Navigating MusicfestNW can leave even lifelong Portlanders looking like common tourists, standing dazed on a street corner, trying to figure out which direction to head. Every night is a treacherous journey in which one bad decision can ruin the entire evening. Don't worry, though: WW is here to help. Plotting the perfect schedule can be overwhelming, but it's not impossible. Each night of the festival, check back here to read our music experts' suggestions for making your MFNW the best damn MFNW it can be. That way, you'll never be on the receiving end of that most painful of statements: "Oh, dude, you shoulda been there!"
Wednesday, Sept. 5
8 pm, Hawthorne Theater
There's a familiar comfort in Joyce Manor's nostalgic melange of '90s emo and pop-punk—think Get Up Kids when they were good, Alkaline Trio when it was worth listening to, Jawbreaker circa 24 Hour Revenge Therapy—but the raw vigor of youth coursing through Joyce Manor's short, sincere celebrations of heartache and hope keeps everything swirling and swaying in the cutting, electric present. It's as good as poppy punk gets. CHRIS STAMM.
9 pm, Crystal Ballroom
Toiling for years as a professional songwriter-to-the-stars and cult favorite amid the Los Angeles art-pop circuit, Laura Pergolizzi had already amassed a boatload of tunes expressly designed to showcase her big voice and little instrument (she plays the ukulele) to best advantage before winning mainstream recognition through "Into the Wild." JAY HORTON.
10 pm, Hawthorne Theater
The hullabaloo over transgender Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel transitioning to frontwoman Laura Jane Grace threatens to detract from a real important piece of this band's puzzle: Against Me! is one of the great American punk bands of its generation, with politically minded lyrics and victorious, catchy riffage aplenty. CASEY JARMAN.
11 pm, Doug Fir
Are you the sort of person who might threaten a move to Canada if things go awry this November? Maybe it's time to brush up on Sloan. There's a lot to hear, as the indie-rock quartet has been together for 20 years, but Twice Removed, which will be played in its entirety at MFNW, is a great place to start. Sloan's floppy-haired,
Beatlesque '90s college rock—sorry, let's call it "uni rock"—will serve as an expat's Gin Blossoms. MARTIN CIZMAR.