MusicfestNW is done, as you've no doubt noticed. And we swear we're going to stop talking about it for the next year. (Trust me, even those of us in the office don't want to hear the letters "MFNW" spoken in sequential order for at least the next eight months.) Before we go, though, here's one last roundup of highlights from our intrepid—and no doubt still recovering—staff of writers and photographers.
BEST OBSCURE METAL REFERENCE: Neko Case
In Pioneer Courthouse Square on her 43rd birthday, alt-country superstar Neko Case name-checked '80s Canadian metal act Beyond Possession. She was comparing to the energy with which her band had just performed a particularly uptempo number to the speed-metallers, known for their one album, the cleverly named Is Beyond Possession. Case and crew's onstage banter was hilarious, and her final quip, "Metal don't care 'bout science," was in good spirit. Always nice to hear indie icons giving a respectful nod toward the dark arts. NATHAN CARSON.
BEST GENDER-BENDING DANCE MOVES: !!!’s Nic Offer
During the summer of 2009 I found myself in Amsterdam. And I know this sounds pretty unusual, but I took some mushrooms. After ogling my way through a natural fluorescent mineral museum, I took in my first !!! concert and was exposed to the whimsically seductive dance moves of frontman Nic Offer. In the days prior to our impending reunion four years later at MFNW, I wondered if I had been so taken with Mr. Offer due to the ‘shrooms. But then I watched him scamper about onstage at Branx on Thursday night. Clad in boxer short-shorts, he unashamedly vogued out, gyrated, waved spirit fingers. Nic Offer toys with feminine movement in a way that remains completely masculine, and his overlapping dominance and playfulness embodies everything the disco-punk sound of !!! is about. And I don’t have a huge crush on him or anything. GRACE STAINBACK.
BEST HEALTH CAMPAIGN: Nike
Not only did you have to play dodgeball or (God forbid) run three miles to get guaranteed tickets to the Nike shows, but Team Nike swarmed the Wonder Ballroom for both Diplo and Flume. Only the upstairs bar was open, with a significant wait to get in. Someone had to rid this town of those two blights on society: drugs and alcohol. Well, one of them at least. MITCH LILLIE.
BEST YEAR FOR THE AVANT-GARDE AT MFNW: 2013
Thanks to some fortuitous booking, this year's festival featured some of the most challenging sounds I've yet heard at this event. Fans of the far-out got to enjoy the glam metal-meets-deconstructed electronics of Black Bananas; Lonnie Holley's context-free space jazz explorations; a growling, churning set of solo guitar by Michael Morley's Gate; and some of the nastier moments of Animal Collective's otherwise triumphal Pioneer Square set. Here's hoping future installments push the envelope even harder. ROBERT HAM.
BEST SEEMINGLY FAMILY-FRIENDLY ALTER-EGO: Mariachi El Bronx
No band relished in the split-persona like Los Angeles hardcore outfit, the Bronx. When the band wasn’t offering blaring its balls-to-the-wall punk at Dante’s, it donned mariachi attire and tore into a set featuring a myriad of sultry trumpets and traditional Mexican percussion outside the downtown Dr. Martens store. Youngsters and parents alike boogied on the asphalt, while frontman Matt Caughthran gently crooned lyrics about unwarranted litigation, Tijuana hookers and his “hermano la pistol.” You know, only the best values to instill on an impressionable young mind. BRANDON WIDDER.
BEST PUMP FAKE: Sonny & the Sunsets
For a guy who sings about paranormal activity and splits his time between writing music and plays and creating visual art, I expected Sonny Smith to have a weirder presence. But the Bay Area’s beloved freak-folkie is about as inconspicuous as a city bus driver. His sound, however, made up for it, a wonderfully bizarre brand of twangy, lo-fi psych-rock attached to lyrics about falling in love with androids and exploring galaxies far, far away. MARK STOCK.
BEST WELL-OILED POP-PUNK MACHINE: Saves The Day
Fans climbed ontop of each other, pumping their fists and singing along to all of singer Chris Conley's lyrics. A wickedly intense mosh pit started up every couple of songs. Their 27-song setlist was right in front of me for most of the show, and it didn't even have the band's biggest hit, "At Your Funeral," on it. They've got to play that, don't they? Eventually, they did play it as part of the encore, saving the best for last. I pumped my fist and sang along to every line, too. ARYA IMIG.
BEST MERCURIAL ACCESSORY: Boxed Water
Like Blast and Air before it, Boxed Water was everywhere this week, and I somehow doubt I'll ever see anyone drinking it again, which is a shame: There's something fun about imagining the sweaty dude with the guitar is cooling off by chugging a carton of milk onstage. MATTHEW SINGER.