Archive for the ‘out of town’ Category

A-Trak, Purity Ring, Gramatik, Pantyraid and RJD2 headlining 2013 What The Festival

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The second What The Festival — a gathering of electronic and bass-heavy artists, plus camping, pool parties, visual art and other summer-in-the-High-Desert fun times — is going down July 26-28 at the Wolf Run Ranch up near Dufur, about two hours north of Bend.

This morning, WTF organizers made an initial lineup announcement … or at least they posted this image on their website.


There are lots of odd names I’ve never heard before (Goth-Trad, Nit Grit, Pumpkin, Lushbunny), a handful of artists that Bend folks should be familiar with (Eliot Lipp, An-Ten-Nae, Lynx, Saqi, Medium Troy), some mid-sized national acts (Yacht, XXYYXX, Machinedrum, Starkey, Shigeto) and everything in between. With more to come, as you can see at the bottom there.

Plus, RJD2 is a respected alt-hip-hop producer, Pantyraid is a popular duo (MartyParty + Ooah) that makes melodic dance music, and Gramatik is a digital freedom activist and Pretty Lights Music affiliate with an affinity for wicked, glitchy soulstep.

But the big names on that image are big for a reason: A-Trak is one of the world’s biggest DJs who made his name winning every turntablist contest there is and then shot to fame when he became the personal DJ for Kanye West. And Purity Ring is a Canadian duo that combines deep, dark beats and bass with indie-pop melodies. Their set at MusicfestNW 2011 was probably the best I saw all weekend.

Tickets to the event go on sale Thursday. I’m sure you’ll be able to find much more info at the WTF website or on Facebook.

Coachella 2012 recap

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Oh, I didn’t go to the big ol’ music festival down in the SoCal desert this weekend.

But I streamed several performances and figure that means I’m qualified to provide a recap.

So out of the 2,655,983,216 (give or take) bands that played Coachella over the past three days, here are the highlights:

This was mind-boggling. Eerie. Insane. Surreal. Impressive. It was good and weird and a little scary all wrapped into one.

Seriously, though, how great does that hologram look? It looks pretty great.

I fear festival headliners in the future will just be, like, Nirvana, The Beatles, Beethoven, etc., etc.

A great band playing most of a great album really well. Lovely!

2012 Sasquatch lineup + what it might mean for Bend (Part 1 of 2)

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

The four-day, alt/indie-minded music festival known as Sasquatch — held each May at The Gorge Amphitheatre in the center of Washington state — announced its 2012 lineup on Thursday night, and it’s topped with some interesting headliners, I think, and some even more interesting names down the list:

Music: Jack White / Beck / Bon Iver / Pretty Lights / Tenacious D / The Shins / Beirut / Girl Talk / The Roots / Feist / Silversun Pickups / Metric / The Head & The Heart / Explosions In The Sky / Mogwai / Nero (DJ) / M. Ward / John Reilly & Friends / The Joy Formidable / St. Vincent / Childish Gambino / Tune-Yards / The Civil Wars / Little Dragon / Wild Flag / Blind Pilot / Wolfgang Gartner / Apparat / Portlandia / The Walkmen / Clap Your Hands Say Yeah / Mark Lanegan Band / Spiritualized / Beats Antique / Blitzen Trapper / The Cave Singers / Shabazz Palaces / Jamey Johnson / fun. / Grouplove / Tycho / SBTRKT / Ted Leo and The Pharmacists / Deer Tick / Imelda May / Dum Dum Girls / The Helio Sequence / Kurt Vile / Cloud Cult / Ben Howard / Here We Go Magic / Zola Jesus / The War on Drugs / Cass McCombs / Active Child / Trampled By Turtles / AraabMUZIK / Star Slinger / L.A. Riots / Com Truise / Unknown Mortal Orchestra / I Break Horses / Walk the Moon / Dry the River / Allen Stone / Hey Marseilles / Gary Clark Jr. / Alabama Shakes / Purity Ring / Yellow Ostrich / Electric Guest / Shearwater / Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires / Augustines / Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside / Beat Connection / The Sheepdogs / Hey Rosetta! / Said the Whale / Howlin Rain / Gardens & Villa / Felix Cartal / Craft Spells / Vintage Trouble / Poor Moon / Black Whales / Gold Leaves / Greylag / Awesome Tapes from Africa / Thee Satisfaction / Dyme Def / Fresh Espresso / The Physis / Sol / Metal Chocolates / Grynch / Spac3man / Don’t Talk to the Cops / Scribes / Fatal Lucciauno / Fly Moon Royalty / Katie Kate

Comedy: Nick Kroll / John Mulaney / Todd Barry / Beardyman / Rob Delaney / Pete Holmes / Howard Kremer

Sasquatch’s lineup announcement is of interest to Central Oregon music fans because if Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater is going to kick off its season with concerts on Memorial Day weekend — as it did in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011 — the bands that play those shows are almost certainly also playing Sasquatch. That means we can parse the Sasquatch roster to try to figure out who might be playing the Schwab in late May. I’ll do that in a blog post tomorrow, and then on Monday the Schwab is announcing some shows, so we should know what’s up pretty soon.

As for the Sasquatch lineup itself, here are a few thoughts:

The top of the lineup is a nice departure from last year’s “Northwest indie stars + Foo Fighters” headliners. Jack White and Beck are both modern legends who haven’t oversaturated our region with shows in recent years. Tenacious D is obviously its own (different) thing with lots of loyal fans. The Shins are primed for a big return to the scene in 2012 after a few years away. Pretty Lights and Girl Talk will give Sasquatch a taste of big-name dance/electronica and a break from the guitars. The Roots will add a little hip-hop flavor to the proceedings. And also, Bon Iver is a thing. That people seem to love.

Nothing super, super exciting here (to me; your mileage may vary), but at least it’s interesting and not the same old stuff.

The most exciting names on this list happen right in the middle: Mark Lanegan, Spiritualized, Jamey Johnson, Dum Dum Girls, Kurt Vile, Explosions in the Sky, AraabMUZIK, Alabama Shakes, Purity Ring, Yellow Ostrich, Charles Bradley, Mogwai, Com Truise, Howlin Rain, I Break Horses and more. If you’re reading this and want to start investigating Sasquatch bands, start with those.

The festival’s “Maine Stage” will apparently feature only Northwest-based (and mostly Seattle-based) hip-hop, which is awesome, seeing as that scene is blowing up right now. There’s not a ton of rap higher up on the poster, so heads could potentially just set up shop at the Maine Stage, hang out all day and probably catch the next Macklemore or Shabazz Palaces. Pretty cool.

OK, as I said, look for more tomorrow, including some speculation on what this might mean for Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater.

2011 MusicfestNW: Day 3 (One Month Later)

Monday, October 10th, 2011

(Thanks to a busy schedule, it’s been a month since MusicfestNW took over Portland and I still haven’t published daily recaps of my experience. My bad. Still, I think seeing 20 of the coolest bands going over three days is worth documenting, even belatedly. So below, you’ll find Day 3. Day 1 is here and Day 2 is here. And if you’d like to read my overview of the festival’s highlights that ran in print, click here.)

One of the great things about events like Portland’s MusicfestNW is the shoulder-to-shoulder variety. You can see a funk legend and then a futuristic electro-pop duo and then a throwback ’90s indie rock band like I did on Day 1 of this year’s festival. Or you can see a local pop-rock band followed by a white-hot hip-hop artist followed by a quiet, heart-wringing female singer-songwriter like I did on Day 2. (And that’s without venturing out to the venues that focused on electronic, metal, jazz and country!)

Or you can do what I did on Saturday night of MusicfestNW 2011 and see seven bands that all fall somewhere on the post/punk/psych/rock/metal/drone spectrum.

The part of me that digs that particular musical spectrum has been growing over the past few years; after a lifetime of pop-rock, twang and hip-hop, I have found myself increasingly attracted to the sludgy, spacey, squealy sounds of good ol’ psychedelic rock bands. So I was excited for Saturday’s lineup.

An oasis of calm in the madness of MusicfestNW.

That excitement was tempered, perhaps, by two things. 1) I was tired. By Saturday afternoon, I’d grown cranky and indecisive; I skipped a bunch of sweet day parties with free music and food in favor of shopping for records and sitting, quietly, in a Big Town Hero with a Diet Coke and an alt-weekly in an effort to chill. I am not proud. And 2) That night’s headliner at the Doug Fir, the fine British pop band The Vaccines, canceled just days before the festival because of health issues. There are a lot of great acts at MusicfestNW, but that cancellation took out one of the bands I was most excited to see.

Anyway, Saturday began at 4 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square, “Portland’s living room,” as it’s known, in the middle of downtown. There, one of my favorite artists ever — Matthew Cooper, aka Eluvium — had the unenviable task of playing ambient music for a mid-afternoon crowd on what might have been the hottest day of the year. I loved every second of it, but I can certainly understand how passers-by (and even many folks who showed up early to get a good spot for the evening’s headliner, Explosions in the Sky) might’ve thought, “What the hell is this noise?” Well, that noise is some of the most mind-bendingly beautiful music being made these days by one of the most inventive musicians of the past decade. Here’s a long sample; please note that all I did for most of the time was hang the camera from my wrist while filming. Whatever you see here was the intent.


2011 MusicfestNW: Day 2 (One Month Later)

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

(Thanks to a busy schedule, it’s been a month since MusicfestNW took over Portland and I still haven’t published daily recaps of my experience. My bad. Still, I think seeing 20 of the coolest bands going over three days is worth documenting, even belatedly. So below, you’ll find Day 2; find Day 1 here and be sure to look for Day 3 on Monday. And if you’d like to read my overview of the festival’s highlights that ran in print, click here.)

When you attend a large music festival like Portland’s multi-venue, multi-genre MusicfestNW, you have to know going in that such events cost money, and therefore they’ll be pursuing sponsors, and so you’re likely to be bombarded with corporate promotions and logos when all you’re trying to do is go see some rock shows. It’s just the way it is.

Still, it felt a little funny to me to be sitting and waiting for Ted Leo — one of the most staunchly independent punk-rock figures of the past two decades — inside a Dr. Martens store, surrounded by former- and faux-punk fashion staples and eating free barbecue-flavored popchips and drinking free berry-flavored vitaminwater, both grabbed from giant bins full of product meant to get me hooked on popchips and vitaminwater. (Did those two companies lose their shift key and space bar or what?)

When he took the stage in front of a packed house, Leo announced that he was playing the show because Dr. Martens revived its vegan line of boots, which at least made the whole thing make a little more sense. He then launched into a solo set that included pretty much all my favorite Ted Leo tunes: “Me and Mia” and “The Sword In the Stone” and “Under the Hedge” and “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” Here’s that last one:


2011 MusicfestNW: Day 1 (One Month Later)

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

(Thanks to a busy schedule, it’s been a month since MusicfestNW took over Portland and I still haven’t published daily recaps of my experience. My bad. Still, I think seeing 20 of the coolest bands going over three days is worth documenting, even belatedly. So below, you’ll find Day 1, and be sure to look for Day 2 on Sunday and Day 3 Monday. And if you’d like to read my overview of the festival’s highlights that ran in print, click here.)

I spent several days prepping for my fifth consecutive MusicfestNW: perusing the schedule, listening to bands, sketching out a plan for each hour of each night. I tracked down details on all the free day parties and the live sessions for KEXP and OPB and used Microsoft Excel to create a customized schedule for three days (Sept. 8-10) at the third largest indoor music festival in the country.

But when you put that kind of effort into planning, it’s also a good idea to be ready to adapt to changing circumstances.

My first scheduling casualty came exactly 30 minutes after I checked into my hotel in downtown Portland when I decided to skip a chance to watch Blitzen Trapper tape a live set for OPB and instead grab a couple of pork tacos from the La Jarochita food cart. Blitzen Trapper is a fine band but they’ve gotten a bit predictable in recent years, and the tacos were terrific, so I feel comfortable with my decision.


With a belly full of carnitas, I hopped in my car and headed to the Aladdin Theater, a venue I had never visited during MusicfestNW. (This would become a theme.) There, a night of old-school soul was planned, starting with Portland’s Monarques, followed by legendary Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey and this year’s R&B comeback story, Charles Bradley.

Monarques — who I discovered at MFNW ’09 — were sharp as usual, all oohs and aahs and bouncy ’60s vibe. This is such a fantastic band that sounds authentically vintage but totally cool. If Portland bands like Typhoon and Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside are playing David Letterman’s show, Monarques should be too. Let’s hope that in a year or so, they are.


Coyote Music Festival starts tomorrow

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The Coyote Music Festival is happening Friday and Saturday at Summer Lake Hot Springs near Paisley, about 120 miles southeast of Bend. (Here it is on Google Maps.)

There’s no mention of it in tomorrow’s GO! Magazine because no one told me about it, but I figure it might be of interest to someone since there are several Central Oregon faves playing. So here’s what I know:

Get to know Vanaprasta (and its Central Oregon connection)

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The buzz is loud around Silver Lake, Calif.-based rock band Vanaprasta. The L.A. media has identified them as one of that scene’s next big things, and the band has just returned from playing eight shows in four days at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.

Now, Vanaprasta is putting the finishing touches on its anticipated debut full-length “Healthy Geometry” and touring the West Coast, with a stop at Portland’s Holocene tonight, where they’re playing a free show with Hosannas and Hello Electric. If you’re in Portland or heading that way, you should check it out. (Hosannas has played Bend a couple times, and they’re great.)

Thanks to the band’s Central Oregon connection — guitarist Cameron Dmytryk is a 2004 graduate of Madras High School — I’ve had “Healthy Geometry” percolating in my headphones for a while now, and it’s easy to see why Vanaprasta’s hype wave is cresting. This is driving, dynamic, guitar-hero indie rock, where six-string acrobatics and swaggering rhythms create a comfy sonic bed for frontman Steven Wilkin’s versatile vocals. Most importantly, the band’s kaleidoscopic sound is presented not with a sense of shoegaze-y ennui, but the kind of verve often reserved for punk bands.

An L.A. website called The Deli described Vanaprasta as “a more talented version of Kings of Leon” and the band’s MySpace cites psychedelic Pink Floyd, dance-punky Bloc Party, funk-rocky Red Hot Chili Peppers and experimental supernovas Radiohead as influences. Fair enough. But when I listen to the band, I hear a cross between Portland’s proggy Portgual. The Man and the woefully underappreciated Seattle pop band Aveo. And surely with all those names swimming around in your head, you have some idea of what Vanaprasta does. If not, they have some downloads and streams over at their website.

Here’s hoping Dmytryk is able to steer the band’s ship over to his homeland one of these days.

A Wintergrass report: Part 2, by Jenny Wasson of Moon Mountain Ramblers

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

(Note: Jenny Wasson is the fiddler for the Moon Mountain Ramblers and an employee of The Bulletin. She attended the Wintergrass festival late last month and filed this report. The photos are hers, too. Part 1 is here.)


Darol Anger and friends showcase some fiddle power!

Slightly delirious from the lack of sleep, I wandered around the Hyatt Regency Bellevue to find breakfast and the first workshop of the morning, “Freestyle Fiddling,” featuring fiddle master Darol Anger and Brittany Haas, Lauren Rioux and Tashina Clarridge. I love that Anger is mentoring the younger generation of string players.

Freestyle fiddling is a loose term that basically means using a combination of all styles of music in your solo. In a single song, you might hear elements of blues, jazz, Celtic or old-time music. On four five-string fiddles – now that’s some string power! – the group performed “Forked Deer,” “Sally Goodin,” “Elzic’s Farewell” and “Lost in the Loop.”


A Wintergrass report: Part 1, by Jenny Wasson of Moon Mountain Ramblers

Monday, March 14th, 2011

(Note: Jenny Wasson is the fiddler for the Moon Mountain Ramblers and an employee of The Bulletin. She attended the Wintergrass festival late last month and filed this report. The photos are hers, too. Part 2 is here.)

Anatomy of a Bluegrass Festival, by Jenny Wasson

As a musician, it’s easy to start playing in a rut, where all your solos start sounding the same. Going to festivals is one way to recharge your playing, gaining inspiration from exciting performances and by jamming with different people.

When Ben Salmon asked me to write a blog post about Wintergrass, I jumped at the chance to share with Frequency readers one of my favorite festivals during the “off-season.” I have been attending Wintergrass regularly since 2003. Originally held in Tacoma, Wash., the festival moved to Bellevue, Wash., last year. This was my first opportunity to see the new venue at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Although I love the summer outdoor festivals, there is something special about an indoor festival. You don’t have to worry about the elements – be it rain or heat – or overly used honey buckets. It’s all about the music.

Jayson Bowerman loads the Subaru.

I rode up on Feb. 24 with two members of The Pitchfork Revolution, Jayson Bowerman and Rob Sidle. We answered the age-old question, “How many instruments can you fit in a Subaru?” Bowerman, a noted luthier, was bringing some of his beautiful wares to sell at the festival. After some Tetris-like maneuvering, we managed to squeeze in eight guitars, two fiddles and two mandolins. Packed to the gills, we started the annual pilgrimage to Wintergrass.

After a seven-and-a-half-hour drive through whiteout conditions, ice and trucks stranded on the side of the road, we finally arrived at the hotel around midnight. Exhausted from our travels, we checked in and decided to call it a night. As we walked to the elevators, we were greeted by musicians jamming in the hallway. It was a nice way to soak in the festival.


A clogging workshop at Wintergrass.

I started my morning at workshops offered by some of the performers. Workshops are generally set up in two ways: as demonstrations or hands-on classes. I experienced both Friday morning. After a quick bite to eat, I came in halfway through Charmaine Slaven’s workshop on clogging. A member of Seattle-based Squirrel Butter, she was teaching a room of about 25 people the four basic parts of the Tennessee walking step. According to Slaven, clogging is a way to add a percussive sound without playing an instrument. I didn’t join in, but it looked like the participants were having a lot of fun.