I traded sleep for the 12PM Dinosaur Jr. show at the Doug Fir Lounge on Saturday, but made it out in time to see Milo Greene perform. Going into the show after only hearing the hit “1957”, I was blown away by the rest of their well-crafted tracks. Sharing the vocals four-ways, the band harmonizes effectively creating a very full sound. The second track they played was “1957” and their four voices were joined by at least four more loyal fans. These talented musicians not only take their turns singing solos but switch between instruments as well. They closed the set down with the gritty emotional track “Cutty Love”, breaking out into a fiery ending that had us hoping for more.
Up in the Northeast at OPB Music and Mississippi Studios were throwing the third annual MFNW day party with free music, free drinks and prizes. I stopped in briefly to catch local MC Vinnie Dewayne throw down on a few tracks. The aspiring rapper calls himself a “small town nigga with a big dream”, hailing from the neighborhood of St. Johns, he attends school at Columbia while writing raps on the side.
Fans were lined up since 1PM for the free 3PM Hives show at the Doug Fir, and by the time I made it back there I was worried I might not get in. Luckily they packed that little basement as tight as it would go and I got inside to capture these iconic Swedish Rockers. Playing news songs from their album Lex Hives, dressed in their signature formal tuxedos and top hats, they rocked like they were playing the stadium-sized venues they are used to. They displayed a high level of showmanship with flamboyant dance moves and loads of audience interaction.
Local experimental-pop group AU was first to perform at the Pioneer Square Plaza on Saturday evening. Known for its ever-changing roster of musicians, Luke Wyland was joined by a horn section, Dana Valakata on drums, and Holland Andrews on vocals and clarinet. As Wyland Jammed out on keys, Andrews would gyrate around stage wailing into the microphone over funky pop beats.
As dusk set in, Portland’s Starfucker took to the stage with a brand new light screen backdrop. Creating dance music that is not overloaded with synthesized fuzz, the band blends keyboard-based electronic dance beats with indie-pop. The endless bleep bloop carried on for over an hour as the venue filled up with dance-aholics for the night’s headliner, Girl Talk.
Over at the Star Theater, local singer/songwriter, Pete Krebs was serenading an intimate audience with his acoustic guitar. The track “Pacific Standard Time” highlights his passion for the west coast.
Hype-monster Gregg Gillis, the mash-up king also known as Girl Talk came on late at Pioneer Square to a massive crowd of antsy fans. In typical fashion, he took to the stage in a hoodie and headband to seamlessly sew together hits from the 90s with recent top 40 tracks. Girl Talk is about 30% fun dance music and 70% new years eve party, complete with toilet paper guns, confetti, video screens, balloons, beach balls, and all of his homies dancing on stage. As the infectious beat from the M83 hit, “Midnight City”, slowly creeps under the party-heavy vocals from “Rack City” by Tyga, Gillis plugs a sample of “Hands Up for Detroit” and a sea of hands extend skywards like clockwork. Girl Talk continued to entertain the crowd on into the night with snippets from, Blur, Eminem, Kelly Clarkson, 50 Cent and more.
Across the river at the Aladdin Theater, Portland local, Holcombe Waller, had an audience glued to their seats in a musical body high. Waller’s transfixing prowess of his vocal range is outstanding. From the native chanting in his cover of “Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan”, to the angelic love song “Hardliners” Waller has an eclectic songbook that speaks volumes of his talent. Joined by his backing band The Healers, Holcombe played a beautiful set in the old Aladdin Theater. On drums was Danny Seim of Menomena playing skillfully with a maraca in one hand. Other instruments in the 5-piece Healers included cello, viola, bass, guitar, and keyboard. As Holcombe and the Healers finished, eager fans rushed the stage to get the best spot for local favorites, Typhoon.
Typhoon is an orchestral indie rock band that performs with 10-14 players on stage. Combining vocals with two drum kits, xylophone, trumpets, guitars, piano, violins, and a variety of other instruments, the large band creates a full sound that explores the space between classical music and rock n’ roll. Their progressive songs draw the listener in carefully with catchy vocals and hand clapping before culminating in a calibrated climactic clash of musical instruments. From the most filled stage of the festival, I went to the see one lone musician play at the largest indoor music venue in Portland.
Sweden’s Kristian Matsson, also known as The Tallest Man on Earth, sat alone on stage with a guitar and a piano at the Crystal Ballroom in front of hundreds of fans playing his folk music. For two and a half hours he entertained the audience with one catchy folk song after another. In between songs he would talk casually in a humble tone that was hardly decipherable among exited fans. Ending with popular tracks, “King of Spain” and “There’s No Leaving Now”, Matsson left the packed ballroom demanding more. The crowd stomped, clapped and howled for more. When Matsson returned on stage, the crowd erupted with excitement. For his encore he played fluttery title track from his 2010 album, “The Wild Hunt”, followed by a unique cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. Finally as if sending us of to bed, he ended with “The Dreamer”, and the crowd approved.
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Find more day four photos from James Oborne on Facebook
Musicfest NW: Day One in Photos
Musicfest NW: Day Two in Photos
Musicfest NW: Day Three in Photos
Musicfest NW: Day Four in Photos