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Lydia Loveless

Alt-country with a dose of honky tonk and punk rock

Lydia Loveless

Angelica Garcia, Michael Dean Damron

Tue, January 31

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Doug Fir Lounge

Portland, OR

$12.00

This event is 21 and over

Lydia Loveless
Lydia Loveless
Blessed with a commanding, blast-it-to-the-back-of-the-room voice, the 25-year-old Lydia Loveless was raised on a family farm in Coshocton, Ohio—a small weird town with nothing to do but make music. With a dad who owned a country music bar, Loveless often woke up with a house full of touring musicians scattered on couches and floors. She has turned this potential nightmare scenario (eww….touring musicians smell…) into a wellspring of creativity.

When she got older, in the time-honored traditions of teenage rebellion, she turned her back on these roots, moved to the city (Columbus, OH) and immersed herself in the punk scene, soaking up the musical and attitudinal influences of everyone from Charles Bukowski to Richard Hell to Hank III.

Loveless’s Bloodshot debut album Indestructible Machine combined heady doses of punk rock energy and candor with the country classicism she was raised on and just can’t shake; it was a gutsy and unvarnished mash-up. It channeled ground zero-era Old 97s (with whom she later toured) but the underlying bruised vulnerability came across like Neko Case’s tuff little sister. Indestructible Machine possesses a snotty irreverence and lyrical brashness that’s an irresistible kick in the pants.

On her second Bloodshot album Somewhere Else, released after a few 7″ singles and an EP, Loveless was less concerned with chasing approval – she scrapped an entire album’s worth of material before writing the set – and more focused on fighting personal battles of longing and heartbreak, and the aesthetic that comes along with them. While her previous album was described as “hillbilly punk with a honky-tonk heart” (Uncut), this one couldn’t be so quickly shoehorned into neat categorical cubbyholes. No, things were different this time around—Loveless and her band collectively dismissed the genre blinders and sonic boundaries that came from playing it from a safe, familiar place. Creatively speaking, ifIndestructible Machine was an all-night bender, Somewhere Else was the forlorn twilight of the next day, when that creeping nostalgia has you looking back for someone, something, or just… anything.

2016’s Real is one of those exciting records where you sense an artist truly hitting their stride, that their vision is both focused and expansive, and that their talent brims with a confident sense of place, execution and exploration. Whether you’ve followed Lydia’s career forever, like us, or if you are new to her ample game, Real is gonna grab your ears.

On her first two Bloodshot albums, there were fevered comparisons to acknowledged music icons like Loretta Lynn, Stevie Nicks, Replacements, and more. She’s half this, half that, one part something else. We hate math. But, now Real and Lydia Loveless are reference points of their own. Genre-agnostic, Lydia and her road-tightened band pull and tease and stretch from soaring, singalong pop gems, roots around the edges to proto-punk. There are many sources, but the album creates a sonic center of gravity all its own.

Always a gifted writer with a lot to say, Lydia gives the full and sometimes terrifying, sometimes ecstatic force of the word. Struggles between balance and outburst, infectious choruses fronting emotional torment are sung with a sneer, a spit, or a tenderness and openness that is both intensely personal and universally relatable. It is, as the title suggests, real.

Lydia Loveless has toured with artists such as Old 97’s, Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Iron & Wine, Scott H. Biram, and the Supersuckers. Her music has been praised by Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork, SPIN, Stereogum, Chicago Tribune, and more.

Loveless penned an original song for the 2015 film I Smile Back, starring Sarah Silverman, and was the subject of the 2016 documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?, directed by Gorman Bechard.
Angelica Garcia
Angelica Garcia
Angelica Garcia appropriately likens her journey to "going down the rabbit hole."

Upon graduating from Los Angeles School for the Arts, the 17-year-old native Angeleno found herself living in a 200-year-old gothic brick home encircled by magnolia trees and under a blanket of bright stars in Accomac, Virginia. Her stepfather traded a career in the music industry for Episcopalian priesthood, and an Eastern Shore church would serve as his (and the family's) first congregation. Behind that residence where Union General Henry Hayes Lockwood once passed through during the Civil War, Angelica began to fashion her musical world in the dusty old parish house. Nodding to her personal "holy trinity" of Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Jack White, she tenaciously penned music.

"Living there helped define my sound," she declares. "It was really hard for me, because all of my friends were in Los Angeles. I didn't know anyone, and I felt very isolated. So, I went into that parish house alone. When you're sitting there by yourself, you don't have to ask for permission. There's no one to judge you. You get to do everything you want to. I had the chance to be free musically. A lot of it was my way to resurrect hope and feel better. You write what you know because nobody knows what you know. That's the best way to be honest."

The singer and songwriter's vision embraced the environment as she recorded the sounds of crickets, drumming on a shoebox, creaking doors, and more to build a rich soundscape with just her piano, guitar, and MacBook. Those ideas would eventually evolve into the 12 songs comprising her 2016 full-length Warner Bros. Records debut, Medicine For Birds.

In 2014, the label signed Angelica based off the strength of the parish house demos, and she embarked on her first national tour with Delta Rae. She'd take the initial ideas to a Nashville studio with producer Charlie Peacock [The Civil Wars, Switchfoot] in January 2015.

"It's like the songs grew up at that moment," she explains. "Charlie showed me how big and crazy they could be. I felt like a hermit coming out. He was the ambassador to this sonic realm I didn't know about it. The music became limitless."

Now, her style struts between ghostly gorgeous countrified blues and sly swamp Americana. With a childlike whimsy, quirky sense of humor, and dynamic delivery, it could easily soundtrack an apparitions' ball in some Faulknerian mansion. Punctuated by stomping percussion, revival-worthy handclaps, and airy banjos, "Woman I'm Hollerin'" conjures up a heavenly haunting chant, "They want my blood!"

"I wrote it in one sitting," she recalls. "It's all about being afraid people are going to come after you. We all get scared, and it captures that feeling. You're worried and reaching out for help."
Elsewhere, "Magnolia Is Medicine" pairs a lithe finger-picked acoustic guitar with her breathy verses. It uncovers the meaning behind the album title too. "The Magnolia tree represented the South for me," she says. "It was the medicine that made me feel better. In the same way, I want these songs to make other people feel better."

"Bridge Is On Fire" spins a psychedelic electric sitar into a gloomy, grim narrative of towering flames and the ashes of a relationship. "I'm telling the story of a guy and girl," she continues. "He's panicking about this bridge burning, and his love being on the other side away from him. However, it turns out she lit the blaze. Her decision to start this fire was more important than the relationship. It's a self-actualization."

Medicine For Birds is Angelica's actualization. It's the culmination of a life devoted to music that began in Eastern Los Angeles harmonizing with her mother at 5-years-old and performing at the city's most famous haunts in high school to landing at the bottom of the rabbit hole on the other side of the country.

It's the gateway to her wild world…

"I love it when someone tells me they relate to my work," she concludes. "that's the ultimate validation. When you're all alone working on music, you open up. The more songs that I write, the more I realize this world. It's kooky. It's spooky. It's playful. It's funny. It's somber. It's goth. It's light. It's me."
Michael Dean Damron
Michael Dean Damron
Michael Dean Damron is one of the strongest flag-bearers for the old guard of Portland country-punkers whose songwriting remains as sharp as it was 10 years ago. As leader of the explosive band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House, Damron's songs have struck a thematic balance of angry political diatribes and nostalgia for '50s pop culture, all while railing against homophobia and a lot more. A former boxer who also served with the Army's 101st Airborne, Damron's wellspring of material comes to the forefront on his new solo LP, When the Darkness Come. Produced by Fernando Viciconte, When the Darkness Come posits earnest tunes confronting aging, alcoholism, womanizing, and disability ("Diabetes Blues") in new sonic avenues for Damron. Ambient instrumentation decorates Damron's typically story-driven vignettes of underdogs, and puts this solo effort in a new class for the longtime singer/songwriter. RYAN J. PRADO