Heading into downtown Portland on a Friday night is always an adventure. I prefer not to spend $10 to park my car, so I usually opt for the SmartPark and walk the 10 blocks past staggering drunks and screaming college kids to arrive at Dante’s.
February 9th’s show was a tribute to the Women Who Rock Portland. Opening the night was an indie-electropop band called When We Met. Bryan and Melissa are more than bandmates, they’re lovers. Melissa rocked a solid bass while Bryan played guitar and pinball-bounced off the walls.
Their chemistry was infectious and their sound highly energetic, often danceable, a mix of late 80’s New Wave and mid 90’s Indie Rock. Both of them shared vocal duties and sang about everything from women’s rights to their own personal demons. In between songs, the couple exuded a genuine warmth that drew the audience into their world. They wrapped up with a Pixies cover that moved the entire room to sing along.
Second on the show roster was Photona, an electronic rock trio with a dark powerful sound derived from the deepest depths of the cosmos. I was immediately captivated by singer Outer Stace’s vocal prowess. She stalked the stage like a caged tiger, occasionally crouching down in front of the crowd in a pose I’d describe as dangerous and playful. Her husband, XavierX, rocked a partially electronic drum set and brought back a sound reminiscent of John Bonham. Guitarist/synth player, Phono, filled out the band’s arena quality sound. They were powerful and edgy with catchy hooks that made songs stick to me for the rest of the evening and into the next morning.
Wrapping up the night was the amazing shoegaze band Coloring Electric Like. The duo is made up of singer/bassist/keyboardist Mia and her partner Benjamin on guitar. The songs were slow and moody, with heavy backbeats layered over synth loops, a strong industrial influence. Benjamin struck bold poses and beamed dark stares into the crowd. Mia slithered snake-like while crooning warm notes over manic instrumentations. Along with a set of original music, they thrilled the crowd with a catchy Depeche Mode cover.
I’ve been a fan of women in rock for decades, and I’m thrilled to live in a city that celebrates all genders and identities on stage.
Scott “Uncle Scotty” Hammond has been a radio show host for over 20 years. He brought his internet radio station, Radio Hot Tub, to Portland 4 years ago and has been a strong supporter of the local music scene. He currently does live shows featuring local rock bands alternating Friday mornings on Freeform Portland.