September 8th, 2006 5:33 pm | by MARK BAUMGARTEN Music | Posted In: Columns

Musicfest Kicks Off in Fine Form

superxxman2So, last night, as the first night of MusicfestNW got underway with Adam Shearer of John Weinland stepping to the mic at Town Lounge and timidly announcing "Well, this is probably the first song of Musicfest," a full moon was beginning to cut its arc across the night sky. This might explain some of the intensely insane activity that went down throughout the evening after the Crystal Ballroom, Roseland Theater, Berbati's Pan, Doug Fir and Towne Lounge opened their doors to wristband-wearing masses.

Like, say, it might explain why two guys tried to beat the shit out of me as the Dandy Warhols ended their set at the Crystal Ballroom around 12:30. Or they might have just been angry after having to wait in a line that stretched all the way around the block to Scooter's and they decided that they would take their frustration out on the nearest guy with a VIP lanyard. Or maybe I was dancing in a somewhat drunken obnoxious manner while the Dandy Warhols played a somewhat flat-footed set that really didn't deserve to be danced to in such such complete commitment.

Whatever it was, I'm just glad that WW Arts & Culture Editor Kelly Clarke knows kung fu. She also knows how to dance to a great band that is pretty much phoning it in, only offering up the groove and skipping on the soul. "The Last High," of course, was fantastic, but only because that song manages to be so sexy because it's delivery is filled with so much apathy. As Courtney Taylor-Taylor sings "You were the last high" in a baritone that straddles the line between breathy and lazy, you really get the sense that he could get that high back, if he would just get off the couch and grab it. The fact that he doesn't is tragic in a way, but it's also what makes that song, which he penned with Evan Dando, so amazing. And the performance last night was just perfect.

That apathetic approach just doesn't work for "Get Off." But I'll still dance to it, even if idiotic meatheads, who are probably frustrated because they are attracted to Courtney Taylor-Taylor and don't know what to do with those emotions besides mask them by playing hours and hours of sports games on Play Station, want to beat the crap out of me. I mean, wouldn't you.

So, that's my most memorable moment of the first night of MusicfestNW. Here what the other Local Cutters had to say about their Thursdays:

Michael Byrne
John Weinland doing "Piles of Clothes." It's a gorgeous, sad pop-folk song irregardless, but it means so much more if you do actually sleep amongst piles of clothes.

Shaking and bopping like it's the end of the world while the Minders played "3 5 7." My hair was in my eyes most of the time so I couldn't tell, but I like to imagine I wasn't the only one.

Jason Simms
A sound tech came out and put a note down in front of Anton Newcombe to tell him to wrap things up. Knowing the end of the set was near, Newcombe led the BJM in a 5 minute full-on noise rock out. He put his guitar against the amp and weighed down on the neck, almost breaking it. Matt Hollywood, a departed member of the band who took the stage for the last few songs, had been shakey at first, but in the free-form environment of the jam, went all out, facing his amp and playing a mix of leads and chords. Evegn after the band was done and unplugging their instruments, Hollywood was still strumming chords.

In other BJM news from last night, I wrote a listing for the Brian Jonestown Massacre saying that drama was unlikely--but I was wrong. Anyone looking out for Jerry Springer-esque drama got it last night when Anton Newcombe stormed off the stage during the encore. Backstage, he yelled at drummer Daniel Allaire (I think that's who's playing drums these days, hard to keep, you know?) but they made up a few hours later. It's a bummer this kind of stuff still has to happen for these guys.

Amy McCullough
There were so many moments of last night's Local Cut showcase that filled me with unbridled glee—sitting on the floor while singing and clapping along to Super XX Man's "Collecting Rocks," the Minders rocking my hiccups away during "3, 5, 7"—but, for some reason, when the Shaky Hands' Nick Delffs started in on the opening guitar of "Decide It All" (from the band's self-titled EP), that was it. My stomping feet caused bourbon to splash over the edges of my glass, an unstoppable smile came across my face, and I exclaimed, "YES!" before I even had a chance to think. Indie pop perfection: You can say that again.

Casey Jarman
At the Towne Lounge, Super XX Man was quieter than the two bands preceding it, and Scott Garrett's soft voice and accompanying instrumentation was being drowned out by the chatter from the bar. When the audience started clapping along and pounding out drum sounds with bottles against a table, a smile came to his face and he said, "I think with your enthusiasm we can win over the bar." Then he went into "Collecting Rocks" with a lot of confidence and invited everyone to sing along at the end, which many did.

I stepped outside after that set, got some cold air in me and looked at all the lonely-looking fallen bikes, haphazardly locked up to posts and eachother. Garrett's are beautiful songs, I thought to myself, and it's a pity most people there didn't really listen them. Then I thought about how no one that did hear them really seemed to care about the rest of the bar, including Garrett himself. He seems like he'd go right on playing through a nuclear war or a title wave. Everyone would run around screaming and he'd just be there singing "my darlin' darlin' darlin'" all night long.

There is bound to be even more momentous moments tonight as the fest spreads into about a dozen more clubs. Check out the Friday schedule here.


Photo: Scott Garrett of Super XX Man fests it up. Photo by Casey Jarman.
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