By Dan Lurie
Photos by Jim Toohey
Like Christopher Columbus in his prime, MusicfestNW has found land and is ready to colonize the banks of the mighty Willamette River for two days of fun in the sun. The move to the waterfront has its pros and cons, but for those with a decent quilt, it’s nice to know you can catch all the action from the seat of your short shorts.
Headlining this year’s fest is the almighty Spoon, riding high on a wave of swag thanks to their predictably glorious new album They Want My Soul. If the group’s recent television performances are any indication, the band and Britt Daniel’s fitted shirts are in fine form. You’ll want to establish solid low-post position for this festival-closing set.
Haim is another big name on the Sunday bill. At first these wispy sisters flew under my radar because every time they landed in a magazine I mistook it as an ad for Crossroads consignment shop. Then I actually listened to their music and discovered there’s much more to Haim than hand-me-down leather jackets. This family can shred, with a stirring sound that occasionally harkens back to Prince’s 1980s heyday.
Other Sunday highlights include sweet ear candy from Portland’s own Wild Ones, the dynamic Modern Kin, and the polarizing tUnE-yArDs.
The Saturday lineup is equally intriguing. Run the Jewels, featuring hip-hop envelope pushers El-P and Killer Mike, should help us prove once and for all if the waterfront’s traditional hippie dancers are capable of popping and locking.
Future Islands, whose legend grew after an irresistibly spastic performance on Letterman, promise to bring similar joy and unhinged enthusiasm to the riverside.
Smooth local act Shy Girls will also look to stir the crowd with a set of bedroom slow jams that may or may not be fit for the 1:35 pm time slot. The success of this performance will be judged based on how many onlookers move their picnic activity beneath the blanket.
MusicfestNW takes place August 16-17 at Waterfront Park in Portland. Just head on down to the river and look for halter tops and peeling skin. For the full festival lineup, check out musicfestnw.com.