Live Report: MusicfestNW 2011

 

Held
Sept. 7 thru 11 in Portland,
Ore.
, it was a humbucking
humdinger.

 

By Tim Hinely

 

Thursday-
9/8/11

 

So MFNW is now in its 11th year, hard to believe
huh? I dunno…it went a few years ago from being a little festival to being,
well, like a real one. They’re
getting lots of big names and seem to expand a bit each year. There’s always
plenty I want to see and this year was no different so let’s get started, shall
we.

 

Ok, so I wanted to go to the SEBADOH/ARCHERS OF LOAF gig at
the Crystal (to see the former, not really the latter) but a scheduling snafu
with my wife prevented that so instead I met my pal Matt at a restaurant for
some pre gig chow before seeing the BUTTHOLE SURFERS at Roseland. I can’t
remember the last time I saw the Buttholes but it was most likely in the late
80’s when they were still putting on life-changing sets complete with everything. The set was mostly early
stuff and included  “Cowboy Bob”, “Suicide”,
“Negro Observer”, “BBQ Pope”, “Creep”,
“Hey, Ladysniff”
where they played a middle part that included “Pepper’ and then they went back
to “Ladysniff., “Graveyard”, “Gary Floyd” and “Jesus
Built My Hot Rod. The band played as a regular four piece with only one drummer
(King) and he was sitting down. Paul Leary on guitar and Jeff Pinkus on bass
and of course Gibby on vocals and bullhorn. The films playing behind them were
still demented and again, it wasn’t necessarily bad, but not classic.

 

Friday- 9/9/11

 

I was going to catch THE MINDERS as part of the Elephant 6
night at the Someday Lounge but opted instead to go there later (I’ve seen The
Minders recently) and instead head to the Aladdin Theatre to catch Chicago’s
Joe Pug (who I’ve wanted to see but have missed several times the past few years).
Pug played acoustic guitar and had a stand-up bassist and electric guitarist
flanking him on either side and while I was hoping to hear a few songs off his
terrific MESSENGER record it was not to be as Pug played mostly new songs. On
stage I noticed some real Dylan-isms that don’t come out on record. Nice set.
From there headed downtown to the Someday Lounge to catch Brooklyn, NY’s
LADYBUG TRANSISTOR who played a terrific set replete with mostly newer stuff
off their latest Clutching Stems record. They opened with the title track off the nee record and played mostly
new stuff but also snuck in their Trader Horne cover of  “Here Comes the Rain” (off  the 4-spng ep of the same name) and “Today
Knows” , one of the finest songs of their The
Albermarle Sound
record.  The band
sounded terrific and leader Gary Olson’s voice is still smooth as silk (as is
his trumpet playing).  After their set I
snuck next door to Backspace and caught the last few songs by THE THERMALS who
sounded on fire and had the packed-house going bonkers.  I went back to the Someday and caught a few
songs by the newly reformed OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL who sounded fine be my bed
was calling me so I headed on home.

 

Saturday-
9/10/11

 

There were lots of bands I could have seen on this Saturday
night: THE SOFT MOON, REBECCA GATES, TED LEO, TY SEGALL, AVI BUFALLO, but I
opted to do punk rock night at the Hawthorne Theatre and catch Off! The fairly
new punk rock bad with Circle Jerk Keith Morris with members of Redd Kross and
Rocket from the Crypt. I was hoping to get there early enough to catch the Mean
Jeans (Dirtnap Records) but was not able to make it though I did make it early
enough to catch Portland’s own punk rock institution Poison Idea. These days
the band is vocalist Jerry A. and 4 others, none of whom I could name. They
played some newer stuff that sounded fierce and ended the set with two bona
fide P.I. classics:’ “Just to Get Away” and “Plastic Bomb.” Still heavy after
all these years.

 

Off! hit the stage at 11:00 PM as expected and proceeded to
tear the place apart. Keith Morris has to be pushing 60 but he ran around the
stage like a guy half that age, strutting, spouting, sneering and chatting up
the crowd in between songs. They played everything off their ep and included a
tribute to the Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce. The guitarist, Dimitri, rips, oh
heck, the whole band (including Redd Kross’s Steve McDonald on bass and Mario Rubalcaba drums)
tears it up. I heard that Off! were gonna play another set later at the East End but it was after midnight and that’s my witching
hour folks.

 

Sunday-
9/11/11

 

The final show of the festival (not counting Quasi’s late
night set at Bunk Bar) was held downtown in Pioneer Courthouse Square and included
Bobby Bare Jr., Morning Teleportation, the Cass McCombs band and headliners
Band of Horses. We got there late (babysitter issues) and missed the first two
(both of whom I wanted to see) and only caught the end of Cass McCombs’ set. I
though this guy was some gentle folkie but with a full band they turned his
gentle songs into rip roaring rockers. Good stuff for sure and will catch him
next time he’s in town.

 

The last Band of Horses show I tried to catch (Memorial Day
weekend 2010 in Bend, Oregon) got rained out…well, rained out by my wife and I
who sat through soggy sets by Dawes and She and Him and decided to head out
before B.O.H. came on so the set on this beautiful Portland evening more than made
up for it. Hitting the stage at half hour late at 8:00 PM they opened with ”
Factory” and continued to play a beautifully 
inspired set with a nice mix of songs off all three of their records
(and even a few new ones, too) “Laredo”, Ode to LRC”, “Wicked Gil”, “Is There a
Ghost”, “The Great Salt Lake” and too many others. Leader Ben Bridwell was
friendly and chatty, dedicating one song to his child who he said he had
received the info that his wife was pregnant the last time they played Portland. This band is
firing on all cylinders and is not to be missed. We headed back to the car on
this lovely full moon night as the band’s sound began to slowly waft away. What
a night.

 

Oh MFNW, what surprises will you have in store for us in
2012?

 

 

 

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