PDX Pop Now! 2011 – Refuge PDX


Well, it took three days to recover from, but we finally woke up from our hazy stupor after a weekend of hot and sweaty music.  All that should need to be said is that PDX Pop Now! was awesome.  But, if you want to read more, maybe you should keep going.

PDX Pop Now! started out as, and continues to mostly be, a volunteer run organization advocating, hosting and supporting all-ages concerts.  The festival has been held at multiple venues throughout the years and stopped at Refuge PDX for their eighth annual gathering.  The lineup for the festival is decided upon by a public nomination process and volunteer voting committees leading to what fans actually want to hear instead of who the buzz bands are right now.  What’s also nice about the festival is that it takes place on two stages, but there’s only ever one stage being used.  That means you don’t have to miss your second favorite band because your first favorite is playing at the same time.  What a relief!

The festival brought out an extremely eclectic lineup.  Day one opened with local music scene legend Jared Mees and the Grown Children coming off of a month long hiatus.  The small crowd quickly grew as the sun went down and the tunes rolled out.  Nothing but drums from STLS, eerie sounds from the theramin of Blood Beach, and roots reggae and hip-hop from The Chicharones meant there was something for everyone, an overarching theme all weekend.

Saturday started out the first full day of PDX Pop Now! and opened up with the beautiful sounds of Ezza Rose, slowly easing people awake.  If you weren’t awake after that, Yeah Great Fine rocked the house with their mathy indie rock that often dipped harder than one would expect.  Again, the crowd was given a taste of just about everything: post rock from Palo Verde, new songs from Matt Sheehy’s new pop group Lost Lander, new wave from Karen, and straight up hip-hop from Living Proof.  The night closed out with a pretty spectacular jam from Malian fronted Dusu Mali followed by some pretty funky R&B from Purple and Green.  Now that the sun was out of the picture after an hot day, the venue was packed tight with people to see Nurses send them off to bed with Wampire’s Rocky Tinder on guitar.

The final, bittersweet day of PDX Pop Now! kicked off with the banjo picking fiddly folk of Water Tower Bucket Boys.  The festival left no stone unturned as we were taken through lush ambient sounds from Port St. Willow, the hardcore rocking of Nasalrod, the much loved indie pop of Radiation City, and dancy electronic music from Onuinu.  Finally, to wrap the whole experience up, the crowd was exposed to the unexplainable Brainstorm, who you have to listen to in order to understand.  The very last set of PDX Pop Now! 2011 happened to also be the very last show for the band, as Guidance Counselor turned the place in to a mad house.  With over 40 bands playing this years’ festival, we couldn’t touch on them all.  Check out some of the other reviews from our friends around the city.

Lastly, we’d be remiss not to thank the bands and especially the crew and volunteers of PDX Pop Now! from the bottom of our hearts for putting on such an amazing weekend of FREE music.  If you’d like to help support PDX Pop Now!, make sure to pick up their compilation album that they put out to help finance their efforts.

Check out the front page for pictures of all 3 days.

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