Rock for Rockwood: A Night to Remember
Everything came together perfectly for the kids this last Sunday at Rock for Rockwood. The one-day festival put on by Sub Rosa Curation was held at Revolution Hall in Portland, OR to raise money and awareness for the Rockwood Boys & Girls Club, set to open in 2017. The night was a major success, with tickets selling out and spirited performances by M. Ward, The Thermals, The Helio Sequence, and Emily Wells. All Portland-bred or affiliated artists, these acts have a stake in the event because it goes to directly serve their communities.
The evening kicked off with Emily Wells setting the bar high with a passionate multi-instrumental performance. Opening with an ominous violin piece, which quickly turned into a crescendo of intense drumbeats and harmonies over looped violin. She seemed to always be five steps ahead of herself with timing that would make Grandmaster Flash weep. Emily also set a precedent by addressing the purpose of the event, to raise money and awareness for the Rockwood Boys and Girls Club.
After her first song she gave a truly earnest and heartfelt speech about the impact the event will have and the importance of local artists and musicians in community development, and the mass effect artists can make on the lives of those in difficult positions within our community. She also addressed the issues of poverty and gentrification that the expansion of Portland has caused, as well as the imbalance of money directed to the communities most affected. After this, one could feel the energy of the room change as everyone truly began to realize they were there witnessing and being a part of something impactful and great.
Next on was longtime Portland favorites The Helio Sequence, who played a nostalgic and upbeat performance that got the crowd moving. The band got their start in 1999 playing their first show ever at the Mount Tabor Theatre and going on to play events like Sasquatch and other major festivals in the early 2000s. Drummer Benjamin Weikel, a longtime Portland artist, has been a staple in the scene for years. Not only with The Helio Sequence but also playing drums for Portland transplants Modest Mouse on their 2004 record “Good News for People Who Love Bad News.” This Sunday they showed us they’re very much still a force to be reckoned with, with a performance as energetic and exciting as the last time I saw them at Sasquatch 2007.
Portland pop-punk darlings The Thermals brought an immense energy as well as a fair portion of the crowd. After only a few songs, people began to throng to the front of the stage to turn the first rows into an impromptu standing section. They gave the crowd what they wanted playing hits off their first three records, “More Parts per Million,” “Fuckin’ A,” and, “The Body, the Blood, the Machine.” As well as some new tracks of their new record, “We Disappear” released last March. Front man and longtime Portland musician, Hutch, also had kind words about the Boys & Girls Club and the communities the concert would go on to serve.
The night finished strong with a captivating performance by M.Ward. Ward has deep roots in Portland so it was only fitting that he and his band (mostly Portlanders as well) closed the night out. Ward has 8 studio albums released through the independent label Merge Records, and also gained notoriety with acts, She & Him, and super group Monsters of Folk with Bright Eye’s front man, Connor Oberst. Ward played a number of songs from long anticipated 2016 release, “More Rain” as well as some classics for the longtime fans.
Overall, Rock for Rockwood was a major success for everyone involved and was the largest event ever held at Portland’s new favorite venue, Revolution Hall. With sold out tickets and happy sponsors, the event exceeded expectations for funds raised and awareness for the upcoming project. Truly a beautiful collaboration for a one-time event that will go on to serve the Portland and Gresham community for years to come. Look out in the coming months for more collaborative projects from Sub Rosa Curation and Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland!