Let me start by saying that nice baristas who take interest in your life and congratulate you on things like your internship and all of your “hard work” truly make the world go round. Thank you, pink-shirted barista in Stumptown. This blog post is for you.
This weekend was one I was anticipating for quite some time. It was my penultimate weekend in Portland before I head home for two weeks, away from the city and scene that I love. So it is only fitting that I crammed as much Portland-y musical crap into it that I possibly could.
Aren’t you excited?
It all started Friday with The Head and The Heart at the Oregon Zoo. Since hearing their debut album in its self-released form, I’ve been wanting to see this band–and I never have. I know that at this point in their career (over a year between them and their only album, and after like seven tours) it may seem pretty passe of me to see them, but I just needed to hear them play “Rivers and Roads” just once in my life.
And they did, and it was great, and the girl next to me sobbed. A good dose of three-chord-acoustic-piano-folk-pop can be good for you every now and then. The Head and The Heart may not be the most original band, and they may produce music at a snail’s pace, but they’re talented. They brought high energy to the large, outdoor venue and truly commanded the space. I was surprised.
Next up was volunteering at PDX POP NOW! an annual all-ages, all-local festival here in Portland. I’ve known about this festival for a while, but I’ve never been around in the summer to attend! Luckily for me I got the easiest volunteer job–guarding the green room. I got to sit on my butt, watch the music, and eat free food.
My favorite performances were spacey outfit Chrome Wings, the ever-lovable Houndstooth, and dream-pop dream boat White Hinterland, who had some set backs that cut her performance short. Sad! All around, it was a really great experience. This festival is extremely important to the Portland music scene and I recommend to any and everyone.
Sunday I had to duck out of the festival early and get my butt to the Wonder Ballroom to see Ava Luna, Father John Misty, and Youth Lagoon.
First up was Ava Luna from Brooklyn, New York. Snooze. These guys were a bunch of nerds playing instruments who had just gotten back from shopping for concert attire at Goodwill. Super original. They borrow so much of their sound from other people. To me, they were just a geekier and less put together version of Dirty Projectors.
But soon enough Ava Luna’s lackluster attempts at a performance meant little to me. Because pretty soon, Josh Tillman and his band (otherwise known as Father John Misty), took the stage and blew me away. Okay, I’ve seen videos of this guy performing live and I love his album, but believe me, the live performance was unbelievably great.
Everything was solid, the vocals, the timing, everything. And JT is pretty adorable and hilarious, thrusting his hips and wearing star-shaped kids’ glasses. I was mostly satisfied with their set, only wishing that it could be longer. By far the best song they performed was “Only Son of a Ladies Man” (which is still ringing in my ears), followed closely by the drug-fueled jam “I’m Writing a Novel” which had the whole crowd jumping and cheering. I still can’t shake the awe!
And as if that wasn’t enough, Youth Lagoon wasn’t half bad either. Boise’s dream-pop superstar hasn’t played a headlining show in Portland since he released his debut LP Year of Hibernation. This was a big deal–and it definitely made up for the wait. With a stage drenched in smoke, figures obscured by light and shadow, Trevor Powers delivered his album and a handful of new songs flawlessly.
So, great weekend right? It’s not over!
By the time Monday rolled around I was exhausted, my feet were killing me, and I could hardly hear a thing. Seeing King Tuff at the Doug Fir seemed like such a trek, a pain, a chore. But I’ve been looking forward to this show since I bought the tickets in May–King Tuff’s self titled LP is way too good to be lazy about seeing him live.
King Tuff’s show was so exciting that even Dave Chapelle was there.
It all started with Portland band The Memories. I’ve heard a lot about this band recently, and they are worth seeing. They might not be the most complex or talented musicians, but they are funny. With vignette-style songs about things ranging from smoking weed to having bad dreams (I swear these guys were making the lyrics up on the spot), cheesy one-liners between songs, and lengthy explanations about the subject matter, The Memories deliver not only entertaining music but some good laughs.
Jaill was next. I only began listening to them when I found out they were opening for King Tuff. Their newest album Traps is pretty good, though I should pay it more attention. They were fun though, making jokes about the midwest, Mount Rushmore, and asking the audience to smoke them out after the show.
Give them a listen, I recommend “Waste A Lot of Things.”
At 11, Tuffy took the stage, and as he played the opening riff to “Anthem,” the crowd began to pulse and move uncontrollably. King Tuff’s music is infectious garage rock for a post-pop punk generation. It was sweaty, ear splitting, and perfect.
Now that’s a weekend. A good way to (slowly) wrap up my Portland summer.