September 12th, 2011 | by WW MUSIC STAFF Music | Posted In: Local Cut

The MusicfestNW Diaries 2011: Saturday and Sunday

Bleeding ears and bouncing asses

piercedPierced Arrows' Toody Cole at Ash Street Saloon.
And so that was Musicfest. As we come down hard from our music-induced highs on this sad, silent Monday, join us in reliving the final glorious days of summer fun. Today's bloggers, in order of appearance: Nikki Volpicelli, Arya Imig, Chris Stamm, Matthew P. Singer, Robert Ham, Mark Stock, Nathan Carson, Casey Jarman.

SATURDAY

12:10 pm @ Doug Fir

The line is past all Jupiter Hotel rooms and people are pow-wowing on the ground as if they’ve been here for days, or haven’t had a good nights sleep for a few of them. Either way, as the clock strikes 12, we all take a break from the warm, sunny day by shuffling into the dark (and air conditioned) basement. Antler’s guitarist wonder aloud why the delicious breakfast burrito he had 20 minutes ago was beginning to turn on him and, after song one, he’s out of breathe and still cursing the thing. (NV)

12:34 pm @ Doug Fir
After a weekend of outdoor shows and would-be-abandoned venues (if not for the cheap rent), it’s a luxury to lean back on the puffy, padded walls and feel the cool air hit the back of your neck and know that, no matter how to Pioneer Square show goes later today, you’ve spent some intimate time with the Antlers and heard them through one of the best sound systems in the city. (NV)

1:30 pm @ Mississippi Studios
Pretty soon I’ll make an executive decision to pace myself, and by pretty soon I mean when the free beer is no longer free. Unfortunately missing the Point Juncture, WA on account of I heard there was an alleyway party starting a few hours before it actually did, I was able to catch the middle and end of the Nurses set. Aaron Chapman could work on his stage presence. He kind of looks like a T-Rex playing guitar up there. (NV)

3:00 pm @ North Tillamook & Kerby
These port-o-potties are really impressive. I got in before any of the poop did. They’re fresh, and I kind of feel like I’m in my own personal sauna. A friend squatting in the one beside mine says she’s cancelling her 24-Hour Fitness membership and getting a hot pot. (NV)

Alela Diane at Crystal Ballroom
Photo by Emily Booher

3:15 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge
The keyboard player for Avi Buffalo is habitually biting his nails when he isn’t playing a tiny keyboard. He looks kind of like Michael Cera. Avi Buffalo frontman Avi Zahner-Isenberg introduces him as Michael, but he has shyly slinked off stage. Meanwhile Zahner-Isenberg is amped, as hyper as a kid in a ball pit, talking a million miles a minute. Later I learn that he spends most of the group’s Crystal Ballroom set talking to the soundman in the middle of their songs. Ugh. Lame. Next year, let’s put ritalin in Avi Buffalo’s swag bag. (AI)

4:17 pm @ The Woods
Run into Casey at The Woods where he is reading for This! Fest, a gathering of writers and bands. “One festival just isn’t enough, huh?” I say to him. “Do you want to read for me? I just got really nervous,” he replies. (AI)

5:15 pm @ Pioneer Square Courthouse
I’m bored, or maybe I’m just extremely hot and dirty and exhausted and mistaking that mash up with boredom. Typhoon played a great set with thirteen people on stage, a friend notes that every time she sees the band there’s someone else in it. After their set, lead singer Kyle Morton goes and sits with his family in the crowd after and obliges a female fan who asks to take a picture with him. (NV)

6:45 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
The incredibly good-looking boys in Antlers are nearly as sedate as the comatose crowd filling the square. Good thing the crowd is almost as incredibly good-looking as the boys in Antlers. I am distracting myself with untoward thoughts until something interesting happens. (CS)

Lifesavas at the Aladdin Theater
Photo by Inger Klecakz

6:50 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
The Antlers sound good from the VIP area up by the Pioneer Square Starbucks (yes, I'm bragging), but too many of my friends are up here for me to pay full attention. Everyone wants to go the Virginia Cafe around the corner. On the Saturday of last year's MFNW, we all drank three White Russians there, went to Mary's, and then...well, I allegedly went to see Titus Andronicus and Shabazz Palaces, but I don't quite remember actually seeing either of them. This does not bode well for the rest of the evening. (MPS)

6:55 pm @ Tube
The chicken and waffles from Miss. Delta that I used to fuel up with for my ride downtown has turned me into a walking airborne toxic event. I make the executive decision to not enter the cramped sauna that is Tube, preferring to take in a early evening set by Rabbits from the sidewalk. (RH)

7:08 pm @ Tube
Rabbits is doing a loose set of covers, done in their inimitable nitrous oxide fueled style. Best one two punch is Minor Threat’s “Straight Edge” followed by Black Flag’s “Wasted”. (RH)

7:10 pm @ Roseland Theater
The Neurosis line, stretching from Burnside to Couch, is an epic tableau of every conceivable method of hairfarming. Someone needs to take a picture. The future must understand the beauty of our young century’s plumage. (CS)

7:18 pm @ Tube
I accepted metal into my life with open arms just recently, but from the looks of the women lingering outside, I can see now that I’ve made a huge mistake waiting this long. One young woman in a threadbare Stooges shirt looks like a combination of Connie Britton (Coach Taylor’s wife on Friday Night Lights) and Lisa Kudrow. Swooooooooooon. (RH)

7:46 pm @ Tube
Rabbits drummer Kevin: “This is midlife crisis music. Instead of buying Harleys, we’re playing hardcore.” (RH)

7:52 @ Roseland Theater
The Roseland security guards, who have given me quite a few erotic massages this weekend, are sniffing cigarette packs for drugs. Dudes. Come on! I’m pretty sure these Neurosis fans will succeed in getting their drugs upstairs no matter what you do. Just pat us down slowly—yeah, that's it, lower, there we go—and let us in. (CS)

7:55 pm @ Roseland Theater
Out front, a bald black dude in a red outfit accosts me and my friend because...well, I’m not entirely sure. All I can make out of his slurry rant is that he got thrown out of the strip club down the street, is ready to kill somebody, and he is from Alabama. “I am from the Dirty South,” he keeps repeating. (RH)

8:09 pm @ Roseland Theater
Akimbo’s bass-heavy set is making my seat vibrate in a way that is not at all unpleasant. Finally, a metal show with a happy ending. (CS)

Explosions in the Sky at Pioneer Courthouse Square
Photo by Daniel Cronin

8:13 pm @ Sandy Hut
With so many venues (this one not technically included), I was hoping for an impromptu show in the spirit of the festival at one of Portland’s foremost dives. Instead, I got Cash on the jukebox. Admittedly, staring at the black light fresco here is a lot like seeing Explosions In The Sky perform. (MS)

8:13 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
Here's the thing I don't get about Explosions in the Sky: There's really no reason for them to be an instrumental band. Their music isn't evocative enough to NOT require a singer. All the dudes are currently rocking out in great disproportion to the actual rock-out quality of the music. We head to Virginia Cafe. Uh oh. (MPS)

8:17 pm @ Roseland Theater
“How can you pay $20 for a show and not have a pit?” says the lanky dude in a Slayer t-shirt trying desperately to get some slam dancing going on as Seattle’s Akimbo blazes onstage. No, my friend, the real question is: “Why do I pay $20 for a show and then have to suffer some sweaty yahoo bashing into me all night?” (RH)

9 pm @ Roseland Theater
YOB is an oddly arranged band. I don't think I've ever seen a drummer and bass player put so much distance between each other on a stage this size. But these cats don’t even need to look at each other. They're locked in on a plane mortals cannot access. I am transfixed, hypnotized. (CS)

YOB at Roseland.
Photo by Christa Connelly

9:03 pm @ Roseland Theater
The only reason there’s a line at this show is because security is thoroughly vetting all the women’s purses in search of paraphenelia. Somehow, I’m convinced that there will still be clouds of pot smoke wafting to the ceiling when Neurosis plays. (NC)

9:30 pm @ 5th and Burnside
This weekend's biggest mystery: the “Camel Tour” tents in the parking lot next to Dante's. People are emerging from the tents with packs of cigarettes. What must they undergo in those tents to pry such precious treasure from the bloody hands of big tobacco? I must know! I would investigate, but I just quit smoking. Must. Not. Take. Camel. Tour. (CS)

9:50 pm @ Barmuda Triangle
An absolute circus. Bagpipe players, puking frat boys, people sleeping on guitars, a dude on stilts, donuts everywhere. A group of people is hoisting a friend up so that he can reach a half-empty/half-full bottle of beer sitting on a second story window sill. Half-empty. (MS)

10:02 @ Roseland
Sitting at the Grateful Dead-themed table downstairs in the Roseland Grill bar while heavy rock jam-band Grails plays upstairs. ‘Nuff said! (NC)

10:10 pm @ Ash Street Saloon
It's bands like White Hills that make me feel stupid for forgetting to wear earplugs. Holy shit it's loud in here. The band is slowly searing everyone's brain, and looking good while doing it: the female bassist is wearing red spandex pants that are visible through her translucent guitar and a black velvet shirt with sparkly shoulders, and singer-guitarist Dave W. has painted his face the color of the Tin Man. Together, they are literally shaking the alcohol out of my system. (MPS)

10:11 pm @ Ash Street Saloon
If another “Best Guitar Players” list gets drafted up by some glossy magazine, and Dave W., frontman for the psych explosion known as White Hills is not on that list, I’m going Unabomber on their asses. (RH)

10:15 pm @ Star Theater
Star Theater has that certain retro club feel. There are people dancing, but they’re being watched by cocktail-swilling, well-dressed onlookers from up and the stairs and on the balcony. Can’t help thinking the giant mirrors are one-way glass and a panel of experts is secretly studying the effects of sample maestro Emancipator on humanity. (MS)

Mean Jeans at Hawthorne Theatre
Photo by Andy Wright

 
10:24 pm @ Roseland Theater

Ran into fellow WW writer Nathan Carson outside. “What’s going on upstairs?” I ask. “Some Grateful Dead bullshit,” he responds with much disdain. (RH)

10:36 pm @ Roseland Theater
The boys in Grails look spent. The bassist spends most of the set with his back against one of the poles on stage, and they looks relieved when they think their time is up, and then a little confused when they are told they still have five more minutes. (RH)

11:03 pm @ Ash Street Saloon
Holy shit, I can hear Sleepy Sun from Valentine’s. The band’s three guitarists are all playing at volume ten. The next magnitude 8 or higher earthquake will be caused by this megathrusting San Francisco psych-rock band. (MS)

11:05 @ Roseland
It’s been four years since Neurosis last played Portland. For the full house at Roseland tonight, this is like going to church. (NC)

11:07 pm @ Roseland
I don’t get easily overwhelmed at concerts, but I don’t know how much more of Neurosis I can handle. Standing by the PA speakers, my puny earplugs aren’t standing much of a chance. And damn if they don’t look possessed up there on stage. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed but am so tired that it’s starting to scare me a little bit. (RH)

11:20 pm @ Star Theater
Oh. My. God. Dam-Funk and Master Blazter's Zapp-style synth funk is threatening to shake this new club off its foundation. Mr. Funk himself, in a red cap and shades, is hunched over his keyboard, sending out sizzling waves of squiggly awesomeness. This is by far the coolest thing I've witnessed as MFNW, and the rest of the crowd is loving it as well. And now Funk is playing keytar in the crowd. I'm so overwhelmed by the dopeness of it all I drop my phone on the ground, incapacitating it for the rest of the night. (MPS)

11:22 pm @ Roseland
Dave Clark has been Neurosis’ house soundman for fifteen years. For the last two, he’s lived in Portland and worked at the Roseland. Hearing him mix “his” band in “his room” is the definition of “best case scenario.” (NC)

11:41 pm @ Ash Street Saloon
Earphones are beginning to make some sense. I just feel bad wearing them. Like I’m shutting the band out somewhat. But my ears are bleeding and I have Sleepy Sun to thank. I wonder how the girl hugging the amp feels. Very dizzy, I would guess. (MS)

11:45 pm @ Roseland
Neur"bro"sis is a lonely place to be a lady. Testosterone thickens the air and I can count all the fellow Metallettes here on one hand. Time to bail on this boys club. I’m headed to the Pierced Arrows show to see legend Toody Cole hold it down for the ladies. (DC)

Ty Segall at Mississippi Studios.
Photo by Daneil Cronin

11:56 pm @ Mississippi Studios
Lots of musicians here to see Ty Segall. Sam Coomes slumps against the wall by the stage. Members of Blitzen Trapper gripe about some sound techs that they know going to work with Edward Sharpe. Monarques monarch Josh Spacek has worn his best white hat for the event. (RH)

12:02 am @ Backspace
Ted Leo just turned 41. About 250 people sing him “Happy Birthday”, led by Rebecca Gates. Leo plays along on guitar, ever the working class hero. A man walks by with a green parrot on his shoulder. (AI)

12:06 am @ Mississippi Studios
Huh...never thought I’d see a mosh pit at this club. Let alone one with young women simultaneously thrashing around while trying to maintain their modesty as their short skirts creep upwards. (RH)

12:08 am @ Doug Fir
There’s a perfectly good looking box of Voodoo donuts sitting on the sidewalk but I fight the urge, sidestep a yelling match between a crying girl and a guy who looks like Ted Danson and enter Doug Fir. Brandon Summers of Helio Sequence is tuning his guitar. He’s also balding, but in that wise, natural, appealing sort of way. He keeps peeking around the Doug Fir lumber and the crowd applauds every time. He hasn’t done anything yet, people. (MS)

12:11 am @ Mississippi Studios
When did the preferred method of expressing your excitement at a live band become taking a half empty cup or can of beer and whipping it over your head, dousing the people around you? And what can we do to stop this? I’m thinking of using my Mayor Sam Adams doppelganger status and drafting up some kind of city ordinance. (RH)

12:20 am @ Mississippi Studios
Grails drummer Emil Amos has arrived at Miss. Studios. I express my delight at his band’s set tonight. He shakes his head, “I didn’t think I was going to make it for a while there.” Same here, my friend. (RH)

Blind Pilot at the Crystal Ballroom
Photo by Rachelle Hacmac

12:23 am @ Dante’s

As I wait in line I get a text from a friend en route who just met Big Freedia at the gas station. I’ve heard so much about Freedia I’m starting to believe she’s just a mythical creature, like Santa Clause. We shuffle inside to catch the end of DJ Beyonda and her Macbook Pro. I ‘ve got the sweats. I can’t believe I’m still awake. (NV)

12:25 am @ Doug Fir
It takes about three songs for me to remember why I love Helio Sequence so much. The band, in so many ways, is Portland. High energy though composed. Intelligent yet underemployed/underapprecciated. Melancholic in the most beautiful sense of the word. Old and new. I could go on, and on, and on. (MS)

12:30 am @ Dante’s
I go to the bathroom and read the graffiti directly in front of me that says “Show me your pussy girl.” Everyone in this bathroom is talking about how they’ve met the sassy Big Freedia or how mind blowing last year’s show at Sassy’s was, and there’s a lot of people in this bathroom. At this point, if she’s not wheeled out pinned to a cross ala Jesus Christ I don’t know if I’ll be impressed. (NV)

12:35 @ Roseland
A long and masterful set comes to a close in proper Neurosis fashion—with a drum circle. “Through Silver in Blood” is exactly what this crowd wanted all night. Doom sure makes a lot of people happy. (NC)

12:40 am @ Doug Fir
The comparison had been made before, but drummer Benji Weikel truly is Animal from the Muppets. Or a contemporary Keith Moon. He’s absolutely possessed. His head is on a spring and he’s counting off in time to himself (like any well trained percussionist should). The cover art for Young Effectuals couldn’t be more accurate. (MS)

12:50 am @ Holocene
Possessed party starter Zuzuka Ponderosa is encouraging the sweaty revelers in her care to dip. I scan the room in search of spittoons, seeing not a one. This is going to be messy. Oh wait. Nevermind. Dipping is yet another dance move I am too tired to attempt. I sway instead. Swaying feels good after nearly nine hours of walking, standing, imbibing, rocking the fuck out. (CS)

Pierced Arrows' Toody Cole at Ash Street Saloon.

1:03 am @ Dante’s
The same glowing green orb/shipping crate that was barrelling through Southeast last night was just wheeled into the venue, except now there’s only one girl shaking her ass on top of it. The mobile party makes a quick round and scoots out the door like the little show was totally normal, but nothing here is normal. On stage, there is so much booty shaking I’m concerned about the dancer’s distressed internal organs. (NV)

1:10 am @ Dante's
Asses are, indeed, in abundance for Big Freedia's set. She was the breakout star of last year's MFNW and has played a bunch of times since, but the novelty of the transgender queen of N'awlins so-called sissy bounce hasn't faded in Portland, as this place is packed and undulating. Last year, she had one fairly skanky-looking dancer on stage with her. This year, she's brought a whole army of rump-shakers. Later, a friend who was positioned closer to the stage reports two ladies were catching butt-sweat in their mouths. I have no comment. (MPS)

1:12 am @Ash Street
Fred and Toody Cole are going to be 70 in seven years. I’m having a hard time processing this information. (DC)

1:25 am @ Someday Lounge
Priory’s light show is a trip. Like Montgomery Scott, the group is giving it all they’ve got. It’s a pretty impressive display that earns my respect. (AI)

Big Freedia at Dante's

1:40 am @ Dante’s
At first I think the man shaking his rippling ass in a pair of Soffee shorts (that a pre-pubescent track runner would have trouble squeezing into) is Freedia. He’s not. Freedia is actually not that fancy, wearing an airbrushed white tee with a microphone emblazoned on the back. I guess you don’t have to be fancy when you’re Freedia, you just have to be the lyrical equivalence to cocaine for a herd of half-drunk, bleary-eyed party goers who spend their entire 90-degree day drinking Tecate in the sun. You have to get the party started at 1 am and keep it going long after your stage left exit. You did your job, girl, you shook the Music Fest right out of me. (NV)

2:05 am @ Union Pine
MFNW's secret after parties aren't exactly a secret any more, and this warehouse is way too crowded to make the free drinks and food worth it. And really, after seeing Dam-Funk, I don't really need to party much longer. We grab some tacos, a girl friend of mine throws a bottle of water into another friend's face, and we hail a cab. (MPS)

SUNDAY

Band of Horses at Pioneer Courthouse Square
Photo by Autumn Andel

6:55 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Cass McCombs sounds great, but I’ve crashed into about 13 different walls at this point, so any music with this kind of subtlety just isn’t going to register much. Oh, but there’s a sax solo, the second I’ve heard at Pioneer Square this weekend. If Clarence Clemons were still alive, he could’ve headlined this thing. (MPS)

7:15 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
For my first show at the Square, this is pretty impressive. The sound is rich, the views are good, and the setting is like a big brick amphitheater. With so many towering old buildings in the backdrop, it feels like a set. Pedestrians are drawn to every crack in the black fence that encloses the Square, hoping for a glimpse of the commotion. I hope Mayor Adams is watching from his lookout tower. (MS)

8:20 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
Ben Bridwell is in the mood to entertain. He’s all smiles, shedding brotherly love on his band mates and smoking like a chimney. His keyboardist Ryan Monroe is playing his heart out and the two can’t decide who’s top dog. The guy behind me keeps shouting “Funeral.” I want to tell him that that’s like shouting “Creep” at a Radiohead concert but he’s in the majority so I focus my attention on the bassist’s unruly moustache. (MS)

8:35 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
He must do it all the time but it’s a sight nonetheless. The drummer jost tossed Bridewell a drum stick and a tamborine and, somehow, Bridwell catches both without so much as looking - while smoking a cigarette, mind you. He jumps right into “The General Specific” and the bewigged security next to me starts to dance. (MS)

8:45 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
I said it last year and I’ll say it again: Pioneer Square makes for a shockingly beautiful concert venue. I’m not even a big Band of Horses fan, but they sound transcendent here. (MPS)

9:20 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
Tonight is the real live version of those Oregon stickers with the green heart in them. It’s absolutely impossible not to love this town right now. Band of Horses is lose, even comical at times. Bridwell is pretending to be a superstar (which, ironically, he pretty much is) and making fun of his own songs. They play Them Two’s “Am I A Good Man” in a James Brownsian style. The crowd is delightfully lethargic and giddy. And the moon is providing the best stage lighting imaginable. Lady Oregon, I am in your debt. (MS)

9:35 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
Band of Horses played all its hits and Ben Bridwell’s throat is shot, so an encore seems unlikely, but there’s a pedal steel guitar onstage that has stood unused all night. The security guards open the big cattle gates, but people are still clapping and chanting for the band’s return. Suddenly, the house music cuts out and the stage lights go on and a big cheer erupts, but it’s just a cruel joke. The band did everything we could have asked them for, but after five days of music, it’s kind of hard to see this thing come to a close. Goodnight, MFNW. (CJ).

The Sunday crowd at Pioneer Courthouse Square
Photo by Autumn Andel

 

 
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