For the four years that I’ve lived in Portland, I’ve attended Musicfest NW. It’s always been a long weekend of thought-out adventure and time management that culminates in too little sleep, ear ringing, and general euphoria of seeing dozens of bands across town in venues as small as Bunk Bar to big blow outs in Pioneer Square.
This year, things were different.
I’ve been throwing shade at this year’s incarnation of MFNW for many reasons (“American Apparel stage” alone is making me gag). But why should I be a grumpy? Portland is truly blessed to have such an established and rowdy fest, and even stuck in one place without the cut-throat at-capacity competition, MFNW is bound to be unforgettable. Here are a few shows that I wouldn’t miss:
Modern Kin (Sunday, 2:20, American Apparel Stage)
Portland’s prodigal front man Drew Grow has put his all into every project he’s been a part of. It seems this city is finally throwing him a bone with his latest, Modern Kin. The band, made up of Grow, Kris Doty, and Jeremiah Hayden, have undeniable energy and are band that just seem to click. Their self-titled album is strong. Produced by Janet Weiss, it’s a force of electric guitar, stand up bass, and haunting lyrics.
Run The Jewels (Saturday, 6:25, Moda stage)
If you haven’t taken the time to appreciate this honest, no-holds-barred hip-hop duo, now is the time. El-P and Killer Mike deliver beats and lyrics that will stop you in your tracks but, at the same time, make you want to dance. It’s abrasive, it’s heavy at times, but it’s fun, and it’s real.
Tune-Yards (Sunday, 6:25, Moda stage)
Tune-Yards’ weirdo pop makes waves across musical circles for its innovation. 2011’s Whokill was a a revelation; an intoxicating take on drum loops, synth, and lyricism. Merril Garbus returned this past year with the much-anticipated follow up Nikki Nack, which doesn’t miss a beat. I’m sure Tune-Yards performance will be a stand-out at MFNW. If not only for the energy, for the spectacle.
Haim (Sunday, 7:25, American Apparel stage)
The premiere album “Days Are Gone” from this group of LA sisters was the earworm of 2013. But beyond their Urban Outfitters appeal and Normal Girl aesthetic, this group of women is seriously talented, and seriously loved (for good reason). Even if you aren’t a fan of their take on pop music, it’s hard to deny their spirit, energy, and depth of sound. Perhaps one of the buzziest bands to play at MFNW this year, or at least one of the “big names” amidst quirkier headliners, Haim is sure to pack a punch.
Honorable mentions: I have every confidence that Girl Talk will deliver the most fun out of all MFNW performances. You’d be a fool to miss Spoon, the critically acclaimed, tenured group who just released a new album. And, if you want to cry, don’t miss The Antlers. You might also consider RSVPing now to the slew of Red Bull Sound Select shows throwing down some local love this weekend (cheap!), and make your way to the Doc Martens store tonight for some Pain.
While MFNW might be different, and making changes is scary, the fest will fall into step and carve out a new place for itself in the Portland scene. Don’t let your bitterness outweigh your willingness to experience something new.
Summer ending is really bittersweet, as always. This summer has been a strange one for me, but probably one of the best summers I’ve ever had. It is only fitting that I say farewell to summer with a handful of kickass shows. Here it is, the Zibby-approved guide to September show-going & beyond:
Okay, so the 2012 Music Fest Northwest lineup was released last week, and my initial reaction was disappointment. However, since talking to some people are reading over the participating bands again and again, I’m feeling okay about it… after all, it isn’t my festival…
The headliners are lame and annoying for the most part: Silversun Pickups, Passion Pit and Beirut. I mean Beirut is cool because he has that same kinda hipster appeal as Bon Iver but y’know from like five years ago. Girl Talk will be there which I think is going to be really fun, despite my disagreeing with his headliner status–this is probably the only headlining show I’ll go to.
Besides that, there’s a bevy of smaller but still high profile band shows that will probably be awesome. Including: Dinosaur Jr (and J. Mascis is playing solo also? Weird, but should be rad), The Tallest Man on Earth which I know everyone is excited about (even though I really dislike his newest single, “1904”), the unexpected reunion (?) of Menemena, folk favorites Trampled by Turtles, Lightning Bolt (should be fun), Tanlines, These United States, the kind-of-annoying-because-people-won’t-shut-up-about-them but cute nonetheless Hey Marseilles, and super cute French ex-pat Tender Forever.
So not all bad, but here’s the thing I’m confused about: why so many bands I could see any old day?
There are a plethora of Portland bands tacked to the lineup (which trust me, I love, I love all these bands), bands that play in town on the regular and just seem to be used as filler by our beloved festival organizers. Bands like: And And And, AAN, Blouse, White Fang, Grandparents, Hosannas, Brainstorm, Mean Jeans, Radiation City, Typhoon, and Starfucker.
So yeah, plenty to see and take in. Plenty more that I haven’t mention but you can read the full lineup HERE. Really though, when it comes to things like this, decide for yourself what you want to see! Create your own music destiny! Get drunk and enjoy the shit you thought you’d hate! Make out with a band member! Explore all the venues in Portland!
It may suck to have to put up with Passion Pit fans, but at least they aren’t playing in Pioneer Square.
Wristbands are on sale now, its $125 for guaranteed entry at any venue and ONE of the three headlining shows (SSP, Girl Talk, Beirut) ; $75 for full-access to clubs but not guaranteed entry and ONE headlining show; $250 for full access to clubs and guaranteed entry at any venue and ALL THREE headlining shows.
Tickets may be bought separately for each individual show and range in price. All headlining shows are $32. Other ticket listings for venues can be found here. But just so you know, they are all pretty pricey–do they think I am really going to pay $15 to see Typhoon and &&&???????
Today I am recovering from a much too long weekend and not being stimulated mentally for five or six days. The good news is, there are tons of new albums out today, including King Tuff, Grass Widow, and Guantanamo Baywatch! So even though my brain feels mushy, my ears are happy.
Listen to this track: Goldilocks Zone by Grass Widow
I’m at work right now in a lull and thought I’d talk about an event coming up this week that is kind of exciting for the music, but mostly exciting for the news. Portland’s beloved Music Fest Northwest is gearing up for their 12th year in September, and they are going to announce to lineup (or most of it) this Wednesday at Holocene during the MFNW Kick-Off Party.
The party features Santa Barbara electro-poppers Gardens & Villa, Portland’s psychedelic Swahili, the slightly annoying but nonetheless listenable Battleme, and local experimental folk sweethearts Grandparents. So, lots to sit through before you get to the good stuff, the meat, the juice–the festival line up that has me sweating with anticipation.
I’ll probably blog about it Thursday, but if you can’t wait that long, get your butt over to Holocene tomorrow. The bands might be cool, but being one of the first sets of ears to hear our city’s glorious musical fate is fucking awesome.
Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 8:30 p.m., $8-10