opbmusic crossed a major inflection point in 2018, marking our 10th anniversary, as well as the closing of OPB’s large TV studio for a building remodel. That studio had hosted more than 250 opbmusic sessions over the years, including major First Listen Live events with Drive-By Truckers and case/lang/veirs. When the new space is completed in 2019, we’ll be excited to once again host bands and fans at OPB for some thrillingly intimate concerts and recordings.
This year, all of our recordings have been in the community at venues and studios including Kelly’s Olympian, Crystal Ballroom, Oregon City Brewing, Eyrst and Revolver Studios. We asked staff and contributors to highlight their favorite performances of the year.
Haley Heynderickx’s musical path has been very well documented on YouTube. Just go look her up. You’ll find recordings of her playing cover songs at home, and then you’ll find all the steps in between from her first opbmusic session in 2016 to her Tiny Desk appearance and this session at Kelly’s Olympian, one of my favorites this year. Her band was fantastic. The trombone: just the right amount in all the right places. The more I love the music at any of these sessions, the harder it is to focus on shooting the video. This set had me feeling recklessly blissful. — Nick Hennessy, opbmusic videographer
In June, Dr. Dog played a gig at Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland. We hosted the band at Revolver Studios on the east side of town, which meant we had to shuttle the Philly-based rock band (with gear in tow) across the Willamette River before their soundcheck, making a quick coffee run along the way. And while they might have been a little road weary at first, once they plugged in, it all washed away. This quintet made it look easy and effortless, as they tore through a set of songs from their newest album, “Critical Equation.” — Jerad Walker, opbmusic music director
The Helio Sequence headlined opbmusic’s 10th anniversary concert at the Crystal Ballroom in March, while marking a 10th of their own: Their powerful album “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” was released in 2008. (We recorded an early session with the band that year, and again around succeeding releases in 2012 and 2015.) The duo, drummer Ben Weikel and guitarist Brandon Summers, told us they hadn’t played their full 2008 record live when they first toured it, so running through the full album in sequence at our show was special. They launched into one favorite after another, all smiles between songs, and the crowd adored them back. — David Christensen, opbmusic program director
And And And’s session at Revolver Studios in September was one of our favorites of 2018. They played tunes from their latest LP, “Idiot,” that are a splattering of garage, punk and indie rock with crunchy guitar riffs, loud drums and raspy vocals. It was raw, it was refreshing, and it was rockin’! — Arthur C. Lee, opbmusic DJ
Camp Crush has had some additional players in their lineup over the years, including Nate Purscelly (Deepest Darkest) and Chandler Strutz (Just Lions), but the core duo of Jen Deale and Chris Spicer has always been what has propelled the group. Their charisma and loving glances (they’re married with kids) are showcased perfectly in this session just outside Oregon City Brewing Co. Deale’s booming voice carries the songs while Spicer provides the perfect, steady backbeat, and, despite the looming rain, they exude genuine happiness during every song. Looking beyond this great 2018 performance, Camp Crush is getting ready to release another EP (“Run,” Feb. 1, 2019) produced by Portland musician/producer Bryan Free and mixed by (former Portlander) Rian Lewis (Chromeo, D.R.A.M.), which means the music on our broadcast in 2019 just got a little sweeter. — Matthew Casebeer, opbmusic DJ
A decade ago, if you asked a Portlander her favorite local band you heard an indie-folk name. But these days, with almost identical predictability, that question points instead to our city’s vibrant R&B and hip-hop scenes.
Ask that same Portlander what comes to mind when they think of local hip-hop, and they’ll likely mention Eyrst. The label is practically synonymous with the hazy, sophisticated Portland hip-hop style, and the two artists we catch up with here are themselves emblematic of the label. — Isabel Zacharias, KMHD host
Sama Dams, the Portland trio fronted by couple Lisa and Sam Adams, released one of my favorite listens this year, “Say It.” That album’s power-rock choruses ride over a very deep undertow of bass pedals that underline some breathtakingly raw lyrics. On stage in our session at Kelly’s, the two swapped places and instruments during the set, working through a musical conversation on songs like “Say It.”— David Christensen, opbmusic program director
No list of 2018 performances can leave off this memorable final performance ever in the old OPB television studio. What a way to go out. Hometown heroes Typhoon are one of our favorite bands. They’re also one of the most impressive live acts that you will ever see — in size, sheer talent, and scope. In front of a studio audience, this relatively small eight-member iteration of the band (it can swell to as large as a dozen) played a set of epic, towering and dark indie rock from their new record, “Offerings” — including their first single, “Rorschach” — as well as reworked versions of three older songs. — Jerad Walker, opbmusic music director
That’s a wrap on 2018. Thanks to our very talented production crew, and all our partners on sessions this year. See you in 2019.
Credits (all sessions in 2018):
Audio mixes and audio supervision: Steven Kray
Recordings: Nalin Silva, Hakeem Hasworth, Cory Gray, Neil von Talley
Editors: Jarratt Taylor, Nate Sjol
Videographers: Jarratt Taylor, Nate Sjol, Andrew Barrick, Nick Hennessy, Alex Crowson, Gerard O’Sullivan, Braden Spotts, Steven Tonthat
Production coordination: Lisa Miyamoto, William Ward, Randy Layton
Our 2018 intern: Sararosa Davies
Special thanks to the staff at The Old Church, Bunk Bar, Oregon City Brewing, Kelly’s Olympian and the Crystal Ballroom
Executive Producer: David Christensen