though the bleakness shines through once you pay attention to the lyrics). They hit what should be a fond welcoming party in Portland, with the Providence-based supergroup The Huntress and Holder of Hands, a new songwriting unit of MorganEve Swain of the acclaimed duo Brown Bird, whose story is worth familiarizing with. The addition of the serene and beautiful folk of Mainer Micah Blue Smaldone, who'd likely open, makes this worth many hours of your night. | $10-12 | 9 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org

SATURDAY 5

MODERN DANCE | There may be no more inspiring musical experience than witnessing What Cheer? Brigade, the cacophonous Providence-based punk brass spectacle containing 20-some-odd players. Their annual summer trip to Maine (generally to play at Machias's Black Fly Ball) corresponds with an incredible set at SPACE Gallery, as well as other terrain if all breaks right. With Boston's atypical noise-pop act Birthing Hips. | $12 adv, $15 day of | 9 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org  

 

GLOOM AXES | Metal dogs, let loose the tennis balls from your jaws tonight, as Geno's bleakens for a screamer. Hatefully assembled by the indefatigable production team at Last Mercy Emissions, which has been more or less singularly responsible for keeping Maine on the map for heavy shows the last few years, tonight's show has the Bangor-based, punk-infused heavy metal group Holy Filth, some dark ambient doom in the form of Providence's Tovarish, Baltimore's foul duo Earthworm von Doom, and Maine's Megog. 21+. | $7 | 9 pm | Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland

  

randy rainbow 4

Randy Rainbow. 

EASY TARGETS | The comedian and YouTube sensation Randy Rainbow has developed an incredible following for his over-the-top political parodies. This past week, he dropped a mock interview with recently deposed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, wherein Rainbow donned pink rhinestone glasses and broke into a spirited meringue song about his undying love for the former Goldman Sachs financier. (As an aside, here, I don't know if we'll ever be able to process the walking meme that is Anthony Scaramucci. Someone tweeted a few days ago that they're dead certain that the collapse of societies throughout history have been marked by a sudden visitation by Scaramucci-like figures — perhaps even the Mooch himself. There is no more perfect harbinger of doom. But, ahem, we digress.) Rainbow's trick is hardly the most original, but he performs it bravely, boldly, and well, and his typical targets of bloated, dumbly masculine personalities in American life are worth taking down a few notches. His show at the restored Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit should be packed. | $40 | Fri 8 pm; Sat 7 & 9:30 pm | Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St., Ogunquit | www.leavitttheatre.com

 

SUNDAY 6

THE DEAD ARE AMONG US | There are no fewer than six Grateful Dead tribute acts playing in town this week. (Reminder: it's 2017.) I'm not one to hassle someone on their personal tastes, but that does seem a bit much. But among the weekly residencies, diehards will note that among them are some of the best at the task — the immortal Dark Star Orchestra — who appear to play one of the most chill stages in town, the wharf-set Maine State Pier. | $25 | 5 pm | Maine State Pier, Commercial Street/Franklin Arterial, Portland | www.waterfrontconcerts.com

 

MONDAY 7

GATHER ROUND | The youth theater organization Maine Inside Out, who works with incarcerated young people in and outside Long Creek Development Center, hosts another of their monthly open mics tonight. These shows can are powerful enough to shave a layer or two of cynicism off the thick shells that local adults are encased in, and the theater and performance styles these young folks have spent incredible amounts of time working on can be some of the most explosive, generous, and brilliantly raw as you'll find. | FREE | 7 pm | Local Sprouts Cooperative, 653 Congress St., Portland | www.maineinsideout.org  

 

TUESDAY 8

SHEETS TO THE WIND | In David Lowery's film A Ghost Story, a young couple's love is halted by the tragic death of C (played by Casey Affleck), who posthumously rises up and, donning a thin white sheet, observes his grieving widow M. Critics have raved about the beauty and psychological complexity of Lowery's deceptively simple story, and it sounds like well worth the Tuesday night fee of a fiver at the Nick. | $5 | 3:45 pm; 9:40 pm | Nickelodeon, 1 Temple St, Portland | www.patriotcinemas.com

WEDNESDAY 9

get out allison williams daniel kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, the two main stars of Jordan Peele's "Get Out." 

NEVER DRINK MILK AGAIN | You're gonna have to line up real early to snag a piece of roof you can sit on for tonight's screening of Get Out, Jordan Peele's masterpiece horror flick that expertly critiques the nuances and valences of racism in the U.S. Peele sets up his film innocently enough: interracial couple Rose and Chris are set to spend the weekend at Rose's quaint New England home, where Chris is subjected to abuse across a broad spectrum of subtlety. Remember that Get Out is sneakily a kind of bleak, sometimes cathartic comedy — for the first half, anyway — though the politics of who's laughing here shouldn't be divorced from a larger context. It should be as powerful a night as a free public summer film series can achieve. | FREE | 8 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St. Portland | www.baysidebowl.com

 

FOREST FOR TREES | With a modern aesthetic, an interest in folklore, and a deep acceptance of the unknown, Portland folk troupe The Ghosts of Johnson City are one of the finer guitar-based acts you can stumble upon in town. They take inspiration from Civil War songs, coal-mining ditties, and murder ballads — all of which you should be thinking about as you violently crush a delicious Sicilian slabber. | FREE | 6 pm | Slab, 25 Preble St, Portland | www.slabportland.com

THURSDAY 10

 

BUST ANOTHER MOVE | Next Thursday brings us contemporary dance, one of the rarest and most treasured of audience experiences. The Philadelphia-based art and dance company Subcircle present a piece titled "Hold still while I figure this out," which incorporates sound and elaborate costuming into their work, which is said to hammer out possible answers to the question of What if we could start all over from scratch? | Thu-Fri $15-20 | 8 pm | Maine Charitable Mechanics Association, 519 Congress St. Portland | www.subcircle.org

Never Gonna Be Enough — An Interview with Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara

Days before I spoke with Sara Quin, one half of the iconic Canadian folk-pop duo Tegan and Sara, the twins announced a fall 2017 tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of their standout album The Con. (Fans: See Chad Clark of Beauty Pill’s curated track-by-track tribute to the album published earlier this week via NPR.)

 

On Friday, the folk-turned-pop group return to the State Theatre, touring on last year’s Love You to Death, their eighth record and the second since “going pop” with 2013’s Heartthrob.

 

Phoenix: Are you still dealing with fan reaction from no longer being a folk band?

 

Sara: I think that in our long history there are people who prefer certain albums over others. Certainly when Heartthrob came out, people shook their head and wondered, What direction are they going in? After 20 years in the music business, you can’t take anything for granted. You can’t always count on people to stay with us and buy our albums. It almost feels like we are marketing our band anew every time.

 

Do you miss the intimacy of playing the style of music you used to? Or in the intimate venues you used to?

 

First of all, what is intimacy? Sometimes it’s 400 people, sometimes it’s festivals for 1000 people. I think sometimes for audience members, it’s small shows. When Tegan and I put out records like So Jealous and The Con, we had three backing musicians and both Tegan and myself were playing guitar. We had so much gear. We had monitors on stage blasting at full volume. Dense, but I wouldn’t say it was intimate. One thing about this album [Love You to Death] and [Heartthrob], we’ve been removing gear. I don’t wanna have amps on stage or play guitar. In a weird way, it’s opened us to interacting for the audience. The songs may have been intimate before, but the performing wasn’t as intimate. It feels great.

 

One of the my favorite tracks on the new album is BWU. I’m curious, how do you and Tegan go about writing the sort of political songs?

 

When I sit down and write songs, it’s a challenge to think of my politics from my musical personality. Music has always been a reprieve from politics. At least for me, it’s a helpful to write from a personal standpoint. A lot of songs are about my relationship with Tegan and my relationship to myself. Sometimes I’m thinking about a romantic relationship but also how that interacts with my political identity. That’s not the easiest way to write a pop song. People aren’t about to go to the club to dance to a song [like “BWU”] about marriage institutions. But a lot of songs we grew up to had a lot of political content — although i didn’t always know what they were singing about. I don’t remember thinking at eight years old like I knew exactly what Bono was singing about in “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

 

When you played here a few years ago, you did a version of “The Con” that was updated and gorgeous. It made me wonder, do you remake your older material to the newer sound?

 

Yeah, we definitely do. I don’t want anything to be unrecognizable. A lot of times you go see a band and can’t recognize them — it’s like, what’s the point? But for me, I’m such a people pleaser, I know the audience wants to hear the songs they love. We definitely have updated the musical and sonic arrangements of our older material so it won’t be jarring when we play the new stuff. There’s a song that’s been in our set for 15 years called “Living Room.” It originally had banjo, then it had electric guitar, and now that it’s a midtempo electronic song. Like, no matter what personality we give it, it’s immediately recognizable. It’s been a natural and successful evolution, and we’d go back to the originals sometimes too. We’re a touring band, so we have to keep things interesting for ourselves, too.

 


 

Tegan and Sara + Japanese Breakfast | Friday, July 28, 8pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | $30-35 |  www.statetheatreportland.com

Kris Rodgers Faces Destiny — 'Losing the Frequency' Demands Return to Album Rock

Known as an eminent pianist and vocalist who can bang out covers of Elton John and Billy Joel, Portland’s Kris Rodgers has seemed to be lurking at the periphery of several Portland music scenes for years. He’s got a CV with time logged in power-pop acts like the Connection and the Kurt Baker Band (among others), and to the naked ear, overwhelming evidence of a youth soaking up decades of rock lore.

The 10-song power-player Losing the Frequen- cy shows, rock lore is now coursing through his bloodstream. Guided by his sturdy and capable baritone, Rodgers and his band the Dirty Gems plows through numerous ‘80s rock tricks, tropes and celebrations, making the aging genre look second nature while giving it a few new coats of modern varnish. Handling keys and arrange- ments on the album, he’s joined by Tom Hall on guitars, Kurt Baker on bass, and Craig Sala on drums. Most of the album’s ten tracks sound like distant FM standouts on some radio dial of internal nostalgia. For a project that purports to be studious about its devotion to ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll — several of his lyrics actively pine for “rock ‘n’ roll radio,” and a press release calls for a return to an “album-oriented” listening experience — Rodgers’s songwriting and arrangements are borderline impeccably executed. If you’re looking to recreate this style of music, this a straight-up songwriting clinic.

On some tracks, he’s confessional, as on the verses of the unexpectedly pop-country-ish opener “Let Go.” Slinked out by Hall’s licks, Rodgers momentarily flips the switch on us, finding a middle ground somewhere between Paul Weller and Jason Aldean. On “No Place to Go,” mo- ments of introspection peer through the pop veneer: “you don’t want the truth / I’m on the wrong side looking through.”

On others, Rodgers lyrics flood these upbeat songs, his brassy vocals filling the measures instrumentally and letting his band wiggle through them. “Are you ready, are you ready, for the revolution?” he shouts in “Revolution,” an upbeat rocker that would sound at home during a midday set on WBLM. “Are you ready for your one chance to be free?” Here, Rodgers version of rising up comports with the standard rock ‘n’ roll definition, where listeners are free to plug in their own value system. “It’s gonna be the night of your lives,” he shouts, one where we “face our destiny.” The swaggering “Overrated” storms onto the scene like a Thin Lizzy B-side, a smart power-pop testament to confused affections about an on-again/off-again interest. “I don’t know why I just can’t let you go,” he explains in the chorus, sticking the ‘O’ for an impressive duration “’cuz you’re overrated.” It’s one of the album’s more rewarding tracks, with Hall’s guitar trickery steering the band through several twisted starts and stops.

These are well-crafted songs with original flair, but on occasion, Losing the Frequency can feel like listening to an ‘80s tribute. Tracks like “Bring Back Rock N’ Roll Radio” almost liter- ally affirm this. Surely this is all by design, but more variation (or deviation) from the power- pop formula — and among Rodgers’s admittedly

impressive vocal range and delivery — could make a more dynamic listen. Rodgers and co. don’t stray from the stomping power-pop until album closer “Who’s Gonna Save You Now?” — and only then for a Meatloaf-y two-minute piano intro. It’s an impressively energetic al- bum, but seen another way, it lacks an element of chill that could help fit it to a broader range of settings. It’s a little too tightly controlled to reach the high notes of legends like Todd Rundgren and Nick Lowe.

But Rodgers is hard to bet against. He’s got the unteachable tool of being a born entertainer, and an intuitive knack for this stuff. Folks are gonna hear these songs in their sleep.

Losing the Frequency | By Kris Rodgers & the Dirty Gems | with Memphis Lightning | Fri, July 28 at 9 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | $6 | www.portlandempire.com  

8 Days a Week: Beer Festivals, Country Dads, and Radical Compassion

THURSDAY 27

 

LET IT DRIPPETH | All damn day, the folks at the Oxbow facility in Portland host a tap intrusion by Jester King, a farmhouse brewery outta Austin, Texas, said to eff around with fermentation and weird cultures. The Jester King folks have brought five strains of their beer for us to sip on. If one of them is the Atrial Rubicite — which boasts a quite-high rating on Beer Advocate — then be grateful. all of it’s elaborate foreshadowing for this weekend.| FREE | noon to 11 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | www.oxbowbeer.com

 

 

HONK IF YOU CAN READ THIS | With roots in Alabama and Georgia, the Drive-By Truckers have always had fun with southern stereotypes. and, as any listener will attest, they complicate those stereotypes with intention- ally erudite lyrics, a melodic knack, and a decidedly un- country three-guitar wall. Some 20 years in, their elev- enth and most recent album American Band takes on gun violence and racial disparity in america — and they mean it; a recent interview quoted bandleader Patterson Hood saying “get over the fucking [Confederate] flag. Fuck that flag.” — and is defiantly interested in raising notes of history his countrymen and women don’t want to address, singing songs condemning the injustices of Deep South culture while blurring indie-rock with boogie-woogie. They play with the Louisiana band Seratones tonight. | $30-35 | 8 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

BUTTON UP | The Seattle band Fleet Foxes have been playing their lush, quirky, British-folk inspired sounds for over a decade now. Of course, they splintered off drummer Josh Tillman awhile back — he's who became Father John Misty — but it doesn't seem to have slowed them too badly. Sure, it took them six years to release it, but the band's third album came out last month, titled Crack-Up, and received very high praise from a certain tastemaking website. In other words, they should be in fine spirits tonight. The Ivy League indie-rock band play with (Sandy) Alex G, a bedroom-pop artist from Philadelphia.

| $48-51 | 7:30 pm | Thompson's Point, 4 Thompson's Point Rd, Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

THE PRICE OF AVOCADOS | As recent reports have testified, millennials are said to be ruining the beer industry, department stores, the cultural practice of the dinner date, the sport of golf, the 9-to-5 work week, the institution of marriage, the privilege of homeownership, and, naturally, sex. Of course, most of those reports fail to address that older generations of Americans have made it so that young people are slavishly indebted and systematically excluded from the resources Boomers have hoarded, but that's cool — we'll try harder. For many, trying to stay afloat in a precarious gig economy, where workers need to hustle constantly for new jobs on top of the billable hours they're able to secure (often without access to health insurance!) is an ever-pressing concern. Knowing this, the Global Shapers Hub, a Portland affiliate of the World Economic Forum, has recently taken to polling young folks about their work experiences for a well-intentioned talk about the current labor market in Maine, and have launched a new, liberal-minded, and reformist-based group called Our Generation. We imagine they'll keep tonight's program, titled "Making It in Maine" — chill and ideology-free (hence why I'm pouring it on here).

| Free | 6 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org

 

FRIDAY 28

 

larkin poe

The Georgia duo Larkin-Poe close out the Ossipee Valley Music Festival this week.

DUST ME ON | The annual Hiram throwdown known as the Ossipee Valley Music Festival kicked off Thursday, but you'd be totally fine if you got there today, when twelve acts of fine string music take the stage. In this era, where computer keys mar the callouses on our fingers daily, most of us have forgotten most of the skills we knew in decades past. Ossipee's got a half dozen workshops to help remedy that, like fiddle playing, singing in harmony, and learning how to work a puppet or a crankie to help tell a story. If you end up camping at this weekend-long festival in the Hiram woods, you'll hopefully learn a lot more than that. Today's acts include the Georgia duo Larkin Poe, Grammy-nominated mandolin player Sierra Hull, Hot Club of Cowtown, and many more. | $45 for the day; $145 for the festival | all day | 291 South Hiram Rd., Hiram | www.ossipeevalley.com  

SALT FUTURES | Those looking to get off the map a bit could see Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, a very funny and modernized spoof on classic Russian theater and its inescapably drab tenor by acclaimed playwright Christopher Durang, which gets a raw and spirited production on Peaks Island tonight. Running one-weekend only through Sunday, join the Peaks Island Players for a true romp.

| $15 | Fri-Sat 7:30 pm; Sun 4 pm | Trefethen-Evergreen Improvement Association, 10 Trefethen Ave., Peaks Island

 

BURN YR LIFE DOWN | True fans don't need me to tell them that the dream duo Tegan and Sara are coming to town. The Canadian twin sisters made a successful leap from heart wrenching acoustic-folk balladeers to club-ready popstars a few years back with the mighty album Heartthrob, and while last year's Love You to Death backed down away from the bright lights a bit, their music is still big and bold and beautiful. Touring on the strength of that album (before embarking on a 10-year anniversary tour of their incredible record, The Con, this fall), T&S play with Japanese Breakfast, the solo pop project of Michelle Zauner. | $30-35 | 7 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com 

 

SATURDAY 29

 

SIPPED UP | As you well know, the hype around Maine beer is so tight it can suck the air out of most rooms. Thankfully, today's Maine Brewers Guild Summer Session, billed as Maine's Premier Craft Beer Festival, takes place outdoors! At Thompson's Point today, patrons can sample brews from over 80 different breweries in Maine and beyond — including, they're proud to say, Iceland! With plenty of lawn chairs, live music, and food trucks, we're imagining many of you imagining this as paradise. | $49 | noon-5 pm | Thompson's Point, 4 Thompson's Point Rd, Portland | www.mainebrewersguild.org  

 

CITIZENS OF THE WORLD | If weather complies, today's other in-town draw is the 15th Annual Festival of Nations, a heartwarming gathering of multiculturalism in Deering Oaks Park. Children | FREE | 11 am-7 pm | Deering Oaks Park, Portland

 

BAKERS DELIGHT | Everyone's gotta have something to do with their hands, and we like the choices made by those attending today's 11th Annual Kneading Conference, a two-day program of workshops and lectures on the science of breadmaking. Ideal for bakers, brewers, chefs, millers, maltsters, and anyone else involved on the production end, see if you can squeeze any time out of Friday or Saturday to head to Skowhegan. | $325 | Fri-Sat | Skowhegan State Fairgrounds, 33 Constitution Ave, Skowhegan | www.kneadingconference.com  

 

TaniaIsaac3 Sasha Iziliaev Tania Issac is set to perform at the Bates Dance Festival.

LYCRA PLUS | Creating a space for contemporary dance in the middle of Maine is no easy feat. Maintaining that space every summer for 35 years is astonishing. The month-long Bates Dance Festival has already served up performances by the choreographers David Dorfman and Zoe | Juniper in July. This weekend, they celebrate the big 35 with a web of performances, including a duet by Doug Varone and Angie Houser; a new piece by Tania Isaac; solos by Larry Keigwin, Riley Watts, Sara Pearson, and Patrik Widrig; and a group work from Bates Dance vet Michael Foley. If you spend the day doing something raw and lowbrow, like floating down the river on an inflatable swan, this pairs well. | $35 ($27 seniors/$20 students) | Fri-Sat 7:30 pm | Bates College, Schaeffer Theater, 305 College St., Lewiston | www.batesdancefestival.org  

 

SPARKLE MAZE | In a better world, it'd be Mark McGuire who'd be meme-famous and soundtracking chill city bars throughout the country instead of the inexplicable Mac Demarco. Emerged nearly a decade ago as one of the eminent weird-folk musicians in the country, making lovely albums for stargazing and other private highs. His most recent set of albums — the languorous strummy meditations of Ideas of Beginnings and the more video game-y electronic batch released as Vision Upon Purpose — make fine pairings for a tour with Ancient Ocean, the contemplative post-folk/ambient moniker of New York's J.R. Bohannon. They play with Drab Pony, the experimental guise of South China's Jeremy Robinson, for a pretty blissed out evening in Bayside. | by donation | 8 pm | The Apohadion Theater, 107 Hanover St., Portland

 

SUNDAY 30

 8days wilcobeach PhotoByMollyDrake

Summer calls for a Wilco concert. Photo by: Molly Drake

AGAIN WITH THE SUN | With My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes, and Elvis Costello, you've had a lot of chances to watch music outdoors lately. Tonight's powerhouse show is the mighty Wilco, who so perfected the alt-country sound moons ago that they're now just having fun. The tumult that made up these dudes' lives long having subsided, critics found Wilco's latest album, Schmilco, to be a consciously schmaltzy affair. Still, the band is legendary, and the experience of seeing a formerly depressive band during the good times is lovely — particularly if you're a former depressive in the good times yourself. With Brooklyn's Big Thief; forecast calls for sunny and 75. | $45-50 | 7 pm | Thompson's Point, 4 Thompson's Point Rd, Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

MONDAY 31

 

GATHER ROUND | Through this paper's coverage or elsewhere, odds are you've had some deep thoughts about gentrification lately. Great! But don't be seduced into a witch hunt for individual gentrifiers. The problem is systemic, and one of the ways to best show resilience to that system is to work alongside your neighbors. Tonight, join local environmental engineering team Woodard and Curran in a discussion called "Gateway to Opportunity" as they bring together Portland area high school students and the East Bayside Brownfields project team to reimagine possible uses, and the ecological work needed to secure them from potentially hazardous contaminants. | FREE | 5:30 pm | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | www.mayostreetarts.org 

 

FORMING, STORMING, NORMING... | Last week, the comedy troupe bid adieu to Aharon Willows-Hebert, one of the city's finer comedians and founder of the Worst Day of the Week, a recurring Monday night comedy show by members and affiliates of the Portland Comedy Co-Op. Tonight, they hand the program over to another of the city's finer comedians, Connor McGrath (who won our Best Comedian in this paper's Best of Portland Readers' Poll, a mighty distinction). McGrath holds court for Micaela Tepler, Mike Johnson, Colby Bradshaw, Ali Simpson, and Anders J. Nielsen. If you're wanna know how to build a comedy scene, take notes. | by donation | 8 pm | Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland | www.portcityblue.com

 

TUESDAY 1

 


FOREST FOR TREES |
Continuing last night's theme of community-building in Bayside, tonight's National Night Out campaign homes in on that neighborhood's broad and diverse spectrum of people. National Night Out attempts to build relationships between communities and police forces as a way of fostering safer neighborhoods (as opposed to more authoritarian, top-down measures). The East Bayside iteration includes a barbecue in Fox Field, with live music from the Port City Rockers (from the Boys & Girls Club), the Mayo Street-based Club Hip Hop, rapper African Dundada, kinetic and musical performance group Hi Tiger, and a dance performance by the dazzling Sudo Girls.
| FREE | 6 pm | Fox Field, Fox & Anderson Streets, Portland | www.natw.org

 

WEDNESDAY 2

 

DEEP TAKES | A little under the radar with all the big summer payoffs, but the Old Port body works center Arcana hosts a yoga session tonight specifically dealing with trauma-recovery, PTSD, and grief. If this seems like something you could use, poke around for tonight's program, titled "Radical Compassion: Healing Trauma in Ourselves and Our Culture," with instructor Katie.

| $30-50 sliding scale | 6:30-9 pm | Arcana, 81 Market St. Portland | www.arcanamaine.com

 

 

THURSDAY 3

 

BUST ANOTHER MOVE | Among other joys, next week Portland celebrates the return of DJ Jon, who hosted the ridiculous '80s Night party at Bubba's for well over a decade (every Friday night). Except he's now manning the decks for the revamped Retro Night at Aura, which had a run for awhile as the best Thursday night party in town during the old Asylum years. Could this be the start of a new era? (Say yes.) | $5 | 9 pm | Aura, 121 Center St. Portland | www.auramaine.com

A Show of Support — Able Baker's 'Selvedge' Sees Painting Through a Totally Different Grain

In a show that feels both formally radical and historically reverent, Selvedge — on view now at Able Baker Contemporary — grapples with the practice of painting through a new lens. The nine women’s works shown in this exhibition — including Portland painter and muralist Tessa Greene O’Brien, who began curating it last November — share in their effort to sublimate the process of painting through methods and practices associated with textile-making.

This allows an innovation into the form that these welltrained painters deploy affectingly, but the idea itself is hardly new. O’Brien makes studious mention of historical influences, most notably the Support/Surfaces art movement originating in the south of France in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Bound together by political disenfranchisement, Support/Surfaces artists sought to deconstruct the medium by isolating and modulating its core components of medium, support, and surface, sloughing off historical references, representation, or intentional expressions of sentiment.

MariaMolteni TennisPanties

Maria Molteni, Tennis Panties, 2016, sewn cotton, athletic mesh, fringe, tennis balls

 

Ranging in age from 21 to sixty something and each coming from a strong pedigree, it may nonetheless be a stretch to say this show’s artists share political sentiments as strong as their forebears. On the other hand, any consideration of textiles as a fine art form intersecting with the capital-e Establishment history of painting (clumped together as it is by innumerable male idols) is political in its own right. To employing the medium and process of textile- and fabric-making imbues the show with the historical weight of the labors of women the world over — from those working from factories in Iran during the Shah’s rule to the African-American slave women quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, to women working in textile mills in colonial New England.

Given that historical weight, viewing Selvedge is surprisingly an enjoyable, often playful affair. Maria Molteni’s Untitled (Painted Tennis Net), a 13-foot climbing rope with cargo/tennis knots and vibrantly neon-green acrylic paint, registers as a sort of aesthetic mashup of the works of Alex Da Corte and ‘70s French artist Daniel Dezeuze. Erica Licea-Kane’s series of acrylic pigment on acrylic fabric are busy and linear, their tight webbing striking a balance between earthy mosaics and De Stijl arithmetics. And the light, inventive works of Maine College of Art grad Isabelle O’Donnell nod toward, among others, Portland artist and educator Elizabeth Jabar’s work in this field.

MarthaTuttle Weather

Martha Tuttle, Weather (3), 2017, wool, silk, dye

 

The handwoven, tactile pieces of Martha Tuttle are some of the shows most inviting highlights. A series titled Like Water I Have No Skin merges wool, silk, and natural dyes in muted, serene color fields, as does the painterly and arrestingly calming Weather (3), a structure of light, free-hanging fabric bound together by weights and pins. Gauzy and ethereal, it’s one of the best representations of the show’s conceit, effortlessly conveying how simple layered textiles can change the way artists approach the medium of paint (and vice versa). Similarly, Beth Kleene’s 4 Eyes in the gallery window, a 50” x 44” tapestry of bright orange acrylic, ink, and hand-dyed cotton fabric, fuses the Portland artist’s typically splashy and jewel-like paintings with the quiet hypnotic finesse of 20th-century quilt work.

A collection of odder, smaller, and less serious-seeming works is peppered along a “salon wall” in the main floor, helping to further articulate the act of textile work through the lens of painting. Notable among them are Cassie Jones’s vibrantly distinct series of acrylic, felt, and staples on panel. To non-artists — and I mean this as a mark of distinction — Jones’s pieces might look as if they’re ripped right out of a Teletubbies episode, but that’s a testament to their playful execution, imaginative coloration, and brilliant deployment of shape and contour. I’m told Jones doesn’t make work like this anymore, but their inclusion here is another helpful illustration of the show’s ideas.

Susan Metrican WormThroughHere

 

Susan Metrican, Worm Through Here, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 50” X 40”

O’Brien perhaps too modestly includes only two of her own pieces here. A gifted painter and muralist whose use of color typically dazzles, her stuff in Selvedge first seemed to me to be uncharacteristically dowdy and dark. But both pieces — the rugged coveralls-as-color field trick of Bonanza and the dyed canvas cushion flecked with different blots of paint she’s titled Painting for Bella — are impossible to assess without imagining the sweat put into them, and smartly add a bit of grit to the overall palette. After all, having produced a dazzling show that honors art traditions having as much to do with labor as invention, she’s definitely done the work.

 


Selvedge, mixed media group exhibition | Through August 5 | At Able Baker Contemporary, 29 Forest Ave., Portland | Thu-Sat 1-5:30pm |  www.ablebakercontemporary.com

Nick Schroeder can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Published in Art
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