Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Bent Knee


Vonnie Kyle

7pm doors, 8pm show

$18 advance, $22 day of show

All ages welcome

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Bent Knee

Bent Knee

Bent Knee are not a band for convention. In fact, since forming in 2009, the Boston-based six-piece have been on a constant journey of musical exploration that thoroughly disregards it. The result is five records that completely defy categorization and transcend genre. In other words, the band don't just break the rules, they make up their own. That's ensured they exist exclusively on their own terms. Frosting, the band's sixth full-length, pushes those boundaries even further. It's the most Bent Knee-esque Bent Knee record to date, which means that, simultaneously, it's also the album of theirs that sounds the least like Bent Knee.

That's perhaps a journey the band - Courtney Swain (lead vocals/keyboards), Ben Levin (lead guitar/backing vocals), Jessica Kion (bass/backing vocals), Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth (drums), Chris Baum (violin/backing vocals) and Vince Welch (synthesizers/guitar) - would have taken anyway, but the extent to which it's true was amplified by circumstance. While no-one needs reminding about the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, it did mean that Bent Knee weren't able to approach the making of this record in the same way as the previous five. In fact, this one was written entirely remotely.

"This was definitely very different," admits Welch, who - like all previous Bent Knee albums - was also behind the sound design and production of this one. "Every other album had basically been the band in a room at at least some point in the process, but we finished this one still having never played these songs together. And then the technological limitation of having to send each other everything created this different dynamic that slowed everything down. You didn't have to react to an idea in like half a second - you could take an afternoon to ponder it."

"It was really interesting writing-wise," adds Kion, "because it became a lot less about how quickly each person could get their idea out. And the ideas also didn't have to be fully formed to exist. We each had these little seedling ideas that were all up for grabs - just writing these tiny little pieces and just sharing them and working with whatever felt good. And that made such a different album."

That approach meant that, even after a decade writing songs together, the band were still learning new things about the way they worked together. Taking those seedlings - which, for example, might be just two bars - that were up for grabs, the six of them worked communally from afar to build these songs from the ground up. Whether it was by mashing two of those seedlings together or writing a verse over one of them, everybody in the band chipped in the ways they saw fit to get the most out of those initial ideas.

"One of my favorite things that happened," says Kion, "was to hear Chris start writing the bridges, because they're amazing. I'm actually kind of upset that it took so long to realize that - we're a decade in and we only just now found out that Chris is the bridge guy!"

The process didn't just open the band's eyes to previously unknown strengths, however. It also - rather ironically - afforded them much more freedom to do whatever they wanted musically, to really push the boat out when it came to sounds and ideas. Being forced to work within a more limited capacity than they ever had before actually meant there were fewer limits.
"With this record," says Welch, "we were starting from a different kind of baseline. When you're in a room, everyone's kind of restricted to what's in that room. But when everyone's in their own place with their own stuff, there's a much broader range of things they can do, such as recording at different speeds or using and splicing samples together."

The result is a record that contains a wealth of disparate sounds and influences, one that continues the band's innate refusal to be pigeonholed ("It drives me crazy when musicians limit themselves on account of genre," says Welch). As such, Frosting is an album that veers wildly in atmosphere and texture, but which all comes together to form one beautifully cohesive whole. It starts with the energizing technicolor burst of "Invest In Breakfast", a hyper-pop song that's akin to the sugar rush of a bowl of Fruit Loops, but that's then followed by the portentous, harrowing and almost apocalyptic avant-gardisms of "Baby In The Bush", a somber, slow-motion storm of emotional damage. The contrast between the two is striking, but that's the point. This is an album that ebbs and flows between extremes, musically and lyrically, that captures the gamut of human emotion and experience. There's the good-natured, uplifting electronic sunshine of "Casper" and the carefree, soulful musical breeze of "Fighting All My Life" - and then the twisted, tortured, Nine Inch Nails-referencing 21st century schizoid blast of "The Upward Spiral". That, though, is followed by the calming, peaceful and heartbroken "Set It Off", one of the most vulnerable and tender moments on this record. Elsewhere, "Have It All" - one of many songs that incorporates format shifted vocals into its folds - is a spirited neo-pop song that sets the tone for the highly-charged "Queer Gods" that immediately follows it. "The Floor Is Lava" travels back in time to the innocence of childhood. "OMG" almost sounds like a collision of five different songs before it bleeds into the shapeshifting finale of "Not This Time". A rousing album closer, it almost seems to reprise the entire the musical and emotional journey that preceded it before fading into a haunting, sad silence.

"The whole record is a mix of lighthearted and pretty songs, and then heavy, nasty songs," says Welch. "I initially thought it was going to have to be multiple EPs, but we decided to lean into the differences between the songs and find an album order that switches as aggressively as possible."

But Frosting is not just an exploration of creativity, nor does it simply continue the impressively innovative journey they've been on since the start. It's also an important celebration of pure creativity, of the freedom to follow your muse, of making art for the love and joy of making art. Which, after all, is really the only reason it should ever be made. That's something the band took to heart especially for this album.

"We're an independent band again," explains Kion. "So many things have added up to mean that we can make this what we actually need it to be for us - whereas for a very long time it was a lot about just growing and asking permission and not getting a response or not getting it. For a long time, it felt like we were grinding out gears to just exist, and I feel like we're recently truly understanding what it's like to be free again. We've been able to pick our own path and decide what we want to make and what we want to do."




A lot of people busied themselves during the pandemic: some picked up knitting, others tried learning new languages. For Daniel Townsend (vocals/guitars) and Jeremy Price (drums, vocals), they wanted to come back into the unwillingly stagnant Portland music scene and make everyone forget they weren't allowed to party. Time went on, shows were played, and friends Collin Armfield (guitar, vocals) and Nick Rogers (bass) were met, who later joined the genre-defying ruckus to make the band what it is today. Having been described as "Portland's own post-hardcore party band", gasp. brings an energy and light-heartedness to their live performance that is as unexpected as each song is from the last. Get loud, get angry, but always expect to get down with this Portland quartet's own unique brand of post-hardcore...if you can call it that.

Vonnie Kyle

Vonnie Kyle

"Where the hell did Vonnie Kyle come from?"

That's the question the residents of Portland were asking as they all emerged from their quarantines after the long, disquieting era of the pandemic. As venues reopened and the music scene began to rebuild itself in 2021, a new voice was being heard amongst the members of a longtime familial community. With this voice came a bold and distinguished sound that had been brewing in a decrepit-garage-turned-studio for a couple of years.

No, Vonnie Kyle didn't just appear out of thin air, as it had seemed to those in her new milieu. Over the years, the lyrically confessional, alternative pop-rock artist had quietly released a few EPs and demos. Her following mostly resided in her two previous home bases - Minneapolis, MN and Santa Fe, NM. Prior to the pandemic, Kyle spent much of her time on the road as a touring solo artist, selling burned CDs out of a suitcase. In March 2020, as the pandemic arrived and she prepared to relocate to Portland, the decision to shift her focus from constant touring was made for her; it was time to make a new record.

Imperfect Parts was an apt title for the songwriter's first full-length album. The process from which it was constructed was anything but perfect. Notes were exchanged between Kyle and her production team from different sides of the country. Parts were tracked remotely. Schedules were clumsily coordinated. What was originally meant to be a month-long process became that of nearly two years. All of that work paid off over the course of several months as Kyle began to release singles and music videos leading up to the record's release. 

Her debut single, The Brink of Breaking Down, was an explosive rollout of her musical artistry. Forcible vocals and layered guitars reminiscent of My Chemical Romance, with a discernible nod to 90s rock established Kyle as not just a skilled singer-songwriter, but a commanding rock performer with undeniable staying power. She had arrived and she had peoples' attention.

This was followed by the album's title track, Imperfect Parts. While slightly more subdued than The Brink of Breaking Down, the pop-rock track has an anthemic energy, with a chorus supported by ubiquitous and infectious call-and-response background vocals. Confessional lyrics describing the acceptance of flaws (ahem, imperfections) about oneself and their loved ones made this track intensely relatable to the many listeners who were discovering the new artist. The accompanying music video depicts Kyle wandering between various places with an old suitcase (the very suitcase she had previously sold DIY CDs out of during her pre-pandemic travels), leaving small tokens and trinkets everywhere she goes. The video not only represents pieces of her past, but the ever-evolving path she continues to follow as a human being with a growing self-awareness.

The entire much-anticipated record was released in April 2022, to a rousing reception from Portland radio and online critics. Guitar Girl Magazine stated Kyle's sound "blends alt-pop, alt-rock, and folk-rock with her expressive voice, producing luscious sonic concoctions." The ten-song record well-exceeded the expectations of those previously familiar with her work, with some tracks daring to dip their toes into surprising genres. The country-pop slow-burn, "Better Than Me," was written about the divorce she went through just before Covid, and gave listeners insight into her own personal struggles.  The closing track, "Cereal Bowl," is an unexpected piano ballad that conveys the trauma of a sexual assault that occurred in 2014. Balanced out by a plethora of high-energy pop-rock tunes, Imperfect Parts leaves listeners with the satisfaction of having been in the passenger seat of a truly special and scenic ride.

Vonnie Kyle's "imperfect" era may be coming to a close, but the singer has big plans for the future, including the release of a new single and video in August of this year. The forthcoming tune, "Is It," encapsulates the ache of those with seemingly inseverable ties to addicts, and the slow but steady toll those ties begin to take over time. While her love for guitar-based rock remains obviously intact on this track, Kyle is clearly venturing into new territory, with her sights on a broader audience. For those with a love of Jack White, the Black Keys and Kings of Leon, now is the time to set a new place at the listening table. 









About Mission Theater

Experience a slice of Portland history. What is now known simply as “the Mission” was originally home to the Swedish Mission Covenant congregation in the early 20th century, and despite its staid, buttoned up appearance, this place now hosts live music, video dance nights and special events on select nights each month. 

For ADA accommodations please contact us by email at or by phone at (503) 225-0047. Please note we are only able to accommodate in this section until it is at capacity.

House Rules

As our guest, please respect the house and ensure the safety and comfort of those around you by observing our House Rules. 
  • Backpacks are not permitted.
  • Re-entry policy is determined on the day of the show, and we can't guarantee that re-entry will be permitted.
  • Possession or use of illegal substances
  • Possession or use of permanent markers or paint pens
  • Possession of any type of weapon
  • Possession or use of false identification
  • Willful damage to the property
  • Cursing or verbal harassment towards other customers or staff
  • Inconsiderate behavior towards other customers or staff
  • Any form of inappropriate, racial or physical harassment , including displaying symbols that the venue deems to be threatening
  • Intoxication before entry
  • Consumption of any alcoholic beverage not purchased on premise
  • Smoking in non-designated areas
  • Violence of any nature
  • Thank you for your help in making the Mission Theater safe, comfortable and fun for all.

Box Office

Box Office Information
Tickets for all McMenamins shows are ticketed by Cascade Tickets, and may be purchased at the 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop, Crystal box office (located under the Crystal's awning) and McMenamins Edgefield, by phone at 1-855-CAS-TIXX, or by clicking the "Buy Tickets" link located at the event listing on our schedules.
Tickets bought directly at the Crystal box office or any of our ticket outlets will only incur a $2 facility charge. (Please note! Tickets to Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn will incur additional service fees.)
Resend Ticket Confirmation Email
23rd Avenue Bottle Shop Hours
Sunday–Thursday, 10am - 10pm
Friday & Saturday, 10am - 11pm
The bottle shop accepts cash, VISA, MasterCard, American Express and DiscoverCard.
Crystal Ballroom Box Office Hours
2pm on concert days only
Will Call
Will call is located at the box office.
Refund requests may be directed to If a show is cancelled or rescheduled, ticketholders will be emailed with their refund options. We will also post show information on our website ( and social media platforms. 
For ADA accommodations please contact us by email at or by phone at (503) 225-0047. Please note we are only able to accommodate in this section until it is at capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have questions about your box office and ticketing … where do I find that info?
Scroll up and check out our Box Office info! If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, you might find your answer below, and if not then feel free to shoot us an email.

What seating is available?
The Mission Theater specializes in open-floor shows, but also has a mezzanine on three sides with seating throughout. Occasionally the main floor will feature seating as well, and we will indicate this by referring to the event as a “seated event.”

The mezzanine sounds cool! Can I reserve seats there? 
No, our seats are all first-come, first-served. 
I don’t like to buy tickets online; where can I buy in person at the Mission? 
The Mission does not have its own outlet, but tickets for Mission shows (and any McMenamins music events) are available at the outlets describe above in the Box Office section. 
I heard that fees are lower if I buy tickets in person … is this true? Yup, the fee is only two bucks for Mission shows if you buy those tickets in person at our outlets. PLEASE NOTE: Since Crystal Ballroom box office hours are very limited, here’s a pro tip for ya: purchase your tickets at our outlet at 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop to receive the same fee deal. 
Help, I can’t find my tickets! Can you resend/email them to me?
Even better, just go to and provide your email address as well as the last 4 digits of the card used for purchase. A ticket confirmation will be sent to you.
I have a printed at home ticket … can you just scan the original email from my phone? 
We’re able to scan ticket barcodes from most phones…. Make sure your brightness is turned up for best results! If that doesn’t work we will be able to enter your ticket’s order number into the system and get you into the show that way. 
I can’t make the show; can I get a refund? 
We are not able to offer refunds. If you opted to purchase insurance through our ticketing company as part of your ticket purchase, you should have received an email from Allianz Global  Assistance and you can file a claim with them directly. You are also welcome to sell your tickets.

Someone sold two tickets to me for tomorrow's show. When I arrive at the venue, will there be any issues since I wasn't the original buyer? 
We are unable to determine the validity of third party tickets. Also, a ticket may be scanned only once for entry. If your ticket was purchased from someone who sold the tickets to multiple parties, only the first person who shows up will be granted entry. 

Are there still tickets / VIP tickets to a show?
You can check this by finding the show on the Mission Theater online calendar and clicking the ticket link, where availability information will be displayed. 
I couldn’t get a ticket for a sold-out show. Is there any way I can get one?
The best we can say is that sometimes the artist or promoter will release some tickets that they’ve been holding onto. We can’t predict, however, if or when that might happen. 
How do you accommodate for ADA?
For ADA accommodations please contact us by email. Please note we are only able to accommodate until the ADA section is at capacity.

I understand there are stairs leading into the Mission’s main floor. Do you have accessibility options? 
Yes, we are wheelchair accessible. We have a ramp leading to our side entrance on 17th Avenue; just let security at the front door know you need ramp access. 
Can I bring my camera to a show? 
While we don’t have specific house policy, we do enforce the band’s policies, and we don’t typically know those policies until the day of the show. Usually only phones or small handheld cameras are allowed, but all attendees are subject to the stipulations from the band. Professional camera gear is almost never permitted. 
Are Light Gloves allowed?

 Is there a coat check?
There is no coat check at the Mission Theater. 
What’s your re-entry policy?
Due to a variety of factors in play for each performance, re-entry policy is determined on the day of the show, and we can’t guarantee that re-entry will be permitted. Please see our House Rules (above) for additional important entry-based information.
I’m interested in performing at your venue; who can I contact?
You can email
I want to work at the Mission Theater! 
We want to hear from you! Please check out our employment page and apply there!
I want to hold a private event in that glorious space!
Please visit our private event page for details! We have a dedicated staffer that can help with weddings, meetings, parties, you name it!
What is the venue capacity?
300 standing, 200 seated
Do you have air conditioning?
We do indeed have air conditioning, but there’s a LOT of air in the room and it can be tricky to keep the space cool. We set up water stations at our shows, and you are permitted to bring your own empty water bottle to fill there so you can stay hydrated. 
How do I get my McMenamins passport stamped?
Mission Theater stamps are only provided at the bar in the venue, and you must attend an event in order to receive one! If there’s no show or a show is sold out then you’re out of luck for that night, so plan ahead and pick a show from our fine selection of upcoming events! Another option is to wait for our occasional open houses or other free events, as we issue stamps for those events as well. 


The location that serves as one of McMenamins favorite neighborhood theater pubs was the locus of great spiritual zeal beginning in the 1890s. That's when the Swedish Evangelical Mission established its church here....

From a church to a theater-pub to event space, the Mission's history ain't exactly saintly. Click here for more info!


Use the arrows to scroll through the photos, or click on any image to view the gallery in flickr.

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