Want to know a quick and guaranteed way to feel old? Try to survive 4 nights of Musicfest NW. Here's what I have come to realize, I have no idea how musicians go on tour. I felt exhausted after 4 nights of watching an average of 4 to 7 hours of music each night. How do they put on a show each night? I guess the drugs help.
Sunday consisted mostly of sleeping, relaxing, movies, and cooking dinner for friends (zucchini risotto, yum!) I have now recovered enough to tell you about the shows.
Wednesday 9/3 @ Berbati's Pan
The 1900s were first. The Portland Mercury summed them up pretty well as, "unironically cheerful and fully energized, with frighteningly catchy melodies." One of those bands with at least 7 people including a violinst, a cowbell-ist, and 3 singers, 2 of which had tambourines. Very fun and a great way to start off the fest.
Norfolk & Western One of many local bands that we planned to see. They were a smaller group than normal but still great. And the bass player further cemented my theory that all bass players are hot. I had to work at 7am the next day so I had to miss Langhorne Slim and The Old 97s (Rhett, don't hate me).
Thursday 9/4 @ The Crystal Ballroom
Eskimo and Sons They were a surprise last minute addtion, not even mentioned on my schedule. And what a nice surprise they were. I had never heard of them. I chalk that up to the 2 years I didn't live in Portland. And that's my loss since this was their second to last show.
Calvin Johnson I had never heard of him either but a quick Wikipedia search showed me that I am stupid. He's worked with so many amazing musicians like Modest Mouse, Beck, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I may not have really liked his set but I sure do like his work as a producer.
M. Ward This guy is all over the place, he's worked with pretty much everyone. And guess who was on drums, Rachel Blumberg from Norfolk & Western and formerly of The Decemberists. And his guitarist, Mike Coykendall, is the same guy I saw at SXSW who still looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman. M. Ward was the perfect end to the night. He played with his band, solo, and in duet. His voice sounds like a less-cigarette-gruff-Tom Waits. And he totally won me over when he played Paul's Song.
Friday 9/5 @ The Wonder Ballroom and the Crystal Ballroom
This is the day that almost did me in. I had already been to shows for 2 nights, gotten up early for work, and now I was in line at 4:15 to get into the Wonder Ballroom. Around 5pm I realized I would still be at a show at midnight. Thank heavens for comfortable shoes and earplugs!
Britt Daniel The short version: This was the highlight of MFNW for me. The longer version: I love Spoon, I liked Britt Daniel's solo stuff too. And he brought out Janet Weiss to play drums. He was adorable and personable. He restarted one song when he realized he needed to run through his chords one more time. And at the end of another song, he looked down a bit and when he stood back up, he bumped his head on the mic. I'm not sure why these little mistakes were my favorite parts but they were, he seemed so at ease and just there to put on a great show. And in case that wasn't enough, he said, "I've lived in Portland for 3 years now, I love it, it still seems magical to me." I've lived here for a total of 8 years and it still feels that way to me too.
Built to Spill They were performing their 1997 album, Perfect from Now On. I only got to hear about 5 songs because I had to leave early to meet up with Lizzy for the rest of the night. But Built to Spill holds a special place in my heart, not just because they are Built to Spill but because their drummer was also in The Spinanes, the first band I ever reviewed in a college paper.
Lackthereof Eh. Had never heard them before, had heard Menomena, a side project of the main guy. Didn't love it, didn't want to rip my ears off.
John Vanderslice Meh. Had heard him before and had already deleted all his stuff from my iTunes. Not horrific, I just don't like it.
Vampire Weekend Finally, the reason the night was sold out! They were on the schedule for 90 minutes and I was kind of concerned, do they even have that many songs? They only did one encore, Walcott, and said it was the only song of theirs they hadn't played, that's about what I thought. I might have felt old and tired earlier but this transported me back to my college days, in my plaid skirt and Docs, listening to The Special Beat at the Armory. Delightful!
Saturday 9/6 @ The Crystal Ballroom
Mimicking Birds We had bought wristbands and were so excited at the start of MFNW. But by the last night we were tempted to order in pizza and watch a movie. This mellow band was just what I needed, I didn't even wear my earplugs. Go see them if you get the chance.
Blitzen Trapper I saw them at SXSW and they didn't sound at all like their songs that I know and love. But this time they did and I loved it. I'm from the South, these guys remind me of so much great southern rock. Love the harmonizing.
Fleet Foxes And speaking of harmonizing, this band is the king! What beautiful voices and guitars. I liked them enough to listen to them before the show, during their show (duh) and a bit when I got home. And we got home early since we decided we had tipped the scales in favor of getting our money's worth and skipped Menomena and The Helio Sequence.
When I Say Go (mp3) - The 1900s
We Were All Saints (mp3) - Norfolk & Western
The Blizzard (mp3) - Eskimo & Sons
Paul's Song (mp3) - M. Ward
Writing to You in Reverse (mp3) - Britt Daniel/Spoon
I Would Hurt a Fly (mp3) - Built to Spill
Oxford Comma (mp3) - Vampire Weekend
Remnants and Pictures (mp3) - Mimicking Birds
Country Caravan (mp3) - Blitzen Trapper
Mykonos (mp3) - Fleet Foxes