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!"
Hott Summer Nights
Marmoset Music HQ (2105 SE 7th.), 4-9 pm
Here's the music lineup:
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 6:30 pm.
[PSYCHEDELIC ROCK] Wondrous Bughouse, the latest release from Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, is a kooky mindjob. Half the tracks sound sprung from a bad acid trip, while the rest seem born of a collaboration of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and Thom Yorke at his craziest. Throughout, Powers contemplates the great mysteries of the universe and what really constitutes good and evil via a melting pot of rock, pop, synths and random sonic flourishes. BRIAN PALMER.
Like A Villain
The Old Church, 8:30 pm.
[EXPERIMENTAL MUSICAL THEATER] Since 2010, under the name Like a Villain, Portland multi-instrumentalist Holland Andrews has been using her jazzy clarinet, looping pedals and musical theater-trained voice—along with a musical theater-cultivated flair for the dramatic—to make experimental music that revels in the dichotomy between pretty and provocative. Her recordings don’t come close to capturing Andrews’ sprawling live pieces—to say nothing of her bright-eyed, steady-handed stage presence. JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG.
Ian Rubbish (a.k.a. Fred Armisen)
Crystal Ballroom, 9 pm
[BRIT PUNK] In late-’70s England, there wasn’t a more fearsome creature prowling the streets of London than Ian Rubbish. The levels of bile pumping through his spleen made Johnny Rotten look like Mr. Bean. He advocated stomping policemen in the face. He insulted the queen. He hated everyone and everything, and the British punk movement loved him for it. Then, in 1979, he committed career suicide. As Margaret Thatcher swept into power, the U.K. braced for the expected Rubbish evisceration. Instead, he released “Maggie Thatcher,” in which he declared the new prime minister, without irony, “a very special lady.” His fans were aghast. When asked why he admired Thatcher so much, Rubbish responded, “She reminds me of my mum.” In the ensuing controversy, he got booted from his own band. But with Thatcher’s passing earlier this year, the music of Ian Rubbish has experienced a revival. In May, he issued the comeback single “It’s a Lovely Day” and performed on Saturday Night Live. At MFNW, Rubbish will open Portlandia star Fred Armisen’s variety show.Willamette Week met with the “Living in the Gutter” singer in his natural habitat—the dumpsters outside Branx in Portland’s industrial Southeast—and discussed, well, a lot of things we didn’t plan on discussing. Read the full interview here. MATTHEW SINGER.
Hawthorne Theater, 10 pm
[MELODIC METAL] Last year was poised to be a banner one for Baroness. With its double-album, Yellow & Green, the band imported prog-metal touchstones—lengthy instrumental breaks, ambient squalls of harmonic feedback, minor-key acoustic bits that fade in and out of focus—into a pop framework, creating its most accessible release yet. Press was universally positive: Pitchfork gave the album a coveted Best New Music tag, and Spin declared it Metal Record of the Year. The confidence with which singer-guitarist John Baizley spliced anthemic, classic-rock melodies onto woolly, propulsive rawk grooves was bound to propel Baroness, from Savannah, Ga., to a stratosphere far higher than the underground metal ghetto guaranteed to troll the band for its efforts at crossing over.
Then, in an instant, it all went to shit.
On Aug. 15, 2012, the band’s bus careened off a viaduct near Bath, England, injuring nine passengers. No fatalities occurred, but the experience left the group deeply rattled. In March, Baroness announced that bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle had left the band. With hopes of getting back on the road, Baizley and guitarist Pete Adams replaced the rhythm section with bassist Nick Jost and Trans Am drummer Sebastian Thomson. Despite having gone to hell and back in the most “metal” way imaginable, Baroness’ advanced sense of melody and songcraft will still cause some to question its authenticity. But that’s an argument best left to your friend with the neck tats and the kitten named after his favorite Dimmu Borgir record. PETE COTTELL. Read the full Baroness profile here.
Wonder Ballroom, 10:30 pm
[TRAP] Twenty-two-year-old producer Henry Steinway became an EDM and hip-hop star last year with ubiquitous club anthem “Trap on Acid,” and his remixes of Kanye’s “Mercy” and Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction.” The Los Angeles DJ’s new High Beams EP keeps the beats thick, trippy and expectedly crunkified, enlisting much-hyped rapper Problem for auto-tuned earworm “Secondary.” Grime’s dense, dark soundscapes can turn straight-up odd, but fans will dance to it until the drugs wear off, regardless. AMANDA SCHURR.
The Joy Formidable
Roseland Theater, 11 pm
[HEAVY ART POP] Taking the bombastic sound that marked its staggering and surprising debut, The Big Roar, and ratcheting up the musicianship and explosiveness, Welsh trio the Joy Formidable’s sophomore release, Wolf’s Law, sets a new bar. Here, double-bass pedals hammer down like thunder over wailing guitar hooks guided home by Ritzy Bryan’s ethereal vocals. The trio proves there’s no limit to the amount of sound a sparse outfit can emit, veering into Zeppelin territory even when grounded in sure-footed art pop. AP KRYZA.
[BACKWOODS PUNK] When you transplant a punk band from New York City into the Catskills, something’s gotta give. For Brooklyn quartet the Men, what gave was the piercing hard rock of which we’ve grown accustomed. Newest record New Moon shows the band dabbling in alt-country, Americana and even Southern rock elements without completely forfeiting the bracing musical persona that’s brought the group success. MARK STOCK.