Here we are, day four of MFNW's five-day marathon, and only slightly worse for wear. Last night had its epic moments--some of mine included the Black Lips screaming like dinosaurs; the Shaky Hands playing their last show with the current lineup; Okkervil River playing "Red"; tacos at the after-party--and a couple of disappointments, as well. Read on, if you're not already downtown getting pumped for the Decemberists. See you tonight! -Casey
Wonder Ballroom, 4:45 pm.
London's Male Bonding is slicing through a spirited yet still somewhat disaffected (how terribly British of them) set of echo-chamber punk. More importantly: I just became the Mayor of Wonder Ballroom on Foursquare! My first action will be to abolish this 21-plus balcony; it's way too crowded up here. Then, I will build a monorail. (MPS)
Wonder Ballroom, 4:51 pm.
Male Bonding takes the stage following Marvin Gaye's “Let's Get It On” as pre-show music. This had better be some sexy cacophony now that everyone's in the mood. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 4:55 pm.
Male Bonding has been playing for just a few minutes and already we are three songs of dueling vocal assault and terse, abrupt endings into the set. It's great! (Though at this rate, the trio will have played its whole discography by 5:15.) Plus, I'm relieved; I was starting to worry that the dominant sound of 21st century Sub Pop was bearded, ‘70s folk. But Male Bonding (and No Age) have crashed the Laurel Canyon hippie party and made the label sound dangerous again. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 5:00 pm.
Male Bonding play “Franklin” (off of its excellent debut, Nothing Hurts, which is one of this year's best). I guess this is the noise-pop trio's version of a ballad. They still sound tough as fuck, though. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 5:13 pm.
“It's really weird playing a show in the afternoon,” mumbles Male Bonding singer/guitarist Robin Christian. No shit. The band should be playing a dark, dingy club at midnight for a bunch of pogo-ing drunks, not the cavernous Wonder to a bunch of bright-eyed college kids who are still digesting their lunches. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 5:30 pm.
They still look like overgrown fetuses, but the dudes in Surfer Blood have grown a bit more confident as players from when I saw them at Doug Fir a couple months ago. Although I'm pretty sure they only exist to make me feel like an old man at age 28. (MPS)
Wonder Ballroom, 5:45 pm.
Even though the members of Surfer Blood are dressed like the nice suburban kids from Florida that they are, lead singer John Paul Pitts has a whiff of Brandon Flowers pomp about him. This is confirmed for me when he says, “It's nice to be back in Portland, where they give the best haircuts in the USA, if I do say so myself,” while running his hands through his hair. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 5:50 pm.
Do people always say Surfer Blood sounds like the Smiths? Cuz Surfer Blood sounds like the Smiths. I like the Smiths, too. But Idunno about these kids. (CJ)
Wonder Ballroom, 5:55 pm.
“We're going to slow it down now,” announces Pitts. “Can you take the lights down on stage?” Bantering? Ordering around the sound and lighting staff? Man, the guys in Surfer Blood have turned into real professionals since I last saw them. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 6:16 pm.
“Swim,” Surfer Blood's second-to-last song and its biggest hit, is announced as the track that's “been doing pretty well at college radio.” D'uh. But without all the reverb of the recorded version you can really hear how its bare-bones make it a tropical-ish indie rock relation of “Sweet Jane.” Plus, I've got to say, I've got a soft spot for any band that reserves a member to specifically be on cowbell duty. (RR)
Wonder Ballroom, 6:18 pm.
Surfer Blood definitely flunked Stage Presence 101 in high school (middle school?). But when it comes time for the last song, they whip out a little bit of gusto. As if they had a little band meeting: "Remember, guys, this is the part where we all freak out! And by freak out, I mean move around a little!" (CJ)
YouTube find! Surfer Blood at Wonder Ballroom.
Wonder Ballroom, 6:19 pm.
You'd think after three months I'd be able to navigate my way around this town, but I take a wrong turn on MLK and I'm halfway to Vancouver before I realize (the big river gave it away). Once I arrive, there's nowhere to park my bike. Every pole, chain and street sign is covered in bikes. Seriously, isn't part of the reason I ride to avoid parking troubles? Finally get to Surfer Blood in time for two songs, but spend the whole time trying to get upstairs to the bar for a drink of water. Apparently I didn't miss much. The kids seemed to like it. (RB)
Wonder Ballroom, 7:03 pm.
The Black Lips take the stage and thank Nike for “the new threads.” Seriously? I know they're technically a local company and all, but since when do rock bands happily shill for big multinationals? I thought these guys were supposed to be the most punk band that ever punked. Maybe it's so un-punk to like Nike, it's actually punk. I don't even know anymore. (RB)
The four members of Candy Claw are performing in what looks like real life renditions of the masks from Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. (Remember that game? N64? Anyone?) The lead singer is wearing something on his head that looks like an LED onion, and he's blessing the crowd with two scepters made out of palm fronds. And these goofy-assed Earth Spirit getups actually kind of work with Candy Claw's music; it helps form a “good mushroom trip” vibe. (SD)
Wonder Ballroom, 7:20 pm.
Rock and roll: spitting in the air on stage. Not rock and roll: catching it in your mouth again. Gross, Black Lips. Gross. I really want to hate the Black Lips. In addition to the spitting, the guitarist is wearing a neckerchief and has a douche-stache. And a grill on his teeth. And yet, they're actually too good to hate. Dirty guitar solos and vocals so raw they could strip paint. Damn it. (RB)
Wonder Ballroom, 7:25 pm
I know that the Black Lips used to make out and pee onstage 'n shit, but I have a hard time believing that now. They're really just too adorable. Bopping in place to the music? A drummer that plays like he's a Muppet? Get this band on Yo Gabba Gabba!, stat. (MM)
Backspace, 7:28 pm.
The frontman of Candy Claws is wearing a headdress that looks like an elaborate tiki drink. Palm fronds cover his face, while he waves tiger bank (oh, you know, a china piggy bank shaped like a tiger) as a benediction over the patchy, underage crowd. Odd decision. The woozy electric sound is a nice start to my Friday night, though. (AM)
S. Carey (Inger Klekacz)
Wonder Ballroom, 7:30 pm.
Girls are shimmying, guys are stage diving, and one of the Black Lips' guitarists is spitting loogies high in the air and catching them in his mouth. And the other one has an iced-out grill in his mouth. “Can we get more beer in the monitors?” he asks. Their set is more of a slog than it should be for guys who play quick-and-dirty garage punk. I keep checking my watch (a.k.a. phone) and it feels like they've been playing for eons. Here's one good thing, though: When the guitarists make out with each other—an act they've been doing for years now—no one in the crowd really reacts one way or another, which has to be a sign of progress for gay America, right? (MPS)
Wonder Ballroom, 7:30 pm.
The Black Lips' guitarist plays a guitar solo with his mouth. Guess that's what the grills are for. (RB)
SW Sixth and Burnside, 7:48pm.
A TriMet officer asks all bus passengers to show their transfers as proof of fare. Drunkenly, I flash my MFNW wristband. He does not think I am funny. (APK)
Outside Wonder Ballroom, 7:50 pm.
"The Surfer Blood kids just rolled out of the Wonder bumping Big Freedia's "Azz Everywhere" in their van. Redeemed!!" (CJ)
Is it weird that the audience for Animal Farm seems like it's just going through a routine? The MCs tell everyone to put their hands up; everyone puts their hands up. They tell everyone to say, “Ooooh, yeah!”; everyone says, “Ooooh, yeah!” This is all accomplished without much enthusiasm. Everyone yells after songs, but no one claps. (SD)
Outside Berbati's Pan, 8:01pm
Lefty the one-armed guitarist has posted on the corner outside Berbati's. Why the fuck is this man not on the main stage of the Crystal? Maybe next year... (APK)
I am officially a fan of Astrology. And I have a theory about the group. It combines the speed-fueled nuttiness of the Planet the, but dilutes it with a greater interest in song structure, something I'm willing to bet is the result of Charlie Salas-Humara's time spent in Panther. Also, I had no idea that Marius Libman (a.k.a. Copy) was such a good bass player. (SD)
Pretty sure I just saw Chris Hansen walking around Backspace looking for older dudes perusing for jailbait at the Astrology show. Since when do teenage girls not wear pants? (APK)
Charlie Salas-Humara: “I kind of hate mushrooms because whenever I'm on them it makes me feel like I just took a shit.” Words to ponder. (SD)
Someday Lounge, 8:30pm
Boy Eats Drum Machine has projectors and cameras set up such that anytime Jon Ragel uses his drum machine or turntables an image of this chore is projected behind him. This is a good idea, as it's the minute pressing of buttons that makes up one of the most impressive parts of BEDM's whole show. Whenever I'm watching BEDM I always feel like there's a certain high wire act aspect to it, like I'm waiting to see if he can actually keep all these instruments going at once without buggering the whole deal. As usual, he cool as a cucumber and the whole thing sounds great. (SD)
Holocene, 8:31 pm.
Swim Swam Swum's set opened so casually (and abruptly) that I didn't even realize that it was starting. When singer/guitarist Matt Taylor quietly said, “OK, let's go,” I was one of five people in Holocene's back room. By the time the opening song was over, however, we were joined by about 30 of our compatriots, who were all doing knee-bends in time with the band's poppy beat. “Thanks you,” says Taylor at the song's end. “Thank you for dancing.” (RR)
Slabtown Community Festival, 8:33 pm.
It's a weird scene at Slabtown: a giant, dark, largely empty parking lot, with a crowd gathered around the small stage, watching folky band Sassparilla play knees-up country blues, complete with a wash-board, banjo and harmonica. And the small crowd of folks fans and families is indeed lifting its knees up, with some first-class crazy hippie dancing. It's getting pretty cold, and if I were less inhibited, I'd partake in some crazy hippie dancing, too, just to stay warm. (RB)
Ash Street Saloon, 8:37 pm
Finally, Sara Jackson-Holman answers the nagging question: What would happen if Tom Waits, Fiona Apple and Amy Winehouse had a sexy love child? I am officially in love. (APK)
Someday Lounge, 8:45 p.m.
The Tender Loving Empire showcase is up and running. Boy Eats Drum Machine is christening Someday's stage for MFNW, cranking out hits from his most recent album Hoop and Wire and the crowd... is...loving it. We're 15 minutes deep into the night and Someday Lounge is filling up quick. The city is crawling with bands from other states and countries, but it's nice to see Portlanders show their allegiance to local rockers. (WH)
Holocene, 8:50 pm.
I just witnessed a couple have a fight in the middle of Swim Swam Swum's set. I couldn't hear anything because the music was so loud, but it's incongruous to watch angry hand gestures and see a girl stomp away from her boyfriend while listening to such juicy, bright, faux-kindergarten vocals. (RR)
Berbati's Pan, 9:07pm
Old Light's guitarists are impressing me with their ability to rock out pretty hard, despite having decided to play while seated. This, friends, is called folk-rock. (SD)
Holocene, 9:11 pm.
Nothing makes me more excited than watching a set change during which techs are bringing out a weird set up of pedals and synthesizers and strange electronics I can't identify. You know you are at least in for an interesting show. I'm excited for Nice Nice. (RR)
Berbati's, 9:14 pm
Why the hell have I never heard of Old Light? The four-piece evokes the Band and My Morning Jacket with occasional forays into hard rock. Oh, maybe it's because there's hardly anyone at the show. This needs to change. This is the best band I've never heard of. (APK)
Waiting for the Bus at the Corner of Belmont and 24th, 9:17 pm
The 15 bus is 10 minutes late, again, but I'm still glad I came home to drop off my car and ice my knee. Yeah, I said it: at this point in my life I'd rather project my achy and torn ligaments than rush downtown to see some band I'll probably forget about after one drink. Speaking of drinks, we just took “shots” of these gross little Red Bull energy drinks that Nick stole from the office. Now he's swinging from the pole at the bust stop and yelling “Azz everywhere!” at passing cars and cyclist. Oh, Big Freedia, we'll never forget you. (MM)
Holocene, 9:28 pm.
False alarm; Nice Nice's set isn't starting yet. The band's soundcheck was so convincing that a bunch of show-goers started to dance to it. Sure, the pre-show music was still playing underneath them, but that didn't stop folks from getting into the rising groove the duo was laying down and then getting disappointing when they abruptly left the stage. But man, if that was soundcheck, the real show is going to be awesome! (RR)
Hawthorne Theater, 9:30 pm.
Let's Wrestle—kind of a more pop-oriented version of fellow Englishman Male Bonding—finish 15 minutes early. I don't have anything interesting to say about the band, unfortunately. So I'll just observe that the fans of headliner Man Man, with their Indian feathers and face paint, look like art school Juggalos. Oh, and Hawthorne Theater is hands-down the shittiest venue in Portland. If this place was closing instead of Satyricon, would anybody care? (MPS)
Holocene, 9:31 pm.
Now we're talking! Nice Nice has started its real set. The guys next to me are so excited by the start of these percolating motorik beats that they start shushing those talking around us. (RR)
Mississippi Studios, 9:31 pm.
The bassist for Seattle band People Eating People, John Totten, is just killing it. Full Tennessee-pride disclosure: He's a longtime friend from before the great Chattanooga-to-Pacific Northwest migration (aka the everywhere-to-Pacific Northwest migration). The lead singer, Noella Johnston (full disclosure: I have never met her before), is also playing some mighty hot keyboard, while singing in a voice that is a bit of a Regina Spektor thing. “This song is called ‘I Hate My Friends,'” she says. “Seriously, dude,” agrees some guy behind me. (AM)
Someday Lounge, 9:32pm
Finn Riggins continues to amaze me with its sheer energy. Seriously, if these three weren't in a band I bet they'd get together three times a week and just do jumping jacks. Favorite parts of tonight's set: the surprisingly skillful use of a theremin, and the chipper, anthem-like chanting of, “Zero! One! Zero! One! Zero!” (SD)
Slabtown Community Fest, 9:39 pm.
The Shaky Hands are playing a killer set, but the cold and desolate parking lot location doesn't really do the band justice. Still, with the crowd huddled around the stage, it at least feels intimate. Frontman Nick Delffs manages to make drumming and singing at the same time without missing a beat look completely effortless. He's smoking—literally: his sweat in the chilly night air is making steam come off his forehead. “We're going to play a song we didn't write,” he says:
Slabtown Community Fest, 9:50 pm.
Some bands you just feel a kinship with. Shaky Hands are a big one for me. So as I watch Mayhaw Hoons' magnificent red mane flip in the open air for the last time, I get a little choked up. I also am just flabbergasted by how well Nick Delffs drums and sings at the same time. Fuck Phil Collins, this guy is for real. (CJ)
Holocene, 9:54 pm.
I have to close my eyes to best take in the chugging groove and bleeping videogame effects of Nice Nice, otherwise I'm studying the bandmembers' movements too closely and wondering about all that equipment that they play. I prefer to settle into the trance created by the combination of their space-age yet tribal sound. (Also, the girl in front of me has started some annoying, drunken rave dancing. Where'd you learn those moves? African dance class or Burning Man?) (RR)
Holocene, 10 pm.
Came here for White Hinterland not realizing that Nice Nice is also playing. Nice! These two do a lot of things well, but the best thing they do is rip off Neu!. That's really a compliment, by the way. (MPS)
Roseland, 10:00 pm
I'm walking through security to see Wiz Khalifa—the Pittsburgh mega-rapper who loves weed with the power of nine Christs. After getting a fresh frisking from security, I start making my way up the stairs. The teen girl in front of me stops to give her ticket to the guard, and a shiny little pipe falls out of her bag and hits the security guard's shoe. Girl, you're fucked. Her response? “Uhhhhh... it looks like someone lost something important,” and then running away up the stairs. The guard let's her go, but keeps the pipe. Bummer dude! (WH)
Roseland, 10:00 pm
Wiz Khalifa's DJ asks the crowd if it is ready to see Wiz Khalifa. (APK)
Roseland, 10:07 pm.
Wiz Khalifa is set to take stage and the Roseland crowd is rowdy. An eclectic mix of true blue rap fans, stoner frat boys with Jersey Shore-esque girlfriends, and hemp-wearing hippies are pumping this place with energy and pot-fumes. I think I got a contact high. Khalifa hasn't taken the stage yet, so his DJ Taylor Gang is holding down the stage nice and proper. (WH)
Roseland, 10:09 pm
Wiz Khalifa's DJ asks the crowd if it is ready to see Wiz Khalifa for the seventh time. (APK)
Roseland, 10:10 pm
Brandon Roy just peeped his head out from the side of the stage, and the rumor is that Jerryd Bayless and Dante Cunningham are also backstage. But I'm sure all three are staying away from the stick icky, right? I mean, it's not like Wiz does that stuff. I hope to God John Canzano isn't reading this...(MM)
Holocene, 10:13 pm.
Nice Nice ends its set with a roiling, explosive drum roll. I don't think either of the bandmembers said one word during their set. (RR)
Crystal Ballroom, 10:15 pm
“How many of you have goats?” Bobby Bare Jr. asks the buzzing crowd at the Crystal, which responds with multiple hoots and hollers to the affirmative. “Yeah...you're goat owners...” With a bob of his curl-topped head he leans into the microphone and says, “This song's called ‘Your Goat is On Fire,' it's about my feelings and emotions.” And with that ineffably Portland-y intro, he sweeps everybody away on another irresistible wave of twangy rock wonder. (KC)
Roseland, 10:15 pm
Wiz Khalifa's DJ asks the crowd if it is ready to see Wiz Khalifa for the 25th time. Still no Wiz, but now there are 18 people standing on stage doing nothing. (APK)
Doug Fir, 10:15 pm.
There's so much flannel in the Doug Fir I can smell the maple syrup. Much of it's being worn by Mimicking Birds and they've never looked more comfortable. They serenade the packed house with feathery folk, converting texters and mobile phone users (how are they getting service in this cave?) into full-fledged listeners. (MS)
Crystal Ballroom, 10:20 pm
It's hard to over-exaggerate how good Bobby Bare Jr. sounds when he has a talented band working with him. He's a Southern Rock juggernaut; he plays like he knows it's useless, and he's going to dedicate himself to it twice as hard just to spite the world. “I'll Be Around” is titanic. (SD)
Holocene, 10:20 pm.
The between-bands DJ is really hornying things up in here with a set of ‘90s R&B. The guys from AU are feeling it on the dance floor. “I wanna get freakay wit' you!” (MPS)
Roseland, 10:20 pm
Wiz Khalifa's DJ asks the crowd if it is ready to see Wiz Khalifa for the 972rd time. I don't think we're ready. (APK)
Roseland, 10:28 pm.
Wiz Khalifa finally takes the stage and leads off with his hit song “The Thrill.” The crowd busts their collective nut. (WH)
Roseland, 10:29 pm
The smell of weed in this place is so thick I don't even need to hit a joint. Wiz proves worth the wait. (APK)
Wiz Khalifa (Leah Nash)
Holocene, 10:35 pm.
Continuing the 90s R&B theme, White Hinterland opens with a cover of Monica's “Just One of Them Days.” Normally I'd think this ironic, but Casey Dienel plays it straight. She laughs nervously between songs, clearly doesn't actually know how to play her ukulele, and her programmer is dressed like K-Fed and throwing in air horn sounds that are totally inappropriate for the dubby, Bjorkian atmospherics she's trying to conjure up, but it's still a highly alluring set. (MPS)
Roseland, 10:27 pm
Is there anything funnier than white hippie chicks dancing to rap music? I don't know whether to join them or call 911 to report an epileptic seizure. (APK)
Roseland, 10:35 pm
Wizkapedia (that's his name, right?) has at least 10 people standing onstage, and most of them are checking their phones or dancing in place. I like to imagine that if I ever formed a band popular enough to headline the Roseland during Musicfest I'd bring all my friends onstage to check their fantasy football lineups, too. Still, Wiz is totally bringing it. But I'm more impressed that he's sampling Empire of the Sun's “Walking on a Dream” than the fact that he probably just smoked 100 spliffs backstage. (MM)
Holocene, 10:40 pm.
I'm loving White Hinterland's opening cover of Monica's “Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days).” Casey Dienel's goosebump-inducing voice is complemented by the wistful video installation, which shows shots of birds and kites and bleached-out beach skies, that plays behind her. In keeping with the 1995 vibe, she is dressed in a oversized, mustard-colored shirt (tied at the waist, natch) and crazy, African-patterned pants like a lost member of De La Soul or Brand Nubian. (RR)
Roseland, 10:41 pm
I am seriously considering starting a fight in the hope that Wiz Khalifa asks me to join the Taylor Gang. He's name-dropped the crew about 27 times in 10 minutes. I don't know what it means, but I need to be a part of this. (APK)
Mississippi Studios, 10:44 pm.
Only at MusicfestNW: Missed most of the Hosannas set talking with members of Blitzen Trapper about tour-bus dreams (they are freaky) and Peter Buck (he is probably upstairs). Have already had a notable amount of whisky. Onward. (AM)
Holocene, 10:54 pm
This breathy, haunting performance is making me wonder if White Hinterland might be our (slightly less austere and Scandinavian) version of Fever Ray. (RR)
Crystal Ballroom, 11:05
Okkervil River has almost filled out the Crystal. The whole band has dressed in brown. I can't help but feel they've deliberately color-coordinated. I approve aesthetically, but it's not very punk rock. Which... I guess they aren't. Carry on, then. (RB)
Okkervil River (Ro Tam)
Crystal Ballroom, 11:05
Despite having taken a recent hiatus from performance in the interest of recording an album, Okkervil River is in masterfully tight form. Will Sheff dresses like an English Lit. professor and jumps around the stage like he's fronting At the Drive-In. I'm pretty sure Okkervil River doesn't have any settings between “off” and “screaming”, and tonight it's set to “screaming.” (SD)
Holocene, 11:06 pm.
Shawn Creeden is exactly the “magic maker” that he claims to be on White Hinterland's MySpace page. He is bending samples of Casey Dienel's voice until she sounds like a seagull. And he does it at exactly the moment that seagull's take flight in the video behind them. (RR)
Burnside Bridge, 11:07 pm.
Unexpected hazards of parking at Doug Fir and walking across the river: The drawbridge just went up. Damn! Not gonna make Abe Vigoda! The westbound bicycles have piled three dozen deep in the bike lane. If John Canzano could see this, he would... still be a miserable talk-radio demagogue, probably. (AM)
Holocene, 11:09 pm.
Hearing these airy high notes that Dienel can hit is making me want to hear what her version of Dirty Projectors' “Stillness Is The Move” would sound like. (RR)
Thee Oh Sees are absolutely tearing up Dante's, and I've never seen it more crowded in here. Unfortunately my injury (did I ever mention that I had ACL reconstructive surgery five weeks ago? Don't ever call me a pussy again, blogosphere!) has me hiding in the back by the door hoping to avoid getting trampled. Still happy I made it out, and I can barely stand at this point. (MM)
Backspace, 11:24 pm.
Abe Vigoda is throbbing, but three kids in the back of the room are still playing Trivial Pursuit. The clue is “a narrow body part.” A girl guesses “penis.” The answer is “artery.” This feels like a harbinger for the rest of the night. [Future self: It is.] (AM)
Cave Singers (Inger Klekacz)
Doug Fir, 11:28 pm.
Man, Cave Singers' frontman Pete Quirk is looking and acting a lot like George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou. The knee-slapping, rootin'-tootin' set might as well be the work of The Soggy Bottom Boys. I wonder how his voice gets to be so grizzled. The man eats gravel. (MS)
Dante's, 11:30 pm
Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer is my hero. Seriously, is there a cooler man in indie rock today? Dude holds his guitar just under his chin like he's a garage punk Dwight Yoakam. (MM)
Mississippi Studios, 11:30 pm.
The Minus 5 is kicking ass, but that's to be expected. Gotta love these audiences for old ‘90s alt-bands like Shonen Knife. I love eavesdropping on 40-plus year-old dudes talking about how they saw, like, Archers of Loaf at Shitty's Dive Bar back in 1992, and it was fucking epic, man! (MPS)
Backspace, 11:34 pm.
Forget everything bad I ever said about Los Angeles: Abe Vigoda kicks all kinds of ass. Yes, the frontman looks like Taylor Lautner, and nobody in the act appears older than 13. But Abe (can I call you Abe?) is the best New Wave act of 2010, immediately after being—I'm told—the best tropical-punk band of 2009. The lead singer says the band is here to rep L.A.; somebody shouts, “Go Clippers!” (AM)
Someday Lounge, 11:37 pm.
Jared Mees & The Grown Children are on stage. Oop, not any more. Mees is crowd surfing, clenching the mic firmly in his palm, wailing away as crowd members lift his body high like a Jewish bride at her wedding. (WH)
Crystal Ballroom, 11:45 pm
Will Sheff is trying his damndest to sing a heartfelt rendition of “A Stone,” but his whispered lyrics and acoustic guitar are being almost completely drowned out by a chattering beer garden and an '80s dance party that's happening downstairs. The group's louder songs are definitely playing better to this crowd. (SD)
Backspace, 11:46 pm.
A friend of mine, entranced by this modestly attended show, offers to buy Abe Vigoda a round of Backspace beers. They decline. Too young, perhaps? (AM)
Sandbox Studios, 11:45 pm.
Seriously, dude. Why the fuck won't the Toyota rep just let me take the display car for a spin around this warehouse? It's not like there are very many people here. And it's not like I have a fifth of bourbon in my belly. (APK)
Mississippi Studios, 12 am.
Uh, are we sure this is the real Shonen Knife? If so, they haven't aged in at least two decades. They hit the stage smiling wide and throwing up devil horn signs and proceed to rip through a set that sounds like the Ramones if they hosted a Japanese childrens show. “We want to play a song about tasty snacks,” goes one intro. “Fuck yeah!” the crowd responds. It's all Super Happy Fun Time, but I have to wonder if people would ever have been enamored with the band if it wasn't made up of three cutesy Japanese women singing about fuzzy animals. Whatever the appeal, all I want to eat after this show is Sour Patch Kids. (MPS)
Shonen Knife (Jeff Walls)
Crystal Ballroom, 12:04 am.
Okkervil River gets the crowd clapping. Oh no, Okkervil: never let the crowd keep time. They always, always fail.
Crystal Ballroom, 12:10 am
Okkervil River does an encore, and even though it doesn't include “Kansas City,” the evening's exertions have forced Will Sheff to take off his suit jacket. I'm pretty sure that means things went well. Right? (SD)
Doug Fir, 12:10 am
Disadvantage of hobbling around on an injured knee: Opting to spend $6 (plus tip) to take a cab 10 blocks across the river to see the Tallest Man on Earth instead of walking. Our cab driver is pretty jovial, though, laughing about my injury and telling me he knows a guy selling “that killer green.” I'll stick to whiskey for now, but thanks. (MM)
Tallest Man on Earth (Inger Klekacz)
Someday Lounge, 12:15 am.
Y La Bamba has an avid group of female followers. Many of whom try to mirror frontwoman Luzelena Mendoza's striking beauty and style. They fall short. But it is fun seeing their commendable attempts as their strut through the door. (WH)
Doug Fir, 12:20 am.
Tallest Man On Earth, as you might expect, is actually the shortest guy here. The little Swede has swagger and we're all eating it up. His “did you just see that?” glances and “what about this?” shuffles form the stage presence of someone much, much older. He's even winking at adoring fans and cracking funny Portland jokes with only the faintest accent. Enter envy. (MS)
Rotture, 12:29 am.
“Y'all know what's up,” says a MC from Lazer Sword. “Y'all know what's up.” I don't. I have no idea what's up. But I sense it might be very, very cool. (AM)
Rotture, 12:34 am.
There is a girl in front of me with a dozen glo-sticks nestled in her hair. I feel as if I'm inside Tron. (AM)
Doug Fir, 12:36 am
Something is clearly wrong with the Tallest Man on Earth. His songs still sound pretty good, but after seeing him play a few absolutely perfect sets earlier this year, I can tell he's a off tonight. I think Trevor got him stoned. (MM)
Dante's, 12:38 am.
Hey hey, we're the Gories! The band is remarkably well-preserved; the crowd looks like it has seen better days. (RB)
The Gories (Vivian Johnson)
Rotture, 12:41 am.
Lazer Sword is changing my life. I want to have a ballcap with a flat brim. I want to have a shorty. I want to grrrriiiyyyiiind. I want to be a sex robot. I want to stay here forever. (AM)
Someday Lounge, 12:48 am.
All four hundred members of Typhoon are on stage, closing out the night with thunderous riffs. Someday Lounge is brimming with drunkies trying to multi-task the feats of (1) standing up, and (2) bobbing their heads to the beat. (WH)
Doug Fir, 1 am
Say all you want about the Tallest Man, but I've never heard the Doug Fir this quiet before. During his penultimate song, “You're Going Back,” Kristian Matsson breaks a string and then violently tears it off mid-song, shouting “It still works, it's just a guitar” and starting the next verse. What a performer. (MM)
Someday Lounge, 1:05 am
My buddy Ryan from Austin is ecstatic to be able to see Typhoon. "If this was the only show I saw the whole time, I'd leave a happy man," he tells me. All of a sudden I feel kinda bad--I think I've seen Typhoon a dozen times in the last year. It still impresses, though, especially tonight's new and re-worked material. (CJ)
Doug Fir, 1:15 am
Mattson comes back to encore with a song from his new EP, but awkwardly introduces it by saying “I play tomorrow. I'm Billy Corgan.” The crowd doesn't know whether to chuckle or hide. Trevor definitely got him stoned. (MM)
Dante's, 1:35 am.
The Gories power through its set of short, sharp tunes. Mick Collins is absolutely shredding his cheap little Squire strat, and the drummer is just cool as shit: she pounds the hell out of two drums for an hour-and-a-half without once dropping her sneer. The band's fuzzy, lo-fi punk is exactly what I'm in the mood for right now, but I have a feeling some people looking for a balls-to-the-wall, ear-shattering rock show to end their night are going to be a bit dissappointed. (RB)
Sandbox Studios, 2 am.
This after party is pretty douched-out compared to last year's. It's missing a certain, how you say, je ne sais Thermals? (MPS)
Sandbox Studio, 2:15 am.
The after party is all branded-up like a Nascar driver. On the other hand, a woman in a Toyota t-shirt gives me a traditional American food-stuff called “Fun Dip,” which I enjoy a lot more than my Vitamin Water cocktail. (RB)
Sandbox Studio, 2:11 am.
There is never a bad time to hear Men Without Hats at a loud volume. Dear MFNW, please book this band next year. They're in need of a comeback. (APK)
Berbati's Pan, 2:13 am.
I feel for the Builders and the Butchers: There were so many gimmicks in the beginning--truly epic gimmicks like passing instruments out to the crowd and leading people pied-piper style into the street--and you can't use the same gimmicks forever. The band, wisely, realizes this and has upped its musicianship and tightness instead of trotting out new hooks. But the ghost of those gimmicks remain. When you see the B&Bs, you expect thunder and lightning. This crowd, soaked in weird fumes from the fog machine (why was a fog machine running here?? For Richmond Fontaine!?!?) is happy just to watch a high-energy set. Ryan Sollee thanks them profusely for staying up late. (CJ)
Builders and the Butchers (Autumn Andel)
Sandbox Studios, 3:01 am.
A guy is face-down on the sidewalk outside the party surrounded by cops, proclaiming that he doesn't have any other weapons on him. MFNW: Where hipster knife fights happen! (MPS)
Sandbox Studios, 3:01 am.
Singer is a liar. It wasn't a knife. It was a 9mm handgun pulled from the trunk of a car during an altercation that I can't even begin to understand. MFNW—keepin' it gangsta! (APK)
Sandbox Studios, 3:20 am
For the first time in my life, I am unable to give away drink tickets. People look disgusted when I try to had them off. Then I see Andy Kryza, and he's perfectly happy to take as many as I can give him. "They're drink tickets," he says matter-of-factly, as if they were twenty dollar bills. (CJ)
Sandbox Studios, 3:33 am.
What shall we say of the MusicfestNW afterparty? That it was sponsored by Toyota? That there were as many free drinks as last year? That the DJ played more 1980s music videos? That I danced like a damned fool in the general vicinity of beautiful women? Let us never speak of this again. (AM)