I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in the last couple of weeks plotting my Musicfest itinerary. Trust that I feel about as pathetic as you’d like me to feel. Be that as it may, the intense(ly misused) mental energy expended on resolving scheduling conflicts did lead me to a few possibly meaningful thoughts about this year’s festivities. Perhaps my struggles will help you as you refine your own plan of attack. At the very least, you’ll know where I’ll be if you want to take this shit outside.
Thursday, 11 p.m.: Handsome Furs (Branx) v. Black Cobra (Dante’s)
A punk column this may be, but I will not be limiting myself to the short, fast and loud during Musicfest; I want to get down, sweat, move a little bit. Handsome Furs’ Sound Kapital is an exhilarating rush of synth-pop—hands down the best thing this Wolf Parade offshoot has released. I’d love to inaugurate my Musicfest with some Handsome dancing, but Kylesa is playing Dante’s at midnight, right after Kylesa-esque sludge punkers Black Cobra. Have you heard that new Kylesa album? It’s a suppurating beast built with every gnarly thing distorted guitars are capable of. Yeah, can’t risk missing this one. Damn you geography!
Winner (due to the fact that I need time to muscle way to the front of Dante’s before Kylesa takes the stage): Black Cobra.
Friday, 9 p.m.: Transient (Hawthorne) v. Shabazz Palaces (Roseland)
I’ve been on a bit of a grindcore kick lately, and Portland’s Transient has been holding its own against Gridlink and Noisear and Wormrot and Agoraphobic Nosebleed during my brief blasts of grind time, which happen to coincide with my daily exercise routine (jump rope to Assuck some time—it’s intense). I have yet to see Transient live, and the fact that a recent car accident on tour hasn’t done much to slow these folks down speaks volumes about Transient’s dedication to destroying my ears, so I should probably go with the hometown kids. Also, I saw Shabazz Palaces a few months ago. I should be sated for a while. On the other hand, Shabazz Palaces might be the closest thing I have to a religion at the moment. I’m afraid I must worship tonight.
Winner (because Ishmael Butler is just that powerful right now): Shabazz Palaces.
Saturday, 11 p.m.: Pig Destroyer (Hawthorne) v. Rabbits (Ash Street Saloon)
This battle of the Relapse Records bands was cause for some serious pre-MFNW agita, but it ended up being a no-brainer, because I just found out (thanks Facebook!) that Rabbits is playing a non-MFNW show at Tube earlier in the day, along with premiere power-violence outfit Honduran and hardcore pummeler Basement Animal, among others. Punk matinees are the best: The drunk dicks who ruin shows are still sleeping off last night’s shame-erasing, decorum-destroying swill, leaving me free to enjoy music as God intended, i.e. without some oxygen thief’s Crass-tatted elbow digging into my earhole. I will definitely be at Tube nursing a hangover with Rabbits, so I guess I get to have my cake and eat my grindcore, too.
Winner (by TKO and with the understanding that I will be putting up with drunk dudes at the victor’s show): Pig Destroyer.
Sunday, 11 p.m.: Ted Leo (Backspace) v. Neurosis (Roseland)
This one makes my soul hurt, because I think I’m choosing something that is not a pretty girl over Ted Leo for maybe the first time since that one time I chose a pretty girl over Ted Leo. He has been my favorite music person for about 10 years now. He is one of the greatest living songwriters, punk or otherwise; he is one of the greatest living performers, period; he is a damn fine Tweeter; he is someone I might like to turn into a boyfriend. His “The Sword in the Stone” might be my favorite song of all time. But 16 years ago, I bought this Neurosis album called Pain of Mind. I bought Pansy Division’s Deflowered along with it. Those were two of the very first punk albums I ever owned. I still love both of them. I’ve seen Pansy Division half a dozen times. I’ve never seen Neurosis. Yeah, I’m from the Bay Area and I’ve never seen Neurosis. Shameful. Sorry Ted Leo, but this ends now.
Winner (even though the Leo is still my number one): Neurosis.
Wait. I just Googled “The Sword in the Stone” because writing the above made me want to watch as many live versions of that tune as humanly possible before 7-11’s selection of rotgut wine took up its queasy siren song in the key of me, and I found recent videos of my sweet Theodore playing it, which means he’ll probably play it at Backspace, and if he doesn’t I will remake Misery as a documentary starring Teddy Leo, because goddammit Ted, I’m missing Neurosis for you! Winner (for eternity): Ted Leo.
Sunday, 1 a.m.: Big Freedia (Dante’s) v. getting to bed at a reasonable hour (a floor somewhere)
Duh. Winner (because I’ll sleep when I’m dead, which might be tonight, actually, if Freedia’s dangerously packed and sweaty and sexy and intense Holocene show at last year’s Musicfest is any indication): Big Freedia.