Portland, Oregon is known for rain, microbrews and promiscuity. I’m going to add another thing to that list –the Portland music scene.
ortland isn’t considered a national leader for pumping out mainstream, Hollywood-induced music. That doesn’t mean Portland musicians aren’t talented; we have a plethora of talent, which was the whole idea behind The Portland Pick –showing the entire world that Portland, Oregon is the home of great music, no matter what your style. There’s a reason bands like Animal Eyes travel from Alaska, skip Seattle, don’t go as far as L.A., and make Portland the place where they establish themselves as musicians.
So what makes the Portland music scene great?
Portland has a lot of bands.
Which means a lot of venues, which means a lot of choices and the competition for attention of fans drives down the cost of cover. As a fan, Portland is music heaven. You can go out, hop around venues all night, see a handful of great bands, and drink Portland brews without breaking your bank. On the other hand, as a musician, you’re probably not making a living with your music– yet. But it’s easier here. The cost of living in Portland is relatively lower than other cities well known for music, like L.A and New York. This reason alone draws musicians to Portland. Most musicians I’ve spoken to have at least a part time job, but compared to other cities where waiting tables 60 hours a week barely pays for rent, Portland musicians can easily get by with part time jobs and devote the majority of their time to music.
So many places to play.
Live music is everywhere. Not just venues. Take a stroll downtown, rain or shine, and you’ll run into buskers. When you go out for a beer, don’t be surprised if there’s an acoustic show at your favorite watering hole. Even EastBurn, home of the best elk gravy and biscuits in town, has performances on the weekends. Portland welcomes live music.
Most of the well-known live music venues in Portland are small, so they attract local bands or touring bands coming through the Northwest, like The Infamous Stringdusters from Nashville, Tennessee. Even the Crystal Ballroom and Roseland Theater, where you’d typically see a more well-known act, only hold around 1500 fans. You can go to the Rose Quarter to see your favorite mainstream act, but be ready to pay over $100 for a decent seat and $9 for a beer.
The supportive community.
Portland loves its music scene and supports the artists that make it great. Just take a look at what PDX Pop Now, a volunteer-based musical showcase, has been doing for ten years. The Oregon Brewers Festival even added live music to the event a few years back. Managers, promoters and event planners have teamed up to put Portland’s music on the map.