Like Minneapolis, Austin and Brooklyn, Portland ranks among our nation's top zones for producing quality bands. (See the recent success of Blind Pilot and Typhoon for starters.) And just like artists in those cities, an inexplicable number have the talent to make it big; and yet, only some ever will. The rest are resigned to toil in local and regional venues, ever careful not to saturate the market with their shows while also building a loyal fan base.
This recent autumn, Portland rock band Genders—who call themselves "super pals"—might just have gotten the break they needed to become the former rather than the latter when they toured with alt-rock heavyweights, Built to Spill.
"People take bands a little more seriously once they have completed a national tour and we were just lucky enough to do that with some indie rock legends," said guitarist Stephen Leisy in an interview with the Source. "[Built to Spill] was using our practice space neighbors' room for a couple weeks and we started talking to them in the hallways during breaks from rehearsal. We might have stalked them a teensy bit. But it paid off. They liked us and asked us to play some shows."
For a band that the prior spring had just completed its first ever tour—visiting only five cities outside of Portland with only an EP to its name—that national tour with 24 shows with Built to Spill was a boon. Since then, they've released their debut full-length album, Get Lost, and plan for both a spring and summer tour this year.
Genders is a tightly knit foursome of unassuming rock starlets, have been since inception, but now they can add tour-seasoned on-stage chops to their bag of tricks.
Diminutive singer and guitarist Maggie Morris—who looks like she could have been captain of the debate club in high school—flirts viciously with the guitar, driving hazy up tempo indie rock while sporting a virtuous grin that compliments her soft, serene vocals. And smoldering, girl-next-door drummer Katherine Paul assails the kit with unabashed aggression.
Add to that the boyishly charming Leisy and stoic appearing bassist Matt Hall, and Genders is a group of energetic and extremely likeable performers most don't see coming. It's an effective strategy for being remembered by an audience of strangers in a city far from home.
6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7
Crow's Feet Commons
875 N.W. Brooks St.