September 5-9, 2012
By Dan Lurie
If you consider yourself a fan of song and dance, it’s a pretty good week to be in Portland. Yes, MusicfestNW is once again upon us.
This year’s MFNW lineup boasts a veritable 7-layer dip of rock n’ roll goodness, with nostalgia-inducing acts sharing the casserole dish with vine-ripened indie darlings and a healthy dollop of the Rose City’s finest. Who’s hungry?
The great thing about this festival is that, like the behemoth SXSW, it can be as awesome or annoying as you choose to make it. That’s because showgoers aren’t locked into a single venue, hillside or desert. The event is spread throughout clubs of varying sizes all across town. And as MFNW grows in stature, and the SXSW envy continues, more and more unofficial showcases are popping up as well. In other words, it’s a big ol’ party and everyone’s invited.
So how do I approach this hoedown, you ask (or not)? First I consult a series of charts and nautical maps, which I then cross-reference against highlighted calendar items on my iPod Touch. This year’s findings are too lengthy to list in full, but I’ll provide a sampling here in case you want to track me down and buy a drink for your favorite part-time music journalist.
“Made in Portland”
There’s no shortage of tasty music coming out of Portland proper these days. Some of our fair city’s most beloved will be on display Friday night at the Crystal Ballroom where Radiation City, Helio Sequence, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Hosannas are poised to throw down. All great bands, but an unfortunately cavernous venue, so get up close if you want any chance of feeling like you’re actually at a show.
As in years past, KEXP will be broadcasting a series of free daytime shows from the friendly confines of Doug Fir. This is a great opportunity to see bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Menomena, Black Mountain and The Hives (remember them?) in an intimate setting with glorious sound.
One of the more buzzed about showcases is the triple-bill of J Mascis, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. Saturday night at the Roseland Theater. This incestual reunion of sorts should have much of the audience frantically digging for their college CD binders after the show.
Any musical experience is more satisfying when paired with a delicious sandwich. That makes Bunk Bar a top destination this week. The place serves incredible sandwiches ‘til closing time and is hosting MFNW showcases all week long. I’m targeting the Friday bill with French Cassettes, Mimicking Birds, Talkdemonic and the aforementioned sandwiches.
“First to the Party”
Uncovering the free unofficial showcases takes a little internet sleuthing, but one that’s already marked on my calendar is The Garage Party on Wednesday night, apparently at an eco-friendly auto shop called Green Drop Garage. Minden and The Last Bison are playing along with a “secret headliner” that appears to be Kishi Bashi. Should be a fun way to kick off the fest, especially if you also need an oil change. Oh yeah, and they’ll have Bunk sandwiches there too!
For the full MFNW event schedule, head on over to musicfestnw.com.