A Weekend in the Life of PDX Pop Now!

Any music fan in Portland knows about PDX Pop Now! It is the vicarious dream of a music festival where everything is free, everything is all ages, and everything sounds amazing. A cluster of local bands that span genres come together, and it’s so exciting. This weekend’s PDX Pop Now! festival was the first time I’ve truly devoted my weekend to the whole shebang, and I figured I should document that in some way.


Full disclosure: I was tweeting and instagramming for Rip City Review, and I was a PPN! volunteer.



20130719_202730I arrived Friday after work in time for The We Shared Milk–a band I’ve always wanted to see but hadn’t yet. They’re alright, but Laura and I decided to retreat to Bunk Beach and take in the set from there. My first volunteer shift started at 9.

20130719_205415I was ushered to the Green Room where I ate a PB&J on really good Grand Central bread (all donated!). This was my first “real” food of the day. If anyone you are around is ever making copious amounts of PB&J thank them… it is very sticky.

20130719_210910My first shift was in the Media Tent… this was a fun job, and I wish I could have done it for longer than just one band. The only band left to check in for the night was Sons of Huns–so I waited dutifully with my pen and my red wrist bands for them to come.

Meanwhile, Youthbitch played! I didn’t get a photo of them, but I loved their set. They’ve been on my list of bands to see for quite some time. The Looney Tunes sound bites they used worked well with their noisy glam punk. Take a listen for yourself:

Finally, Sons of Huns checked out and I was free! Until 10:15 when I had to relieve a gate-keeping volunteer.

20130719_213019WL played me out of my volunteer shift at Media Tent.

20130719_221218PWRHAUS played next on stage one. They were okay–if nothing else, I was impressed with how much their singer looks like Brett Michaels. I’m a big fan of Dad-rock-alt-country, no matter how embarrassing that is.

20130719_221307More PWRHAUS. At this point, I was gatekeeping by the Taylor Street entrance, so I was pretty far from the stage. But, this post was better than Media Tent in the sense that you could see bands frontways instead of backways.

20130719_221755FINALLY the moment I’d been waiting for arrived… free Sizzle Pie in the green room.

20130719_223615And then my night got REALLY exciting. As gatekeeper, it was my job to make sure people weren’t bringing alcohol into the lot with them. Then these two (AKA my friends) got KICKED OUT for that exact reason. Tsk tsk.

20130719_225350Ramona Falls was up next–I’m not crazy about them, but they gave a good show. I would see them again.

20130719_233139I got transferred to another gate, and Christian showed up! We ate burritos and settled in for Wooden Indian Burial Ground. WIBG is a band that I’ve always made plans to see, but never followed through on. They were great!! Can’t wait to see them again.



Sons of Huns played Friday night out, and I headed home across the Hawthorne Bridge. Day one: definitely a success.




20130720_180234Saturday started out around 5 with Sizzle Pie, Minden, and Bunk Beach. Once again, my volunteer shift started at 9 so I had all day to hang out. I don’t really like Minden’s on-record stuff, but I was very impressed by their live show. They’re also pretty nice dudes! I saw them interacting with people around the fest.


20130720_183413Next up was Y La Bamba. I haven’t seen Y La Bamba since they played a first Thursday show in the Tender Loving Empire store in 2010… so to say the least, I was very excited. I was somewhat disappointed though. Luz Elena didn’t seem to be all there, and they didn’t play anything off Lupon. Even so, it was good to see them, and I hope they play around town more often.

20130720_185958My friend Gus also volunteered–here he is being a stage hand for Y La Bamba.


20130720_202300Between bands there was a lot of eating and drinking.


20130720_203713Here’s Gus posing in the green room. Before I relieved him from his shift, we danced to Portland Cello Project and he showed me the ins-and-outs for managing the food and drink for volunteers, board members, and bands.

20130720_203839Backstage view of Portland Cello Project. Once again, a band I’d never seen. I understand what the hype is about–they’re lots of fun… but their Justin Timberlake impression could use some work.


20130720_205859As my green room shift started, Woolen Men took the stage! I love these guys.

1374381157034The green room was stocked with SO MUCH of this carbonated Yerba Mate. This stuff is so good… I probably drank three cans on Saturday night. Green room is an easy job because you just restock food and pick up trash. I did have to make PB and Js though, and that was very sticky.


Eventually, Hausu went on. I love Hausu. I love their sound, and I love the lead singer’s hair. These guys might have played my favorite set of the day. Besides the next one.

20130720_224038I was so, so stoked to see Natasha Kmeto. She is blowing up quick, and she deserves it. She performed flawlessly, engaged, the crowd; everyone was going nuts for her. It was a beautiful way to end my volunteer shift.

20130720_232148Before I checked out of the green room, I snapped this photo of Luck One backstage. One thing I think PPN! was very successful with this year was making the festival diverse as far as genres go. Luck One was easy to listen to and very entertaining.

20130720_235337We went over to Bunk Bar to decompress. I took this photo when all these men were making fun of my Nike watch and calling me a cyborg.


20130721_171714Christian and I were planning on catching Gaytheist on Sunday, but by the time we walked over to the lot, I was so exhausted. Dehydration was setting in! So we took shelter in Bunk Bar until my volunteer shift started at 6.

We got back to the festival in time to catch Sun Angle. They sounded good, but they were being super annoying. At first, referring to themselves as other bands was cute, but it got old fast.

1374461212600My shift Sunday was working merch. Merch was a fun job, and I was glad to do it since I wasn’t feeling so well. Selling stuff is easy and fun. It just got rough when the wind started blowing things everywhere. We sold a bunch of stuff, and I helped bands back out their merch when they left.

The only downside of merch is that you can’t actually see the bands. But, I did get to hear them. I liked Litanic Mask a lot more than I thought I would, loved hearing Witch Mountain live for the first time, and danced a bit to The Memories despite what Laura and Christian thought of it (they really don’t like The Memories).

The last band I saw as I ate my final serving of free Sizzle Pie was Cassow, a rapper from NE Portland. He was very abrasive, and it sounded familiar, but I really liked it. You could tell he was putting his all into his performance, and I really respect that.

20130721_210453With that, we headed home. It was a great weekend at the festival. I can’t wait for next year!

I mean, can’t you tell?


If you aren’t familiar with PDX Pop Now! I suggest you educate yourself. They are a great non-profit in Portland making music accessible to people of all ages. And if you are looking for some new tunes, pick up the compilation. I bought a digital download and I love it so much!



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