September 5th, 2013 | by WW MUSIC STAFF Music | Posted In: MusicfestNW

MFNW Diaries: Wednesday

Deerhunter is noisy-great, Chvrches is bouncy-great, Justin Townes Earl is weirdly great, and one KGW reporter is just greatly angry.

deerhunter 2Deerhunter at Crystal Ballroom. - Christopher Onstott.

Two days in and MusicfestNW hasn’t even really started. Technically, Tuesday was the kickoff, but Wednesday is traditionally the prelude to the wall-to-wall music that runs through the rest of the week. But if this is just the beginning...whoo, boy. (Contributing writers, in order of appearance: Matthew P. Singer, Arya Imig, Matthew Korfhage, Grace Stainback, Joe Donovan, Mark A. Stock, Emilee Booher, Robert Ham, Brandon Widder, Haley Martin.)

12:30 pm @ OPB Studios

I’m waiting to go on Think Out Loud to discuss MFNW. I’m the meat in an uber-NPR sandwich, coming on between a bunch of state reps talking Syria and a “standup economist.” (He tells jokes about the economy, see?!) As we’re about to go on-air, host David Miller reads a breaking news item, announcing that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has authorized use of force against the Assad regime. Then he turns to me to talk about Superchunk. Life has a way of making you feel frivolous at times. (MPS)

4:25 PM @ Whole Foods on Fremont

Dangerous Boys Club singer Aaron Montaigne is here. So is Sean Archer from Sweeping Exits and Scott Magee, a.k.a. DJ Cooky Parker. Pretty sure we’re all getting fully loaded with snacks and supplies for the weekend. During SXSW, even the Whole Foods HQ store has live music. One of our grocery stores should do that next year. Newly opened Williams New Seasons, I am looking in your direction. (AI)

7:30 pm @ Union/Pine (MFNW Kickoff Party)

A KGW reporter is trolling for hip youngsters to interview about this gosh-darned music festival. Dan Vidmar of Shy Girls admits he tried to send him my way. (Also, Vidmar tells me the Shy Girls album is finally scheduled for a late October release. Sweet!) Looks like Wampire’s Rocky Tinder got roped into appearing on camera. That’s what he gets for having that hip, young mustache. (MPS)

7:45 pm @ Union/Pine 

A middle-aged TV news reporter is yelling in language that would be vaguely recognizable only to the Old French, at a young woman who accidentally cursed on camera. The woman, whose date is a member of Wampire, now refers to the newsman only as “Dad.” (MK)

8:07 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

My only criticism of the Doug Fir Lounge is that it's impossible to get service in the basement, which is annoying for an eager MFNW-goer trying to coordinate a night of concert-hopping and minute-crunching. (GS)

8:10 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

Portlanders are giving the golf clap treatment to Eyelids. There’s even a five-foot radius around the stage. I suppose that’s for John Moen, in case he wants a clean backswing. (JD)

8:20 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

Local super-sideman group Eyelids’ classic, jangly guitar-pop is pretty, expertly crafted, and too midtempo for me right now. (MPS)

8:30 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

There’s a Justin Townes Earle doppelganger watching Eyelids with great interest, satisfying my selfish urge to, in a way, see both bands simultaneously. It could actually be Earle, but then again, he’s supposed to be playing the Aladdin in about an hour. (MAS)

8:42 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge 

I scamper upstairs from the basement in search of a few extra service bars, only to discover interactive smart cars parked outside the bar. One has been transformed into a giant Lego canvas, and the other has a Super Mario Brothers interface projected onto the windshield, with consoles in the driver's seat. Idle time in between Eyelids and Richmond Fontaine sets filled with ‘90s toy nostalgia. (GS)

8:50 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

Eyelids are bittersweet. They’re true pros and playing hard, making zero mistakes and calming my fear of aging. Yet, I can’t help but think about Elliott Smith every time I see John Moen, so I’m left feeling a little empty. (MAS)

8:50 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

A giant tent is set up outside the Doug Fir. How did I miss this on my walk in? Local band Minden is playing a funky set for a platoon of security guards and six people who are dancing very hard. (JD)

9:05 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

Secret show across the street at Trio Club! Some guy is belting Alice In Chain’s “No Excuses” and its coming through the outdoor speakers. Layne Staley lives. (MAS)

The crowd for Chvrches at Roseland Theater.
Jeff Walls.

9:07 pm @ Roseland Theater

The Roseland is not yet packed to bursting, but judging by the crowd stretching down the block, by the time Chvrches is on, it will be. I figured I should see some EDM this year, as not to appear like an out-of-touch old crank, so I’m stopping in to catch XXXYYXXX. As a writer, I resent him on name alone. Then he goes and whines about the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, chastising the audience for “not having fun.” I don’t know, dude, maybe they’re just digging your moody glitchstep or whatever. Deal with it. (MPS)

9:15 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge 

An elderly man standing in front of me has been passionately headbanging—totally off-time—to Richmond Fontaine’s mellow alt-country ballads with reckless abandon for the last 15 minutes. Either he left his hearing aid at home, or he really, really loves Richmond Fontaine. Either way, he has no rhythm. (GS)

9:15 pm @ Aladdin Theater

M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger  says he’s honored to play the first big show of MFNW. Apparently, JoeyBada$$ wasn’t big enough for him. Even so, can’t blame a guy for singing hard. (JD) 

9:20 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Dressed simply in black pants, a white cut-off t-shirt and a black trucker hat, M.C. Taylor is pouring his heart out in front of a silent, crowded Aladdin Theater. I’m pretty sure there are tears streaming all around me right now. (EB)

9:30 pm @ Aladdin Theater

In the Aladdin parking lot, I hear a man “gearing up” for the Justin Townes Earle concert. He’s in a white Prius singing “Harlem River Blues.” The decision is made. I’m going to Chvrches. (JD)

9:45 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Even as the opening act, Hiss Golden Messenger gets a standing ovation as he exits the stage. Pretty tough to do with just vocals and a guitar, but this guy delivered quite a captivating performance. (EB)

9:47 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Lonnie Holley is on some Lee “Scratch” Sun Ra Scott-Heron ish. Seated and tinkling a keyboard for atmosphere more than melody, his free-form vocals move from soulful, hymnlike chanting to junkyard blues to animal noises, while his “band”—Bradford Cox on drums, the bassist from Deerhunter and Richard Swift on another set of keys—noodle around grooves without ever locking onto one. It goes on like this for 40 unbroken minutes. 

Lonnie Holley at Crystal Ballroom.
Christopher Onstott. 

9:50 pm @ Roseland Theater

I spot a man walking his dog through the crowded mess outside the Roseland. He asks a security guard who’s playing tonight. The security guard responds, “Church Music.” (JD)

9:55 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Lonnie Holley is mesmerizing at first, chanting rhythmically over twinkling piano. It’s supremely soulful, a call-and-response between gospel and early blues. But after 15 minutes, it begins to wear on me. (MAS)

10:07 pm @ Scooter’s

From the sounds of everyone’s baffled tweets, I’m missing something special in Lonnie Holley’s set. But I need to clear my head of the terrible sci-fi movie I was forced to sit through. Plus Scooter’s has baseball highlights and vintage late ‘80s metal playing. (RH)

10:10 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

I’m not sure if that Lonnie Holley set was bullshit or mind-blowing, but that must mean it was better than bad, right? For his part, James Mercer—hanging in the VIP area, dressed like the English lit professor everyone on campus knows is having an affair with a student—seems unmoved. (MPS)

10:10 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Justin Townes Earle flaunts a goofy and somewhat spastic swagger as he and his three bandmates set up on stage. Someone requests a song before the music even starts. “I don’t take requests because I don’t play for tips. Let’s see what happens,” says Earle. This is already off to an interesting start. (EB)

Justin Townes Earle at Aladdin Theater.
Natalie Behring.

10:15 pm @ Hawthorne Theatre

K. Flay's DJ takes an audience age poll. Judging by the the high-pitched roar following his query as to who was born in the late ‘90s, my tweenie demographic suspicions are confirmed. (GS)

10:16 PM @ Scooter’s

The dudes from Surfer Blood are here. Tempted to hover near John Paul Pitts and loudly proclaim to someone, “You know what my favorite Metallica song is? ‘Battery.’” (RH)

10:27 PM @ Crystal Ballroom

The Deerhunter show is near or at capacity with a line stretching around the corner and down the block. People don’t seem particularly happy about having to wait for people to come out before they can go in. Where are the riot police when you need them? (BW)

10:30 pm @ Roseland Theater

The theater is packed with twentysomethings or under-twentysomethings, mesmerized by Chvrches’ impressive light show and catchy electro-pop beats. Singer Lauren Mayberry tells the crowd she just got back from a fancy restaurant where she was told her shorts and worn tennis shoes were not dress code appropriate. “Fuck them,” she says, to which the crowd cheers loudly in agreement. Based on this and previous hostile interactions with stubborn security guards, the primary audience here is still in their authority-defying phase. (HM)

Chvrches at Roseland Theater.
Jeff Walls. 

10:32 pm @ Hawthorne Theatre 

K. Flay and her DJ have spent the better part of her set in a raucous display of headbanging, jumping up and down in a form of interpretive Simon Says, and the tweenies are loving every second of it. What is it with the headbanging tonight? (GS)

10:42 pm @ Aladdin Theater

“I don’t know when I’ll write a record without mommy and daddy issues on it,” Earle says as he introduces a song on his upcoming album. “They’ve had more time to fuck me up than I’ve had to recover.” He then proceeds to sing about single mothers and absent fathers. (EB)

10:47 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Deerhunter take the stage with a slow burn opener. Pretty sure the incendiary set that follows causes the lightning storm that happens later. (AI) 

10:47 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

It’s been so long since I’ve been to the Crystal, I forgot how goddamn humid it gets during the summer. I think that’s a fog machine going off but it’s just the steam from the bodies packed near the front of the stage. Smells like man-stank and the beach. (RH)

10:50 pm @ Aladdin Theater

No offense to his backing band, which just left the stage for a few songs, but Earle’s solo performances are pretty damn good. Between his half-jokingly condescending banter with the audience and his sloppily animated stage presence, he’s putting on one of the more oddly fascinating shows I’ve seen in a while. (EB)

10:52 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

For all the talk about the new sound system here, this is the first show where I can actually hear the difference. Much of the credit for that is due to Deerhunter’s tour sound person knowing his or her stuff, but the change from the muddy slop of years’ past is welcome. (RH)

Deerhunter at Crystal Ballroom.
Christopher Onstott. 

10:55 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Now they’re really in a groove. As fuck-yeah as ever, guitarist Lockett Pundt—probably the second best known member of the group—sings the first of a couple tracks he’ll sing during the set. Pundt had his own album to, too, last year’s great Spooky Action at a Distance.(AI) 

11 pm @ Crystal Ballroom 

Deerhunter’s bassist has a total Paul Simonon, “way too good-looking for his own band” vibe going on. Along those lines, with his grasshopper-like frame, Bradford Cox really accentuates the “one foot on the monitor” move. (MPS)

11:04 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

The couple next to me just experienced a Charlie Brown Christmas moment: “Who are we seeing? Deer Tick? Deerhoof? Deerhunter? That’s it!” I’ve never heard anyone channel Chuck with such stoic commitment and brash, adolescent certainty. I could practically see his girlfriend flipping backward. (BW)

11:05 pm @ Mississippi Studios 

Arrive at Mississippi Studios just in time to catch Gold Fields—or so I think. After purchasing a beer and wondering why the venue seems so dead, I ask around and realize they have just finished—the last set for tonight—even though the schedule reads an 11 pm start time. At this point, I also realize I've lost my just-opened pack of cigarettes, and a bum wearing a sequined cowboy hat and a women's tennis skirt heckles me on the retreat back to my car. I'm taking solace in the reality that, at a festival spanning six nights, there's bound to be a dud moment or two. (GS)

11:09 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Sorry young people and teetotalers: It is cooler in the beer garden. Literally. There’s a fan going nearby. You’re missing out. (RH)

11:15 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Deerhunter are picking the choicest songs from stellar record Halcyon Digest. I’m beginning to wish there was a visual accompaniment, as it’s a little trippier than previously imagined. But Bradford Cox is entertainment enough. (MAS)

Deerhunter at Crystal Ballroom.
Christopher Onstott.

11:25 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Deerhunter play a version of “Nothing Ever Happened” that stretches to nine minutes. It’s great, a total highlight of the set. Later, WW Give Guide Director Nick Johnson reminds me I had an argument a few years ago with former WW Assistant Music Editor Michael Mannheimer about whether or not “Nothing Ever Happened” was a pop song. Michael was for, I was against. (AI)

11:35 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Bradford Cox and the boys seem to make the whirling sea of distortion and scraping electric guitar continually sound eloquent and resolute despite stretching it into Allman Brothers jam territory. Also, I highly recommend the youngster side of the ballroom—you can actually see the stage. (BW)

11:40 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Literally just got chills about how good this set is. Deerhunter is one of the best live acts of the last 10 years. (AI)

11:42 pm @ Doug Fir Lounge

I’d never heard of the Baseball Project, but my boyfriend wanted to check them out since R.E.M’s Peter Buck would be performing. Turns out their lyrics really are all about the sport. I have mixed feelings, but the guy behind me, dressed in a full baseball uniform complete with wig and stick-on mustache, is really loving it. He hasn’t stopped shouting and dancing manically since we arrived. Peter Buck wasn’t even there! (HM)

11:59 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

I think I drank too much Red Bull at the kickoff party. Who wants to go run the track at Grant High School? (AI) 

12:07 am @ Dante’s

Murder by Death’s new tunes sound nowhere near as Cash’d-out as they do on its most recent LP, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon. Either frontman Adam Turla is fed up with trying to shake the the man-in-black comparison or he’s far too sober roll with the deep baritone. (BW)

12:10 am @ Crystal Ballroom

Deerhunter’s gone full-tilt, garage-kraut noise-terrorism toward the end of its set. This has been a pretty great set, though with its total lack of breaks—even the space before the encore is filled with looping guitar feedback—there’s no room for Bradford’s patented head-scratching stage banter. It’s oddly disappointing. (MPS)

12:15 am @ East Bank Esplanade 

A couple of Canada geese watch as I pick fishing line out of my choked bike chain beside the Willamette River. A rare thunderstorm starts and my phone is dead. But there are more bands tomorrow. (MAS)

12:20 am @ My Car

I was determined to stick out that last Deerhunter noise jam to the last distorted note but, well, y’know, Taco Bell. (MPS)

12:38 am @ Dante’s

There’s no denying when Portlandia hits the nail on the head. MBD’s Turla may be from Bloomington, Ind., but those suspenders and his accompanying ‘stache scream 1890s-shipyard chic.The rest of the band is rocking flannel, but the roaring cello and angsty acoustic guitar are anything but grungy. (BW)

12:43 am @ Dante’s

Maybe I’m just being a jerk, but I really wish the sandal-wearing dude in the Tapout shirt ahead of me would stop throwing his drink in the air every five seconds. The gang is singing about the belligerent joys of sweet, sweet Kentucky bourbon, not Miller High Life. Show some respect. (BW)

4:54 am @ My House

No seriously, who wants to go run the track at Grant High School? (AI)

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
comments powered by Disqus
 

Web Design for magazines

Close
Close
Close