Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Musicfest NW--Portland, OR (In Pictures)

I was off in Portland this past week for Musicfest NW. Portland is one of those cities I've been to only once very briefly but just seems to be a very likeable place. Visiting my friends Travis and Jill with a camera in hand, this is pretty much what I saw:

Cat Power @ Audio Cinema
Hmmm, I'm not so sure about this. The way this festival worked was you purchased a wristband which gave you access to every show that was going on throughout the week. Since many shows were occurring simultaneously, a small place like the Audio Cinema couldn't sustain that many people. Right now we're standing in line as they're doing the "one out/one in" thing. Cat Power hasn't taken the stage yet, but since I don't see many people deciding to head for the exits before the headliner my confidence level isn't high. Our only hope is that opening act Bobby Bare, Jr. travels with a large family.

To keep the suckers in line happy, this guy started handing out free ice cream. The girl reaching into the box took the last ice cream sandwich, meanwhile I was stuck with some terrible stawberry nut concoction. I really laid into her for doing this........it was supposed to be flirtatious but turned mean-spirited rather quickly.

Travis told me that Portland is unofficially known as the "bridge city" for all the immaculate bridges crossing the Willamette and Columbia River. This is the bridge the Cat Power line was under and the first one I saw. As you can see, she's a real beauty.

Nike was one of the main sponsors for this event. I wonder if this had anything to do with the three 9-year old Vietnamese kids I saw unloading equipment out of Cat Power's van?

We didn't get in. Neither did those other kids hanging around the place. I suspect they had nothing else to do......

.......but we did. Sayonara Cat Power.

Uh-oh, you have company Brit Daniel, look who else is in town! Oh yes, JT was there bringing sexy back to Portland. And trust me, this town needs it. I ran into a bearded lady at a used cd store--and not just any beard, a real Jerry Garcia-like beard. Yikes! I'm still having trouble sleeping. For the record, Justin wasn't on the Musicfest NW bill but was playing Friday night at the Rose Garden.

Spoon @ the Crystal BallroomI was excited to go to the Crystal Ballroom........seems to be a place that gets great shows.

Unfortunately the Crystal Ballroom kind of sucks. The sound quality is poor, it's way too crowded (the fact that I was standing on my tip-toes during Spoon just to breathe decent air tells you there might be a problem), and it's divided right down the middle by a steel barrier for those under 21 and the drinkers. How Travis and I ended up on the side with the non-drinking, good-for-nothing high school kids still baffles me. Whose decision was that?! Let's blame him. Whatever, we made executive decisions not to see Rilo Kiley or Wolf Parade partly because of the Crystal Ballroom factor.

Spoon was good but we expected that.

This is the third time I have seen Spoon and they are just a solid band. The played nearly every song from Ga to the fifth power. A pretty rocking version of "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" was thrown in somewhere in the middle as well. We left early because neither of us could breathe. I like to breathe at concerts.

That's the actual jersey that Greg Oden plans on wearing this year. (He's tall).


Okkervil River @ Berbati's PanThis was kind of the show we had been waiting the entire week for. I first discovered Okkervil River about two and a half years ago when Travis dragged me to one of their shows at Subterranean and they have been one of my favorite bands since. The Berbati's Pan was great, too. Small, but not too small. It kind of reminded me of the Double Door.

Aside from Okkervil River, there was also a beard contest.

20 minutes to showtime. Oh boy.......

Just before Okkervil River came out, Travis and I tried to look tough while Jill attempted to take a decently centered picture. We all failed.

Okkervil River emerged and opened with "Plus Ones" from new album The Stage Names. Yee-owww!

Will Sheff: Always a pair of glasses and wand away from doing battle with He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.

I'm of average height but always seem to stand behind the tallest guy in the room. This is a picture of the back of that guy's head. He's actually on tour this year........I looked at his schedule and it currently consists of every damn show I'm at.

I slithered around the tall guy to get this picture of Jonathan Meinburg during "Black".

Not sure why, but drummer Travis Nelsen reminds me of Animal from the Muppets.

Time to leave. Okkervil River was amazing as usual. Notables included "Our Life is Not a Movie...", "The President's Dead", "For Real" and a face-melting "Westfall". They closed with the obligatory "Okkervil River Song" and we left pretty happy. Happy but hungry.....and it being nearly 2:30 am, it's time to get some food.........

.......whereas most cities consider pizza, burritos, etc. to be the ideal late-night snack, Portland considers donuts a perfectly viable (and only) option. As bad as it sounds, it was worse. This is us standing in line. And I think I realized while standing in line that if it's ever 3am and you're waiting for donuts, it might be time for some serious life changes.


There you have it, there's the week. A great week too, catching up with old friends and taking in some music. Portland really is a beautiful city. Parks are plentiful and the culture is great. It's immersed with not only a top notch music scene but also great restaurants and bars, and is very biking/walking friendly. Missing Cat Power was unfortunate but both Spoon and Okkervil River were fantastic (both will be in Chicago soon) and made the trip well worth it. Bearded lady, tall guy, 3am donuts.....you won't stop me, I'll be back next year. So long great Northwest....


Kate said...

Wow, the venue must have been pretty bad if it caused you to leave a Spoon show early AND skip Rilo Kiley. Let's put things in perspective here though. Would you have gone back if it were Arcade Fire?

Kate said...

Oh, one more thing . . . is that red shirt your official concert uniform or what? :-)

Bret said...

That guy handing out ice cream is 'The Ice Cream Man.' He is a bit of a music industry legend. Shows up at all the big shows and gives away free ice cream. He's basically a hippie that got a bunch of sponsors to pay him to give away ice cream at shows. He's at Lolla every year in the artist area. He always runs out of sandwiches first....shouldn't he get more next time?

Homer said...

I see that your infamous red concert tshirt made the trip with you. I also see that Kate beat me to the punch.

- Yoni

Alex said...

Trick question......there isn't enough room on stage at the Crystal Ballroom for all 37 members of Arcade Fire. And yeah, the red shirt is the official costume....

And are you being serious about this ice cream hippie? Does he really tour the country handing out free ice cream? If I were about 20 years younger he'd be my hero.

The Dong Machine said...

Did you get doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts? mmmmm....Nyquil doughnuts

Alex said...

Yeah, Voodoo donuts. You know this joint?

The Dong Machine said...

Yes, Voodoo doughnuts is one of the few things that Portland is famous for. They've been featured in a few tv shows because they were forced by the FDA to not serve their Nyquil Doughnuts anymore because it's illegal to serve medicine as food.

Alex said...

Apparently the FDA has no problem with them selling donuts that are shaped like penises. Those are sold by the dozen.

Val said...

Nothingquitelike scooped Slate on the Portland-indie write up. Well done, nql. The conclusion I've gleaned from the 2 articles is that indie hipster is inextricably linked to facial hair and poor diet... poor diet shaped like penises.


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