Day Three! We're Dying! In a good way! Today's contributors include (in no particular order) Kelly Clarke, Robert Ham, Nilina Mason-Campbell, Casey Jarman, Brandon Seifert, Mark Stock, Whitney Hawke, Inger Katz, Arian Stevens, Heather Zinger, Byron Beck, Jordan Strong (photo at left) and video of the crazy Monotonix show by David Walker and some other stuff you can't live without.
Before we even start, here's a Flickr slideshow from Nilina and a couple YouTube videos from David Walker, all focusing on the evening's nuttiest set, the one put on by Israel's Monotonix:
Now on with the show(s):
6:16 pm, Friday Sept. 5. Wonder Ballroom
I'm standing in a line that stretches around the block. All hope for seeing Britt Daniel is lost when a Wonder official yells “We are already way over capacity! There's no way you are going to get in!” Ugh. Whatever, I'm stickin' it out. (WH)
7:31 pm, Friday Sept. 5. Wonder Ballroom
Doug Martsch has been shredding the bejesus out of his guitar on an epic five minute riff. I can't even remember what song Built to Spill was playing, but I don't want it to stop. Go Doug go! (WH)
7:45 p.m., the Burnside Bridge
Musicfest gets you on your feet. To take full advantage of the festival, you have to be mobile. I like that. It turns it all into an adventure, a quest, and the environs of the Portland core get incorporated into that quest. There are distractions and amazing moments to be snatched up all around you. Like now: An utterly phenomenal, heart-stopping sunset. (BS)
8:40 pm, Slabtown Having fulfilled familial obligations for the day, I find myself at Slabtown where I'm to play with Super XX Man as part of the Tender Loving Empire showcase. (RH)
8:45 p.m., Rontoms
Kurt Hagardorn is an unlikely looking rock musician, somewhere between a used car salesman and an IT professional. His band is equally unlikely. Last time I saw them at Rontoms they blew be away, but tonight they're playing mostly the Americana end of his songbook, and not much of the pop. Shame. His pop glitters. (BS)
9:00 pm, Slabtown
With the majority of his Gratitillium bandmates on tour, Nick Caceres is playing with a couple of stand in musicians – including a lovely young woman in a black cocktail dress playing the standup bass, all the while consulting notes for each song. His rumbling folk pop does not suffer as a result. (RH)
9:05 p.m., KBOO
Walking from Rontoms to the Doug Fir, I'm distracted by KBOO's 40th Birthday Block Party. The set by DJ GlobalRuckus is so good I can't get to the stage fast enough, but at this point the party seems to the winding down. Still, there's amazing global dance music on display—and stiltwalkers! I leave reluctantly to see Laura Gibson at the Doug Fir. When I get there, she's on stage. "I think we may be the only band at Musicfest with two melodicas," Gibson says. I've walked in just in time for "Hands in Pockets," my favorite song of hers. I've been meaning to see Gibson live, and she's great—quiet, but so lovely the conversation at the back of the crowded room keeps to a low, soporific burble. She introduces her backing musicians, who met in Weight Training class in 9th grade and have been playing together ever since. "And working out like mad," Gibson adds. (BS)
Portlanders, you need to know Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. The Portland native defected to New York after high school (he's a Wilson HS grad) and became chummy with the bands Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio—who have since helped him scale the ranks of New York's music scene. He broke a guitar string on the first song, and his voice was shot, but Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson was fuckin' incredible. (WH)
9:25 pm, Towne Lounge
I'm not sure how the kids from Eskimo and Sons met the kids from the Old Believers, but cream rises to the top, I guess, and I'm so stoked that it happened. Last night the Believers were on stage with E&S at the Crystal, and tonight some Eskimos are up there with the Believers. But everyone leaves the stage except Keeley Boyle for "The Trouble I've Met," and the control this young lady has over the crowd is incredible. Even her own bandmates are in awe. When they take the stage again to end with "Waltz #3," the crowd claps along. I think about this young generation of musicians growing up together in this great town and making amazing music for years to come and my face just goes dumb and giddy with a goofy gap-toothed smile. Then I see the club's owner, Angelo, pointing and laughing at me from behind the bar. (CJ)
9: 45 pm, Friday, Sept. 5. Ron Tom's
A lot of drunk (and extremely smoked-out) concert-goers attempted to get into the label showcase at Ron Tom's for free with green wristbands. Trouble is, there wasn't any green wristbands given out for MFNW. These happy hippies had just jetted back into town from Troutdale where their green wristbands obviously got them a lot of weed at The Black Crowes at McMenamin's Edgefield. (BB)
10:25 p.m., The Towne Lounge:
I love the cozy little Towne Lounge. I've seen walk-in closets bigger than its stage! I'm finally getting to see Andy Combs and the Moth play as a full band, and they're hot shit, the highlight of my night so far. I swear one of the musicians was in the Mos Eisley cantina band in Star Wars. Or at least the instrument he's blowing into was. (BS)
Jaguar Love all wear white pants. Jaguar Love is made of former members of The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Jaguar Love's singer rocks the stage like a gay hobbit on crack, and screams his crowd conversation instead of speaking it—highlights of said convos included “What's up Portland waaaa!” “Music Fest North fuckin' Weeeest!” and “You gotta live life to the fullest, because life is good but life is short. You know what I mean?” Yeah man, I dig you. Jaguar Love's bassist is disturbingly thin and beautiful, and has three different facial expressions. The first one says, “Playing the bass is really hard, BUT I'M DOING IT!” The second says, “I rock this bass like I rock my women—hard.” And the third says, “I'm so cool, I play bass in a leather jacket and don't sweat.” (WH)
10:40 pm, Slabtown
Our set goes pretty well despite these factors:
a) we can't hear each other on stage
b) the chain smoking heroin thin tattooed PBR trucker hat wearing female sound person spends almost every song rushing around adjusting things in a frustrated huff
c) the restless conversation going on amongst the audience threatens to drown out the quieter moments of our set
11:03 pm, Backspace
Matt and Kim is still in its first song and Backspace's mostly underage crowd has already devolved into joyous chaos. People are falling down. Kim is non-stop smiling. Matt stands up on his chair to tell a story about an awful karaoke experience he had once in Portland at Chopsticks across from the Doug Fir. Officially his worst performance ever. He then sings a few bars of David Bowie and Queen's "Under Pressure." (NMC)
Photo by Nilina
11:10pm, Someday Lounge
I finally make it here to catch some of Kaia's lovely, low-key set. She's playing with a drummer and a standup bassist, and hearing her sing positively melts me. Yet, I can't help thinking about the random occasion a month or so ago when I saw her at Chopsticks III doing a frighteningly heartfelt rendition of Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now." (RH)
11:15pm, Someday Lounge
Ryan, the bassist from Wow & Flutter, and I come up with a new genre we are going to spearhead inspired by his seeing Rob Enborn of Eat Skull get a basket of fries thrown at him. The genre: slapstick rock. Lots of pies and seltzer in the face, banana peels, and a guitar with a compartment in it out of which shoots a boxing glove on a spring. (RH)
11:17 pm, Backspace
Another security guard finally arrives. The crowd is madness. How has an eye not been poked out yet? While completely over-worked trying to make sure no one is trampled, both security guards are grinning. (NMC)
11:20 p.m., Backspace
If you're trying to get into the Roseland for TV On The Radio right now, I don't envy you. The line stretches up 6th and curls around Couch, almost reaching the corner of 5th. I'm impressed by this festival. I always hear about big festivals like South By Southwest, how there's so much going on you inevitably see great bands playing to meager crowds. But I haven't seen a single MFNW show that wasn't verging on packed.
Brooklyn's Matt and Kim are on stage at Backspace—I assume, because I can hear their music. But they're too short for me to see over the heads of the crowd (they're both small people). Someone get them some telephone books to stand on! The flashes of Kim I can see, swinging her drum sticks with a huge goofy expression on her face, are totally endearing.
Outside Backspace, over a dozen guys in suits and enormous fake mustaches walk by, heading north. I follow them, hoping they're an awesome band. No, they tell a girl outside Someday Lounge, they're a bachelor party. But they're going to rob a bank later. (The girl tells them they'll need to come back during business hours; bank robberies after hours are strictly self-service, after all.) (BS)
11:32 pm, Roseland
The crowd starts cheering every time a song being played on the house stereo ends because they think TV on the Radio is about to come out. When nearby friends and I don't cheer, a presumably drunk fellow says it's our fault TVOTR hasn't come out, telling us it's the Tragedy of the Commons effect (remember that Economics 101 example about the sheep grazing in a town's common space? Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me, but I think I was supposed to be one of the sheep). The guy soon loses interest in the conversation and buys a bicycle on his iPhone. (WH)
11:40pm, Someday Lounge
Why in the name of all that is holy are they torturing us by playing The Dead Milkmen between sets? Apparently, the Someday is doing things Philly-style these days. (RH)
11:43pm, Someday Lounge
My companion for the evening, Kelly, comes back after seeing the end of Matt & Kim's set at Backspace with this report. "It was amazing. And I've never felt as old as I did at that show. That whole American Apparel set were out in full force." I am reminded of this three hours later when outside a taco truck, a young woman no older than 20 is proudly declaring to her friends, "Yes! My first American Apparel purchase," clutching her plastic shopping bag to her chest. (RH)
11:50pm, Someday Lounge
Just when I thought no one could clear or raise the bar set by Oxford Collapse yesterday, Wow & Flutter take the bar, break it into small pieces, set fire to it and then pour their complementary cans of Heineken Light all over the smoldering remains. They are locked in and not letting up. (RH)
Victor from Point Juncture joins W&F on stage to play trumpet, as the band slowly cranks out a crazed roundelay. They have certainly come a long way from their space rock beginnings. (RH)
12:15 am, Roseland
The quintet doesn't pass bells and handheld percussion instruments into the crowd like often does for "Dirtywhirl." But the lack of audience participation doesn't make the song any less intimate. Tunde closes the ode to sea tempests with an earnestly whistled refrain. (NMC)
Tel Aviv''s Monotonix is rock-bombing the shit outta Satyricon. Concussive waves of sound ripple through the club as a plastic garbage can sails by my head, followed by a fist-pumping crowd surfer and part of the band's own drum kit. The trio itself isn't even visible, they've ceded the stage to the photographers and gawkers, detonating their frenzied songs in the middle of the scrum on the the club floor instead. Oh-my-god, oh-my-god, oh-my-god...they don't make words to describe this. (KC)
12:30 a.m., Slabtown
I've walked from downtown to the Doug Fir, to the Towne Lounge, back to Backspace, and now to Slabtown—five miles, Google tells me. Fortunately, I'd walk five miles to see Jared Mees and the Grown Children and their honed, hook-laden pop. It's been a night of seeing bands I've been meaning to catch live, and they've all about great. (BS)
12:38 am Satryicon
"Get down! Get down! GET DOWN," yells the man with the mic and the thick Israeli accent. "Everybody get down on the ground and close your eyes!!!!" The crowd drops instantly, panting in time with the drum beat. "PORTLAND. On the count of four I want you to get up and DANCE!" he thunders. One. Two. Three... We obey. (KC)
12:38 am, Satyricon
I've just arrived in front of Satyricon. I run into my friend Blake, who says I better hurry inside as Monotonix—my must catch set of the fest—is almost over. I just saw the band this past weekend at Bumbershoot where they played for 15 minutes. Apparently that's the trio's regular set length. I rush inside to find everyone seated and listening to instructions from frontman Ami. The entire room is screaming and yelling as loud as humanly possible. Surprisingly, my ears don't bleed. After a long extended count-off to the number four when we are all supposed to stand and freak-out, everyone's on their feet dancing. One of the most intense mosh pits I've ever been in explodes. The flash on my camera is pulled off from the intensity. It's like getting swallowed up in a tornado of excitement—I get turned around too many times to count and not on my own accord. Everyone is running out of the club with parts of the drum-kit. It's reassembled outside for them to play on the sidewalk. Ami is in a tree mooning everyone. (NMC)
12:40 am, in line outside Berbati's
The consensus amongst those folks eagerly anticipating getting inside is that The Builders and the Butchers sound best live. It's shocking to realize that is what most people I can eavesdrop on in line are talking about. (RH)
12:45 am, outside Satyricon
Monotonix's Ami Shalev hangs from a tree outside the club, suspended 15-feet or so in the air, shaking his mass of sweaty black Zappa curls at a throng of newly minted Monotonix converts, wild-eyed in a frenzy of estastic rock mayhem. A crowd of hands shoot up as the singer waggles a toe in the air and then jerks down his tiny red shorts, mooning the street and threatening to cannon ball the sidewalk. Minutes later, it's all over. Little knots of people mill around the sidewalk, now strewn with feathers and sweat puddles, as i f they're recovering from a natural disaster. "Holy fuck. That was the most punk thing I've seen in 20 years," sputters a sweaty, red-faced dude. Everybody within ear-shot silently nods in shocked, awed agreement. (KC)
12:49 am, outside Satyricon
Everyone is still outside of Satyricon in a state of disbelief and revelry. (NMC)
12:50 am, just outside the front door of Berbati's
Some obviously drunk young lady, all dolled up for the evening has decided to cut in front of the line, claiming that she's been there for an hour and a half. No one is arguing with her, other than the gent with black nail polish on that is halting the line to let the crowd leaving after seeing Langhorne Slim's set pile out before letting more people in.
The conversation gets more heated and ridiculous the longer I wait (and I'm paraphrasing horribly here).
Drunk woman (DW): "I've been here an hour and a half. You don't understand."
Black Nail Polish Man (BNPM): "The line starts back there."
DW: "I've been in line."
BNPM (getting more annoyed and frustrated): "Just stand over here." (He puts her right at the front of the line)
DW: "You don't understand. My friends are inside there. I've been here for an hour and a half."
BNPM (almost yelling): "Listen, you're done, alright! Get out of my face and if you want to get back inside, just get in line, okay?!"
DW (her voice becoming more like a clichéd annoyed teenager): "Whoa!" (she turns to anyone around her for backup) "Did you see that? This guy acting like he's charge or something..."
Annoying guy directly behind me: "Oh my God! This guy thinks he's all like powerful and stuff."
DW: "This guy must not get out much. Don't try to go drinking on Burnside cause you will not get served. My friends are already inside there and I just want to be with them." (she decides to turn on the charm, rubbing BNPM's back and putting a little sugar in her voice) "Sweetie? Sweetie? I'm not trying to be a jerk. I'm just trying to tell you. My friends are already in there. Sweetie? It's no big deal. My friends are already in there. Sweetie?"
Amazingly, once the line lets up, he lets her right in. (RH)
1:03 am, Saturday, September 5, Berbati's
"Alright, let's close this place down," says Ryan Sollee before his band kicks into their first song. The crowd is positively eating out of their hands. Here's another band that has come a long way - from Mississippi Pizza playing without microphones in their tightly packed bar to filling Berbati's to the rafters. (RH)
1:08 am, Slabtown
After a really sweaty and fun set from Jared Mees and his band, Jon Ragel of Boy Eats Drum Machine is putting on the best show I've ever seen him play. Since going solo, he's learned to both entrance the crowd and pare down his set into only his strongest material. OnyI catch Danny Seim of Menomena nodding along and smiling as well.
1:10 am, Saturday, September 5, Berbati's
They sound amazingly tight, like they've been playing this 40-minute set a lot these days. I can't help but thinking that their overall sound has suffered because of it. There's not enough of the raucous energy veering close to the edge of utter collapse as I remember them being. Still, I can't help but love the fact that they are making an name for themselves and they are obviously loving it too, baiting the crowd and getting them clapping, singing and stomping along. (RH)
1:10 am., Berbati's Pan
Nada Surf played at Berbati's at midnight last night. Tonight it's The Builders and the Butchers, who drove up to Seattle a few months back to open for Nada Surf. And it's twice as packed. At least. Berbati's is at capacity and there's still a line going off down the block for them. Just like last night, Berbati's is an indie rock sweat lodge—but that's more appropriate for The Builders.
As always, they put on a stunning show, and when Ryan Sollee is handing out instruments during the last song (why do they keep leaving that to last?), Alex the bassist picks up a bass drum and passes it to the folks in the front. Several people hold the drum up, so other people can punch it -- rhythmically. The crowd demands an encore, and since Ryan's broken strings on every guitar on stage, he does a singalong instead—"The Night, Pt. 1," a song long absent (and missed) from The Builders' sets. "If you know the words, sing along," Ryan says, and it's almost like old times. The Builders had to phase out a lot of their audience participation as their crowds started getting too big, but now they're so popular they can MAKE the crowd do what they want. And they SHOULD. (BS)
1:25 am, Saturday, September 5, Berbati's
Minus points to the dumb guy with the white boy 'fro dirty dancing with his Latina girlfriend right next to me. (RH)
1:28 am, Burnside
After blurting to a friend that TV on the Radio are on my list of band's I shouldn't meet due to my uncontrollable infatuation with them, we turn around to walk towards the Mexican cart, and realize that half of the band has been standing within earshot. The TV on the Radio pair is joined by members from Vampire Weekend. Say it isn't so! Please don't corrupt them, Vampire Weekend! Don't let your bad music rub off onto TVOTR. Leave David Sitek alone! (NMC)
1:50 am, Saturday, September 5, Berbati's
For all you Shins stalkers out there – for a nominal fee, I will let you in on the secret of which taco cart bassist Dave Hernandez goes to after a night of Musicfest fun. For an extra $50, I'll let you know what he ordered. (RH)
Bonus! Arian Stevens' photos of Alela Diane....
...and Heather Zinger's photos of the Builders and the Butchers
Way more photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mfnw08