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!"
And And And 8 pm, Aladdin Theater And And And can’t stop, won’t stop. Not content just being considered one of Portland’s best young bands—a designation made official when it placed first in Willamette Week’s 2011 Best New Band poll—the group is also one of its most tireless. It plays constantly, hosts its annual rigsketball tournament, and churns out gloriously shambolic, beer-sodden shoutalongs at a rate that would make Robert Pollard jealous. MATTHEW SINGER.
Girl Talk 8:30 pm, Pioneer Courthouse Square I thank Girl Talk for Miley Cyrus. While vaguely aware of the Disney created phenomenon of the Achy Breaky bloodline, I’d never actually heard her until “Party in the U.S.A.” popped up 15 minutes into Girl Talk’s All Day. Without context or baggage, the song grabbed me hard. I didn’t need to know where it came from, it was enough to hear a simple, innocent pop song about how music can cure our anxieties.Dozens of songs found their way into my library this way, starting with a snippet from Girl Talk and growing into full-blown appreciation. At its best, the Girl Talk experience isn’t about nodding along to the songs you know, it’s about downloading all the music you’ve ignored until Gregg Gillis mashes it up and spoons it into your ears. It’s magical, really. As often as Gillis’ sonic collages remind you why you loved Of Montreal’s “Gronlandic Edit” or UGK’s “Int’l Players Anthem,” they push you toward things you’d never know you liked until they’re presented in a neutral context. Yes, Girl Talk is known for wildly enjoyable shows—you will not have more fun at any concert, ever. And, yes, Gillis deserves credit for boldly interpreting archaic copyright laws in a way that could go very wrong. But most impressive is the way the Pittsburgh native can confront our prejudices and expectations with the simple joys of a great hook. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Pure Bathing Culture 9 pm, The Old Church Pure Bathing Culture’s first record will be a big deal. The electro-fuzzy Portland duo, which came in second in Willamette Week’s Best New Band poll before its first EP was even released, has developed a huge buzz in only a few months. The record should be good, too, as Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille pair their talent with a extremely deliberate approach to every note and lyric. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Swans 10 pm, Hawthorne Theater A staple of the post-No Wave ’80s New York music scene, Swans aimed to provoke and frighten listeners through industrialized rhythms and brusque lyrics. By the time the band broke up in 1997, its sound had become dirge-like and often beautiful. This new incarnation—still led by vocalist Michael Gira—connects those two qualities while aiming for the heart by way of piercing the jugular. ROBERT HAM.
The Hives 10:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom The Hives do not mess around. They arrive from Sweden wearing matching neckties. They play “Return the Favour” and “Main Offender.” They kick, spin, joke, taunt, and then they get back in the bus. They leave the club sweaty. You leave smiling and eyeing the T-shirts. Everyone wins. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Big Freedia 11 pm, Branx Would it be MusicfestNW without Big Freedia? The sissybounce queen has become a gender-bending institution of Portland’s largest music festival. Since first taking the MFNW stage three years ago, the New Orleans-based MC/ party-starter/dancer has spun her sample-heavy, ADD dance music into a small empire. You may now buy booty shorts (or the recently released God Save the Queen Diva mixtape) directly from Freedia at her website. CASEY JARMAN.
Red Kross 12 am, Dante's The O.C. surf-punk of early classic Born Innocent, the hard acid-pop of cult fave Neurotica, the slightly-too-sweet bubblegum feint of Third Eye, and full-blown day-glo rock of the mighty Phaseshifter and Show World -- albums unfairly overlooked in the grunge-damaged early '90s -- combine into an oeuvre that should perfectly suit the porous genre boundaries of the PDX pop scene. To paraphrase a quote, "Hippies, punks and metalheads can all unite under the Kross." JEFF ROSENBERG.
Silversun Pickups 8 pm, Pioneer Courthouse Square Ten years ago, when music-industry success was considered a practical ambition and “hipster” a term of endearment, Silversun Pickups would’ve seemed among the least likely of acts within their thriving scene to achieve mainstream success. This was around the time L.A.’s Silver Lake (the Pickups’ home) and Brooklyn’s Williamsburg were openly warring for the title of America’s indie playground. The band evidently spent an idyllic few years indulging the excesses of shoegaze before an accidental listen to a friend’s bootleg of one such concert helplessly opened the quartet’s eyes. That’s one account, anyway, of why the Pickups suddenly ventured into the studio for impromptu recordings after half a decade of blithe inattention, and the resulting EP sufficiently explains the wholesale changes implemented by the time the band laid down its debut full-length a year later, in 2006. Neck of the Woods, the band’s recently released third album, contains unsubtle nods to old New Order and a lyrical preoccupation with cheeseball horror. Listen more closely, though, with utter certainty that the band members are incapable of pandering, and you begin to grasp where Aubert and increasingly central bassist-vocalist Nikki Monninger plan to guide future albums. In a world of shoegazers, Silversun Pickups were always looking at the stars. JAY HORTON.