Winona Oak Makes Her Portland Debut at the Roseland Theater
Ahead of the release of her debut album on June 10, Sweden’s Winona Oak made her Portland debut opening for Oh Wonder at the Roseland Theater on May 25.
Back in 2020, Swedish pop singer-songwriter Winona Oak was set to make her Portland debut with alt-pop duo Oh Wonder. But just as with everything else in the world, that plan came to a grinding halt.
Back then, Winona only had a handful of singles and an EP to her name. But two years later, she was finally on the road with Oh Wonder as originally planned, now bringing with her a slew of new material, all set to be released in just a few short weeks on her long-awaited debut album, Island of the Sun.
As she took the stage at the Roseland Theater before the small but growing crowd, Portland got their first introduction to Winona Oak as she made her two-year delayed Portland debut.
Dressed in an oversized t-shirt, stockings, and bedazzled with jewels around her eyes, Winona put her vocals front and center, crooning atop big pop production. Striding the stage, leaning in and out of the crowd, Winona Oak kept the audience captivated, the front row drawn into her voice like a magnet.
On the song “Jojo,” Winona gets personal, addressing herself (”My nickname is actually Jojo,” she told the crowd) and her fears and insecurities: “Jojo, I don’t know why we want to get famous, it’s not gonna save us from our own fears.”
Her range and vocal style echoes that of Lana Del Rey’s on the pleading ballad, “Piano in the Sky,” a gorgeous earworm that is a certain standout amongst the singles released so far on her debut.
Though the audience already seemed sold on Winona Oak based on the taste they got, she couldn’t go without treating the crowd to the song that broke her onto the scene, her 2018 Chainsmokers feature, “Hope”.
As the beginning synth riff rang out, a wave of recognition washed over the now packed room, as whoops and hollers sounded out and the crowd—fully on board the Winona Oak train—began to sing along.
Winona Oak’s debut album, Island of the Sun, is due on June 10 via Atlantic Records. Preorder the album and get more information at winonaoak.com.
Bren Swogger (they/them) is the creator and editor of Indie/Alt Magazine. Bren started Indie/Alt as a music blog during their sophomore year of high school, and after a long hiatus, relaunched it as an online entertainment magazine in 2021 for their capstone project at Pacific University. After 10 years in the music journalism industry, Bren has a long-standing passion for live music, but also loves to explore their passion for other artistic outlets. You can find Bren writing voraciously, adding to their never-ending stack of TBRs, and marathoning classic horror films.