Who needs an intro. Our whole flock of freelancers were out last night, and they've got all sorts of stories to share with you. Contributors are: Michael Mannheimer, Brandon Seifert, Whitney Hawke, Jim Sandberg, Robert Ham, AP Kryza, Kelly Clarke, Byron Beck, Mark Stock, Nilina Mason-Campbell, Jason Quigley. Scroll to the bottom to see a Jason Quigley slideshow.
Again, it wouldn't be a Musicfest post unless we had Byron Beck's photos from the V.I.P. party. Here they are!
5:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom
No Age is starting on time. This is my ninth time seeing them in nine months in three different countries. Oh the multiplication and division fun that can be had with that statment. Drummer Dean Spunt announces "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." People clap. (NMC)
6:01 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Wonder Ballroom: Maybe it's just me, but No Age playing the free Nike show just seems super awkward. Most of the crowd is totally nonplussed, and the band's stage presence—including guitarist Randy Randall's anticlimactic climb-the-amp-and-then-jump-30-seconds-later move—seem a bit contrived, especially in such a large, cavernous space like the Wonder. I haven't seen this band since I relocated from LA last year, and it's strange to see two dudes play for a few hundred people instead of a few dozen. (MM)
6:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 4., The Crystal Ballroom.
TV on the Radio is rehearsing in Lola's Room, with the volume cranked high enough that a particularly fervent fan might just notice from the street. This guy, with tiny glasses and a brown golf cap over thinning hair, is that fan. And he wants to know what up. "Is TV on the Radio playing upstairs?" he asks. "No," says a Crystal employee. "It's a...stereo." "Really?" He asks. "But it sounds live." The Crystal guy is adamant. "TV on the Radio is absolutely not rehearsing in Lola's Room," he says. "So I can't get in?" "No." The guy leaves. (BW)
7 pm, Wonder Ballroom.
Battles begins by guitarist and bassist Dave Konopka stepping out onto to the stage solo. He always comes out with the assurance of a Tarantino character. This time he's playing sensei, with his hands placed together while he repeatedly bows. Kill Bill anyone? (NMC)
7:01 pm Thursday, Sept. 4. Fantasy for Adults Only on Burnside.
Holy shit! There are live lingerie models in the windows of Oregon's biggest wretched hive of scum and villainy. Performance art or crass commerce? Meh—it's hot. (BW)
7:18 pm, Wonder Ballroom.
Sweat sprays from Battles drummer John Stanier as he pounds his drum-kit intensely. It's the first spray of many that soon becomes an endless cascade. (NMC)
7:31 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Wonder Ballroom: It's all very blue collar, building layered and distorted electro-rock form the bottom up. Battles could have simply pressed the play button and let their many samples run on their own but that would be cheap. The many pools of sweat sitting on stage just a couple of tracks in proved their tirelessness. At times, digital chameleon Tyondai Braxton was manning the vox, guitar and keys at the same time and doing do nonchalantly. Hence, a crowd that was torn between rousing applause and shear shock. (MS)
7:40 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4, MFNW VIP Party, Wonder Ballroom Parking Lot: Shit. It's going to be one of those "nights." As I approach the attendees at the kickoff VIP party (including some I consider friends) to take their photo as the partake in the free booze, grub and the cool swag being handed out, I'm given the "talk to the hand" gesture and whole lotta of "No Pictures, Please." Even the nice folks outside of the soiree, on the other side of the red velvet rope waiting to get inside the Wonder Ballroom to see the Battles, are throwing me 'tude. "What the fu...," I thought to myself. "When did Portland become soooo L.A?" Of course, the "real rock stars"—the cuties from the Thermals, the hot guys of the Battles, some hot chick from Loch Lomond and some guys I think were in TV on the Radio—were absolutely cool about me taking their photo. Oh, well. How much more rock star can Portland get? (BB)
Byron's video of Julianne Shepherd, ex-Mercury Music Editor and current FADER editor, cutting a rug:
7:45 pm, Wonder Ballroom.
Frontman Ty Braxton uncharacteristically takes to the mic for a few words before telling Stanier to begin in oder to "save me from having to make a joke."
7:45 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Streets of Portland: Trying to find parking on First Thursday... major fuck. There's already a line stretching around the corner for the Crystal Ballroom. (WH)
7:50 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Holocene:
Since when did "What's up, fucker?" become an appropriate way to greet an old friend? (RH)
8:00 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. The #14 heading downtown: I've been out of town for a month. My plane gets in at 6:30 and by 8:00 I'm already MusicFest-bound. Tall guy sits down next to me on the bus with a MFNW wristband. I ask how it's been so far. He talks about Mogwai's set—too long for his taste, but the last two songs were totally worth staying for. We talk about beer gardens and massive, untenable crowds and get off the bus, headed for the Ash Street and Berbati's together. (BS)
8:05 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Holocene: Just as I'm finished thinking to myself, "You know, despite the fact that they are playing this amazingly complex psych folk, Silver Summit looks like cocaine casualties from the No Wave-era New York," I see two gents step out of the bathroom, looking nervous and rubbing their noses a little too violently. (RH)
8:20 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Crystal: Eskimo & Sons took the stage early Thursday night, dressed in formal attire—fitting dress for the group's second-to-last show, and the final all-ages one. It's somehow fitting that the now 10-piece act would conclude this chapter of their story at such a large all-ages venue, as they came up through the house-show circuit on the backs of the eager youth of our fair city. Saturday's final hurrah with Chicharones (MCs Josh Martinez and Sleep) at the Towne Lounge will be a shout-out to last year's MFNW, where friend brought on stage as a chorus of shaker-shakers and hand clappers, circumventing that institution of killjoy—the OLCC—exploiting the rule that performers can be underage onstage in the club. As far as final shows go, they couldn't have done better, filling the Crystal to half-capacity by 8:30 and nailing their set under the watchful eye of bandleader Dhani Rosa, who faced the band like a conductor until, halfway through the set, Rosa shouted, "take 'em to church!" and the Sons broke down into handclaps before exploding back into full sound with brilliant horn stabs, and the conductor became a preacher. He continued to direct the posse into—what he declared as—the final performance of "No Shit," which they freaked into a funky rendition of Saint Kanye West's "Flashing Lights." It was a swan song like no other. (JS)
8:25 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Crystal Ballroom: Eskimo and Sons have taken the stage for their first ever (and probably last) performance at the Crystal and the 10-piece band (they were joined by the Old Believers' Keeley Boyle and Nelson Kempf!) all look quite dapper. Danielle Sullivan is sporting an adorable blue strapless number and pearl necklace, while the boys have spiffed up their couture with ties, vests and suspenders. Fancy clothes for a fancy venue. This is the band's last all-ages show, and second-to-last show before going on indefinite hiatus. (WH)
8:35 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Crystal Ballroom: Eskimo front-man Dhani Rosa prefaces their performance of “No Shit” (the song that made them a wee-bit famous) by announcing they will never play the song ever again after tonight. R.I.P. “No Shit,” we will never forget. (WH)
8:35 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Holocene: Apparently Silver Summit are a downright menace as singer Sondra Ow Sun-Odeon just informed the crowd that they were pulled over twice yesterday—once for speeding, and another time for endangering the lives of children in a school zone. (RH)
8:43 pm, Wonder Ballroom.
Sitting outside the venue waiting for my friend to arrive so we can hit up venues downtown, I find myself next to No Age and the duo's instruments while they wait for their pick-up. I ask Dean how he feels about having played a free show sponsored by Nike and he talks about having weighed the pros of it being free as opposed to a sponsored show where it still costs money. It being all-ages and Nike flying the band out were also big factors. (NMC)
9:10 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Doug Fir: Hungry Ghost, a White Stripian male-female drum-and-axe duo, has fallen victim to Portland's inability to dance to anything that isn't Girl Talk. That didn't stop the cheeky group from firing out pop tarts, distorted blues, sing-songy melodies, and rapid-fire changeups of an undeniably danceable nature. Cute-as-a-button drummer Sara Lund continuously referred to herself as a monkey, while guitarist Andrew Price gleefully dropped Sarah Palin jokes between bursts of song. It was a great set, so we'll chalk the audience's immobility up to respect and awe. (APK)
9:10 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Holocene: Something about the way Oxford Collapse bassist Adam Rizer just screamed, "Where the fuck are your animal rights?" in the face of some dreadlocked dipshit in the audience made me fall in love with them even harder. (RH)
9:30 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Holocene: OC singer/guitarist Michael Pace comments that drummer Dan Fetherston looks like a giant drinking his keg can of Heineken, prompting some random woman to yell: "Alcohol!!!! Woooooooooooo!!!!!" (RH)
9:40 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Holocene: Pace: "I'm going to do the most unpunk thing ever and drink some Vitamin Water onstage. I'm not saying it's bad. I'm just saying it's not punk." (RH)
9:45 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. The streets of SE Portland between Doug Fir and Holocene:
“Hey! Stop! Fuck you, motherfucker, what, are 14?”
I come to a stop from a healthy trot en route to Holocene following Hungry Ghost's set. A friend, who had a slightly evil glint in his eye following a double-fisting session with old man Heineken, had knocked an empty trash can. A few minutes later, a sinewy dude with a shaved head is up in my face. This man is not happy. He's power-walking. His fists look like fleshy hammers.
“You knocked over my fuckin' trash can.”
“I most certainly did not,” I reply. It's the truth. Technically, I didn't even see it go down. My friend starts giggling like a Satanic schoolgirl.
“Well, your friend did,” he snarls. “You think this is fuckin' funny? This is my neighborhood, bitch. Don't fuck with my neighborhood.”
He starts to charge me. I don't budge, physically or with my game of playing dumb.
“So,” I say as he get within striking distance, “you want to kick my ass for not knocking over your garbage.”
“I'm gonna call my neighbor down here. He's got a gun, and he's gonna pop a cap in your ass.”
“I'm calling the cops,” he says, pulling out his phone and pretending to dial.
“Cool,” I say, lighting a cigarette and leaning on a wall. “I'll wait with you. Be sure to tell them that I didn't knock anything over, and that you offered to kill me too.”
He pockets his phone. We begin to walk away.
“Cocksucking faggot bitch,” he screams.
“I love penis,” I reply.
“Going to Holocene? I saw that pass on your wrist. See you there! You hear me?”
“I'll buy you a drink,” I say, not looking back.
We get to Holocene, and it's completely at capacity. We walk up to the Slammer and have a beer, still laughing at our near murder as the angry trashcan man skates past the window—in the opposite direction of Holocene. (APK)
Photo break! Mark Stock's shots (Battles, M. Ward and Deerhunter):
9:55 pm, the streets.
Tyler from White Fang tells me he's just witness the aftermath of a stabbing at Satyricon on his way to the Roseland for the Cool Kids. A bloodied bouncer and an angry mob factor into the ghastly story. (NMC)
9:56 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Berbati's: Girl in audience re: Port O'Brien: "I checked them out on MySpace and can confirm to you that they are really good." (RH)
10:02 pm, Holocene: The willowy organist for the Bodies of Water is sporting a full length black unitard with a pair of white Keds, a look that, when paired with the group's strident, deconstructed prog church hymns, makes her look/sound like Joan Baez and Jane Fonda struggling for control over the same body. I have trouble concentrating on the epic songs. I mean, is she wearing underwear? Underwear would really show through a uni like that...(KC)
10:07 pm, Thursday, September 4. Between Kells and the Ash St. Saloon: Just finished mooching another delightful meal and drinks with the parents and now setting out toward Ash. St. to catch Pure Country Gold. Still time before we part ways for me to hear my Dad be accosted by some kid just as he's lighting up his ever-present tobacco pipe, though:
Kid: “Dude, that's a siiick pipe. Where's it from?”
My dad: “England. I'm, er, glad you like it.”
Kid: “Yeh it's beautiful, man. I collect pipes.”
My dad (suddenly realizing he's got the youth of America all worked out): “Ah, but what do you smoke in them? That wacky-baccy, I bet!”
Kid (gravely serious): “No. I'd never do that. If I want to smoke week, I use a piece, dude. If I catch anyone putting weed in my pipes I get very, very angry.”
My dad (as their taxi pulls up alongside): “Oh, I see. Well, we must be off. Have a good night.”
Kid (sadly): “I would, but I forgot to bring my ID, and my friends are all in the bar. It sucks.”
My dad (ignoring the kid and turning to my mother): “Didn't I bring a jacket with me tonight?”
My mother: “Yes, you're holding it, dear.”
My parents depart and I end up agreeing to go buy beer for said kid. Make it to Ash St. only in time for the last PCG song. Luckily it's the one tune with the sweet riff I remember from the last time I saw them. Nice. (DR)
10:10 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Berbati's: Hanging with Ryan from Builders and the Butchers, I see Isaac Brock making his way towards the bar. Somehow I'm not surprised considering that not only did Love as Laughter play tonight, but the band onstage, Port O'Brien, sounds a little too much like a countrified Modest Mouse for my taste.
10:16 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Berbati's: I guess I wasn't the only person brave enough to skip M. Ward for Port O'Brien—Britt Daniel, Isaac Brock, and a few members of the Builders and the Butchers are rocking out close to the stage. Port O'Brien put on one of the better shows I've seen this year in February when they played with Loch Lomond at the Funky Church, but tonight they are noticeably heavier with a new bass player and singer Van Pierszalowski switching to an electric guitar for the second half of the set. (MM)
10:20 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. The Tiger Bar: It's the Perfect Storm of amazing Portland tonight—to the point that I still haven't made it to MusicFest. Instead, I've been enjoying the antics of the MFNW crowd spread all over downtown and generally having a great time; I've picked a fight with a convertible (cutting me off when I've got a walk light is
a $300 ticket, dickhead. $300); caught some First Thursday; ran into people from the Old Country and stumbled on a bunch of my closest friends outside the Someday; and given $1.50 in quarters to a street kid with the BIGGEST CARDBOARD SIGN EVER. Now we're drinking in the Tiger Bar, with Karaoke From Hell as the backdrop. One of the karaoke musicians, a very Woodie Allen-looking fellow, strips down to his boxers singing a birthday song on the stage. I'm missing M. Ward and Port O'Brien, but I've made my peace with that. We leave looking for more drinks somewhere we can actually score a table, and are thwarted by MusicFest. (BS)
10:20 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Ash Street Saloon:Pure Country Gold is systematically tearing its songs and the eardrums of the audience to shreds. Jake Welliver has got to be the best drummer in Portland. (RH)
11:05 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Roseland: I walk in, and the Cool Kids' bassline hits me like a punch in the ribcage. In the best way possible. (BS)
11:04 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Ash Street Saloon: In conversation with Lucas Jones, bassist for Mighty Ghosts of Heaven. Me: "How are you?" Lucas: "Ready to shake some ass! Duh!" (RH)
11:05 pm, Thursday, September 4th. Ash Street Saloon: Lucas is shaking some ass. As is most of the audience who came to see Coconut Coolouts. They have every reason to be doing so. (RH)
11:08 pm, Thursday, Sept. 4. Walking up West Burnside: On my trek up Burnside from Berbati's to the Crystal we pass Aura and I nearly pass out from the combined toxins of cheap cologne and car exhaust. A drunk dude is trying to get in, pleading with the bouncer despite the fact that he probably couldn't stand up straight. “You can't get in with those shoes,” he says. I look down and notice a new pair of Nike's so shiny they could be used as a bike reflector. I guess somebody got free shoes this weekend! (MM)
11:15 pm Thursday, September 4th. Berbati's: The three backup singers for Pseudosix are gamely trying to do a synchronized dance routine, but failing charmingly. (RH)
11:20 pm Thursday, September 4th. Berbati's: Tim Perry (Pseudosix front man): "How's everything sound out there? Anything need to be turned up?" Random drunk in audience: "Everything! Whoooooo!!" (RH)
11:24 pm, Thursday, September 4. Roseland: Del's just started playing and I catch myself standing up on tip-toes in a futile effort to reduce the impact of the booming bass on my full stomach. (DR)
11:25 pm, Holocene.
Starfucker is over rather abruptly. Half the crowd appears to be standing in disbelief, asking out loud if it really is over, since the trio seems to have stopped in the middle of a song with Josh exiting with his chair. He quickly returns and the band begins taking down its equipment while a record they sample in songs plays on. One girl in the doorway goes, "That's it!?!" I wonder the same. I ask SF's Shawn Glassford, who's nearest me, if it was supposed to end like that and that early. He says yes. I'm still unconvinced. (NMC)
11:28 pm, Holocene.
People are getting their picture taken with No Age who have turned up at Holocene to catch Deerhunter as they said they'd do from the Wonder Ballroom stage. It's odd that the group is doing the photos digital camera style when Holocene's photobooth is mere feet away. (NMC)
11:45 pm Thursday, September 4th. Outside Berbati's: Want to try to see the Whigs, Del, Deerhunter, Steel Pole Bath Tub. Remember that I'm only one man. Then I remember I'm completely exhausted and need to get home and catch some sleep for another busy day at the day job. Skulk home dejectedly. (RH)
11:46 pm, Roseland Theater: As Del the Funky Homosapien unfurls his last set of rhymes upstairs, the Roseland security staff gets down to the real business of the night, surveying the booty of items the club has confiscated from patrons. There's a huge assortment of thick fat markers and a rainbow of Sharpies as well as a big plastic Safeway grocery bag bursting with packages of gum (mostly Orbit and Eclipse). What else? A travel size can of stiff hold hairspray, a couple of steel wrenches, an orange and two apples, a Leatherman, Clif bars and a full sized house tacker, the kind used to staple posters to telephone polls."Sometimes they bring lube," a young security guard with a blonde bob mentions. "Now that's definitely weird." (KC)
12:06 am, Friday, Sept. 5. Holocene: As Deerhunter begins its soundcheck one member is noticeably absent. It turns out the bass player is wickedly drunk, and then I remember seeing him stumble in maybe 10 minutes ago with a huge grin on his face and half-shut and the type of dark, unexpressive eyes that only come from a heady night of drinking. Maybe somebody had a little too much fun at Sassy's? (MM)
12:09 am, Friday, Sept. 5. Holocene: Deerhunter frontman and internet celebrity Bradford Cox fills the time by taking questions from the crowd, requesting Lil Wayne's “A Milli” to bring the “shape shifter” back to life, and telling us all how much he likes Mississippi Records and Rad Summer. Shit almost gets confrontation when someone asks Cox how much he weighs and he calls out the “Portland hipster” who says dumb shit and then won't own up to it. The bass player comes out after puking behind the stage, takes swigs from a bottle of Maker's, and somehow manages to lead them through a loud and cathartic set. How fucking rock ‘n' roll is that? (MM)
12:10 am, Friday. Sept. 4. Roseland: I've always appreciated Del the Funky Homosapien for his music and his lyrics—but not for his flow. But live, tonight, he's certainly not lacking for that. He's even won me over to that godawful overplayed "sunshine in a bag" song the Gorillaz launched their radio career with. (BS)
12:15 am, Friday. Sept. 4. Outside the Roseland: A pair of amazing percussionists have set up outside the door, playing plastic buckets. One of them (who looks rather like Busta Rhymes) plays a bucket full of broken glass for a snare and a collection of bottles stuck in the holes of a milk crate balanced on a bucket; the other hits the concrete with his drum stick like a cymbal. A crowd justifiably gathers, eddying around the two of them. I give them MORE MONEY THAN I'VE EVER GIVEN TO STREET MUSICIANS IN MY LIFE before heading towards Berbati's for Nada Surf, passing under the Paris Theatre sign advertising their weekly Sunday Hentai Night. That's some journalism waiting to happen right there. I Twitter about it, and am immediately offered free tickets to one of my downtown gallery
owner friends. "You are a gentleman and a scholar," I text him. "And possibly a pervert!" "I'm all three!" he texts back. (BS)
12:20 am, Friday, Sept. 5. Berbati's Pan: I step into the Nada Surf show, and breathe in the volatilized sweat of hundreds of overheated hipsters. I've walked into an indie rock sweat lodge! "Pretend you're in the 'Radio Ga Ga' video by Queen," Nada Surf's frontman Matthew Caws tells us, and yes, we all start to two-step for him. It takes me a while to notice that the drummer's sticks aren't just glowing, they're changing colors as he applies them to his set. Trippy as hell. (BS)
12:43 am, Friday, Sept. 5. Holocene: After working through the murky sludge of a few of its slower tracks, Deerhunter play “Nothing Ever Happens” from the new record Microcastle, and it absolutely rips. The song spirals from two minutes of catchy, Breeders style guitar pop into a frenzy of ringing, noisy, cacophonous guitars. My jam of the night, no doubt. (MM)
12:45 am, Friday, Sept. 5. Ash Street Saloon: I ask the door guy who's playing right now. He tells me "Sacred Chakra." I manage not to laugh until I get inside. (BS)
1:05 am, Friday, Sept. 5. Someday Lounge: In search of a decent bathroom, I enter the Someday, one of downtown's most tragically under-appreciated venues. But tonight it's hopping, but not from the usual crowd—there are ball caps with ridiculously flat brims as far as the eye can see here. "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" by Nice & Smooth bumps
from the DJ set, and in the bathroom I overhear someone say "Those moccasins are sick dude!" Oh, Portland. (BS)
2:21 am, Thursday, Sept. 4. Holocene: I'm not sure any member of Deerhunter could tell you where they just played. A bottle of Maker's sat center stage, never ignored. Frontman Bradford Cox inserted the occasional Portland remark, quick to label the one about becoming a vegan after a bad batch of salmon chowder a complete and utter joke. Holocene's tight quarters put a microscope over the atmospheric part-punk band, who managed a polished and extensive set. Cox's warped mic was transfixing, emanating ethereal messages in a Poltergeist-like fashion. Best and perhaps most frightening band to get drunk with. (MS)
Bonus! Iconic photos from exclusive LocalCut photographer Jason Quigley: