Unless you’re living on Mars you’ll know that the music scene in Portland has been vast and varied since time immemorial. From moody crooners plucking on whiney guitar strings, to Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love and her post-grunge band Hole – Portland rocks (literally). Not to mention all the yet-to-be-discovered local performers.
Portland is Booming in More Ways Than One
But amid the constantly burgeoning music scene Portland is rapidly expanding and is going through a tumultuous time when it comes to other aspects of the city. People are flocking to Portland for their share of the trendy vibe it offers, and as the population is growing rents are rising. These increases have sadly forced out all-ages venues like Laughing Horse, Backspace and Slabtown, soon followed by other venues like Blue Monk, LV’s Twelve-22 and Alhambra. Although it sucks that the people of Portland no longer have the musical access they used to anymore, and bands are struggling to find venues, it also opened up the local music scene to a major overhaul with the aim of once again accommodating everybody. With new kids on the block, the DIY music scene in Portland is getting even more exciting. In this hub of fast growth and shifting creativity, what is the next best thing?
Exciting Times for Music Lovers in Portland
Instead of fighting for lower rents and reviving the old venues, the dynamic musicians and music enthusiasts of the city of Portland are embracing the times and fashioning a thriving new hip-hop scene – and a lot of this from a bunch of moldy basements. Yes, it’s quite like a typical American sitcom with garage bands playing from home, but in Portland they have the added, albeit damp and low-ceilinged basement space doubling up as music venue extraordinaire – a house show culture. The scene is quite tight and it is recommended you attend one of these DIY events with a local. You are also expected to follow the rules of house-show protocol: Be nice, don’t be racist, homophobic or sexist, and for goodness sake, please don’t grope people. Although putting on your glad rags and going out for a night on town in someone’s basement is not ideal, it is a flawed solution to a massive problem. Public spaces are just about impossible to sustain in the current economic climate. So for now, it’s happening in houses.
Exactly What is Happening in These Houses?
Hip-hop is happening. Despite the major lack of clubs to play in, the Portland hip-hop community is bursting at the seams with talent. There are monthly events like Mic Check and Thesis that feature old-school hip-hop acts like Mic Crenshaw and the inimitably cool Cool Nutz, flanked by major up-and-coming acts like Mic Capes, Karma Rivera and Blossom. A local hip-hop community known as Young, Gifted and Black/Brown (YGB), hosts dance nights at some of the few remaining venues like Holocene and Deep Under Ground. There are also very interesting hip-hop performances integrated with visual art. As always, Portland does not disappoint!