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Music

Just before the bass drops into the thumping drumbeat on an electronica track, it’s easy to rush towards preconceived (and often negative) notions about popular “dance” music. 

The battle for gender-inclusive spaces is in the white-hot spotlight recently, notably from backlash pertaining to the passage of transgender exclusionary bills such as North Carolina’s restriction on public restroom use in accordance with the sex assigned on a person’s birth certificate. 

The music of Canadian indie-rock group Supermoon is built from elements so delicately stacked it seems a cool breeze might knock them over. You want to catch the sound in a butterfly net, put it in a glass jar and keep it safely tucked on a shelf. 

Why wait for summer to take your international vacation when you can take a musical world tour this month right here in Eugene?

Bay-area black-metal act Bosse-De-Nage makes music in a post-everything world. Read how the band’s sound is described in the media: post-hardcore, post-metal. It’s hard to know what any of that means.

Portland power-trio The Thermals are obsessed with death.

“It’s a subject Hutch [Harris] and I think about a lot,” Thermals bassist Kathy Foster tells EW. Harris plays guitar, sings and is primary songwriter. “It’s always present,” she says of the specter of death. “Sometimes it can be scarier than other times. Sometimes I get obsessed with it, think about it a lot and have this doomed feeling: It’s inevitable.” 

Unfortunately, Beyoncé doesn’t seem to have Eugene in her sights and, if looking at the mostly male, mostly white lineups of Eugene’s biggest venues is any indication, they wouldn’t book her anyway. So to see Bey’s Lemonade tour, you’ll have to head north to Seattle.

The regional old-time scene is going to have one big hearth to gather round May 5-8: the inaugural Willamette Valley Old-Time Social put on by Eugene’s Mud City Old-Time Society. For the uninitiated, old-time music is an acoustic tradition of American music. Fiddle and banjo are the stars, making the sound a perfect catalyst for square dancing. 

Opera is hot in America these days. Despite the hidebound programming of most major opera companies endlessly recycling the tired old “top 10” 19th- and early 20th-century warhorses, today’s American composers are writing dozens of new operas — many based on American themes — and finding audiences both young and old.

Portland musician Pat Kearns is feeling reflective. “It’s just been where the songs have been taking me,” Kearns tells EW. “The stuff that I’ve been writing the last couple of years has just been a lot quieter. Maybe I’ll know all of this more when I reach the other side of it.”

It’s easy to get confused by the ups and downs of today’s music scene. We’ve lost foundational icons like Prince and Bowie. Zayn left One Direction (and was kind of a butthead about it) and no one knows what the hell Iggy Azalea is doing. Shit has gotten weird.

After opening its season pulling from classic Christmas fare (A Christmas Story) and pop-oriented crowd pleasers (the Burt Bacharach songbook), the Eugene Concert Choir will step out of the box a bit with two performances this Saturday, April 30: Latin American Folk For Kids at 11 am and Cantata Criolla at 8 pm, both held in the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall. 

Muddy Waters changed Pokey LaFarge’s life. “I was, like, 13,” LaFarge tells EW, recalling the time some “older cats” played him Waters’ classic 1963 album Folk Singer at a pizza joint. “I thought, ‘Wow, the blues are acoustic?’” LaFarge recalls. “It changed my life.” 

“Keep the Earth clean. It isn’t Uranus. (No offense to Uranus.)” That’s one of our favorite Earth Day slogans reminding us to tread lightly and kindly on this (thus far) singular planet we call home. 

Locally, Sol Seed, Whole Earth Nature School and Pedal Power Music are reminding you to do the same with their Earth Day Celebration, a fundraiser for the school, 7 pm Friday, April 22, at Hi-Fi Music Hall; $12 adv., $15 door. 

Something interesting happens at the end of Flatbush Zombies’ latest release, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Halfway through the album’s closing track “Your Favorite Rap Song,” the music drifts away and in comes an extended series of voicemail-like recordings. Most are stoned treatises to the greatness of the Brooklyn hip-hop trio. “If this is the Flatbush Zombies, I just wanna say ya’ll fucking rock,” one voice says, holding in a bong rip. 

Multi-culti is all the rage in music, food and the rest of today’s global culture. But mixing Latin American and European ingredients still felt pretty novel back in 1954, when Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez wrote his colorful Cantata Criolla, which Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Symphony will perform April 30 at the Hult Center’s Silva Hall.

Eugene old-timey country-blues act Breakers Yard releases its new album Tried & Untrue April 28 at Sam Bond’s. The self-produced record draws from traditions of pre-WWII jazz, country and blues. 

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

He descended on the Carter era of gas lines and bloody carpets and post-love funk like some infernal geek bastard child of Buddy Holly and Johnny Lydon, spitting out lyrical venom over gorgeous hooks and bellicose riffs that plumbed the deepest, darkest wells of pop music — billboard fuzz attacking itself with newborn impunity — all of it churned out with a churlish amphetamine sneer that belied his antediluvian genius for melodic universalism within the three-minute cliché of radio-radio rock.

Eugene has long been one of the beacons of so-called early music, which includes basically anything composed (in Europe) before J.S. Bach died and Mozart was born in the mid-18th century. The Oregon Bach Festival has been the big kahuna, but the city boasts an indie early music scene consisting of historically informed performance practice musicians in outfits like the Oregon Bach Collegium, Vox Resonat and the University of Oregon’s splendid early music program.

Get ready to feel some serious butterflies from the sensual rock tunes of Cape Cod’s Highly Suspect and Luz Elena Mendoza (of Y La Bamba) coming to WOW Hall April 9.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

G-Eazy is such a big deal that iconic rapper Lil Wayne remixed a song from his new album last week and NBA superstar Kobe Bryant greeted him at a recent Lakers game.

On Billboard’s website, Nielsen Music charts hip-hop and R&B songs using a metric that calculates radio airplay, streaming and music sales. Each week since Feb. 20, G-Eazy’s “Me, Myself & I” ranked higher than any other rap song save Drake’s “Summer 16” and Rihanna’s “Work” (which also features Drake).

From April 12-16, the UO is hosting its first free and open to the public early music conference, Musicking, which includes lecture series, master classes and other coaching opportunities, along with stars from the admittedly geeky early music world, scholarly sessions and, of course, concerts, not to mention a “period-instrument petting zoo.”