So much good shit, so much good shit, eat it all, eat it eat it eat it ALLLLLL, open your MOUUUTTHHHSSSS Portland, and EAT THE GOOD SHIT, mmmm NOM NOM NOM NOM yumyumyumyumYUMMMMM!!!!
We’re really careening headlong into That Holiday. You know the one. The one we’re all supposed to love! The one upon which Starbucks is apparently waging a war! The one that the Williams Sonoma catalog creams their jeans over every damn year! The one uniting Jews and Chinese takeout for one hot night of paper plate action! That’s right, it’s Christmas! Some people still celebrate the birth of definitely-not-a-white-guy-but-pretty-much-the-son-of-refugees-seeking-shelter original rebel and conscientious objector Jesus, while most just want to participate in the unsettling retail feeding frenzy of Macy’s sweaters and Amazon gift cards that weasel their way onto tree skirts across this great nation! Huzzah! Just gimme the money, I’ll buy what I want… or more likely pay off some bills. Can we just pay off bills as Christmas gifts? I’m a pragmatist.
As first-gen American kids, our family celebrated Christmas differently, Euro-style with fish stew and pierogis on Christmas eve and, once everyone was completely hammered, a rousing round of Christmas carols sung in a circle, some in German, some in English. Christmas day was pretty much a wake up, fry some leftover pierogis and pad around the house in socks kind of day, no big d. But then, as an adult, I worked for years running wildly popular movie theaters that also slung booze and food, at which point Christmas day took on another meaning entirely. It became the day on which, as the General Manager, I became an entire disgruntled population’s punching bag, a person on which to dump familial frustrations, holiday stresses and anger management issues, a person who - many would think to themselves and express through their actions, but nobody would really say outright - was “less than” those who are privileged enough to be able not to work on Christmas.
But the reason I tell you this story is this - Christmas makes people really stressed out. We’ve got holiday fatigue, the big family thing on Thanksgiving, all the parties and boozing and eating in the weeks following and then another high holy holiday and just SO MUCH EXTENDED FAMILY WHO DON’T GET YOU AT ALL and driving around and sitting in traffic and stressing about money and finding the right gifts for too many people, and shit, I mean, it just seems to have gotten away from the core of the thing, no? What even is the core? I mean it kind of should be about being kind and having a good ass time right, so what the fuck - let’s go to some shows together, you guys, and be kind and have a good ass time and get into the spirit of the season. And let this serve as a PSA, a reminder that, no matter HOW MAD you are at your auntie for commenting on your weight eight times during dinner or how terrible you think your cousin is for all the anti-Muslim bullshit he keeps spouting off about while the kids are opening their gifts, it is NEVER OK to treat your servers and hospitality workers poorly. Most of them work right through the holidays and don’t even have a chance to see their racist cousins and mean aunties, and the only “Christmas” they’ll get is a 2am post-shift cheap-beer-soaked bitch fest at the expediter’s house that night, and that sucks. It sucks. So be nice. Tip well, all season long (that means 20% and up. Yes, yes it does. Don’t be a fucking dick). Here we go!
Friday, December 11
Friday night at 6pm, The Maine Academy of Modern Music has the Kids & Teens Open Stage, which is basically an open mic for kids. This is the next generation of Maine musicians, how fucking cool is that. Do you have kids? Do they play music? Go, then, if you can. I feel like it’s weird for solo adults to go and plus there’s no bar so what would I even do there AMIRITE, but it’s nice to know this shit is going on. But also, if you have like, a niece or a nephew who is doing this, go support them. Open mic is hella scary.
Oddly enough, Styxx has a thing that I want to attend but I know I won’t be able to because other shit has gotten in the way, DJ Patrick Grey is having a farewell pop divas party, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like, a dance party with like a shitload of madonna and mariah and fucking, I don’t know, lady gaga? Fun. Sure. Salvage has I think the Half Moon Jugband, though that is unconfirmed, Space Gallery has a dance production called Boring Angel, Asylum has Plague with DJ Rev Benjamin Powers and Ze Dark, Brian Boru has Secret Stache, Dogfish has Viva and of course the legendary and stalwart TJH for happy hour, and Portland House of Music and Events is closed for a private event after happy hour tonight. They’re apparently having their holiday party and they didn’t invite any of us, those jerks. JOKES, we love you PHOME! I do love parties, though, what gives? I LOVE FINGER FOODS.
Alright, so Empire has a Tribute 2: show, and this time they’re doing the Pop Disaster Tour, which was a real tour that happened with Blink-182 and Green Day and some other emo-pop-punk bands in 2002, and so this Tribute 2 will be I guess the music of Blink-182 and Green Day, mostly. It is not at all my thing, Dookie came out the year that I graduated high school, but it never really resonated with me. I mean for fuck sake, Nevermind came out three years before, and we were pretty much all still listening to it all the time in 1994 because it’s one of the best albums ever, it eclipsed everything that came after it. Whatever, anyway, it’s not my thing but the lineup is interesting to me. It’s John Vavra and Jeremy Culberson of Volcano Rabbit, and I’ve had the chance to write about them a little bit for the Band in the Beginning series I’ve been doing for Dispatch, they are both in Delorean Gray, the band being profiled in that series. It’s also The Dustins™! Dustin Graham and Dustin Saucier, who nail this emo shit on the head. I don’t have to tell you to go to this, because everyone fucking loves cover bands because people are sheep who need to be reassured that what they’re consuming has been approved by the herd prior to consuming it, BUT this is a cool lineup, good dudes. Anyway, tonight in all likelihood if you have a pulse in Portland you’ll either be here or at:
Duh, The Fogcutters Big Band Syndrome at the State Theater. You already know all about this, more than I do: they’re a 20 piece big band that does this holiday show every year with all manner of special guests and beloved songs and collaborations, I mean it’s the thing to be at on this night. Last year, I came in with an industry friend at the tail end of the show just in time to see the inimitable Frank Hopkins - a man with a heart of gold and the hair of Predator - do his big bluesy thing with the band, and it was so great. I am very poor so I cannot afford to go to this this year, but I will dance and/or make a batch of wicked strong holiday rum balls for anyone who will friggin’ bring me to this, for fuck sake. I’m the saddest, least-well-connected music journalist on the planet. I guess it’s sort of a why put the cow on the guest list when it will milk… itself? For free? Uh, pay for its own milk? Situation? That metaphor went off the rails fast, yikes. (Update: a fairy godmother helped me get tickets to this show! Huzzah! Christmas miracles DO come true, y’all).
Purveyors of quirk and nerd stuffs Mayo Street Arts has Zapion, which is Turkish, Arabic, Greek and Armenian folk dance music, with members of Okbari. I have a certain Greek in my life with whom I recently revisited the music of Nana Mouskouri, who was like, a hot ticket in the 70’s, singing what was essentially Greek folk/pop. My dad played her records constantly. Ugh, what is my point? That this kind of music is cool and awesome. Kids, listen up: go see the music of different cultures being played. You’ll learn a lot, that is a real thing. Mkay.
Ok so then my disaffected unemployed punk rock boyfriend Geno’s Rock Club has Rock and Roll Christmas Festivus with Port City Saints, Seasonal Disorders and L.N. Degenerates. I have only seen Seasonal Disorders and not the other two, but L.N. Degenerates is a pretty great punk band name, and… oh hell, at this point? You either hang out at Geno’s or you don’t. Figure your shit out and pull yourself together and go get your dose of pre-millenial “authenticity” from a place that is actually authentic, for once.
Saturday, December 12th
PHOME has their December Dance Till You Drop Party with John Hughes Radio, Sea Level, Purse and Foam Castles. Let’s all take a moment to go look at John Hughes Radio’s press photo. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
The legacy of press photos is that invariably, they are like, five years old and outdated basically the moment you take them, and every band always needs new press photos, constantly. It’s a never ending cycle. Anyway, I like this press photo because everyone has like, shitty shiny Chess King sport coats from the mall on except that one guy in the middle with like a regular sport coat on and he’s all, “nope” about everyone else’s terrible clothes, and then dude in the back, is like, “hey guys, where ya going in your sweet jackets? Can I come? I brought my sunglasses!” There’s a dorky charm here that I am not hating, is what I’m saying. I haven’t listened to their music yet and I’m not going to until I go to this show on Saturday night. Plus: Capaldi! Right?
Bayside Bowl has Crushed Out, I don’t know what that is. Brian Boru has OC and the Offbeats, I also don’t know what that is, you guys, time is limited I can’t investigate every little thing, lay the fuck off me, ok Dogfish has Sassquatch (??) and Salvage has King Memphis.
Zero Station offers us this weekend’s all ages punk show with USA Waste, Uncle Spudd, Bad Leg, QQQQQ, White Power Dies Today and No Good. This is all ages and has a sliding scale suggested donation at the door - pay what you can. Love this. I won’t go because I’m hella old, but if I were sixteen, HOO BOY would I be up in that shit. As opposed to where I really was when I was 16, which was driving my mom’s jeep down to Tribeca and using a fake ID to get into the Wetlands to see The Dude of Life… fucking YIKES, bro. I swear to GOD that sometimes I actually make good decisions. Why just this morning, I… uh… welp, that went straight to hell. MMMMMMMKAYYYY.
In the basement at Asylum tonight, which, this is new, we have Week Moves: Odd Couple, Shameek The God, Sqarel, Shane Reis, Lady Essence and Renee Coolbrith. This all hip hop show is $5 and given the size of the Asylum basement, will be a very intimate show. I love Lady Essence and Renee Coolbrith, it has to be really hard to be like, a white female rapper in MAINE of all places, and I think Lady Essence does a good job of sort of embodying that fish out of water experience without being too culturally appropriative. You know, like another white lady rapper whose name rhymes with Dummy Crapzalea. Alright.
Mayo Street Arts has Ghosts of Johnson City, owners and operators of the most frightening and stern "we may show up to murder you in your sleep, maybe" press photos in all the land. You guys have heard me talk about these guys enough already, but new developments with them are that they now have Ian Riley (of KGFREEZE and SeepeopleS) playing bass and they’re also working on a new album. I got to catch a glimpse of their song book, which is like, a giant three ring binder FILLED to the brim with pages of songs, it is positively bananas how much material these guys have dredged up from the sludge-filled swamps of traditional folk music. Love em, go see em you big dum dums.
Empire has the OTHER folk-ish show going on tonight (COMPETISH IS HOTTT!) with the Roots in the Attic series, this time featuring Tricky Britches and Dark Hollow Bottling Company, as well as a band from NYC called Roosevelt Dime. Strong bet for guaranteed good times and authentic NE roots music.
MAMM has an event called The Kids are alright, which this time around features our beloved Kafari! This is basically a concert in a family friendly environment because THANK GOD, parents are finally realizing that bringing their kids to see live music is necessary and important and also there is an “instrument petting zoo” at this show, I love these MAMM People. Dope.
Studio F has a Christmas Party featuring Monarck Lisa and El Malo. I haven’t been to studio F yet so I have not much to say about it, sorry guys.
You can go to Oxbow for Whale Oil’s album release party, which is FREE and has a bunch of fun guests like Spencer Albee, members of Murcielago, members of The Box Tiger, and like a shitload of other people. Go to this for the party, stay for the shame you’ll feel ordering a budget-friendly Narragansett when you have the option of significantly more delicious (and also significantly more expensive) Oxbow beers, you fucking cheapskate, you don’t even know what’s good.
Alright to round the thing out, we have Jazz at the Blue with the Jacob Forbes Trio. I just met someone here in town who can ACTUALLY PLAY jazz flute. This is basically the greatest discovery since someone taught me to do my eyeliner with a liner brush in eyeshadow instead of dicking around with pencils. Are you… are you still using fucking eyeliner pencils for your eyeliner? What are you, A MONSTER? Quit torturing yourself. Get a goddam liner brush.
WTFSIDT SPECIAL REPORT: SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!
So it has come to my attention that you guys lost a great friend and a great musician this past week, a gentleman named Johnny Fountain. I did not know him and I won’t insult his legacy by trying to write about him here, but it is is obvious from the outpouring of emotion on social media and cool videos of his performances that you guys posted that he was very special to you. Lucas from Empire has put together a memorial show for him this Sunday, December 13th. I’m very sorry for your loss, guys.
Sunday has also become somewhat of THE day to go out for dance music, as PHOME now hosts TRVP night, which: TRAP music of course, and Flask has SunDaze, which is multi-genre electronic music. Dance right on into your Monday mornings.
Ok guys, be nice, be kind, tip well, be SAFE, and never ever EVER drink and drive you guys you guys you guys you should know that I’ve got you on my mind, your secret admirer, I’ve been watching you! At night, I think of you, I want to be your lady, baby - if your game is on, give me a call Boo, if your love is strong gonna give my ALL TO YOU!!!!