Menomena played an early morning-drink-some-coffee and rock out set at 10:30 AM at the Doug Fir Lounge, where KEXP has been broadcasting all week. They jumped right into the jams with only a half hour on the air. After the first couple tracks they told the crowd, “don’t know if you can tell, but these are all new songs” (as if they were playing poorly). The hometown band often swaps out instruments but is generally made up of a singing drummer, saxophonist, and sideshow bob keyboardist.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart performed the lunchtime special that saw kids dropping in on their break inbetween classes. The New York indie pop quartet mix pop-punk and indie rock with sappy vocals to create some well rounded and interesting songs.
Vancouver space rock band Black Mountain also played a free show at the Doug Fir for KEXP. At 4:30, the waiting line around the block outside began swarming in, coming out of the heat and into the chill basement of the Doug Fir. When Black Mountain began playing, the chill went straight icy as they entertained us with new tracks from the surf film Year Zero, for which they exclusively created the soundtrack. Their psychedelic rock songs make you want to listen on repeat driving through deserted city streets on a cool summer night. The modest musicians kept to what they do best, playing music, without saying much in between songs.
Gardens and Villa
Gardens and Villa got the show started at Pioneer Square, an outdoor venue at the heart of downtown Portland. The indie rock band from Santa Barbara is a west coast surf style/flute folk mashup.
Beirut headlined the night at Pioneer Square with their signature Balkan folk and brass-heavy indie rock. By 8:00 PM, the venue was strewn with people sitting and standing on every horizontal platform in the vicinity to get a better view of the stage. The real party was down in the crowd, where people swayed and shook to the infectious and romantic songs of Zach Condon and his band. Switching between his ukulele and trumpet, Zach kept the crowd entertained with a variety of songs from the bands three albums, but played mostly tracks off the 2011 album The Rip Tide. Condon came out for a solo encore of “The Penalty;” it was just he and his ukulele and hundreds of mesmerized fans. He was then joined by the rest of the band for a couple songs, going out with a bang with the 2006 title track from Gulag Orkestar.
Danny Brown was doing his thing at the Roseland, and despite sound issues, he had the whole joint hip-hopping. The goofy character played around on stage, rapping tracks on his critically acclaimed 2011 album, XXX.
Meanwhile, across the street at Star Theater, San Francisco group Moon Duo were creating a tripped-out nebula with their psychedelic space pop. The duo jammed endlessly on stage with the constant fuzz of abstract shapes lighting up the stage via a projector.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Hometown rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra played the Crystal Ballroom to a smaller crowd Friday night, still everything felt good about it. Christmas lights lined the walls of the dark venue as the three-piece lo-fi indie rock band took to the stage. Their minimal rock sound put the audience in a trance as they swayed to the swooning vocals of the band’s brainchild Ruban Nielson.
Way out in the Northeast at Wonder Ballroom, a wild electronic dance party was going on. Chicago’s Hood Internet mashed memorable tracks from the 90s and today in an all out dance party that elevated the temperature in the room so much that the fire alarm went off. Playing recent tracks off their sixth free mixtape, they mixed the likes of Snoop Dogg with Dillon Francis and Tune-Yards with Rihanna. The crowd went wild to the super fun tracks, jumping and crumping all over the dance floor.
Montreal native A-Trak took to the stage at the Nike Fuelband-sponsored dance party to close down the night with his signature hip-hop heavy electro house music.
Back downtown at Ted’s Berbati Chesela Wolfe was entertaining a calm crowd with her drone-metal-goth-folk. The dank musky venue seemed unfit for a woman with such a great voice but she soldiered on through the smell of vomit and poor soundboard work to create a memorable show of her art form.
Dante’s cabaret played host to Polaris Music Prize-winning hardcore punk band Fucked Up, for a high energy and interactive performance that blows party animal Andrew W.K. out of the water. The Toronto sextet jammed endlessly as sweaty and shirtless front man Damian Abraham, performed a variety of antics. Bouncing around the crowd with the mic cord trailing behind he got help on vocals from audience members, before climbing up in the rafters and getting crowd surfed. He got back on stage and his shorts were gone but he kept thrashing about in his underwear and hightops, screaming indecipherable vocals over very well executed punk tracks put together by the young but talented musicians in the band.
Back at Ted’s Portland warehouse, lo-fi rock band Blouse performed the last show of the night. Vocalist Charlie Hilton, with legs for days, was looking sexy in the most tattered cut off jean shorts and singing the most buttery smooth vocals of the night. Blouse was a great nightcap to a stellar day of music at MFNW.