MusicFest NW 2013- Recap- Wed- Thurs

Ideally this post would have been up shortly after Music Fest NW was over, but I have been fighting a cold for almost a month now. Due to this, I will be providing a much shorter breakdown of the shows to allow time for a new podcast and some new Halloween-themed posts.


Eyelids- 8:00

I decided to check out Eyelids at the Doug Fir Lounge, but due to a late start and a difficulty with finding a parking space, I arrived in the middle of their set. My initial feeling was that they were an adequate rock band who was lacking a strong, engaging stage presence. The highlight of their set was when they brought out a special guest to sing lead on a cover version of the Gun Club classic "Sex Beat".

Lonnie Holley- 9:30

I arrived at the Crystal Ballroom about 15 minutes prior to Lonnie Holley's performance, and it already felt like a sweat box despite the fact that it wasn't even close to capacity. I think that I had fairly high expectations for his performance because of various things that I had read about every live show being distinctive from the last one. Unfortunately, the tunes never went anywhere, and his repetitive vocal warbling got on my nerves by the middle of the first song. I kept trying to get into it, especially once Bradford Cox joined in on drums, but it just didn't hold my attention. Each song flowed into the next one with no breaks which lead to the feeling of these songs just going on forever. I like improvisational jazz and experimental music, but this was just not up my alley.

Deerhunter- 10:30

The main reason that I came out this evening was to catch Deerhunter for the 6th time. The last time I saw them, they put on a lackluster performance at the Wonder Ballroom. It was an ill-fated evening riddled with sound problems that ended up throwing Bradford's timing off, and ultimately resulted in the whole band being out of sync. My hope was that with the momentum of just releasing Monomania in May that the new songs would bring a much needed energy to their show tonight.  Thankfully, the band played nearly a 90 minute set heavy on the Monomania material with several classic tracks from earlier albums including an especially jammy version of "Nothing Ever Happened". They closed the show with an exceptional rendition of "Fluorescent Grey" that at close to sixteen minutes would seem to be a test on the audience's patience, though almost everyone stuck it out to experience the orgasmic wall of guitars during the last couple minutes of the song. All in all, I couldn't think of a better way to end my evening.


Like a Villain- Old Church- 8:30

I was taking a chance on this show as I had really only heard a couple songs by Like a Villain on her Bandcamp page.  When I got there, the show had already been going for about 10 minutes, and apparently everyone got to the Old Church early to avoid standing in line to see Typhoon. Because of this, I was standing for the entire performance, and this could have negatively affected my opinion about her performance. I would have to say that she has a stunning voice, operatic and with a very dynamic range, and a church is the perfect venue to showcase her voice. However, I was hoping to see more of the experimental looping with her vocals and flute that seemed to earn her comparisons to fellow Portlander Liz Harris of Grouper. She had great stage presence, and really captivated the audience, but I was really not that into the songs that she played.

Mount Eerie- Aladdin- 9:00

As I didn't leave The Old Church until close to 9:00, I arrived at the Mount Eerie show close to the end of their set. I think that one complaint I have about Music fest this year is the lack of communication about what type of set bands were going to play- solo, acoustic, full band, etc. When I got to the Aladdin, Phil Elverum was playing acoustic guitar and singing with two female singers. I know that Eleverum's work with the Microphones, and a lot of Mount Eerie's stuff is pretty experimental and heavy, but I never expected such a quiet performance. The songs that I heard had pretty melodies, and I liked the way that Elverum's voice harmonized with the female voices. It was a decent show, but definitely not what I expected.

Bonnie Prince Billy- Aladdin- 10:00

After grabbing some chamomile tea, I searched for an empty seat amongst the sold out crowd. After
the Mount Eerie set ended, people began to shuffle out of their seats to the next performance on their agenda. I was able to find an empty seat right behind the mixing board, so the sound was superb.
By the time Bonnie Prince Billy came out, I was starting to realize that I was feeling warm and my throat was beginning to feel sore. His set was filled with many great songs, most of which I recognized but couldn't tell you the name of them if my life depended on it. The first time I saw Bonnie Prince Billy was with a full band at a Jackpot Records in-store performance.  Tonight, he was accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and a microphone. This was the perfect venue for capturing the cracks and subtle nuances of his voice as the Aladdin has the best acoustics of any venue in the city. He seemed to be in a conversational mood too, as there was much more in-between song banter than I had experienced the first time I saw him. At one point, it seemed like it was the Bonnie Prince Billy comedy hour, as he ranted about Facebook and other various societal ills. I stayed until about 11:00, and then I decided to head to Doug Fir to see Bob Mould.

Bob Mould- Doug Fir Lounge- 11:00

I was really torn between checking out this show and seeing Houndstooth at Bunk Bar. Since I hadn't ever seen Bob Mould before, I decided that it was worth it to give him a shot. What I didn't realize was that he was going to be playing solo with an electric guitar and amplifier. While I recognized a couple songs, including the fantastic "Hoover Dam" from Sugar's Copper Blue, this type of setup with no band and one person playing electric guitar didn't really hold my interest for long. I 'm glad that I went though as Mould has a great stage presence, and it was great to hear a couple classic songs. This would have been another case where it would have been great to know if an artist was going to be playing solo, acoustic, or with a full band.

Houndstooth- Bunk Bar- 11:00

As luck would have it, I was stuck behind a slow train about one block before the Bunk Bar. The result was that I only caught three songs from Houndstooth, but they were really great. On their debut record Ride Out the Dark, they sound like a cross between Neil Young and Trailer Bride, trading off vocals between a male and female singer, and featuring blistering guitar solos in between haunting melodies. The bottom line is that they sounded fantastic live, and they are definitely on my list of bands to check out around town since they live in Portland.

Hopefully the next installment of this will be sooner than the last as I would like to ensure that the details of my experience don't get lost in the fray.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and you can look forward to more music soon.


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