Last night was the first in a two-night album release blowout by Portland’s prodigious, genre-defying string ensemble, Portland Cello Project. In fitting with the group’s history of cello-ifying everything from Britney Spears to Pantera, their new album, Homage, out May 1, is a collection of hip-hop covers interspersed with classical compositions.

In preview, last night’s performance included a lively rendition of Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” soulful interpretations of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” (supported by Steven Bak, who blew the audience’s collective mind with his vocal range), and covers of hip-hop tracks by artists such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. In true hip-hop form, a vinyl edition of the album will be released on April 21, including a bonus track: long-time crowd favorite “All of the Lights.”

Jumping from the Mission Impossible theme song to celebrity-cellist Gideon Freudmann’s somber and evocative “Denmark,” the group transitioned seamlessly from genre to genre—and the audience followed eagerly, swaying silently from side to side for one song, madly jumping up and down for another, or belting out the vocals to “Rolling in the Deep” (luckily, Bak was louder). After tonight’s show, PCP hits the road, taking the cello to the people nationwide.


Portland Cello Project performing Kanye West’s "All of the Lights” at the Crystal Ballroom.

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