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Robert Ker

Robert Ker is a freelance music writer in Portland, where he and his wife own the vintage store Find. Contact him at: Twitter: @bobbker

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Posted: May 22, 2015

Father John Misty, Cibo Matto & more: 6 indoor summer concerts you shouldn’t miss

Written by: Robert Ker
Joe Ely, Saturday in Brownfield.

Joe Ely, Saturday in Brownfield.

As Portland gears up for the biggest summer of outdoor music since The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach hosted concerts, one shouldn’t forget to look at the slate of indoor concerts. The range of venues in Portland is now impressive, and the summer is when most acts hit the road, making for a full calendar. Here are some highlights:

Joe Ely, Stone Mountain Arts Center, Saturday, May 30

The Stone Mountain Arts Center’s calendar once more features an impeccable lineup of singer-songwriters, and a date hosted by Texas musician Joe Ely is one of the undeniable highlights. Ely’s long career has comfortably straddled both rock and country – he has both toured with The Clash and also started the iconic supergroup The Flatlanders with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock. In concert, Ely is a lively raconteur with a vast catalogue of near-perfect, insightful songs. He is highly regarded in Texas and the Southwest, and this appearance is a rare opportunity for Maine audiences to see why that is. FMI:

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Lower Dens, Asylum, June 23

Lower Dens frontwoman Jana Hunter has carved a strange career path. I first saw her as a folksinger at a pizza joint in New Mexico; later I saw her band Lower Dens in the DIY Bayside performance space Apohadion. Now, she’s eschewing the standard indie-rock rooms in town for Asylum, which is typically home to rap and metal. Her band’s 2015 album “Escape from Evil” is not only her best work to date, but among the best albums of the year. It features big, 1980s-influenced hooks, Krautrock grooves, and elliptical song structures that recall Radiohead – so difficult to classify that she couldn’t be bound to one kind of venue. FMI:

Spoon, June 19 in Portland.

Spoon, June 19 in Portland.

Spoon, State Theatre, June 19

When people insist that rock music hasn’t been good since they were teenagers, Spoon is your retort. The Texas band plays music as lean and groovy as T. Rex and is capable of guitar bursts straight from Ziggy Stardust’s arsenal. They’ve received bonafides all over the media and even from local rock enthusiast Stephen King for more than a decade now. In decades past, their latest album, “They Want My Soul,” would have uncorked four huge radio singles, and their show at the State Theatre would have prompted fans to set their alarm clocks to get to their local Ticketmaster outlet on the day of sale. With the music industry being what it is these days, that sense of urgency isn’t there – but seriously, what are you waiting for? FMI:

Cibo Matto, June 30 in Portland.

Cibo Matto, June 30 in Portland.

Cibo Matto, Port City Music Hall, June 30

With nearly every 1990s band dusting off their gear and hitting the reunion-tour circuit, one shouldn’t be surprised that the Japanese-expatriate duo of Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori would reassemble their rap, pop and Brazilian sound collages for another go-around. Or perhaps one should be surprised: Despite the fact that Cibo Matto’s kitchen-sink funk was in the same vein as artists such as the Beastie Boys, they never got far beyond cult status. Releasing ramshackle concept albums about food items will do that. The good news, however, is that cult acts make for fantastic concerts. The better news is that they’re not just coasting on past glories – their 2014 comeback album “Hotel Valentine” is an intoxicating potpourri of sounds and melody, and the concert should be a dandy. FMI:

Angel Olsen, Port City Music Hall, July 25

In 2013, Angel Olsen played a show at SPACE Gallery that was so sparsely attended that most people sat on the floor. To the rest of Portland: That was your loss. Olsen’s performance was absolutely arresting, with her gaze fixed unnervingly on her audience and her voice turning unpredictable somersaults in the lower register. Since then, a lot has happened to her. She’s slowly turned up her amps and abandoned her folk strumming in favor of reverb-heavy guitar, snapping up accolades for her 2014 album “Burn Your Fire for No Witness” along the way. The audience won’t be so sparse this time, but that only means the buzz will linger louder and longer after the show. FMI:

Father John Misty, State Theatre, Aug. 3

It’s been quite a year for Father John Misty, who received the best reviews and sales of his solo career with “I Love You, Honeybear,” and is now embarking on his first solo tour of theater-sized venues. His August concert here will be summer treat – he performs with the pastel flair of the Flaming Lips and the rich vocals of the Fleet Foxes (of which he was once a member), dropping genuinely amusing stage banter to go with his witty, sometimes absurdist lyrics. He’s both charismatic and aloof in that California boho way, and armed with a crack band and a singing voice that will charm the paint off of the walls of the State. FMI:

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