Amongst innumerable exciting tidbits of music news in 2012 (Black Keys & Arctic Monkeys tour, the rise of Gotye, Radiohead headlining Coachella), Season 2 of IFC’s hit comedy series Portlandia shan’t be ignored, though it’s not exactly music-specific. The show pokes fun at the idiosyncrasies of Portland, Oregan, where “young people go to retire.” The comedy sketches target everything from organic farming to cyclists to feminist bookstores and often include hilarious cameos (Steve Buscemi, Aubrey Plaza, and Sarah McLachlan, to name a few). One of the show’s stars, Fred Armisen, was already famed for his spot-on Obama impersonation and other hilarities on SNL. But what many fans may not realize is that Armisen started performing as the drummer in Trenchmouth, a Chicago-based post-hardcore band that gained some minor attention in the 90s. He met his female counterpart, Carrie Brownstein, former guitarist in Portland’s own Sleater-Kinney and now playing in Wild Flag, through mutual friends. Armisen told Washington City Paper that the two hit it off immediately and started making videos “that would make us laugh. After a while we had a bunch and put them online. Soon we had quite a few and we decided to pitch it as a TV show.” And, thus Portlandia was born.
You might be wondering why Portlandia deserves some recognition from a music-based blog. Well, reader, may I present to you Portlandia: The Tour. Armisen and Brownstein are taking their sketches on a twelve-city tour, performing at theatres like San Fransisco’s The Mezzanine, The Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York, and DC’s own 9:30 Club. The tour will certainly include sketches and anecdotes from the hilarious pair, but their musical origins cannot be denied. Armisen, a drummer, and Brownstein, a guitarist, will hopefully not deny their fans the pleasure of a live performance. The tour began in Portland, on December 27th, and will make its final stop in Nashville on February 25th. Though the tour will be a treat for fans, the TV show itself is recommended to anyone with a sense of humor, a love of fixed-speed bicycles, organic farming, or feminist bookstores.
Portlandia, The Tour, stops by D.C. on Tuesday, February 21st. The first show is Sold Out, but tickets are still available for the Late Show at 9:30 Club.
In the meantime, Watch Fred + Carrie perform Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” w/ Thao & Mirah + Eric Kuhn
– Tori Kerr