Twenty clubs. Only two legs. That's a lot of walking. But before you break out jogging suits and retro headbands, realize that the walk between two of MusicfestNW's most-distant points (from the Pearl's BridgePort Brewing to the Hollywood-adjacent Tonic Lounge) is less than four miles. No sweat.
Still, some might need a primer, a starting point from which to chart a course through this musical storm of a weekend. Here's an easy guide:
Eastside action plan: Navigating MusicfestNW's four eastside clubs is a downhill journey--literally--if you start at the top.
Begin at the Tonic Lounge (3100 NE Sandy Blvd.), the outermost club. After the Tonic, head for Nocturnal (1800 E Burnside St.). Need a snack along the way? Stop at über-dive the Hungry Tiger (2800 E Burnside St.) for $5 pitchers and ultra-greasy Chinese food. Or, if you're saving your energy, hop a No. 12 bus by the Tonic and get off near 18th. Once you've finished with Nocturnal, proceed southwest to Holocene (1001 SE Morrison St.).
Pedestrians: This part of the journey represents No Man's Land--very residential, a couple of dodgy parks, shady lighting and very few watering holes. Travel in packs and stock up on Nocturnal's cache of Vitamin Water energy drinks before you go.
Once you arrive at Holocene, bask in its vast space and less-is-more design concept. Before heading out, stop in at Sassy's Stripclub (right next door!) for its decidedly adult landscape. The next stop is Meow Meow's high-school showcase (527 SE Pine St.)--a short hop at half a mile. (Note to self: Shows at this club end at midnight.) There--you did it. Getting downtown is as easy as walking across the Burnside Bridge.
The Westside story: The best way to tackle the downtown venues is to divide them into three sections and remember our friends at Tri-Met. Virtually all of the clubs in the downtown area fall inside the Fareless Square Zone. Use it and your feet will thank you in the morning.
The first section of clubs is in the Uptown section. Travel to these five venues--Fez Ballroom (316 SW 11th Ave.), Crystal Ballroom and Lola's (1332 W Burnside St.), Jimmy Mak's (300 NW 10th Ave.) and BridgePort Brewing (1313 NW Marshall St.)--is as easy as hopping on the sometimes sluggish streetcar. (Second note to self: Streetcar service ends at 11:30 pm on Thursday and 1 am on Friday and Saturday.) Need a potty break? Skip Burnside's icky Burger King bathrooms and, if it's before 10 pm, head to Whole Foods (1210 NW Couch St.) with its plush commodes.
The Roseland Theater and Grill (8 NW 6th Ave.) occupies our second, Middle Earth section. Beware Burnside's manic street traffic and rabid Floater fans on Saturday night.
Last, but not least, is the Lower Pod. This, friends, is where the wild things are. A total of nine clubs are located here. Roving bands of street performers, thousands of MusicfestNW patrons, and even a Friday-night doughnut-eating contest (midnight at Voodoo Doughnut, 22 SW 3rd Ave.) will encompass this area. Don't even think about parking a car here.
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 4-6. See MFNW pull-out section for a full schedule. $20 for three nights. Most venues 21+.