End of the line, Jack. We're all danced out and now we just wanna listen to some dad rock and chill the hell out. That okay by you? Alright, then away we go for a few last diary entries from Shane Danaher, Ruth Brown, Aaron Mesh and myself, Casey Jarman.
(All photos by Inger Klekacz)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 4:30 pm.
Talkdemonic is playing to a standing audience of a couple hundred on the floor of Pioneer Courthouse and a group easily twice that size that sits back about twenty yards on the “amphitheater style” seating. As always, the duo is excellent. They have a new record coming out as well, which is nothing but good news. (SD)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 5:02 pm.
As Helio Sequence starts its set a flock of pigeons flies in front of the stage. Not quite doves, but still, sort of epic. (SD)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 5:10 pm.
Brandon Summers mentions that it's been a couple years since they've played in Portland. Really? That long? Also: when Benjamin Weikel drums it looks like he's enthusiastically eating a sandwich. (SD)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:05 pm.
Holy c-rap there's a lot of people here. The Walkmen is rocking out pretty thoroughly on stage, but once again, I'm struggling to stay focused during the daylight. Maybe it's just my two-second Gen-Y attention span, but it seems like most of the crowd is right there with me. The band isn't helping by barely acknowledging the thousands of people it's supposed to be performing *to*, rather than *in front of* between songs. (RB)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:10 pm.
The awesomest dude ever is dancing up a storm right beside me. His junk barely concealed in bicycle shorts and his expression one of total, sexy concentration. Turns out Spike (somewhat of an internet celebrity), was getting funky outside the festival walls when a promoter decided he should be granted V.I.P. access to the show. Then he got funky all over us. See video below. (CJ)
Southwest 11th Avenue, 6:09 pm.
You can hear the Walkmen from here. (AM)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:10 pm.
I guess I should have expected this, but The Walkmen look sort of like derivatives traders on their lunch break. In between songs the group has little conferences that end in uninspired banter and absolutely massive renditions of songs that represent work from all five of five their albums (plus a sixth currently in the works). These guys really need to be playing arenas. It's time. (SD)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:31 pm.
If this is going to be the Night of the Skinny White Men Screaming in Nice Suits, Hamilton Leithauser has set the bar well above the Courthouse. That was a tremendous show. (AM)
Downtown Portland, 7:11 pm.
Off for a stroll between bands. I walk past Kelly's Olympian, which has been having a free music festival all weekend. Tempted to go in and enjoy some local rock up close and personal instead of the rather disconnected atmosphere of a giant outdoor mainstream music concert. But I've come this far. I must stick it out until the end. (RB)
Transit Mall, Pioneer Courthouse Square stop, 7:13 pm.
Sleekly coutured Matt Berninger, followed for some promotional reason by a guy with a handheld camera, is signing autographs and high-fiving tiny scene girls. Then he marches across the street and disappears into a secret entrance. He is the Batman. (AM)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 7:57 pm.
What a magical night for dad rock. Oh sure, plenty of people use the term pejoratively, but my tastes run toward dad rock. They have since I lived with my dad. Across from me on the porch outside the Starbucks is a kid, no more than three, riding on his pop's shoulders, clapping in some approximation of time. After a weekend of Brief Dance Parties with Hideous Men, this is a hopeful sight. I'll say it again: What a magical night for dad rock. (AM)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8 pm.
I don't recall being quite this proud of MFNW before. I've had a lot of fun; I've felt a lot of joy about it, but not pride. WIth stage lights beaming onto the faces of a stoked crowd, though, I can kinda feel it. The National isn't my band, exactly, but they're a smart one and I'm glad this many people are paying attention to the lyrics ('cause the music is a bit dull). MFNW isn't my festival, exactly, but this is one that'll stick with me for a long time. (CJ)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8:15 pm.
I don't know if it's because it's now night-time, because the on-stage light show is so intense it should come with an epilepsy warning, because the members of the National are far better performers, or because I skolled a giant can of energy drink between acts, but this venue is way more engaging than it was an hour ago. Shivers down my spine—but that's probably the sudden 20-degree plummet in temperature. (RB)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8:16 pm.
Watching an outdoor National show is like attending a clambake with Humphrey Bogart. An angry Humphrey Bogart. Sure, Matt Berninger is trying to be all noble and hold it together, but there's something volcanically sad inside him, and it's going to attack. (AM)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8:30 pm.
The National's violinist/keyboardist/tambourine/melodica player is upstaging the rest of the band. And that's saying something, because the rest of the band is great. He has the poise of a classical musician, but the moves of a rock star. Matt Berninger has a killer voice, but he faffs around on stage like a toddler. (RB)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8:55 pm.
The “surprise” factor of the encore is lost a bit when the guitar tech comes out twice to do a sound check after the band has “finished.” (RB)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 9:01 pm.
The National return to the stage with about two dozen glo-sticks, which they toss into the crowd with amusing diffidence. “Here, have four dollars' worth of shit,” Berninger says. “How awesome is that?” (AM)
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 9:10 pm.
How long is this encore going to keep going? Four? Five songs? It's great and all but I desperately need sleep. Must. Keep. Eyes. Open. (RB)
Spike dances (and that security job has the best job ever)!