We start slow. We start slow because MusicfestNW would literally kill us if all five days were as packed as, say, Saturday.--- Yesterday's lineup only included four venues (and a kick-off party with food from a bunch of fancy local chefs and an appearance from the Ice Cream Man), but that's what we needed. A slow start. Stay tuned, as there will be daily MFNW updates to come—and they'll get a little crazier than this. —Casey Jarman, Music Editor, Willamette Week

Bloggers: Casey Jarman, Matthew P. Singer, Ruth Brown

6:46 pm @ Wonder Ballroom Parking Lot
Kicking off MFNW by shoveling plate upon plate of free barbecue into my mouth at the opening night party (winner: Bunk's pork tacos). Some great people-watching to be had here: I spy all the members of Blind Pilot, the diminutive soul singer Charles Bradley being escorted to a port-a-potty, and say, is that Colin Meloy over there? Oh wait. It's just Casey. (MPS)

7:05 @ Wonder Ballroom Parking Lot
Typhoon frontman Kyle Morton says he's excited to play the Doc Marten's store for the second time, and I ask if he'll be getting a free pair of shoes. "I hope so! That was awesome last year and these shoes are pretty worn out," he says, lifting his foot to reveal a floppy sole almost completely detached from the rest of his shoe. Sure, he now ranks among Portland's favorite songwriters and his band just played Letterman, but there are also like a dozen people in the band. That's a lot of mouths to feed. New shoes are but a dream. (CJ)

9:10 pm @ Mission Theater
I can't remember the last time I saw this many well-dressed men sharing a stage. A production of Guys 'N' Dolls, perhaps? 12 members of the Wheedle's Groove band—an all-star outfit made up of funk and soul superstars from the Seattle scene—are doing their thing, and the big guy up front is the recently resurgent Portland-based soul singer Ural Thomas. Thomas hits the stage with a big ol' Taj Mahal-style rice-picker hat, but it comes off quickly thereafter, and the guy is just pouring his heart out. (CJ)

The CorinTucker Band at Mississippi Studios.
Photo by Allison Cekala

10:04 pm @ Mission Theater
Robbie Hill—who looks like an unholy combination of Michael Jackson and Sly Stone (the latter attribute compounded by the fact that Hill's classic band was called Robbie Hill's Family Affair)—is one hell of a performer. That's not unique to the evening, but his sparkling hat and glove give the distinct impression that this guy never stopped being outrageously...outrageous. His song "I Just Wanna Be," as featured on Light in the Attic's Wheedle's Groove compilation, is one of the evening's best cuts. (CJ)

10:20 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

I sat in my air-conditioned apartment for an hour psyching myself up to cross the road to enter the sauna that is the Crystal. I sweated out about 10kg just walking up the stairs into the venue. The girl next to me is tribal dancing and the man behind me is breathing creepily down my neck. Music festivals are so good in theory, but the reality of interacting with other people always spoils it for me. The Kills seem to be having a lovely time. Alison Mosshart's hair is the star of the show. I wish I was up the front with all the kids and not standing like an old dweeb in the VIP section, but again: other people. Get off my porch. (RB)

10:40 pm @ Crystal Ballroom
The Kills are burning through the distorted lurch of "Satellite," while the rest of us just burn. (Seriously, it's a sweatbox in here. Considering Portland is finally experiencing summer weather post-Labor Day, this might be the hottest MFNW in recent memory.) Between this track and their wicked cover of Peter Tosh's "Stepping Razor," the band is on a real reggae kick right now, and they should consider exploring it further. Somebody needs to make reggae cool again, and it might as well be the vampiric Katie Holmes and Mr. Kate Moss. (MPS)

The Kills at the Crystal Ballroom.
Photo by Lana MacNaughton
11:20 @ Crystal Ballroom

It's too hot to see the Kills upstairs, so I've retreated with a friend to Lola's Room, which projects the show on a corner screen. The sound, however, seems to be busted. All we hear is buzzing bass and the occasional between-song cheer. Without the audio, frontwoman Alison Mosshart's flailing takes on silent movie quality (though Charlie Chaplin never rocked the Kurt Cobain look). Suddenly the music stops and the light fixtures start shaking from the stomping above. So this is what it's like to be below the bouncy floor. Quick! Give them what they want! We're all going to die down here! (CJ)

11:35 pm @ Bunk Bar
Out of the fire, into...another fire. Ugh, so very, very packed and sweaty in here. I promise not to make every diary entry about how hot every venue is...but seriously, it's fuckin' hot in here. (MPS)

12:15 am @ Bunk Bar
Y'know what Bunk Bar needs? Some actual stage lights. I mean, I'm pretty sure that's Eric Bachmann onstage gently strumming through a very pretty, very Dylanish version of "Man'o'War," but it could also be my high school shop teacher from as much as I can see. (MPS)