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The Bands of Bend-It

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Nathan Backous

The Bands of Bend-It

Asked why it's important to have an all-ages queer festival amid all the chaos of Pride weekend, Bend-It Festival organizer Chris Ando says, "It's important that kids can participate in something, queer or not, so they know that it's all right to support the radicalness of being who you are." Is there a person on earth who can't relate to that? When you're young, it doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, bi, whatever—we all want to belong, to be part of something.

Bend-It's positive, outreach- oriented mindset makes the annual weekend of workshops and music something truly special. This year's music lineup boasts a strong mix of talented young bands as well as the festival's best venue yet, Cal Anderson Park, where the weekend of good-time vibes kicks off at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 27.

Headliners the Pharmacy come to Bend-It fresh off a lengthy U.S. tour. The Seattle party chiefs' recent album, Choose Yr Own Adventure, has been on the shelves for quite some time now, but hell if the single "Little Toys on a Shelf," with its catchy-enough-for-a-car-commercial chorus, isn't still stuck in my head. The band's hooky keyboards, jangling guitar, and irresistibly upbeat drums make for a fun, dance-inspiring set every time out; when they take the stage at the majestic Cal Anderson Park, with the sun shining and a cool breeze blowing, it's going to be a pretty triumphant time.

Portland drum-and-guitar duo Magic Johnson perfectly exemplify the youthful excitement that Bend-It is all about. The band's songs, like the energetic "Querida," mix punk anxiety and simple-enough-to-translate Spanish lyrics with stomping drums, crunchy guitar, and sassy but sweet chants. The song marches listeners down the stairs and into the thick of a sweaty basement show, and, in fact, Magic Johnson have earned quite a reputation for rocking dance parties all over PDX. They might feel a bit out of place in a huge park rather than a crowded house party, but they, like the rest of the Bend-It Festival, are sure to be a slam-dunk. recommended

ccatherwood@thestranger.com

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