I’m new to rock tourism, but any excuse to get up to Portland is a good one. Seeing the Softies play their old hometown for their third and possibly last 2012 reunion show was the best one. I made a week of it (beer notes, restaurant notes), but the trip was firmly focused on seeing Rose Melberg and Jen Sbragia play a dream set list to an adoring crowd. Because there’s a God, audience member/hero deathcab29 taped most of the set. It’s not as crisp as the New York videos, but the band’s always been a little lo-fi.
Before the Softies went on, Bunk Bar saw fine solo sets from Joe Pernice (of the Pernice Brothers) and the single-monikered Lois. In one sense, it was a circa 1992 show after all: the show was well-attended, but given the indie-pop legends on the bill, I’m still not sure how it didn’t end with a line out the door. It’s always a double-edged sword: you want to see the things you love succeed without having to give too many pieces of them away. Portland’s Chickfactor 20 felt just right, a gathering of people who wanted to be there for the same reasons, or at least reasons that didn’t involve talking over the bands or getting belligerent. Quite the opposite.