September 10th, 2008 WW Editorial Staff | Featured Stories
 

Blowout

MusicfestNW and PICA's Time-Based Art Festival collide for an epic weekend of art and rock. WW picks up the glittering pieces.

     
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DRUM SURFING: Monotonix incites devotion outside Satyricon.
IMAGE: Eliza Sohn

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 3

10:56 pm, Roseland Theater: This Mogwai light show is physically painful. Even when I close my eyes I feel like I’m being abducted by really rude aliens. But the bright flashes are on beat, which is cool. (CJ)

11:03 pm, Roseland: Two valley-girl types are leaving the Mogwai show. “I don’t know how they got so popular without a lead singer,” one says. Her friend replies, “People go all apeshit over stuff that’s different.” “Yeah,” says the first girl. “But they’re not that different.” Philistines on the sidewalk. (AM)

12:48 am, Berbati’s Pan: Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller, he of the matinee-idol smile, croons and sways through “Question,” a ballad that’s been used as an anthem for dudes proposing to their girlfriends during baseball games since 2001. “It’s nice to know that no matter how weird Portland gets, you’re still romantics at heart,” says Miller with a sigh. Not romantic, Rhett. Nostalgic. (KC)

THURSDAY, SEPT. 4

6:30 pm, Crystal Ballroom: TV on the Radio is rehearsing in Lola’s Room, with the volume cranked high enough that a particularly fervent fan might just notice from the street. This guy is that fan. And he wants to know what’s up. “Is TV on the Radio playing upstairs?” he asks. “No,” says a Crystal employee. “It’s a...stereo.” “Really?” The guy asks. “But it sounds live.” The Crystal guy is adamant. “TV on the Radio is absolutely not rehearsing in Lola’s Room,” he says. “So I can’t get in?” “No.” (BW)

9:10 pm, Holocene: Something about the way Oxford Collapse bassist Adam Rizer just screamed, “Where the fuck are your animal rights?” in the face of some dreadlocked dipshit in the audience made me fall in love with them even harder. (RH)

11:25 pm, Holocene: Starfucker is over rather abruptly. Half the crowd appears to be standing in disbelief, asking out loud if it really is over, since the trio seems to have stopped in the middle of a song. One girl in the doorway goes, “That’s it!?!” (NMC)

11:46 pm, Roseland Theater: As Del the Funky Homosapien unfurls his last set of rhymes, the Roseland security staff surveys the items the club has confiscated from patrons: Sharpies, a Safeway bag bursting with gum, a travel-sized can of hairspray, a couple of steel wrenches, an orange and two apples, a Leatherman, Clif bars and a full-sized house tacker, the kind used to staple posters to telephone poles. “Sometimes they bring lube,” a young security guard mentions. (KC)

12:09 am, Holocene: Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox takes questions from the crowd. Shit almost gets confrontational when someone asks Cox how much he weighs and he calls out the “Portland hipster” who says dumb shit and won’t own up to it. The bass player comes out after puking behind the stage, takes swigs from a bottle of Maker’s, and somehow manages to lead them through a loud, cathartic set. How fucking rock ’n’ roll is that? (MM)

12:20 am, Berbati’s Pan: “Pretend you’re in the ‘Radio Ga Ga’ video by Queen,” Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws tells us, and yes, we all start to two-step for him. The drummer’s sticks aren’t just glowing, they’re changing colors as he applies them to his set. Trippy as hell. (BS)

FRIDAY, SEPT. 5

9:05 pm, Doug Fir: Quiet, lovely Laura Gibson introduces her backing musicians, who met in weight-training class in ninth grade and have been playing together ever since. “And working out like mad,” Gibson adds. (BS)

10:25 pm, Towne Lounge: I’m finally getting to see Andy Combs and the Moth play as a full band, and they’re hot shit. I swear one of the musicians was in the Mos Eisley cantina band in Star Wars. Or at least, the instrument he’s blowing into was. (BS)

10:26 pm, Roseland: The members of Jaguar Love all wear white pants. Jaguar Love’s singer rocks the stage like a gay Hobbit on crack, and screams his crowd conversation instead of speaking it: “What’s up Portland, waaa!” “Musicfest North-fuckin’-Weeest!” and, “You gotta live life to the fullest, because life is good but life is short. You know what I mean?”

12:15, Satyricon: Tel Aviv’s Monotonix is rock-bombing the shit outta Satyricon. Concussive waves of sound ripple through the club as a plastic garbage can sails by my head, followed by a fist-pumping crowd surfer and part of the band’s own drum kit. The trio has ceded the stage to the photographers and gawkers, detonating their frenzied songs in the middle of the scrum on the club floor instead. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God...they don’t make words to describe this. (KC)

12:38 am, in front of Satyricon: My friend says I better hurry, Monotonix is almost over. I rush inside to find everyone crouched down, listening to instructions from singer Ami Shalev. The entire room is screaming. After a count-off to the number four, everyone’s on their feet, dancing. The flash on my camera is pulled off from the intensity of the mosh pit. Everyone is running out of the club with parts of the drum kit. (NMC)

12:45 am, outside Satyricon: Ami hangs from a tree outside the club, shaking his sweaty black Zappa curls at a throng of newly minted Monotonix converts. A crowd of hands shoots up as the singer jerks down his tiny red shorts, mooning the street and threatening to cannonball the sidewalk. Minutes later, it’s all over. Knots of people mill around the sidewalk as if they’re recovering from a natural disaster. “Holy fuck. That was the most punk thing I’ve seen in 20 years,” sputters a sweaty, red-faced dude. (KC)

1:45 am, Berbati’s Pan: The Builders and the Butchers crowd demands an encore, and since Ryan Sollee’s broken the strings of every guitar onstage, he does a singalong instead—“The Night, Pt. 1.” The Builders had to phase out a lot of their audience participation as their crowds started getting too big, but now they’re so popular they can make the crowd do what they want. And they should. (BS)

1:50 am, Berbati’s: For all you Shins stalkers out there—for a nominal fee, I will let you in on the secret of which taco cart bassist Dave Hernandez goes to after a night of Musicfest fun. For an extra $50, I’ll let you know what he ordered. (RH)

SATURDAY, SEPT. 6

7:19 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrington asks, “What’s the difference between me and a pit bull?” at the end of a song. “I have human intelligence!” How’s that for a Sarah Palin dig? (NMC)

8:20 pm, Backspace: Four guys wearing nothing but Speedos walk out of Backspace, leading us to wonder just when they arrived and how we managed to miss them until now. (BS)

11:20 pm, Towne Lounge: The crowd is not being quiet during Eskimo & Sons’ very last show. And I am not the only one pissed about this, to judge from the yelling. They finish a lovely set and are persuaded to do an encore. They play a Paul McCartney song, and it’s nowhere near as good as the rest of their material. They will be missed, the ineffable little darlings. (BS)

12:10 am, Roseland: This must be up there with the sweatiest I’ve ever been at a show. Hot Water Music is playing plenty of the pre-Epitaph Records output, and the place, as they say, is going off. “Where were all you guys every other time we played Portland?!” asks an obviously stoked yet bemused Chris Wollard. (DR)

12:20 am, Towne Lounge: The Chicharones tell us they’re starting the show with the Canadian national anthem—but wait, that’s “Eye of the Tiger.” They are far and away my favorite hip-hop act in the Northwest at this point. (BS)

1:47 am, Ash St. Saloon: After urging Flipper’s snarling, wasted singer Bruce Loose to “get to the chorus,” stately ex-Nirvana gent Krist Novoselic snaps and stops the band midsong. “So, we’re a jam band now. Awesome.” Loose chugs the rest of his pitcher and tries to drag a heckler onto the stage. A debauched conclusion to MFNW, and my cue to retreat home and sleep away the remainder of the weekend. (DR)

the TBA diaries

THURSDAY, SEPT. 4

7:01 pm, Fantasy for Adults Only on Burnside: Holy shit! There are live lingerie models in the windows of Oregon’s biggest wretched hive of scum and villainy. TBA performance art or crass commerce? Meh—it’s hot. (BW)

8:15 pm, Pacific Northwest College of Art: Throngs of people are milling around on the street as I head toward the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where choreographer Anna Halprin’s Blank Placard Happening will be revived roughly 40 years after it debuted. Oregon Ballet Theatre is performing on a pocket-square-sized patch of office floor, viewers are peering into the windows from the outside. A fairly Oregonian cross-section of people has assembled: men and women, young and old, white and…more white, and for the most part, dressed in white, some carrying sprigs of lavender with their signs. A bearded man takes the stage to give directions, concluding, “Basically, I’m just going to start walking and you can start walking after me.” (HW)

8:30 pm, somewhere in the Pearl: “ What is this for?” asks an older woman in a car, at a stoplight. “It’s a protest against nothing,” says one of the marchers. “But what does that mean?” the driver says, angry now. “What does that even mean?” (MK)

8:40 pm, Broadway Bridge: The Blank protesters politely wait at every red light they come across until reaching TBA’s evening headquarters at Leftbank. Republican convention it was not. (MC)

10:15 pm, The Works at Leftbank: Word is that Portland Spaces Editor Randy Gragg wants to buy the cardboard benches made by students of the Art Institute that are filling one of the Egyptian catacomb-cum-Andy Warhol Factory rooms in the Works. “Maybe he could just write something nice about us,” said one of A.I.’s blushing students on hearing about the offer. (BB)

11 pm, The Works: French queer-pop rocker Tender Forever told a Holocene crowd last Wednesday that “Portland is the Berlin of this country.” When I ask people at The Works if they agree, local art educator Keyan Meymand laughs: “Maybe we’re the Berlin of the I-5 corridor.” (MC)

FRIDAY, SEPT. 5

8:30 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall: Antony and the Johnsons’ emotionally riveting performance with the Oregon Symphony is a resounding triumph for all concerned. (BC)

10:05 pm, The Works: With its wall-cut doorways, abandoned post-industrial Blade Runner vibe and curtained-off areas, hangin’ out at Leftbank is a lot like living in a $900 Williamsburg arts loft with your 200 trust-fund, weird-beard roommates, except you don’t have to pay $900, you don’t have to live in Brooklyn, and you don’t have to listen to your roommate fucking tantric behind some flimsy half-assed partition. (MK)

10:30 pm, The Works: Part of the joke in Neal Medlyn performing as Beyoncé Knowles is that while she’s some sort of diva-pop cyborg created by Sony BMG, he doesn’t seem to have been meant to be near a stage. So when he puts on the hot pants and slips into a decidedly “-ish” version of her choreography, you can see his little erect willie poking into the fabric, not to mention the extremely pasty, hairy-but-balding, bespectacled, shirtless skinny-man’s whiteness that has never seen the sun and never seen the gym. He is the accountant who wants to be fabulous. (MK) SATURDAY, SEPT. 6

8:30 pm, Gerding Theater at the Armory: Mike Daisey knows the secret to getting a Portland crowd going from the start. One crack about the condo towers in the “overmodified Pearl district” and they’re rolling in the aisles. Are we really this predictable? Whatever. Daisey goes on to blow my mind with talk of Tesla, what it’s like to make a film with Bill Gates and a musical about Robert Moses, performed by rabbits. That’s right, rabbits. (BW) SUNDAY, SEPT. 7

5 pm, South Waterfront Discovery Center: Sojourn Theatre is pulling off a pair of tricky balancing acts in its urban-planning show, Built. Right now a pair of actors dance on a tightrope over a sprawling model of the prefabbed neighborhood. The second, artistic balancing act is the more impressive of the two. The company’s usual melange of dance, interview-inspired vignettes and abuse of the scenery is combined with some serious audience participation. We’re tasked with a complex urban-planning game involving arranging housing and urban amenities on a grid board. It’s more fun than it sounds. This would make an excellent teaching device for high-school civics classes. (BW)

6:30 pm, Lincoln Hall at PSU: In a droll onstage exchange between Thai classical dancer Pichet Klunchun and French choreographer Jérôme Bel, Bel admits that audiences at his shows occasionally ask for their money back. “After the show?” Klunchen asks. “Sometimes during,” Bel admits. Bel’s style, Klunchen asks, do audiences understand it? “More or less,” Bel says. “Maybe that’s why I keep doing it.” “Good luck,” says Klunchun, shaking his head. (HW)

 
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