musicfest, northwest!: day four

Ah, Saturday. One of two days of the week where work is thrown out the window, where the sunshine can be fully enjoyed, and where, at night, the whores come out. This Saturday was no different, as walking by various clubs can attest to; women in skirts so short they might as well be called shirts, men wearing cologne so powerful it is sure to be on the periodic table of elements soon. And crazy people babbling to themselves as though they were at a bar, when they are really on the corner of a busy intersection. This is a Saturday night in Portland, and it was part of our Saturday night, the final night of MFNW.

Our day started much like Friday started — we did not get into the Wonder Ballroom. We got to the venue around 4:30ish, and the line was already around three blocks. We we to have gotten in, we would’ve seen Ratatat and Les Savy Fav, two bands I barely listen to anyway, but are still somewhat important in the indie register (Les Savy Fav moreso). Either way, we knew we wouldn’t get in and didn’t want to sit around eating ice cream, so we left to head to the Crystal, where we would be spending the entirety of our night. Considering that the first band’s set started at eight, we knew we had some time to kill.

We ended up at Scooters, a bar right around the corner from the Crystal, where we sat and did nothing for a couple of hours. Well, Paul and Christina ate, and Missy drank one Corona and was drunk (I wish I could do that…). I didn’t drink anything; I figure since I’m broke, the last thing anyone wants to do is buy me alcohol, since it takes me forever to get drunk. It’s a waste of money on their part, I think.

So two hours passed and we went into the Crystal, hoping to get balcony seats (of which there are three rows, tightly packed — roughly fifty seats total). We did not get balcony seats. So we carved out a niche with a table and awaited our night of frivolity.

The first band to take the stage was Mimicking Birds, a three-piece fronted by Nate Lacy, who plays mellow guitar and mellow songs. It was an interesting opening to the night. They did not play one rocking song, and I was on the fence on whether or not that was a good idea. They don’t have a CD out, but they did give free CD-Rs at the merch table. I grabbed one — it’s pretty good. Definitely headphones music or music to wash dishes to, that sort of thing. The drummer was being kind of dickish in between songs, in that “I don’t want to play this kind of music” sort of way, which annoyed me, but it was fairly minor. In the end they had a good set which was marred a bit by the loudness of people at the Crystal (though they would be louder the drunker they got…). They are my friends on Myspace now, that’s all that matters.

Next was Blitzen Trapper, a kind of weird folky southern rock kind of band. They were pretty funny, but I wasn’t feeling their music that much. I own Wild Mountain Nation and it’s okay, though I don’t listen to it that much. They played a good set, though, loud and raucous, as it should be.

Then came Fleet Foxes! Fleeeeet Foxes! I must preface this by saying that on our way to Scooters, we passed Robin Pecknold, their lead singer, rolling an amp and carrying a guitar, and I was like, “Holy shit” under my breath but didn’t end up saying anything. I feel weird doing that to band members, even if I did say “Good show” to Sean from Langhorne Slim last night. That was partially because he was right next to me, moving his guitar. It’s cool to be so close to musicians I’ve been listening to for a while now.

Anyway, Fleet Foxes were excellent. Their harmonies were unsurpassed for the entire festival. No one sounded better than them, vocally. Period. And Robin was standing for the first time in a year, after sitting for countless shows because of an accident. What kind of accident, I’m not sure, but he was standing, and that was cool. They sounded fucking great. That’s all that needs to be known. They didn’t play “Ragged Wood”, which seems odd, but that’s okay, because everything was awesome.

After them was Menomena. I was a little worried about this show because I haven’t really gotten into them for a while. I Am the Fun Blame Monster was pretty good, but I don’t listen to Friend and Foe at all and it never grabbed me. Fortunately, though, Menomena puts on an awesome show, and their songs, generally loops or taken from loops on the album, are even better live. Plus I totally loved it when Justin played the baritone sax. It adds an awesome layer to everything. When the songs blew up or went crazy, it was amazing (especially in songs with the sax). I don’t know what else to say really, other than they made me want to listen to Friend and Foe again, cause I feel like I’m missing something.

At this point, by the way, is when people were drunk and being too loud. There was a throng of girls who were just babbling away the whole time, and Christina was cool enough to be like, “Are you guys gonna keep talking? Cause if you are, you should go to the back of the room.” They did end up leaving, though the Hot Menomena Girl left too. She knew all the words to the Menomena songs, and Paul said to me after their set, “That’s the hottest Menomena fan ever.” I agreed. And then she left.

You know what? I’m going to see if she checks Craigslist. Social Experiment #1 begins!

Okay, missed connections posted. We’ll see if she checks it.

Okay, anyhoo, last but certainly not least was The Helio Sequence, which was made up of a guy on guitar and a guy on drums. Paul called them “pretty” but I saw No Age once again, ready to blast us out with loudness and annoyance. Fortunately, this was not the case. The Helio Sequence truly mesmerized me. I was in awe of their performance. Every song was a perfect little piece of pop music, loud and brilliant. I hadn’t heard of them at all prior to last night, and I am truly glad I did hear them, because they are great. They use a lot of prerecorded electronic music in their songs, which actually mixed excellently with their instruments. At the end of the show they played “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” with the members of Menomena, which apparently was the first time they’ve ever played with a full band. Paul was very excited
to hear this, and Missy got most of it recorded. So, that was awesome.

Their set over, we quickly got out of the Crystal and onto the street, where we went to the car and headed home. Today I had one last lunch with Paul and Missy before Missy boarded the Amtrak for Tacoma. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to attend this festival without Missy and Paul’s help, and they are without a doubt the nicest people I’ve ever met from the internet. Oh, and I can’t forget Christina and her car, which was a godsend and allowed us to actually listen to every show and not worry about the lack of buses or MAX after 1am. I’m glad I got to know a lot of cool people in such a short amount of time.

Now, of course, reality sets in and I have “real world” stuff I have to go — get a job, start an awesome band, make lots of money, etc etc etc. So to Musicfest Northwest, I say: thank you for allowing me to spend my first full week in Portland as though it were a vacation. It was better than I could have ever imagined.

By Josh

I'm the guy who owns this site, ya dummy.

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