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This week, Portland’s music scene presents some terrific-looking rock music shows, a dash of space-aged hip-hop, and some sorrowful news from the local music community, regarding the passing of blues and soul singer Tahoe Jackson.
Freebase Hyperspace, Elk Witch, Breath
Heavy psych/stoner rock band Freebase Hyperspace expertly melds heavy psychedelic grooves with epic hard-hitting rhythms. And to be up front, it’s also the most impressive group my younger brother, bassist Stephen Moore, has played in—I’ve been following his career since middle school. This Saturday, at the Kenton Club, they’ll be playing songs from their 2018 five-track EP Activation Immediate, and likely some additional stuff from their forthcoming album Planet High, soon to drop from Medford, Oregon label Stonefly Records. Support on the bill comes from heavy Oregon-based stoner rock trio Elk Witch, as well as doom metal duo Breath. (Sat April 30, 8 pm, Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick, $10)
Floating Room, Sour Widows, Baby Tooth
Highly changeable group Floating Room has existed in many iterations throughout the years, but it is currently comprised of Uchinanchu American, DIY artist and group founder Maya Stoner and her similarly prolific musician fiancé Mo Troper. In early May, the indie rock/shoegaze band visits the cozy Doug Fir Lounge basement venue, no-doubt performing songs from the November 2021 EP Shima. You could call Shima a punky, riot grrrl-ing follow-up to 2020’s Tired and True, and 2018’s False Baptism, but we’ll just call it excellent. The project’s opening track, “See You Around,” would fit right in on an alt-leaning teeny bopper romcom, à la 10 Things I Hate About You. Bay area bedroom rock trio Sour Widows and Portland-based indie-rock four-piece Baby Tooth back up the bill. (Mon May 2, 8 pm, Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, $15)
Two great new releases from locally relevant artists.
Envy of None, Envy of None
On April 8, the new band Envy of None—comprised of former Rush guitarist Alex Lifespan, bassist Andy Curran of 1980s band Coney Hatch, and producer/engineer Alfio Annibalini—released its first self-titled debut. The otherwise Canadian group is fronted by 24-year-old Portlander Maiah Wynne, who adds her delicate, Evanescence-reminiscent vocals to moody, at-times-heavy instrumentation that often incorporates heavily produced 90s-nostalgic electronic signatures. The 42-minute project is all highlights, with subjectively stand-out tracks like the epic lead single “Liar,” as well as “Look Inside,” “Dog’s Life,” and the somber “Old Strings,” which was initially written for Maiah Wynne’s solo catalog.
“Snakes” and “Black Astronauts,” Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon
On April 13, hip-hop trio Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) released a new single and music video for “Snakes feat. Chester Watson,” out now via Los Angeles label POW Recordings. Our second collab of this week’s column, UAP is composed of California producer duo Pioneer 11 and Ohio-to-Portland rapper Bryson the Alien (Full disclosure, Bryson is my fiancé and the father of my pending child). Over a spooky, pulsating beat, Georgia-based rapper Chester Watson casually checks in on the track to add a verse about “chilling with witches and some hella exotic pets.”
BrainPaintProductions’ Adam Wright animated a video for “Snakes,” sticking with appropriately alien-themed and apocalyptic visuals. On Thursday, UAP released an even newer single: the super-chill and ethereal “Black Astronauts feat. Lil B.” Needless to say, a feature from the Based God is a huge look for the group.
Remembering Tahoe Jackson
On March 25, 2022, beloved Portland blues and soul singer Tahoe Jackson passed away. Jackson was a star on a slow rise in our city, perhaps best known for her groups Hungry Mob and Black Angel. In 2009, she told the Oregonian about a close brush with death from lymphatic disease. The illness shelved her music career and spurred Jackson to try a dangerous surgery to treat it. The surgery had only been performed 10 times before, and Jackson became the third person to survive it.
Afterward, Jackson returned to performing sets throughout the city. However, she wasn’t as active in recent years. Offering a glimpse into her struggles, Jackson’s friend Evon Porter created a GoFundMe for jackson and her life/music partner JR Pella to assist the couple with shelter, basic needs, and medical expenses. According to the fundraiser, Jackson and Pella were eventually able to find safe housing, but Jackson succumbed to more medical issues and later passed away in her sleep, after being released from the hospital.
The Star Theater will host a public memorial potluck on Sunday, May 1, from 4-7pm, on its outdoor patio. People are welcome to bring a dish to share, and there’s a sign-up form in the notes of the Gofundme. Star Theater’s patio bar will be open, offering drinks for purchase. Jackson will be missed by many for her sense of humor, contagious laugh, and giving spirit.
We are reminded of a 2009 interview with the Mesmer Project, where Jackson replied to a question about the most important lesson of her life: “That I am not this body” she said. “I am not my color, I am not just a woman. These are the things that house me, but they are not my home… I am spirit—that will always define me. There is no space and time… nothing can hold me back, only if I think I live in that house, because it means I have to live in a world that’s manufactured for me… No sir, not for me.”