What an amazing night Portland had to offer last night! First we hit up Holocene for an event curated by PDX performance art / dance troupe Wooly Mammoth Comes to Dinner.
From what I understand, SMEG JUNG JUNE8 is a work in progress that we were shown a excerpt from. Themes of identity, parental hierarchy, sexuality, the body as an object is what I was getting from the piece we saw. Very weird, strange, and beautiful. There was a merkin involved. I'm very interested to see this piece in it's entirety. Along with a slew of other great performers, we also saw ROB WALMART. A psych / drone / booty shakin' party machine, usually they just park their converted delivery truck / mobile party machine outside of said venues and perform on the street, this time we had the rare treat of hearing them play within Holocene, the sound system alone brought their show to another realm, enveloping the audience within their inescapable party drone. Truly amazing, featuring an all star cast of artists, musicians, and poets. Last night included Adam Forkner of White Rainbow, and Curtis Knapp, owner of Marriage Records. Check this shit!
And that was just part one of the evening! My wife won tickets to see Omar Souleyman at Dante's. Omar is a Syrian singer. It was an amazing performance, we only got to see about 30 minutes of his set, but it was worth it. We will definitely be coming back for more when he plays Portland on the 4th of July. Here's what his label, Sublime Frequencies has to say about him, "Omar Souleyman is a Syrian musical legend. Since 1994, he and his musicians have emerged as a staple of folk-pop throughout Syria, but until now they have remained little known outside of the country. To date, they have issued more than five-hundred studio and live- recorded cassette albums which are easily spotted in the shops of any Syrian city.
Born in rural Northeastern Syria, he began his musical career in 1994 with a small group of local collaborators that remain with him today.
The myriad musical traditions of the region are evident in their music. Here, classical Arabic mawal-style vocalization gives way to high-octane Syrian Dabke (the regional folkloric dance and party music), Iraqi Choubi and a host of Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish styles, among others. This amalgamation is truly the sound of Syria.
The music often has an overdriven sound consisting of phase-shifted Arabic keyboard solos and frantic rhythms. At breakneck speeds, these shrill Syrian electronics play out like forbidden morse-code, but the moods swing from coarse and urgent to dirgy and contemplative in the rugged anthems that comprise Souleyman's repertoire. Oud, reeds, baglama saz, accompanying vocals and percussion fill out the sound from track to track. Mahmoud Harbi is a long-time collaborator and the man responsible for much of the poetry sung by Souleyman."
Check out Sublime Frequencies website for more on Omar: