September 7th, 2012 | by WW MUSIC STAFF Music | Posted In: MusicfestNW

MFNW Diaries: Thursday

flyinglotus_nathanmiller_018Flying Lotus @ Wonder Ballroom, MFNW 2012 - Nate Miller

This is when MusicfestNW really starts. Thursday is the day of the festival when it begins to seem as if there’s a band playing on every corner, at all hours. It’s when you have to start making agonizing sacrifices on your schedule. And it’s the night you have to decide whether to leave the club and get to bed because you’ve got a meeting at 8 am, or stay for the encore. As your trusted guides to MFNW, WW’s music staff always stays for the encore. Well, most of the time. (Bloggers in order of appearance: Ruth Brown, Mark Stock, Reed Jackson, Matthew P. Singer, Emilee Booher, Jonathan Frochtzwajg, Robert Ham.)

3:40 pm @ Leftbank Annex
Meanwhile, at Portland Digital eXperience: Gang of Four’s Dave Allen is on stage laying into a software engineer from Spotify over how little he makes as an artist from its streaming content. It is both awesome and super awkward. (RB)

4:15 pm @ PDX
The white wristbands of MFNW 2012 look like hospital patient bracelets. There are a lot of escapees out there. I like to imagine fans fleeing their houses through a window via a rope made of bed linens. (MAS)

7:47 pm @ PDX
Curse you, rich lineup! The sacrifices begin too soon. Naytronix and Trampled by Turtles at the same time—a torturous decision. I’m going to let Obama’s DNC speech decide, somehow, someway. If the Prez mentions youth and education more than old school values and a commitment to seniors, I’ll see Naytronix. Otherwise, it’s bluegrass at the Aladdin.

Lightning Bolt @ Hawthorne Theater
Catherine Moye

8:00 pm @ Branx
Am I the only who couldn’t figure out how to take off my MFNW bracelet last night without ripping it? I tried to and—after a sweat-inducing struggle—I tore the damn thing. Going up to the bouncer at Branx just now, I had to act like I was still putting it on. For those of you questioning my commitment to this festival: It’s bad enough I’m showing up to my day job with a collage of bar stamps on my arms; I couldn’t do the neon-green, beer-sponsored wrist band, too. (RJ)

8:02 pm @ Branx
Copy introduces itself to enthusiastic cheers. It’s a bittersweet response, though, as all 30 early-goers are gathered in the club’s 21 area, located about 50 feet from the stage. (MPS)

8:15 pm @ Branx
With so few people in the room, Copy’s Marius Libman looks a tad bit silly doing a laptop-only DJ set--it works much better when you have a large group of people dancing. But, as always, his tunes are top notch, and the addition of a live drummer is a nice touch. (RJ)

8:25 pm @ Aladdin Theater
“I know Portland dances!” exclaims Erik Koskinen. “[Dancing] is the second best form of exercise in the world.” Now he’s playing a country song about women, particularly his favorite kind: Redheads. I bet I can guess the first best form of exercise. (EB)

8:35 pm @ Branx
Only caught the final song of Copy’s set, but it was rad. There hasn't always been live drums in this band, has there? Either way, they really *kick* it up a notch and *ensnare* the listener—bad-um ching! (JF)

9 pm @ Branx
Claudia Meza of Stay Calm tells the club’s engineer that she needs to sound “all bass-y and shit.” She also insists he make the keyboards more trebly, so they don’t sound “farty.” Then she lets us know the mikes “smell like somebody peed on them.” How dare she besmirch the name of a club that has this adorning the wall of its bathroom: 

(MPS)

9:05 pm @ Aladdin Theater
Wow, I’m pleasantly surprised by the lead singer of These United States, Jesse Elliott. He’s got a nice blend of energy, crackle and twang that fits the band’s country-rock style extremely well. (EB)

9:10 pm @ Branx
Stay Calm's Claudia Meza says Omar Souleyman doing sound check in Western garb surprised her. "I was like, 'Who is that?' He's just a man, guys." (JF)

9:10 pm @ Star Theater
My first stop of the night and who do I see ready to stamp my hand? WW’s own Aaron Mesh. Being a big time journalist apparently has its perks. (RH)

9:10 pm @ Aladdin Theater
“Wanna come up here and form a big sweaty lake of humans?” Jesse Elliott asks the crowd as his chin-length hair grows sweatier by the second. (EB)

9:20 pm @ Star Theater
The handsomest member of the People’s Temple, a decent enough little garage pop group from Michigan: “I’ve never been to Oregon before. There’s lots of...nature...and stuff. It’s really cool.” (RH)

9:25 pm @ Branx
I really miss Explode Into Colors—the band sort of soundtracked my first year in Portland—so the Stay Calm songs that sound like EIC leftovers are my favorites. The last few have been killer. But wasn’t Zac Pennington in this band, too? What happened to him? (MPS)

9:25 pm @ Branx
Is Stay Calm's Claudia Meza plagiarizing her own Explode into Colors guitar riff? Or is SC playing an EiC cover?!? Wait, no, neither...Man, I miss that band. (JF)

Mean Jeans @ Star Theater, MFNW 2012
Andy Wright

9:27 pm @ Star Theater
I highly encourage the drummer of The People’s Temple to seek out a new band. His considerable skills are being wasted on these half-hearted tunes. (RH)

9:30 pm @ Star Theater
Lead guitar player in the People’s Temple breaks two strings on his hollow body Gretsch and looks none too pleased. He begrudgingly plays through one more song, cutting the set mercifully short. (RH)

9:35 @ Aladdin Theater
The crowd just cheered on a guy who’s wearing a blinking neon green outline of Minnesota on the back of his jacket with the words, “Let’s party” written in sequins below it. That’s a true Trampled by Turtles fan. (EB)

9:57 pm @ Holocene
Where is everyone? I count ten people here, half of them staff. I guess nobody got the memo that Nate from Naytronix is Nate Brenner from tUnE-yArDs. (MAS)

9:58 pm @ Backspace
I will have you know that our new music editor Matt Singer has reneged on his previous goal of wearing his lovingly made Breaking Bad t-shirt in favor of a striped polo. I hope this is not a portent of things to come with the music section. (RH)

10 pm @ Wonder Ballroom
Jacques Greene is playing a sporadic type of house music built on glitchy drums and off-beat time measures. In the Midwest, they love this stuff (my friends from Chicago call it “juke music”). But the few times I’ve seen it here in Portland, it didn’t fly over well. The audience here is no different; most look pretty bored. (RJ)

10:05 pm @ Backspace
Ceremony is a weird mix of dudes. One guitar player is wearing a spangled sleeveless shirt with Prince’s unpronounceable symbol embroidered on the back and sporting a massive pompadour (and I think eyeliner...). The other is close cropped in a black t-shirt. Bass player has a beard and ponytail. Front man Ross Farrar looks like he just got done after a long day of web design work. (RH)

10:10 pm @ Backspace
Weird reaction to Ceremony: When the band started, the youngish crowd just stood around looking confused. From the second song on, though, it’s total chaos, complete with circle pits and kids rushing the stage to grab the mic and sing along. (MPS)

10:10 pm @ Backspace
The crowd finally opens up a bit when the mosh pit starts. I take two steps forward and am immediately doused with other people’s beers being knocked out of their hands by the flying bodies. Punk rock style baptism. (RH)

10:15 pm @ Branx
Charlie Salas-Humara, of speed-psych act Sun Angle, doesn't just want the 21 people to move up to the all-ages section, he wants us "inside" him. (JF)

10:15 pm @ Holocene
The bathroom floor is blanketed by vomit. I’m ice-skating on it just to reach the sink. Meanwhile, Naytronix is turning out super loose lounge music with an early ‘60s experimental tinge. Nate’s bassline (the backbone of his work) is bubbling up from the stage and down the hallway. It’s all too familiar, like a scene from a Tarantino film. This is the part when somebody gets offed in the bathroom. (MAS)

10:16 pm @ Backspace
I, too, am baffled by the crowd here. There are some dudes who look furious and ready to murder. Some are grinning and singing along to every word. The rest just...stand there. The applause after every song is as quiet and respectful as a golf game. Are they worried they’ll scare Ceremony off if we get too boisterous? (RH)

10:17 pm @ Branx
Sun Angle’s Papi Fimbres asks the crowd to throw money at the band: "Easier than a Kickstarter. Just kick it onto the stage." Nobody banters like these guys. (JF)

10:23 pm @ Holocene
After a few sound goofs, the band is back to its languid, psych-funk self. On “Baby Don’t Walk Away,” Nate turns to his mini korg and sings the chorus like a robot programmed to win his lover back. The band is stretching its legs now, experimenting more and jazzing out often. (MAS)

10:27 pm @ Backspace
A kid is pacing around an empty patch of floor in between Ceremony’s songs, shaking his fist and looking like he’ll take a swipe at the first person who brushes against him. Wonder what would happen if I just pantsed him right now... (MPS)

10:30 pm @ Aladdin Theater
“One more out!” yells the doorman as he pats me on the back and sends me on my way through the exit door (I do not envy his job). I guess the show has sold out, but it’s time for me to move along. (EB)

10:41 pm @ Berbati’s
I feared this. A line for Purity Ring stretching nearly to Kells. While I wait, I befriend Eric, an outstanding barkeep at Bar Central. He gives me a tutorial about scotch and mixes me a negroni with tequila instead of gin. Surprisingly, it’s fantastic. And it’s making the line seem a lot shorter. (MAS)

10:45 pm @ Wonder Ballroom
The problem with having a show like Flying Lotus at the Wonder is that the bar space is way too small. At the moment, it seems like most people here are over 21; half the dance floor is empty, while the line for the upstairs bar is huge. I need my drinks damnit! (RJ)

10:45 pm @ Backspace
Just spotted the Black Flag logo inked on the Ceremony guitarist’s back. It’s the tribal armband of punk dude tattoos. (MPS)

11:05 pm @ Ted's
At-capacity, amped-up crowd for Purity Ring's set. The band's taken the stage, but I still don't know what they look like—too much "fog." Sounds good, though. (JF)

11:06 pm @ Branx
Jesus H. Jones it is humid in here. (RH)

11:10 pm @ Branx
Has anyone thought to put Omar Souleyman and Michael K. Williams (Omar from “The Wire”) in something together? A buddy cop movie? Or some fish out of water TV series about a black man in Syria? (RH)

11:15 pm @ Berbati’s
Purity Ring’s colossal beats are shaking the bricks off of the older buildings downtown. The line has barely moved and I decide to settle in on a bench outside, reading peoples’ faces as they exit the club. Most seem sweaty and tired, like they just finished an aerobics class. I may not make it in, but it’s a terribly beautiful Portland night and I’m content simply absorbing bass notes and people watching. (MAS)

Purity Ring @ Ted's
Andy Wright

11:15 pm @ Ted's
And Purity Ring said, let there be light: light-up electronic drums, a light-up bass drum, light-up decorative wasp's-nest-looking things (?). Looks like a quaint nighttime garden party up there.

11:17 pm @ Branx
Omar Souleyman isn’t a dynamic performer. At best he walks to the lip of the stage and claps, encouraging us silently to do the same. Knowing that, I was sure that I’d be leaning up against a wall, nodding my head throughout. But I get caught up in the rapidfire beats and trills of his keyboardist and the joy of the folks surrounding me. I clap along heartily and find myself dancing joyously. (RH)

11:20 pm @ Star Theater
Holy fuck. Brooklyn’s the Men—whose new record Open Your Heart is my Album of the Year so far—are absolutely destroying this place right now with its buzzsawing, big-hearted throwback punk. They’re nothing but a blur of hair and flailing limbs on stage. And it’s loud in here! Gloriously, miraculously loud! (MPS)

11:30 pm @ Ted’s
Dude from Purity Ring just soloed on dials and faders and an electronic drum set with lanterns for pads. And killed it. (JF)

11:35 pm @ Star Theater
The Men allegedly have a guy playing slide guitar with them, though from as much as I can hear him through the squall of noise, he may as well not even be plugged in. (MPS)

11:37 pm @ Mississippi Studios
A girl at the bar is trying to explain to me how she’s going to make a million dollars. She’s showing me scribbles in a journal. I don’t understand, but I wish her luck. (EB)

11:42 pm @ Star Theater
Casey Jarman, who you might remember as Willamette Week’s former music editor, wants you to know that the Men’s drummer has Danzig’s chest hair. It’s those kind of insightful observations we’re all going to miss at the paper.

11:50 pm @ Wonder Ballroom
Between all the acts tonight, Flying Lotus has BY FAR made the best use of the on-stage screen lights. Warped images of space, buddhas and exploding volcanoes are flying at the audience. They perfectly match the buzzed-out, psychedelic vibe of his music. (RJ)

Flying Lotus @ Wonder Ballroom, MFNW 2012
Nate Miller 

12:03 am @ Branx

Airing myself out outside the venue, I’m amazed that an hour has flown by. I was caught up in the swirl of Souleyman’s music. I’m also incredibly exhausted. Instead of wandering over to Doug Fir for John Maus, I head home to crash hard. (RH)

12:05 am @ Mississippi Studios
Pokey LaFarge looks just as I remember from when I met him over a year ago—dapper as hell. (EB)

12:10 am @ Dante’s
The club is bursting at the seams for King Khan and the Shrines. I’ve never really been a fan of the band—its whole shtick strikes me as an insincere parody of soul music, sort of like what Jon Spencer did with the blues back in the ‘90s—but I’m hanging with Jarman and ex-WW assistant music editor Michael Mannheimer, so I decide to push my way into the mass. Khan is wearing a feathered headdress, and a guy in a cape just performed the worst stage dive ever. (MPS)  

12:20 am @ Wonder Ballroom
FlyLo is now smoking joints with the audience and asking people what they want him to play. If it wasn’t for the elaborate stage set up, this would seem more like a huge house party than a concert. (RJ)

12:25 am @ Mississippi Studios
Ryan Koenig is one of the best harmonica players I’ve seen. He pulls so much expression out of that tiny little instrument. The whole band has the crowd hooked—there’s never a dull moment during a Pokey LaFarge show. (EB) 

King Khan & the Shrines @ Dante's, MFNW 2012
Andy Wright

1:04 am @ Dante’s
I’m about to call it a night, but then King Khan encores with a horn-infused cover of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider.” Admittedly, it’s pretty cool, so I decide to stay a few more minutes. Every time you think you’re out, MFNW pulls you back in! (MPS)


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