Preview: Papadosio at the Wonder Ballroom, 3/22
Mar20

Preview: Papadosio at the Wonder Ballroom, 3/22

One of our favorite bands, Papadosio, will make their return to Portland this Saturday, March 22! Due to the immense popularity of their last Portland appearance, they’ll be playing at the Wonder Ballroom this time around with support from The Main Squeeze. You can expect an incredible visual experience accompanying the music, as well as some great vibes! Read our interview with Papadosio’s Anthony Thogmartin here. Tickets are $15- $18, and can be purchased by clicking this link.  ...

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New Ammo: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at the Crystal Ballroom, 2/15
Mar20

New Ammo: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at the Crystal Ballroom, 2/15

Review by Kara Wilbeck Photos by Alexander Maso With a musician as versatile as Karl Denson, there have been times when I’ve wondered which side of him would show its face at a concert. Would it be the fly, funky Karl or the smooth jazz Karl? The hard rock Karl or the psychedelic Karl? Denson’s shapeshifting abilities seem to have spread to his jazz/funk/rock outfit Tiny Universe. Playing a late-night festival set at Horning’s Hideout, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe amped up the psychedelia, leaving the audience somewhere between “What just happened?” and “That was awesome!” At a fall show at Portland’s Aladdin Theater, Tiny Universe tapped Zach Deputy‘s vocals for an all-stops-pulled Ray Charles dance party.    At the Crystal Ballroom on Feb. 15, Denson and company opted for the harder, fuller, rockier sound, which unsurprisingly reflected the audacious attitude of their recent release, New Ammo. Much of the show’s set time was devoted to showcasing the new album, which- trust me- nobody was upset about. Forgoing the groove and soul of previous Denson projects, New Ammo is aggressive and bold- and bold is most definitely the way to go when you’re playing at the Crystal Ballroom.   Borrowing bassist and vocalist Tony Hall from Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk for the show, Denson’s show that night was fired up. The matching suit-clad band played with nonstop energy, barely giving us rest between songs. Statuesque guitarist DJ Williams blew the crowd away (as usual) with the shockingly good sounds emanating from his instrument. The night culminated in an intense cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” a standout track on New Ammo. (This author is also a huge fan of the title track, “New Ammo.”) The show ended with the Crystal Ballroom’s spring-loaded floor still bouncing and a crowd wanting even more of Denson’s heavy artillery.   Correction: This article previously referenced former guitarist Brian Jordan. The current guitarist for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is DJ Williams. We apologize for the error. Gallery: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR, 2/15/2014 Click on photo to view full...

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Review: Umphrey’s McGee at the Crystal Ballroom, 3/7/14
Mar18

Review: Umphrey’s McGee at the Crystal Ballroom, 3/7/14

Review by Regan Crisp Photos by Jordan Inglee, www.visualsuplex.com Umphrey’s McGee’s current tour schedule is an epic, sprawling thing, with stops in Chattanooga, TN, London, and Rochester, N.Y., and part of this year’s tour bills Umphrey’s with the bluesy California Honeydrops. On Friday, March 7, the Honeydrops’ soulful, rootsy stylings, usually steal-the-stage memorable, were an appetizer (and a short one at that) for Umphrey’s lauded stage show, with its usual cast of virtuosic musicians, dreamy lights, and genre-bending jams. Last weekend’s Portland performance was the band’s first Crystal Ballroom gig in three years, and more than just a chance to dust off last summer’s rage stick and pass the vape under the chandeliers, it was an example of the band in highest form- despite the intervening years (Umphrey’s turns 17 this year).  Heavier than the Grateful Dead and without the goofiness of Phish, Umphrey’s might invite similar crowds to its forebears but in truth, their sound is unique. The band guarantees two eventualities on their website: “You never know what you are going to get,” and “Umphrey’s always delivers.” But while they draw comparisons to bands using similar techniques- improvisation, complex compositions, setlists sprinkled with creative covers- Umphrey’s have carefully carved a category all their own, characterized by ample percussion (two kits) and Jake Cinninger’s shredding guitar. Umphrey’s take the jam band genre into a broader, louder spectrum, one drawing heavily on classic 70s rock, and particularly the prog genre. In a day and age (and town) where classic prog usually takes a back seat to more accessible rock, and jam bands offering lighter listening, Umphrey’s offers a breath of fresh air. At the Crystal Ballroom the music spilled effortlessly through a captivating light show by Umphrey’s L.D.-in-residence Jefferson Waful. It’s easy to get lost in the Umphrey’s show of light and sound, no matter who you are. Deadheads, Tool fans, musicians and those simply looking for a good party unite under the Umphrey’s banner, and it’s clear why. Their music straddles a fine line between dancey and dark, memorable and hypnotizing. Umphrey’s opened the night with “Le Blitz,” a tune only recently integrated into their live shows, but quickly moved into fan favorites like “Much Obliged,” “Dump City,” and “The Linear.” The first set worked the crowd, warming the room up to a fever pitch, but it was the second set that set the band’s energy loose.  After a brief break, the band moved into “Plunger,” beautifully into “Hajimemashite,” and back into “Plunger.” While Waful’s designs left a rainbow hue on the band during the first set, in the second set Umphrey’s met a heavenly white bath, that,...

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Janxta Funkytown: The Pimps of Joytime
Mar02

Janxta Funkytown: The Pimps of Joytime

Review by Jason Gershuny Photos by Marshall Snyder Brooklyn’s natives The Pimps of Joytime brought their Janxta funky music to Portland’s Mississippi Studios on Friday, Feburary 21. Their power-packed performance gave the raucous audience a chance to shake it hard to their soulful grooves. The venue  may have been packed wall-to-wall with hot and sweaty bodies, but that didn’t dampen spirits on this night. For those who haven’t seen the Pimps before, imagine a sound that combines a balanced blend of old school soul, thick dirty funk, shredding guitar licks, polyrhythmic percussive grooves, vocal harmonies, and just a dash of keyboard samples. That combination of musical flavors creates the perfect recipe for a dance party. The Pimps headlined the night and created an inspired set of music that did a masterful job of mixing their classic show stopping tunes like “Janksta Funk,” “Freedom Dancer,” “My Gold,” “Keep that Music Playin’,” and “San Francisco Bound” with some samples of newer material. This evening’s performance demonstrated the ever-growing evolution of their sound, and confirmed the notion that they are still a band on the creative rise. Over the course of an amazing night of music, two aspects stood out regarding of the growth and direction of the Pimps of Joytime. The first aspect is this band’s commitment to the Northwest. I have struggled to think of any another east coast band that gives the Pacific Northwest love more often than the Pimps. They come our way two to three times a year without fail, and they have built their Northwest fan base the old fashioned way: by throwing funk parties that create legitimate grassroots momentum.  It is hard to not have a deep appreciation for bands that are willing to repeatedly travel thousands of miles, even in the winter months, to make it to our neck of the woods.  The second aspect of the show that stood out is the solidified and connected lineup the Pimps have developed over the course of the last two years. Brian Jay has been the soulful visionary behind the band, mixing and matching musicians like a mad scientist, always looking to create a musical potion that gets the groove just right. Mayteana Morales joined the band nearly 6 years ago and has made her vocal and percussive prowess an essential layer at the heart of the Pimps music. But other than the two of them, the rest of the band’s members had been in an unsteady rotation for a few years. Over the last two years, however, the lineup has really solidified, and the payoff is evident. Cole Williams adds so much power and emotion...

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