Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #3

Hi everybody! I am happy to announce that the third episode of I Hear a New World is available for download at:

http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/

Just click on the link above and hit play on the latest episode, or download it to your hard drive to listen to it at a later time. Please make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you know when a new episode has been posted. You can subscribe by clicking on "RSS Feed" or "Archive Feed" under the section "Subscribe to This Podcast".

For some reason, the embedded podcast is cut off, so you are only able to listen to the last two podcasts on Eclectic Grooves. Basically, the embedded podcast widget from Podomatic does not show the entire widget. The arrow button functionality is missing which prevents you from selecting the podcast you want to listen to beyond the last two episodes. If any of you know anything about HTML, embedded widgets and the limitations of certain templates, maybe you could shed some light on these topics in the comments.

This week's episode showcases the talented musicians who have worked at Music Millennium during the past seven years. I have witnessed their talent emerge over the years, while being there to support them in the early stages of their career. Many of them have made strides in the past couple years that seemed implausible at the time, but perseverance and dedication to their craft helped make their dreams a reality. While none of them are popular by today's standards, that is not the point. They have stood behind what they believed in and never once ran away from their dreams. This episode is dedicated to those musicians who have touched my heart and soul in a profound way.

I Hear a New World- Podcast #3- Music Millennium Showcase

Baptist Arms- Baltimore (Live)- 4:16
John Murphy- Burn It Down- 2:41
Kentucky Snakehandlers- Tarnished and Tainted- 4:05
Cicada Omega- The Boogie- 4:08
Bill Rhoades and the Party Kings- Don't You Lie to Me- 4:34
Scuffle and Dustcough- Jakarta Jazz- 4:10
Vanishing Kids- Rest the Glove- 3:44
LKN- Sarah, I Adore You- 10:39
Super Unity- The Day Kelvin Cried- 4:33
Eternal Tapestry- Mystic Induction- 4:03

Your feedback is encouraged and appreciated!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Hear a New World- Podcast #2

Hi everyone! I just wanted to make a short post about my latest podcast that is available to download from Podomatic. This week's episode is meant to be listened to as a companion to my last three posts on Musicfest NW, as it features music interspersed with commentary about the bands I checked out. You can listen to it online by clicking on the play button next to the podcast on the top right of the page. You can also download the podcast by going to this page:

http://ihearanewworld.podomatic.com/

After you have listened to it, please let me know what you think. If you dig what you are hearing, please tell your friends to visit my page and download the podcast. Your feedback about the show and any suggestions you have will be considered in future podcasts. I am also taking suggestions for themes to explore as well as song requests. I am really having a great time compiling the songs and researching the stories behind the songs. One of my lifetime aspirations has been to work as a radio disc jockey, so this is the next best thing to that. The podcast could become a weekly thing, but I might not be able to keep up with that pace. I hope you enjoy it!

Here is the tracklist for this week's podcast:

Podcast #2-I Hear a New World- Musicfest NW 2008

No Age- Teen Creeps- 3:26
Unwound- Accidents on Purpose- 1:56
M. Ward- Let's Dance- 5:00
Deltron 3030- Virus- 4:28
Deerhunter- Flourescent Grey- 5:03
Steel Pole Bath Tub- 500 Club- 5:00
Eat Skull- Waiting for the Hesitation- 3:05
Alela Diane- Tatted Lace- 4:11
Rupa and the April Fishes- Poder- 3:38
The Strange Boys- Thinking of a Name- 2:15
The Joggers- Same to You- 4:38
Trans Am- Idea Machine- 1:55
Polvo- Thermal Treasure- 4:34
Flipper- Life Is Cheap- 3:55

Monday, September 22, 2008

Musicfest NW 2008 Recap- Saturday

September 6, 2008- Saturday


The Strange Boys- Satyricon- 8:00 p.m.














I hadn't heard of The Strange Boys before listening to their songs on Myspace a couple days before Musicfest 2008. I was so impressed with their brand of lo-fi garage tunes that I decided to check them out at the Satyricon on Saturday evening. It seemed to be the best bet for catching the band in all its retro-garage glory. I arrived about ten minutes before they were set to come on, and I think they started the show a little early to appease the eager crowd. My initial reaction was: "Damn, these kids weren't even thought of when I was born". But damn if they couldn't emulate the classic 60's garage rock like it's nobody's business.

Their stage show wasn't very exciting and they didn't have much of a stage presence, but the music packed a powerful punch and got the crowd moving. It featured mainly short bursts of adrenaline-fueled garage rock mixed with slow tunes that showcased the lead singer's bratty vocals. I would definitely check these guys out the next time they come to Portland.


Crystal Antlers- Satyricon- 9:00 p.m.

I decided to try to get in to the Blitzen Trapper show at the Crystal Ballroom, but there was no chance of that with the recent hype of the Fleet Foxes. Since the line was wrapped completely around the corner of the Crystal, I decided to head back to the Satyricon to catch Crystal Antlers. They are another band that has been receiving a lot of hype through the internet media such as Pitchfork and Prefix. The songs I previewed on their Myspace were not amazing, but I decided that they were at least worth checking out. Besides, they are on Touch and Go, the same label that was responsible for releasing great records by Shellac, Jesus Lizard and Don Caballero.

Crystal Antlers stage performance was impressive, but the sound at the Satyricon drowned out the vocals most of the time. Lead singer, Johnny Bell's histrionic screams aim right for the jugular, while the rest of the band has obviously been studying up on Comets on Fire's back catalog. Overall, the band's set was an uninspired mishmash of psychedelic and classic rock styles that never seemed to go anywhere. It was not only influenced by Comets on Fire, it was a direct rip-off of their amps-pushed-to-the-max, psychedelic noise rock. Needless to say, I was less than impressed with these guys. Now, it's on to Berbati's to check out The Joggers.


The Joggers- Berbati's Pan- 10:00 p.m.


















I was really into the first The Jogger's record Solid Guild when it came out on Startime International in 2003. At the time I was working at Music Millennium and one of the people who worked there was friends with them and she told me to check out their record. I gave it some spins over the store speakers and it sounded like angular indie rock with chiming guitars and majestic four-part harmonies.

I was sold on the band, but I never got into their next record With a Cape and A Cane. It seemed like it was trying to be more aggressive, but it lacked the vocal harmonies that made the first record such a rich listening experience. Nevertheless, I was still interested in checking them out live, and this was my first opportunity. The band took the stage and broke into an energetic set filled with spirited sing-alongs and uptempo-raveups that inspired the crowd to jump up and down.

They played a few that I recognized from Solid Guild, but the set leaned mostly towards material from With a Cape and a Cane. Overall, I felt that they put on a exciting live show, but the sound left a little bit to be desired. It was overloaded and the vocals were washed out, which is an integral part to the sound of The Joggers. Aside from that, I just wish they had played more songs from the first record, especially "Same to You" and "Back to the Future". I will definitely keep my eye out for them when they play somewhere other than Berbati's. Can you tell that I hate this venue with a passion?


Trans Am- Berbati's- 11:00 p.m.
















I ended up sticking it out at Berbati's, since the place was filling up fast and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see Polvo. I have a couple of Trans Am albums, but I haven't really listened to them that often. I recall liking their 2004 record Liberation, but aside from being slightly familiar with that one, I was kind of a novice when it came to Trans Am. They clearly had a strong following as the floor of Berbati's filled up in anticipation for their show.

From the opening chords, I could tell that they were a group of talented musicians who dabbled in everything from metal to synth-pop; electronic to dance. Some of the songs stretched out over ten minutes and others were quick bursts of fury. One of the songs was called "Eating", and ironically enough the synth player/vocalist ate an entire tenderloin on stage while playing the song. I was waiting for him to regurgitate the food right after he digested it. It was truly a sight to behold. Overall, even though I wasn't entirely into their schtick, they sounded great and knew how to work a crowd.


Polvo- Berbati's- 12:00 a.m.















My feet were a little worse for the wear, since I had been standing on a hard concrete floor for the past two hours. Polvo couldn't come on any sooner, as I was eager to play air guitar to their complex math-rock masterpieces from Today's Active Lifestyles and Exploded Drawing. I couldn't wait to hear songs like "Thermal Treasure", "Lazy Comet" and "Fast Canoe" finally come to life in a live setting.

Once they took the stage, I was so excited that I could hardly stand it. The adrenaline was pumping and my heart was beating so hard that I can barely recall what songs they played. One of the highlights for me was when they launched into a spirited cover of Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio". From this point on, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. I remember people shouting out things for them to play, and this dude told them "Play whatever you want to play". Ash said thanks and shyly smiled, showing his appreciation to the guy for his comment.

I'm pretty sure they played "Thermal Treasure", "My Kimono", "Sure Shot", "Stinger" and "Tilebreaker from Today's Active Lifestyles as well as "Fast Canoe" and assorted others from Exploded Drawing and Eclipse. I would give anything for a recording of this show and a set list of what was played. At this point, I was so tired and fulfilled that I thought about heading home. But I wanted to check out the end of Flipper's set, so I hit my next destination right around the corner.


Flipper- Ash Street Saloon- 1:00 a.m
















By the time I reached the Ash Street, it was about 1:35, so I was able to catch the last half-hour of their set. I was bound and determined to see Flipper, considering that Nirvana's very own bassist, Chris Novoselic was now a member of the touring band. Ever since I read this amazing book on unheard music called The Secret History Of Rock by Roni Sarig, Flipper's music has been a curiosity that I wanted to unlock. When I first heard Generic Flipper in 1998, I wasn't too sure what to make of it. It was championed by artists that I respected like Lou Barlow of Sebadoh and Novoselic himself who said "I listened to Generic Flipper and it was a revelation. It was art." Coming from someone like Novoselic, I didn't take this comment lightly. It turned out that it just wasn't the right time for me to appreciate the sound of Flipper yet.

When I got there, the front man for Flipper was shirtless and sweating so profusely that he requested a new towel to wipe the sweat from his body. Novoselic was standing stoically, barely moving his body at all, while lead singer, Bruce Lose, flailed about like a mental patient receiving shock treatment. I was completely enthralled with the stage show, as the wall-of-sound sludge vibrated through my body. I stayed for the entire show, despite being incredibly tired, because this was a performance for the ages. Flipper are alive and well in 2008, so make sure you check them out when they come to your town.

Sorry it took me so long to get these reviews up, but I hope you guys can still get something useful out of them. The only show that I have on my radar at this point is Deerhoof's October 6th show at the Wonder Ballroom. Besides that, be on the lookout for a new podcast featuring the music that I saw at Musicfest NW 2008. I should have that up here soon as it would be a good companion to this concert journal. Think of it as a play-by play of my sojourns throughout the weekend.

Let me know what you guys thought of the shows if you went to Musicfest. If you didn't get a chance to go to Musicfest, what do you think of the bands that I have profiled in this series?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Musicfest NW 2008 Recap-Friday

Before I recount the details of Musicfest from Friday evening, I wanted to let you know that I finally created a podcast on podomatic.com. Thanks to those of you who have already subscribed to it, and for those of you who haven't- What are you waiting for? I have it featured just below the "About Me" section on my blog. You can listen online by clicking the play button or click on "Visit this podcast" and it will take you to a page where you can subscribe to the podcast. This is a convenient way to keep up on when the podcast has been updated.

It is my first official foray in podcasting- a mix featuring my commentary and insights about the artists featured on the program. Here is a description of the first episode taken from my podcast page which can be found here. Please support my cause by subscribing to the podcast and offering constructive feedback about the show. If you have any questions, please let me know.

This episode was directly inspired by the Sonic Youth biography Goodbye 20th Century. It contains music from bands that Sonic Youth was influenced by, friends of the band and bands that were undoubtedly influenced by Sonic Youth. Then, I close the set out with several songs that seem to fit the eclectic format of the show. Besides Sonic Youth, this episode features Nick Cave, Captain Beefheart, P.I.L., John Coltrane, etc. For those of you searching for something a little left of the dial, this show will be right up your alley.

September 5, 2008- Friday

Built to Spill-Wonder Ballroom- 6:00- 8:00




















My plans changed since I was recovering from a late night out on Thursday. So, instead of getting to the Wonder Ballroom early to catch Britt Daniel, I got there around 6:00 to see Built to Spill's "Perfect From Now On" performance. I just didn't have the energy to start my day off at 3:00, because I needed to reserve my energy for the jam-packed night of shows I had planned. My plan was ill fated at best since there was no parking by the time I got to the Wonder Ballroom. I searched around for about 15 minutes until I found a spot about 8 blocks away from the venue. I gathered my water, slammed the door to the car and dashed off to the show with a quickness. But, as I got my place in line, the concert organizer told me that the show was at capacity and they weren't letting anyone else in. My hopes were dashed and I felt like the air was let out of my tires. Finally, I reasoned that I had seen BTS several times before, and that it just wasn't in the cards this time. Also, I took my chances in getting there late, despite my own advice urging people to arrive at the venues well in advance of the starting time. Oh well, I guess you live and learn. By the way, this photo came from the OPB Music site.

Now, I found myself with a wealth of time to waste and nowhere to go except Rontoms. They were the only venue featuring bands at this time, so I headed over to 6th and East Burnside for the Bladen County Records showcase. I saw the tail end of The Skinnyz' set and the whole sets from Invisible Rockets and Little Pieces. While there was little to rave about amongst these three bands, I did learn that Little Pieces was the latest project from ex-Sunset Valley front man Herman Jolly. Sunset Valley was an indie rock/power-pop outfit from Portland that released a couple records and then quickly vanished from the scene. Another notable thing worth mentioning is that I think Britt Daniel, the front man for Spoon, was standing right in front of me during this performance. Apparently Britt had heard enough of Built to Spill's performance at the Wonder Ballroom to garner leaving the show to check out Little Pieces. It wasn't too exciting to my ears, but to each his own.

Rapids & TK Webb & The Visions- 8:00- 8:45

By the time I got across the Burnside Bridge, I started searching for a parking place that was somewhere between the venues I planned on checking out. It turned out that the closest place I could find was on Park and Glisan, so I parked and headed towards Dantes to check out Rapids. This was one of the bands that I decided to check out based on the description in the Willamette's Musicfest NW Guide. They likened the band to the tuneful, heavy rock sound of Husker Du and the stop-on the-dime dynamic noise of avant popsters Deerhoof. With these two bands being favorites of mine, I thought I would give Rapids a listen. No offense, but the Willamette's description couldn't have been more misleading. I heard nothing that even closely resembled the sound of Deerhoof and the Husker Du description was only accurate if you are going by the level of volume at the show. I gave them two songs, and then decided to take my chances with TK Webb & the Visions at Ash Street Saloon. Willamette said that TK Webb sounded like "White Stripes with John Bonham sitting in for Meg". Because of this description, I was prepared to see a better version of the White Stripes, but what I got was a muddled mess of sound that sounded like your standard bar-band rock.

Eat Skull- Satyricon- 9:00













So far, this has been a very uneventful night of music, but I have been excited to see Portland's Eat Skull ever since I laid ears on their debut record Sick to Death on Siltbreeze. Eat Skull features not only two former members of the noise band The Hospitals, but the manager of Exiled Records, Scott Simmons, on bass. When I first heard this noise-damaged assault on the ears, I thought to myself, this is what Guided By Voices would have sounded like if they listened to more garage rock than classic rock.

Since most of the band's songs are under two minutes, they could essentially play their entire album and still be well under the slotted time given to acts at MFNW. What transpired was one of the grittiest, compact sets of lo-fi garage psychedelia that I have ever witnessed. I believe they played close to ten songs in an intoxicating, sweat-drenched twenty minute set. An unbelievable feat in today's climate of bands focusing on extended improvisational freakouts such as Yellow Swans, Cexfucx and Comets on Fire.

There was some idiot who bought an order of fries and then proceeded to throw them at the band. He was no doubt used to seeing bands that are much more professional sounding, but why the hell would you come to Satyricon if you were looking for that type of show. The lead singer was obviously pissed about the kid's antics, so he proceeded to throw the fries back at the kid shouting "F--k you fry guy, Why don't you go back to high school". The rest of the band played on as he fervently tossed fries out into the crowd. Hey, this is what rock music is all about, right?

I heard a rumor that even MTV was taking notice of Eat Skull. Maybe we'll see a live video of the band hurling french fries into an unsuspecting crowd in between re-runs of the Real World Season 23. One thing I know is that I will definitely keep my eye out for their next live show after their current tour wraps up. If you like noise-strangled lo-fi garage rock, then you should do the same.

Trio Subtonic- Jimmy Mak's- 10:00

After hearing the songs on Trio Subtonic's Myspace page, I was mildly interested in seeing them play live. Since the Eat Skull show was over in twenty minutes, I ended up waiting quite awhile for the three-piece jazz-funk trio to take the stage. While I waited, I ordered a Heineken and chilled out in the back of the bar. I knew the Cubs were playing the Reds, but since they weren't playing very well at the time, I was nervous about checking the score. As my evening was not going as planned, I felt susceptible to falling into a dark hole, and after I read the score across the screen- Cincinatti-10 Cubs-2, I really felt depressed.

Since DJ Santo went over the time slotted for his set, Trio Subtonic came on about fifteen minutes later than the scheduled time. At this point, my patience was running out. As the band took the stage they started to play a type of generic jazz-funk that didn't do anything for me except induce sleepiness. I endured their set for three songs, as I waited for something magical to happen, but to no avail. I decided to go for the surefire crowd-pleaser Alela Diane, since I had seen Old Time Relijun several times before and was looking for something to lift my spirits.

Alela Diane- Berbati's- 11:00














I wasn't completely sure that seeing Alela Diane at Berbati's was the right choice, but what did I have to lose. I had seen Alela a couple years back at the first Helleluwah Festival, and was instantly taken by her amazing voice and stage presence. She was a resident of Portland for most of 2006, but she left the environs of Portland for Nevada City in the middle of 2007. Since she hadn't played in Portland for awhile, this was a can't-miss show.

Unfortunately, the crowds at Berbati's are known for their incessant yammering during shows, which is especially annoying when the musician on stage is of the acoustic variety. I found that Alela maintained her composure and kept her cool, despite the distracting buzz emanating from the crowd during her set. It was clear to me, however, that a good percentage of the crowd was leaning on her every word. It doesn't hurt that she has a set of pipes that could raise the spirits of the darkest soul.

At one point in the show, she played this song called "Tatted Lace", which is the type of song that sends chills up my spine and brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I'm not kidding you! There was a part at the end of the song where she reached back into the depths of her soul and delivered a heartfelt yodel that would make even the most emotionally guarded person well up in tears. Seeing Alela Diane was one of the highlights of this year's Musicfest for me, and I will be keeping my eye out for her next performance in Portland. Since I didn't have access to a camera, I borrowed this image from the great folks over at OPB Music.

Rupa & the April Fishes- Jimmy Mak's- 12:00















I would have loved to see Alela play a longer set, primarily because when I reached Jimmy Mak's at 11:45, the previous band was still playing their set. They were a dance-party funk band made up of freshly-scrubbed college students from Seattle called Velella Velella. After coming from such a mellow show, I wasn't prepared to be assaulted by the deep pulsations of their generic disco-tinged funk. I just kept wondering when is their set going to be over. I seemed to be in the minority though, because almost everyone was dancing to the music.

I didn't look at the clock, but it was probably about 12:20 when San Francisco's Rupa & the April Fishes took the stage. Willamette Week described them as the real thing when it comes to Gypsy music, but I think the real thing is more like Taraf De'Haiduks or Fanfare Ciocarlia. Call me a purist, but a six-piece band with one member raised partially in India, doesn't qualify as the "real thing".

This was the perfect way to wrap up my Friday evening at Musicfest. I wasn't completely sure that this was going to be up my alley from the first song, but the next song's undulating rhythms and handclaps transported me to a remote village in Eastern Europe. Throughout their set, the lead singer, Rupa, explained the origin of the songs to the audience so that we were more in tune to the emotions behind the songs. There is no denying the power and the beauty of this music. It reminds me of Lhasa mixed with the rapid-fire marching band rhythms of Fanfare Ciocarlia. If you have listened to bands like Beirut, Gogol Bordello and Devotchka, and you want something with a little more authenticity, then this is your best bet. This concludes my adventures from Musicfest on Friday night. Please stay tuned for the final episode in this series.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Musicfest NW 2008 Recap- Thursday




















I know that I said I would have this up on Sunday, but I have been too wiped out to even think about posting anything. I don't know if I'll be able to post these reviews of Musicfest in consecutive days, but I'll do my best.

September 4, 2008- Thursday

No Age/Battles- Wonder Ballroom- 5:30- 7:30 p.m.

No Age has been receiving a lot of buzz on the internet lately, especially receiving accolades from the "tastemakers" at Pitchfork and blogs such as Gorilla Vs. Bear and Anacusic. I downloaded their latest record Nouns from Anacusic, and my initial feeling was that it was yet another example of the media overhyping some "next best thing" that wasn't worth the attention. To my ears, it sounded like noisy garage punk with a penchant for catchy melodies. It wasn't groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, but I couldn't help feeling curious about what they could bring into a live setting.

I arrived at the Wonder Ballroom around 3:30, expecting the line to be wrapped around the block like last year's free shows at Audio Cinema. However, I was surprised to see that there were only about twenty devoted fans standing in line to see the show. After talking to people in the line about which band they were excited to see, I started to get restless. The doors were set to open at 4:30, and it was already past that time. They ended up opening the doors a half hour past the scheduled time, which meant that my schedule for the evening would undoubtedy be thrown off.

No Age finally took the stage about thirty minutes past the scheduled time, and my dogs were already barking from standing so long. When the band finally came out on the stage, the crowd greeted them enthusiastically with an eruption of applause. This two-piece from L.A. didn't waste any time whipping the crowd into a frenzy with their special blend of fuzzed-out punk anthems. I was especially impressed with the mosh-pit that formed in the middle of the show. In fact, this is one of the few times that I can remember seeing a mosh-pit break out in Portland. Their set was a sparkling mix of adrenaline-fueled garage punk and buzzing ambient instrumentals that demonstrated a strong sense of the quiet to loud dynamics that bands like Nirvana and the Pixies employed in their music. No Age is truly a band to keep your eye on!

Battles are another one of those bands that have been receiving positive reviews across the board by everyone from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone. I was a little more skeptical of them, but willing to give them a try. In between sets, there was another long wait that made me feel restless. Finally, the bass player came out and played a complex bassline to introduce the first song of the evening. One by one, the band shuffled onto the stage and the sounds started to blend together, at last forming a song by the time the drummer started agressively pounding the skins. Certain members began playing keyboard and guitar simultaneously, while the drummer lashed out complex polyrhythms that would make any math-rock fan proud.

During the first couple songs, I was amazed at how every member was sweating so profusely during the performance that their shirts needed to be wrung out. They appeared to be giving it their all, but something was missing. Soon, it became abundantly clear to me that this band was all flash and showmanship. The songs began to veer towards electronic dance music with a four-on-the floor house beat and heavily processed vocals. While there are flashes of brilliance in the sound of Battles, they are too few and far between to make Battles anything more than a flash in the pan.

Hungry Ghost- Doug Fir Lounge- 9:00 p.m

Since the Battles show started later than expected, I decided to skip the Silver Summit show at 8:00. Instead, I went to the Doug Fir Lounge to grab a bite to eat and check out the new project from Unwound's Sara Lund. It took me a while to digest the hamburger and salad that I ordered at the Doug Fir Lounge, so when I finally headed downstairs, Hungry Ghost had already begun their set. I was mainly interested in checking these guys out because Sara was the drummer for Unwound, the amazing angular math rock group from Olympia who disbanded several years ago. Also, while visiting Hungry Ghost's Myspace page, it listed Jef Brown from Evolutionary Jass Band as a guest musician in the band.

Initially, I felt that the music was kind of boring, even though Sara and the lead singer/guitarist had a great stage presence. I would describe their sound as garage blues with driving rhythms that make you want to get up and shake your butt. Sara still hits the skins with enthusiasm, but at first I was put off by the frontman's on-stage demeanor. His intense slide guitar playing was very impressive, though, and it made me forget about my initial feelings about him. Overall, I enjoyed the performance, and I would probably check them out again.

M. Ward- Crystal Ballroom- 10:00 p.m.

Recently, M. Ward left Portland for greener pastures, and his popularity has been steadily increasing since his high profile recording project with the actress Zooey Deschanel, She and Him. It turned out that I had no problem getting into the show, and I eagerly charged up the stairs to see if I could catch the tail end of Calvin Johnson's set. Unfortunately, Calvin's set had already ended, but I was definitely excited to see M. Ward perform at the Crystal Ballroom.

It took forever and a day for M. Ward to come out, and I was surprised to see that he had a complete five-piece band backing him up. I figured that I wouldn't need earplugs for this show, but it was so loud during the first four songs of the set that I decided to be break out the earplugs after all. Ironically enough, the song ended as soon as I put my earplugs in, and Ward started to play a mesmerizing solo acoustic set. With a voice that is equal parts whiskey and honey, M. Ward performed mellow songs about the unrequited love, despair and hopelessness that populates his characters' lives. His voice and gentle guitar strumming started to make me feel sleepy, but I stuck around in hopes that he would play his rendition of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" from Transfiguration of Vincent. I waited for a couple more songs, but I wanted to make sure that I caught some of Del the Funky Homosapien's set, so I left before Ward's set was over.

Del the Funky Homosapien- Roseland-11:00 p.m.

Most hip-hop acts play at the Roseland for some reason. I can't really figure it out for the life of me, but that's the way it is. Del was set to come on at 11:00, and I got there just in time to get through the Roseland's invasive metal detectors and race upstairs to catch the beginning of the performance. When I got upstairs, the venue was packed and the smell of ganja was in the air. Someone was onstage with a bright red Barack Obama shirt, but I didn't thnik that it was Del. I never remembered Del having dreadlocks, and this cat had dreadlocks. He was a member of the Hieroglyphics crew that was supporting Del this evening, and he was pretty much there to get the crowd pumped up for Del's performance.

Del came out a few minutes later, sporting an army fatigue hat and shades, ready to rock this capacity crowd. To my knowledge he played a bunch of material off his new record with a couple joints from his Deltron 3030 record and a couple old-school jams from the I Wish My Brother George Was Here album. For a hip-hop show, it sounded great and he had an engaging personality that was able to work the crowd. While the usual call and response refrains were in full effect and the rapping was dope, it wasn't amazing enough to make me stick around for the entire show. I was off to catch Deerhunter at the Holocene at 12:00. With it being 11:45 already, I really needed to get rolling.

Deerhunter- Holocene- 12:00 p.m.

Last year, I missed the first twenty minutes of Deerhunter's performance at Audio Cinema due to heavy traffic. This year I was determined to get there in time. However, since the Holocene's capacity is roughly 400 people, it was at capacity by the time I reached the venue. I ran into a friend of mine who works at the Willamette Week, and he had special passes that allowed him to walk right in without waiting. After waiting for about twenty minutes, I was allowed entry into the venue. It was so jam-packed that people were watching from another room, right in front of the doors to the concert room. I eventually made my way through as people who were tired of being packed in like sardines began to leave. I wanted to get a decent vantage point of the stage, so I aggresively moved through the crowd. One thing I noticed is that they seem to have added a new female guitarist into the fold. She pretty much kept to herself with little stage presence, but definitely added to Deerhunter's wall of sound dynamics.

It seemed to me that the band previewed a lot of new material from their yet to be released album Microcastles, but I did recognize a few songs from Cryptograms such as "Strange Lights" and "Spring Hall Convert". The sound was vibrating and shaking the foundation of the Holocene as torrential waves of sound washed over the audience. It was probably what it would sound like if you were at a My Bloody Valentine show. Unfortunately, I have yet to find out what that experience feels like for myself. Seeing a Deerhunter show is undoubtedly a close second to that experience. The more I listened, the more I was enraptured by the sound. I wanted to catch a little bit of Steel Pole Bath Tub's set, but I didn't want to leave until the final notes of feedback-saturated guitars turned to complete silence.

It was one of the most mind-blowing shows I've ever seen, and their aren't too many current bands that deserve this kind of praise. Since the show, I have been obsessed with listening to everything they have released so far, as well as Bradford Cox's other project Atlas Sound. Also for those of you who are into Deerhunter, make sure you check out the band's blog. It features mix-tapes that the band members compiled themself, unreleased demos, live stuff, virtual 7"s, etc. It's a treasure trove of information and music about the band.

Steel Pole Bath Tub-Doug Fir Lounge- 1:00 a.m.

I reached the Doug Fir after the Deerhunter set ended at 1:30 a.m., so I caught the tail end of Steel Pole Bath Tub's set. Since they were pre-grunge arbiters of angular distorted rock, I felt like I at least needed to check them out for a bit. They sounded a little more metal than I was expecting and the lead singer had a vocal affectation for Ozzy Osbourne that was hard to shake. Besides the metal influences, I heard a mix of industrial, sludge and experimental noise in the remaining songs from their set. Overall, I would say that I wasn't really into Steel Pole Bath Tub, but I'm glad that I at least gave them a chance. I stayed through the first song of the encore, but I knew it had to be getting late and my legs felt tired and numb. So, I ventured home, feeling a mix of excitement and exhaustion that comes from experiencing a full night of music at Musicfest 2008. I will be back with the reports on the next two days of Musicfest soon.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Musicfest NW 2008





















Hello everyone! I finally had to break down and buy a wristband for this year's Musicfest NW. It was a hard decision, but having the opportunity to check out a lot of great bands won out in the end. For those of you who are wondering what shows I'll be checking out, please see my planned out schedule below. Come on! You know you want to see the man behind Eclectic Grooves!
I plan on featuring a full story on my experience at this year's Musicfest, that will probably take place after the festival ends on Saturday. I wanted to feature this coverage last year, but I couldn't find the time or energy to make it happen. So, let's cross our fingers.

I tentatively planned to check out the Scottish instrumental rock band Mogwai, but I couldn't get motivated to leave the house last night. Today, I plan on being more committed to checking out the bands I've outlined below. If you are curious, I'll be the guy wearing a brown Minutemen "Econo" shirt with jeans. Hope to see some of you at the shows throughout the week.

The following is my suggested itinerary for getting the most out of Musicfest NW. Those of you who like what you see posted on here will most likely dig the bands I have selected in this itinerary. Some of the bands have time slots that are conflicting with other bands. So, I will be making a snap decision on those shows. For the most part, though, I plan on following the itinerary closely.

Thursday

5:30- Wonder Ballroom- No Age
7:00- Wonder Ballroom- Battles
8:00- Holocene- Silver Summit
9:00- Doug Fir- Hungry Ghost
10:00- Crystal Ballroom- M. Ward
11:00- Roseland- Del the Funky Homosapien
12:00- Holocene- Deerhunter
1:00- Doug Fir-Steel Pole Bath Tub

Friday

5:30- Wonder Ballroom-Britt Daniel from Spoon
7:00- Wonder Ballroom- Built to Spill
9:00- Satyricon- Eat Skull
10:00- Towne Lounge- Andy Combs and the Moth
10:00- Jimmy Maks- Trio Subtonic
11:00- Berbati's- Alela Diane
11:00- Satyricon- Old Time Relijun
12:00- Jimmy Maks- Rupa and the April Fishes
1:00- Rotture- Explode Into Colors
1:00- Mission Theater- Gits movie

Saturday

7:00- Wonder Ballroom- Les Savy Fav
8:00- Satyricon- The Strange Boys
9:00- Satyricon- Crystal Antlers
9:00- Crystal Ballroom- Blitzen Trapper
10:00- The Towne Lounge- Atole
10:00- Berbati's Pan- The Joggers
11:00- Backspace- Mirah
11:00- Berbati's Pan- Trans Am
11:00- Slabtown- Hillstomp
12:00- Berbati's- Polvo
1:00- Ash Street- Flipper
1:00- Mission Theater- Beautiful Losers- documentary


Make sure that you get there early for the Wonder Ballroom shows as they are first-come first-serve. Hope you guys enjoy some of my picks for this years Musicfest. See you soon.