Posts Tagged ‘MusicfestNW 2011’

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.

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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:

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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.

Monarques

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.

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This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Over the past six years, the Bend Roots Revival has grown from a small gathering of local artists jamming in and around Parrilla Grill and The Victorian Cafe to one of Central Oregon’s biggest and best music events and a vital celebration of local arts that takes over the Century Center for an entire weekend.

This weekend is that weekend. The Bend Roots Revival is back!

In today’s GO! Magazine, we’ve got everything you need to enjoy the Bend Roots Revival, including:

-A performance schedule that’ll be more helpful than anything else you can find, I guarantee it.
-A story about what’s new at the Revival, including new stages, new artists and a new partnership with Rise Up International.
-A quick look at five featured performers at the festival that you may not already be familiar with: Brooks Robertson, Aisea Taimani, Consider the Fox, The Woods and Flying Kites.

Enjoy it, folks!

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Hank Williams III returns to the Domino Room, Mare Wakefield plays a Windance House Concert and Pete Kartsounes brings his band to McMenamins (and Bend Roots)

Plus, my Feedback column makes its annual trek to Portland for the massive MusicfestNW festival, where highlights included Givers, Purity Ring, White Hills, Explosions in the Sky, You Am I and late-night poutine from Potato Champion. Click here to read my overview, and then look for more detailed reports on Frequency very soon.