September 6th, 2013 | by WW MUSIC STAFF Music | Posted In: MusicfestNW

MFNW Diaries: Thursday

Welcome to MusicfestNW 2013, a.k.a. Woodstock '94.

diplo_onstott_03Diplo at Wonder Ballroom. - Christopher Onstott.

Sometimes it snows in April, and sometimes, MFNW gets rained on. Not that often, or ever—not in the last five years, anyway—but it happened last night, as a torrential downpour drenched the city just as the inaugural Pioneer Square show was kicking off. What can you say? Welcome to Portland, bitches. (Contributing writers, in order of appearance: Matthew P. Singer, Robert Ham, Arya Imig, Joe Donovan, Mark A. Stock, Grace Stainback, Brandon Widder, Haley Martin.)

5:50 pm @ Marmoset HQ (Hott Summer Nights)

Well, I suppose calling this party “Wett Grey Early Evenings” wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it, though it’d certainly be more accurate. It looks like a damn refugee camp in here. (MPS)

6:30 pm @ University of Portland

It is becoming frighteningly apparent that my windshield wipers aren't going to work. The slow crawl of a drive back to my house is terrifying. Looks like I'm bussing it tonight. (RH)

7:03 pm @ Pioneer  Courthouse Square

Yeah, it’s raining. Get over it. Youth Lagoon are from Idaho, so they’re probably used to it. This is my first time seeing the project. The live show is pretty good. What started as a bedroom pop project is now large enough for Portland’s living room. Pretty sure Youth Lagoon could be a future square headliner (AI)

7:22 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers’ awkward stage banter is winning me over. “Portland, is it still raining outside?” he asks. When the crowd doesn’t respond, he mumbles “never mind.” (JD)

Youth Lagoon at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Leah Nash.

7:35 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Powers’ odd demeanor is almost laughable: For a few minutes, he’s hiding behind his piano. His band looks mystified. This is one of my favorite performances of MFNW so far. (JD)

7:40 pm @ Marmoset HQ

Surfer Blood is performing under a tarp outside Marmoset’s new Industrial Eastside headquarters. It’s hard to enjoy this band in light of singer and overgrown man-baby John Paul Pitts’ arrest for domestic assault last year, though they are easier to ignore since their second album bombed. (MPS)

8:20 pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Huge scream from the crowd as Young The Giant take the stage. “Thanks for sticking it out in the rain!” says YTG singer Sameer Gadhia. Despite the pouring rain, this show feels like the kind of moment Young The Giant live for. Their music, after all, thrives on its attempts to transcend dreariness, and over the course of their set, that’s precisely what they do. (AI)

Young the Giant at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Leah Nash.

8:30 pm @ Old Church

Holland Andrews begins her set though it’s hard to find her hidden among all of Typhoon’s equipment. This is, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, my first time experiencing Like a Villain live, and it is goddamned mesmerizing. Oh, excuse me, forgot I was in a church. I meant fucking mesmerizing. (MPS)

8:45 pm @ Old Church

Two old women with nametags and sweaters cut the 30-plus people standing in line. They don’t even have wristbands. I can only hope they’re rushing to pull cling wrap off a plate of donuts. Over the rain, I hear Like a Villain, in all her looping glory. (JD)

8:50 pm @ SE Powell & 11th

I can’t really remember the last time there were torrential downpours during MFNW. My conclusion is that the water cycle knows that Mt. Eerie—the Anacortes atmospheric-psych-folk act who has a way of crafting musical storms—is in town. (MAS)

8:55 pm @ Old Church

Quoth my friend on our way out of the Old Church, re: Like a Villain: “I want to listen to her while watching Planet Earth.” He means that as a compliment. (MPS)

9:02 pm @ Outside Crystal Ballroom

It should be noted that there’s no sight of that planned “Fred Armisen protest.” Must’ve got rained out. (MPS)

9:05 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Phil Elverum is playing an unplugged acoustic guitar, sandwiched between two female vocalists warbling beautiful harmonies. It’s ghostly and wildernes- themed. Phil’s never sounded so delicate, his lyrics as crisp as an NPR interview. I’m actually glad that I’m drenched in rain, as I feel like I can absorb more Mt. Eerie. (MAS)

9:07 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

On a stage adorned with fake street lights and fake plants strewn with (presumably real) toilet paper, Fred Armisen is opening his variety show with a set of fake Brit-punk songs as Ian Rubbish. Gotta admit, though: These songs are nearly as catchy as anything the Buzzcocks wrote. (MPS)

Ian Rubbish at Crystal Ballroom.
Natalie Behring.

9:16 pm @ Crystal Ballroom 

Pretty certain that Ian Rubbish’s “Maggie Thatcher” chant will heretofore replace Sweet Brown’s “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” as the song I constantly find myself humming in the shower. (GS)

9:29 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Fred brings up his first surprise guest of the night, Bob Mould, to perform “It’s a Lovely Day.” He leaves the stage to make a costume change, and Mould fills time by performing “Makes No Sense At All,” from Husker Du’s Flip Your Wig album. “It was between that and Cher’s ‘Believe,’” he says. (MPS)

9:35 pm @ Aladdin Theater

So far Phil hasn’t said much in between songs outside of “Do you need more information?” and, jokingly, “Yakima was the peak show last night, it’s all downhill from from here.” But he doesn’t need to say anything at all. He’s putting his whole self into every intricate song, stringing lyrics together in an endless, organic strand that could be mistaken for wind. (MAS)

9:35pm @ Old Church

No Donuts, here. Typhoon is 10 minutes late. Not that I mind: They’re playing Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” on the house speakers. But geez, I keep seeing members of Typhoon spilling out the adjacent room. (JD)

9:40 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

All my ‘90’s romcom dreams have come true: Fred Armisen just brought out Leigh Nash for a rendition of “Kiss Me.” (GS)

9:40 pm @ Crystal Ballroom 

The singer of Sixpence None the Richer received a way bigger reaction from the crowd than Bob Mould did. Every greying punk in the building just cried a single tear. (MPS)

Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer performing with Fred Armisen at Crystal Ballroom.
Natalie Behring.

9:52 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

I’m peeling myself away from this unpredictable variety show before the mystery behind the headbrace dude that Armisen just summoned to the stage is revealed. Is that really just a random crowd guy? (GS)

9:56 pm @ Old Church

If you consider the audience at the Typhoon show a devoted congregation, with frontman Kyle Morton leading the sermon, then the line people had to endure in downpour outside can be seen as a test of faith. However, I was under the impression serving Tecate in a church would be consider blasphemous. This doesn’t feel right. (BW)

10:02 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

A pretty cool moment is happening at this Armisen show: They’re filming Portlandia’s intro reel for its Best Writing for a Comedy/Variety Series Emmy nomination on stage, using people plucked from the audience. If you watch the Emmys, you know that’s frequently the best part of the broadcast. It takes the kid with the neck halo Fred brought up earlier to sit onstage thre tries to get director Jonathan Kriesel’s name right, though. I think he called him “Johnny Chrystler” at first pass. (MPS)

10:02 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy, doesn't wait for the lights to go down. He walks quickly onstage, unpacks a water bottle and a set list and immediately jumps into a gorgeous rendition of "Idle Hands Are The Devil's Playthings." During certain moments he lifts one leg and sticks it straight out behind him. (RH)

10:10 pm @ Aladdin Theater

The crowd is respectfully quiet for Oldham's set, which is such a rare thing. Standing in the back of the room, though, the stillness is interrupted by the noise of the concession stand whenever someone opens the door to the main room. (RH)

Bonnie Prince Billy at Aladdin Theater.
Christopher Onstott.

10:15 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Is it a thing for guitarists to play on one leg, like sleeping waterfowl? Phil did it and now Bonnie Prince Billy is doing it. It’s like folk code or something. Or maybe just a nervous habit. (MAS)

10:16 pm @ Crystal Ballroom

Fred brings out former Spinanes frontwoman Rebecca Gates for a song. He says he crashed at her house the first time he ever visited Portland, back in 1993, with his old band, Trenchmouth. (MPS)

10:16 pm @ Old Church

Between the two dedicated drummers and the nine other people on the stage, Typhoon certainly isn’t lacking in the percussion department. The four people pounding the skins during the intro to the band’s single, “Dreams of Cannibalism,” is far louder than the weather outside. Then again, maybe the thunder is God’s wrath for all the Tecate in his house. (BW)

10:25 pm @ Aladdin Theater 

Shit, I really want Will Oldham to kick one of the photographers. He’s being peppered by shutter spray and it’s becoming a nuisance. How many great shots of a balding dude in flannel can you really get? (MAS)

10:27 pm @ Branx

I’m really digging Royal Canoe. Their chopped-up tempo is keeping me on my toes, and Matt Peters’ distorted vocals are freakishly awesome. (GS)

10:30 pm @ Star Theater

Walked in right in the middle of a wailing, ‘80s-pop sax solo. And that’s about all I have to say about DIANA. (MPS)

10:32 pm @ Old Church

“I could have been a pop singer/I could have been a pop singer,” shouts Kyle Morton behind a backdrop of mesmerizing, distant horns and jangly electric guitar. The irony: He kind of is a pop singer. (BW)

10:40 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Sharp musical prowess aside, Oldham is establishing himself as a clever comedian. He’s taking stabs at Facebook, the Apocalypse, infidelity and his own songs. It’s great to see a musician give a lengthy bit of thanks to the opener as well. Somewhere, Mt. Eerie is blushing. (MAS)

10:45 @ Old Church

After 50 minutes of uber-attention to detail, Typhoon is wearing on me. The band is genuinely obsessed with perfecting their sound. The drummer is using a bow to play a cymbal. I don’t get it. I leave before the encore.  (JD)

10:53 pm @ Aladdin Theater

Oldham is as much a yodeler as he is a crafty songwriter. I’m enjoying his frequent inflection. He has a sixth sense for where the mic is, withdrawing and approaching as the music ebbs and flows. I really want him to yell “dinnertime.” (MAS)

10:54 pm @ Roseland Theater

Apparently, all of Joy Formidable’s “Whirring” buzz is gone. Unless there’s a huge rush in the next five minutes, their crowd is going to be 7 pm.-opener-size. (MPS)

Bob Mould at Doug Fir.
Catherine Moye.

10:58 pm @ Doug Fir

I see Bob Mould on stage setting up but his regular bandmates are nowhere in sight. Drum kit has no cymbals. Shit—is this a solo show? (RH)

11:03 pm @ Doug Fir

It is a solo show. And while it's nice to hear Mould ripping through "Wishing Well" on electric guitar, he needs a backing band to keep the dynamism of these songs present. I love the man but I'm quickly bored by this. (RH)

11:10 pm @ Bunk Bar

Houndstooth has hit the ground running, all five members fully invested in a country-tinged alt-rock set that is shaking the walls. They sound great but I can’t help thinking the main guitarist is overacting in his role as bandleader. He’s kind of meddling in everything. (MAS)

11:15 pm @ Roseland Theater

I really hope the epileptic sat this one out. There’s currently more strobe lights going off then at the height of Blow Pony. Actually, the lack of people on the floor implies more than just the epilepsy-prone decide to pass on the Joy Formidable. (BW)

11:17 pm @ Roseland Theater

Well, the rush never came, but no matter: I’m enjoying this Joy Formidable show a lot more than when they last played MFNW, at the Wonder Ballroom, primarily because it’s bowel-shakingly loud, which is the only volume this band should ever play at. It’s even more flooring coming from their minimalist stage setup: just a drum kit (with gong) and two sets of half-stack amps, placed in a row, 10 feet apart from each other. (MPS)  

11:19 @ Doug Fir

Bob Mould and an electric guitar are here for another day’s work at being excellent. Mould plays “See A Little Light,” probably my favorite song from his solo career. (AI)

11:21 pm @ Branx 

The fact that Nic Offer came bounding out in boxer shorts and launched immediately into his signature gyrating makes it almost acceptable that !!! came on 20 minutes late. His feminized, overtly sexual stage presence puts even Kevin Barnes to shame. (GS)

11:25 pm @ Roseland

Waaaaaaait. The pulsing electric guitar and cannon-like backbeat in this Joy Formidable song sounds surprisingly like the intro to a Foo Fighters album. And I’m only somewhat ashamed I made the connection. (BW)

Joy Formidable at Roseland Theater.
Leah Nash.

11:30 pm @ Dante’s

I wander into Bleached’s set to catch the tail-end of a “Hybrid Moments” cover, which turns out to be their second to last song. Oh well. (MPS)

11:35 pm @ Bunk Bar

I always like what the mirrors do to dancing people at Bunk. The place seems twice as crowded. There should be more Houndstooths, too. “Canary Island” has got a mighty Southern rock-ness about it that’s got the well-dressed old guy behind me shaking it. Sign them, I whisper, thinking he’s in the industry. (MAS)

12:03 am @ Dante's

After a relatively restrained night of music, the firehouse blast to the face that is the Men feels sooooooo good. (RH)

12:16 am @ Wonder Ballroom

I just walked into a sauna. (GS)

12:20 am @ Dante's

The Men's pedal steel player is working overtime to keep up with the speedy tempos. All five are playing with an abandon that makes you want to rush out and buy a guitar and amp. (RH) 

12:21 am @ Holocene

Three people are currently stage diving, the girl next to me is drinking a hot toddy, and I’m watching a raunchy—and perfectly executed—three-way grind unfolding three feet to my left. Tobacco’s late-night set is everything anyone could hope for on a Thursday night. (BW)

12:24 am @ Dante’s

The Men burned off my eyebrows at last year’s MFNW, but their excursion into ill-fitting Crazy Horse-ish country-rock on newest album New Moon had me a bit worried here, particularly when they opened with the slow galloping “I Saw Her Face.” But from the second song on, though, it’s nothing but a blur of buzzsawing, ear-bleeding guitar punk, and my skin is once again charred off the bone. How these dudes aren’t just breaking strings and snare heads left and right is beyond me. (MPS)

12:30 am @ Holocene

I was told that Tobacco’s visuals were so vulgar and inappropriate that his recent DJ set opening for the Flaming Lips was cut short and he received emails in disgust afterward. Too bad the only visuals here are an LCD marquee that reads “Tobacco.” (BW)

12:37 am @ Dante’s

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a pit! A half-assed pit, but regardless: Moshing! In Portland! And it’s not the Warped Tour! “I like when you guys play fast,” someone from the crowd yells in between songs. Other than the opener, the Men haven’t played any other way. (MPS)

12:42 am @ Wonder Ballroom

Diplo is great at what he does. This set is making me realize just how large his impact on the Top 40 scene has been. I just wish he didn’t feel as though he needed to pack 40 songs into one set by changing the beat every 30 seconds. (GS)

Diplo at Wonder Ballroom.
Christopher Onstott.

12:45 am @ Mississippi Studios

This venue seemed too small for Ra Ra Riot, but it’s turning out to be a good thing. It feels like we were invited to watch them play in their living room, with no screaming girls or dizzying light shows to distract from the sounds of their beautiful strings and vocals. (HM)

12:48 am @ Holocene

Listening to Tobacco’s crunchy, bass-heavy remix of White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss 65” is surprisingly awesome. Now I’m kind of wishing I had gone to Baroness show at Hawthorne, however. Decisions, decisions. (BW)

1:08 am @ Wonder Ballroom

Judging by the sea of strung out owl-eyes the house lights just revealed, nobody in this sweat-soaked crowd was quite ready for Diplo’s set to end after only one hour. (GS)

 
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