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May 9th, 2012 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2012

10 local acts that Portland’s music insiders think you should hear.


Image Courtesy of Grandparents
10. Grandparents

  • 26 Points
  • Formed: 2008.
  • Sounds like: A spaghetti western played through a broken amplifier in a distant concrete room; punk-rock night at the Sea Lion Caves; a tent revival for woodland elves.

Grandparents is as much a group of friends as it is a band. Marc Christiansen, Dylan White, Ben Johnson, Allison Faris and Will Fenton all met either at Central Catholic High School or in their first year at Portland State University. They lived together in a house in Southeast Portland that they shared with two members of White Fang. In that house was a “shitty, moldy basement,” where the group started writing songs together. 

“We had sewage gas coming up through the sewage pipe,” Johnson remembers. “We were getting high on jenkem without our consent. That’s how the music started. In the basement, with sewage gases.” 

When their lease ran out, they loaded their belongings into a van and left on their only tour. “It was successful,” Johnson says. “[But] not financially.” 

At their live shows, Grandparents swap instruments and vocal duties. They play with intense concentration, like cultists or computer programmers—or maybe a bit of both. They are both loud and soft, tender and rough.

These days, with four EPs under their belts, Grandparents’ greatest challenge is finding time to practice. All of the members work different shifts, so rehearsing requires some creativity. “If you come down to AudioCinema at midnight or 3 in the morning, you’ll probably see us smoking cigarettes in the parking lot,” Fenton says. “We’re just ready for the summer.” BEN WATERHOUSE. 

Who’s Got Next?

Best New Band Poll 2012, finalists numbers 11 through 23.

  1. The We Shared Milk (25 points)
  2. Natasha Kmeto (25 points)
  3. Sun Angle (23 points)
  4. 1939 Ensemble (23 points)
  5. Support Force (22 points)
  6. Litanic Mask (22 points)
  7. Like a Villain (22 points)
  8. Animal Eyes (21 points)
  9. Mean Jeans (21 points)
  10. The Memories (21 points)
  11. Swahili (21 points)
  12. Death Songs (20 points)
  13. Guantanamo Baywatch (20 points)

SEE IT: Willamette Weeks Best New Band showcase, sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and featuring Radiation City, Pure Bathing Culture and Onuinu, is Friday, May 11, at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave. 9 pm. Free. 21+. 

Also, Tope, performing with TxE, and Reva DeVito play Mississippi Studios on Wednesday, May 9; Grandparents play at the St. Johns Bizarre on Saturday, May 12. 

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