September 7th, 2008 5:33 pm | by LocalCut News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Musicfest NW Diaries: Saturday

IMG_5949This is it, folks. The final day of MFNW might have lacked some of Friday's fireworks (did you see the Monotonix videos?) but it more than made up for it with a whole slew of great shows. Phew. Today's contributor's include (in no particular order) Brandon Seifert, Robert Ham, Nilina Mason-Campbell, Mark Stock, Michael Mannheimer, David Robinson, and Casey Jarman.

3:25 pm, Hawthorne Fred Meyer's: Musicfest supplies, day four: Power Bar. Two Red Bulls. Bottle of Advil. It's been a good fest. (BS)

4:40 pm, Backspace: Decompressing with my laptop, I take off my headphones and suddenly become aware that the girl soundchecking on stage is Mirah. I look around; none of the other patrons seem to have realized who she is. YES. "Let's check the ukulele now," she tells the sound tech. DOUBLE PLUS YES. Too bad I won't be catching her show tonight. I'm not going to brave the inevitable capacity crowd, and it's opposite the final Eskimo & Sons show. (BS)

5:35 pm, Wonder Ballroom: The line for Ratatat stretches to the corner of MLK. Crap. I've been so good about making it into shows so far. I dutifully wait in line; nothing I want to check out until 9 anyway, so why not? Eventually a Wonder employee announces that Ratatat is almost over, and we're clearly not going to get to catch them. Someone mentions that it was a free show—if I'd known that, I wouldn't have bothered. Then illustrator and comics artist Mike Dringenberg, co-creator of The Sandman, rides by on
his bike. I flag him down, and we chat about Prague over fries in the Wonder Café—which is basically deserted, despite the line outside. (BS)

5:40 pm, Wonder Ballroom: I'm standing behind E*Rock, who is nodding in the exact intervals with the beat and watching his brother Evan Mast onstage. (NMC)

5:44 pm, Wonder Ballroom: One of Evan's drumstick breaks in two and he pounds away on a floor-tom. (NMC)

5:46 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Ya know, I'm kind of bored. Ratatat have always been a band that I enjoy as, well, background music: in the car when you're sitting in traffic; in the background when you're finishing other work or making dinner or cleaning the kitchen. But tonight it's all booming beats and showy guitar solos and overplayed "psychedelic" visuals. I head outside to cool down and notice MFNW director Trevor Solomon pacing around, cigarette in hand and cell phone glued to his ear. It's good to know that some things never change. (MM)

5:53 pm, Wonder Ballroom: I'm starting to realize—despite being very familiar with the tracks off Ratatat's latest—that each song sounds like a Panther song beat-wise before the group brings in its signature guitar chords. (NMC)

7:19 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrington asks "What's the difference between me and a pitbull?" at the end of a song. "I have human intelligence!" How's that for a dig at GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin? (NMC)

7:24 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Harrington brings out ladder from behind the black curtain. He sets it up onstage, passing it into the audience with one foot on a step and then proceeds to climb it as it gets passed along the audience. Crowd surfing on a ladder. Hmm. It's always safety first when it comes to Les Savy Fav. He reaches the rafters of the Wonder and turns a stage light the other way. (NMC)

7:41 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Tim Harrington is taking swigs of water from a bottle and then spitting it into the mouths of adoring (and maybe deranged) fans. (NMC)

7:45 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrison has stripped down to red briefs and is gyrating his beer belly as seductively as one could possibly hope. In recent minutes he has sauntered into the crowd atop a ladder, combed his body hair comprehensively with a fork, and kissed the lips of possibly the biggest man in the audience. Most remarkably, amidst all this chaos the rest of the band isn't missing a single beat. “Je t'aime”, they bellow repeatedly, and the feeling is definitely mutual. (DR)

8:08 pm, Wonder Ballroom: Tim Harrington keeps mispronouncing Ratatat with an extra "tat" as he thanks the Brooklynites and exits the stage for good. (NMC)

8:10 pm, Outside the Wonder Ballroom: It wouldn't humanly be possible to document everything that was awesome about the set that Les Savy Fav, Greatest Live Band In The World (I just decided), just played. But needless to say, it kept coming. I just hope you were there…(DR)

8:20 pm, Backspace: I've just missed Strangers Die Every Day, who I've been meaning to check out (and who I always confuse with Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers). Inside I see a guy who looks familiar, and do a double take. He's the old roommate of a girl I used to date...when I lived in Honolulu. Qua? Turns out he's in town for Musicfest. Outside I find Kaebal from Sequential Art Gallery, Indigo from the Stumptown Comics Fest, Letters From Underwood's Katy Ellis O'Brien, and other Portland comics folks. (Between them and Mike Dringenberg, it seems to be a night of hanging out with comics people.) I get into a conversation with some guy
about The Random Couch on the Sidewalk outside Backspace, which we decide is a good band name. We agree that its earlier work was better, and the solo stuff by the cushion just wasn't as good; it needed the rest of the couch to fill out the bottom end. Four guys wearing nothing but Speedos walk out of Backspace, leading us to wonder just when they arrived and how we managed to miss the until now. (BS)

9:00 pm, Burnside: The Crystal Ballroom line is around the block. (NMC)

9:05 pm, Crystal Ballroom: HUUUGE line for Blitzen Trapper. Apparently I lose at actually making it to shows tonight. I give up quickly and strike out for the Doug Fir, intent on ensuring a spot at the Loch Lomond show (a wise move, it turns out). On the corner across from Powell's is a guy in a nice suit singing into a karaoke machine. He's GOOD. People slow as they pass him, full of big, bemused grins. Someone drops money in his basket, and he tips his fedora. (BS)


9:10 pm, the Fez: I'm taking advantage of the empty dancefloor to dance to Battles, whose record "Mirrored" is booming from the speakers while the Slants set-up behind schedule looking entirely affected. (NMC)

9:43 pm, the Fez: We leave the Fez. I'm in slight bewilderment over having caught the Slants. KPSU's programming director Tony Prato asks what would've been better: waiting in the Crystal Ballroom line are catching the Slants? We all agree waiting in the line would have been. (NMC)

9:50 pm, Outside Crystal Ballroom: Someone resembling Willie Nelson walks by. (NMC)

9:57 pm, Outside Crystal Ballroom: I spy Crystal Ballroom employee Ryan who is pacing down the line and presumably taking in a headcount. I remind him that last year during the last night of the fest, he serenaded those entering the venue with "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer." He reprises the performance, I join in and someone in line questions if it's Christmas yet. (NMC)

10:10 pm, Doug Fir: Ritchie Young from Loch Lomond wears a natty vest and a straw hat. He looks like he should be exclaiming "Step right up, step right up!", singing in a barbershop quartet, or possibly a-courtin' my great-grandmother in 1910. Instead he's fronting Loch Lomond, which is a bit like doing all three at once. Loch Lomond's music envelops me, wafting around the room. (BS)

10:20 pm, Crystal Ballroom: The guitarist in Fleet Foxes that looks like Macaulay Culkin also resembles a cowboy tonight with his brown stain vest. Even without a mic, he sings along. So do I. I don't own any of the Seattle group's music, but I have seen them five times this year. (NMC)

10:23 pm, Crystal Ballroom: A girl at the front of the stage in the all-ages section is trying to get her friend to do the wave with her during "White Winter Hymnal." She is unsuccessful as her friend passes her a look of pity while refusing to take part. (NMC)

10:28 pm, Crystal Ballroom: A toddler trips over me by the bathrooms. It proceeds to cry, I proceed to hustle back to the Fez for Blind Pilot. (NMC)

10:33 pm, The Fez: The announcer says that with the help of the group having a song as a free download on iTunes, the label sold over $40,000 worth of Blind Pilot music. (NMC)

10:34 pm, Roseland: The ratio of guys to girls here must be 20:1. That's probably because beards are practically obligatory for attendance at a Hot Water Music show, for males and females alike. Actually, a valid argument could be made that the band has been in continual decline ever since the members shaved off much of their own facial insulation a few years back. But let's not dwell on that right now. (DR)

10:37 pm, outside of Scooters, now approaching Menomena's block: I want to kill every other person with a wristband. I'm wondering if I can convince the Ballroom staff at the door that I'm pregnant and need to enter immediately to birth a child (you can't have a baby outside, can you?), affording me at least a gander at Menomena or Helio Sequence. The child's name is Scooter, for that's where he was conceived. (MS)

10:58 pm, outside Towne Lounge: I just got done dancing my way through a wedding reception at the Bridgeport Brewpub and am a whisker away from being completely dead on my feet. Luckily, our stalwart music editor Casey greets me outside looking almost as exhausted as I'm sure I do, which for some reason makes me feel better about planning on staying up past 2 am for a third straight evening. He ushers me inside, as Eskimo & Sons is just about to start. (RH)

11:10 pm, Towne Lounge: This is my first time seeing EAS live and unfortunately might be the last time I get a chance to. I feel even worse about it watching them enjoying every split second of sharing the tiny Towne Lounge stage together. The band beams at each other throughout their set, warming my heart and giving me a slight jolt of energy. (RH)

11:20 pm, Towne Lounge: The crowd is not being quiet during Eskimo & Sons last show. And I am not the only one pissed about this, to judge from the yelling. I shout at Nelson Kempf and Keely Boyle from the Old Believers, who've joined Eskimo & Sons onstage for one more show. They both spot me and wave; I make a
mental note to find Nelson later and say "So how 'bout that Sarah Palin?" It's a great way to make an Alaskan expatriate in Portland cringe. Eskimo & Sons finish a lovely set and are eventually convinced to do an encore by the crowd. They play a Paul McCartney song, and it's nowhere near as good the rest of their material. They will be missed, the ineffable little darlings. (BS)

11:30 pm, outside Berbati's: I leave and decide to try my luck in line for the big Polvo reunion show. The line to get in winds down the little side street across from Valentine's. Two guys in front of me are trying to figure out if there is any possible way they can get in—weighing one option against another and coming up empty when the security guard walks back and, with a strangely moving hint of sadness in his voice, lets us know there's no way we're getting into that show. (RH)

11:40 pm, Towne Lounge: Tears in my eyes. Not because of the band's hiatus—Eskimo and Sons have done it before, just not to this much fanfare—but because this is a moment. The culmination of so much and everyone surrounding me reaches a pinnacle and I'm proud. Powerful stuff. (NMC)

11:42, Towne Lounge: Jokes are being made about the possibility of people crying. Yo, I made it reality two minutes ago. Dhani jokes that if and when Eskimo & Sons do come back, the band will only play encores. No regular shows, just the encore. The band begin playing Wings “Let ‘Em In” to close out the night. (NMC)

11:50 pm, Ash Street Saloon: Plan B is implemented and all of my sad feelings about missing the Polvo show are washed away by the heavy rock that Nebula is pumping out. I had forgotten just how good this band is. (RH)

12:10 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Ash Street Saloon: What's a better way to describe Nebula than simply "heavy rock"? "Sex in the back of a muscle car rock"? "Whacked out of your brains on mushrooms rock?" "Syrupy sex rock?" (RH)

12:10 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Roseland: This must be up there with the sweatiest I've ever been at a show. Read that to mean that Hot Water Music is playing plenty of the pre-Epitaph Records output that I was hoping for, and the place, as they say, is going off. “Where were all you guys every other time we played Portland?!”, asks an obviously stoked-yet-bemused Chris Wollard. (DR)

12:20 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Towne Lounge: The Chicharones get off to a substantially late start, the first and only band I've seen do that at Musicfest this year. They tell us they're starting the show with the Canadian national anthem—but wait! That's not the Canadian national anthem! That's "Eye of the Tiger!"—which might as well be the Canadian anthem at that. And it's doubly amazing as performed by the Chicharones, far and away my favorite hip- hop act in the Northwest at this point. (BS)

12:25 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Satyricon: I don't get the hype surrounding Toronto hardcore troupe Fucked Up so, with prejudices running rampant, I give them all of two minutes in which to fail to impress me before sloping back off to the bar. There I hear my buddy tell each member of openers Sex Vid individually that “You guys should do a split with my band,” each time sounding increasingly like more of a threat than invitation. (DR)

12:36 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Hawthorne Theater: Happiness is a Dan Deacon crowd. His shows are like grade school recess—plus a ton of noise. We made tunnels, waved glow sticks, played a crude version of duck-duck-goose, and made a frightening amount of sweat. Dan Deacon is of the people, for the people, and by the people. Bless his boisterous alien house music. (MS)



12:50 am, Sunday, Sept. 6. Ash Street Saloon: It suddenly dawns on me as Flipper are setting up that the majority of the people I've seen working the soundboards this weekend were women. How freakin' cool is that? (RH)

12:55 am, Sunday, Sept. 6. Ash Street Saloon: Flipper front man Bruce Loose is stalking the stage as the rest of the band sets up, trying to be heard over the loud garage rock being played over the sound system. As best as I can make out, he's happy that he can smoke on stage, he wants to know how many people have actually heard of this band before, and he doesn't want people spilling his pitchers of Guinness and water that are sitting in front of the kick drum. (RH)

1:00 am, Sunday, Sept. 6. Ash Street Saloon: Having missed them the last time they came through town, I can't tell you how absolutely off the wall excited I am to be watching Flipper playing "Way of the World." It sounds as vibrant and brutal as it did when I first heard it. (RH)

1:25 am Saturday, Sept. 6. Ash Street Saloon: Halfway through the set, just as bassist Krist Novoselic's playing gets unbearably loud, I almost collapse in a heap on the floor due to exhaustion. No amount of soda is going to keep me going. I make my way back to my car, blissed out from a weekend of amazing music and sad because I know my one-year-old son plans on waking me up at 6:30 in the morning. (RH)

1:47 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Ash St. Saloon: After conspicuously urging Flipper's snarling, wasted singer Bruce Loose several times to “get to the chorus,” stately ex-Nirvana gent Krist Novoselic finally snaps and stops the band mid-song. “So we're a jam band now. Awesome.” Actually I can't recall a single song they've played so far that's had more than a single part to it but, though not being overly familiar with the '80s hardcore stalwarts, I've no idea how much of that is deliberate and how much a product of inebriation. Either way, as Loose chugs the rest of his pitcher and attempts to drag a heckler onto the stage, it's all pretty exhilarating stuff. “Flipper still rules, OK?!” (DR)

2:05 am, Sunday, Sept. 7. Ash St. Saloon: The final song finishes and Novoselic beckons the soundguy to cut the sound on the mic that Loose is slurring unintelligibly into, before heading out the venue in a hurry. All-in-all, an appropriately debauched conclusion to MFNW, and my cue to retreat home and sleep away the remainder of the weekend. (DR)

What would a MFNW post be without photos from WW's Byron Beck? Here's a few shots from the official MFNW after part at the Globe Hotel. Watch out for Spoon's Britt Daniel:

Dan Deacon photos by Mark Stock
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