State Theatre presents

Wild Rivers

with Corey Harper

Sat, February 19, 2022

Portland House Of Music

Doors: 8:00pm - Show: 9:00pm - 21+

$19 advance
$21 day of show

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Wild Rivers

Bands share a whole lot more than just music. They encounter and endure life’s ups, downs, and everything in between as a collective. Along the way, band members grow individually and collectively. Following a year highlighted by 150-plus shows, Wild Rivers transpose personal experiences into relatable anthems woven from strands of folk, indie, rock, pop, country, and beyond. Their 2020 EP, Songs To Break Up To [Nettwerk], brings Wild Rivers— Khalid Yassein [guitar, vocals, keys], Devan Glover [vocals, bass], Andrew Oliver [lead guitar, bass], and Julien La ferrière [ drums]— closer as it also draws listeners in.

“The EP was very personal for me specifically, but building it out with the band was a big step for all of us as friends,” says Khalid. “I spend 95% of my time with my bandmates. We’re a family, so we go through everything together. It’s autobiographical, but the group saw the vision and were empathetic. It went from a singular experience to everyone serving the vision tonally and musically.”

Since the release of their self-titled 2016 debut, Wild Rivers consistently progressed towards this point. As of 2019, their total streams surpassed 100 million and counting. 2018’s Eighty-Eight EP garnered acclaim courtesy of Rolling Stone Country, PopMatters, Earmilk, No Depression, and more. Additionally, the band packed shows across North America and beyond, touring alongside The Paper Kites, Donavan Woods, and Jake Bugg, to name a few.

In the midst of a 2018 road marathon, Khalid faced the dissolution of a long-term relationship, so he poured his heartbreak into the music.

“When we began writing, the songs that spoke to us all were centered around the breakup,” he says. “We decided to lean into the theme and make the EP an exploration of the topic, what the different sides of a breakup are, and what the feelings are. These include the good and the bad, the acceptance and the sadness, and the new freedom. We wanted to write a collection of songs covering the spectrum of what you feel going through the end of a relationship.”

In order to do so, the group retreated to Nashville, TN in October 2019, working out of Creative Workshop with producer Skylar Wilson (Rayland Baxter; Justin Townes Earle; Joshua Hedley). In the studio, they expanded their sonic palette by further incorporating synths, guitar effects, gang vocals, and choral harmonies.

“In the past, we’ve mainly recorded in Toronto,” says Devan. “We could just hop into the studio whenever. In Nashville, we only had a limited amount of time, so we got locked in and focused on the end goal as a team. We were all staying together, so we were living and breathing the EP the whole time—which was awesome.”

“Our philosophy was to take risks and do something different,” Khalid elaborates. “The whole ethos really helped in making decisions and guiding what we did. If we felt unsure, different, or vulnerable, we always chased that feeling.”

By chasing it, Wild Rivers uncovered five undeniable tunes led by the first single “Thinking ‘Bout Love.” Clean guitar and a steady beat reverberate amidst a heartfelt vocal volley between Khalid and Devan. Wistful recollections of an old flame give way to gospel-style harmonies as Devan soulfully sings, “I’m just thinking ‘bout love.”

“When you’re talking about breaking up or after it’s over, one person will think practically like, ‘We shouldn’t be together on paper. These are all of the reasons this relationship doesn’t make sense’,” Khalid goes on. “It’s the rational side of deciding whether or not you want the relationship. Then, there’s my side, which is romantic and naïve. I think, ‘Nothing matters, if we have love and our relationship is good. ’ That’s the only future I’m thinking about. One partner thinks about the logistical hurdles; the other thinks about love. It’s the hopeless romantic versus the cold rational adult.”

On the follow-up “Kinda Feels Alright,” soft strumming and delicate percussion offset candid admissions from Khalid such as, “Last year baby, I was checking in. Now, I’m crashing.”

“One night, I went out on the town with my friend, got drunk, had a bunch of laughs, totally relaxed, and just experienced this amazing feeling,” he recalls. “I wasn’t sad about anything. I stopped thinking about the split. When I was walking home, something made me think of my ex, and all of these feelings came back. It turned on a dime. I realized I couldn’t focus on it anymore. I needed to get closure and get back to my life.”

Elsewhere on the EP, drum machines anchor the poignantly playful “Small Talk” as a piano that once belonged to Ray Charles rings out on the bold ballad “Do or Die.” Now, as the band bring Songs To Break Up To on the road, they’ll contribute $1 from every ticket sold to Voices of Our City Choir—a San Diego-based charity working to amend the housing crisis.

By opening up on Songs To Break Up To , Wild Rivers ultimately connect like never before.

“We want to validate people’s feelings,” Khalid leaves off. “It’s okay to be sad; it’s okay to be happy. There’s no right way to handle something like heartache, but you can talk about it with your friends. We try to show that.”

“In this collection, there’s something for everybody,” Devan concludes. “The songs span different genres and vibes. We hope there’s something that can connect with you in terms of the music and the message.”

Corey Harper

Based in Los Angeles, Corey Harper makes alternative pop/rock for sunny days, sad evenings, and all points in between. His newest release, Overcast, finds the Oregon native returning to his roots in Portland for a source of inspiration, creating a sound that bridges the gap between the music of his past — including breezy pop and West Coast blues — and its Millennial makeover. A modern sound for now, built from the best parts of back then.

“Sometimes, when you go through a rough spot in life, you need to go back to the beginning to rediscover, or discover for the first time, who you are,” says Harper, who left the Pacific Northwest at 19 years old and relocated to Los Angeles. “The vastness of the landscape in Oregon and overcast days reminded me that no matter the struggles, there is beauty in the journey and there is hope at the end of the day. Just because something is overcast doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful or worthwhile in the end.”

Recorded in a home studio on the outskirts of Oregon wine country, Overcast features Harper playing nearly every instrument himself, co-writing all six songs, and splitting production duties with collaborator Dave Lubben (Halsey, Gnash). From the groove-driven swagger of “Crave” to the anthemic, arena-sized bombast of “Entertainment,” Overcast casts the widest net of Harper’s catalog. The result is a record that doesn’t just shine a light on the melodic hooks that earned him a career-launching tour as Justin Bieber’s opening act in 2016, or the elastic vocals and understated guitar heroics that have pushed songs like “On the Run” beyond the 10-million-stream threshold on Spotify. Instead, it shows the full range of his abilities, recasting Corey Harper as a musician’s musician whose meticulous approach to pop music is both personal and invitingly universal.

“Most of the record deals with things I’ve never talked about in my music before,” he says. “’25’ is about my best friend who took his own life several years ago. ‘Fade to Black’ is about my brother, who has struggled with drug abuse for a decade. I was able to come up with these songs because I was in my hometown, surrounded by familiarity and memories. It’s like I had home-court advantage. This music is about confusion and sadness and hope. It’s about what happens before the storm arrives, when you’re trying to find your direction through the fog.”

Overcast isn’t just about finding direction, though; it’s about finding a unique sound, too. Raised on the guitar riffs and timeless songwriting of Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browne, Harper initially came to L.A. as an Americana folk-rock musician. His 2016 debut saluted those organic influences, while 2019’s Barely Put Together widened his approach. Overcast, which Harper recorded during a pair of trips to Lubben’s studio on the outskirts of Portland, finds him reaching a new peak of adventurousness, rolling his influences into a sound that’s honest, human, and healing. There’s an arc to these six songs, from the a cappella title track — which opens the record with a quick burst of stacked harmonies — to the acoustic closer, “25,” a stripped-down power ballad recorded in a single take. In between those sonic bookends, Overcast makes room for a rich tapestry of baritone guitar, Eighties synthesizers, pop melodies, and experimental sounds, including the atmospheric hum of the studio’s pinball machine and the innovative textures of his guitar pedal collection. Harper even ran his electric guitar through a homemade amp, creating a signature tone that still nods to his favorite players — from John Mayer to Lindsey Buckingham to Phoebe Bridgers — without losing its singular character.

“This is a project about finding myself through my music, and hoping I can leave a trail for others to find themselves within it, as well,” he says. “It’s music that guides people through tough times.”

A snapshot of a musician caught up in the rush of a creative and emotional growth spurt, Overcast represents a new high-water mark in an acclaimed career that began in the Venice Beach-based arts collective and concert series Winston House, which Harper helped launch by hosting supporting artists of all stripes (Cody Simpson, the Shins, Justin Bieber). These six songs are his most personal to date, yet the issues they examine — the strained bonds between loved ones; the mourning of friends who are no longer with us; the desire to live a life that’s honest, meaningful, and real, despite the distractions of modern-day existence — are common, turning Overcast into a soundtrack for all those who finds themselves caught beneath threatening skies. It’s music for a brief season of bad weather in someone’s live…with a promise that sunnier days lay just behind the clouds.