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Bend Fall Festival's music scene ushers in the season Portland's Tango Alpha Tango is on the cusp of creating a rock revival

On the surface, not much changes from seasonal festival to seasonal festival here in Bend. Like clockwork, streets are closed off, artisans sell their wares, food carts sprout up and music is played.

It's really the lineup of bands that makes one festival better than another. This year's Fall Festival, held Oct. 5, 6 and 7 in downtown Bend, is poised to stand out. Expect to see some of Portland's best talent, funk from 3,000 miles away, and a favorite local band that's been away far too long.

If you hear something that sounds good as you shop for some pottery, taste some wine or eat your favorite meat-on-a-stick—chances are it will be coming from one of these recommended bands.

Radiation City

Friday, Oct. 5, 5 p.m.

The Peak 104.1 Mainstage

Portland's aristocrat-styled electro-pop group, Radiation City has found a formula that works. The band has landed on the Tender Loving Empire record label, which represents such successful regional acts as Jared Mees and The Grown Children, Typhoon and Y La Bamba. Their hollowed-out samples and sophisticated lo-fi vocals have just enough pop drizzled over them to brighten up their sound. So don't be surprised if, as the sun sets on the festival's kick-off concert, you feel like you're in a dark, velvet ensconced '70s Vegas hotel room.

Sophistafunk

Friday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. & Saturday, Oct. 6, 5:30 p.m.

The Peak 104.1 Mainstage

Double your pleasure with two sets from Syracuse New York band Sophistafunk. Don't let the name of this band fool you. While their reggae-inspired funk is clearly not lower-brow, their music is more primal and raw than it is perfect for a pinky-in-the-air afternoon tea. Lyrics are delivered via quick tempo raps, and both shows will likely morph into giant dance parties.

Larry & His Flask

Saturday, Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m.

The Peak 104.1 Mainstage

Larry and His Flask, Central Oregon's very own banjo-rock-and-roll band, is in the middle of an East coast tour but will take seven days off and return to town long enough to set the Fall Festival mainstage on fire. The rock-hard folk sound of LAHF makes bands like Mumford and Sons feel flaccid. Harmonies pack a big punch and, unlike Mumford, the songs refuse to become whiney. Don't miss this show.

If you've ever watched a high energy Southern Baptist preacher or even remember the Arsenio Hall character Reverend Brown from Coming to America, you've got an idea what to expect when Tango Alpha Tango lead singer Nathan Trueb takes to the rock-n-roll pulpit at Bend's Fall Festival Oct. 6.

Trueb will make you believe in something, namely the power of rock. He uses his marauding, almost Bob Dylan-like voice and restless stage presence to infuse TAT shows with a certain larger than life fearlessness. Backed by a group of unassuming rockers that include his wife Mirabai on bass guitar and his brother Aaron on keyboards, Trueb is clearly the lead performer here. It's a skill that, early on, caught even him off guard.

"It's something I didn't know I had in me until I got on stage with a guitar," said Trueb in a recent phone interview with the Source. "I don't practice moves or anything. I don't feel like I'm putting on an act, it's just something that happens."

As a result, TAT concerts are becoming legend around the Portland area.

The band has two sing-along-worthy albums under their belt so far. And while those albums are fantastic blends of folk, psych and country rock, they fall well short of capturing the true nature of a TAT live show. These shows are likely their most valuable commodity and one they put to good use earlier this year at the popular SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

"SXSW is a lot crazier than I dreamed," said Trueb. "You really have to hustle just to get noticed. One day when we didn't have a show, we saw some people busking and we decided to take it to another level. I took my guitar into the middle of Sixth Street and we started playing. It got pretty nuts and there were hundreds of people around instantly. It was a crazy crowd. Quite the spectacle."

Currently TAT is working on a duet of albums, one that will feature the whole band and one that will be a solo venture for Trueb. According to him, there is a harmonious relationship between recording and rocking out at concerts.

"It's about the songs and trying to get an honest body of work out there," said Trueb. "(But) right now we're leaning on the side of playing the live shows to earn the money to make the music."

So far, Trueb and company are successfully winning souls for their cause.

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