Music Fest NW 2010 : Day Two Recap

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/mfnwd2.jpg" alt=" " />The kids (and adults) were alright on Day Two of Music Fest NW. ...
Music Fest NW 2010 : Day Two Recap

The decade-old Music Fest Northwest, promising every year to be bigger and better, grew a day since 2009 (QRO recap), to become a five-day citywide extravaganza for 2010.  While there are more days to take a shower with your festival wristband, the 2010 lineup lacks the cornucopia of choice-y acts, and the international flavor of its previous year.  Everyone wants to see The National (QRO spotlight on).  The last minute addition of The Smashing Pumpkins (QRO live review at a festival), added the much need spice to its mediocre stew.  Other than few sure bets like Ra Ra Riot (see below), Okkervil River (QRO live review), Akron/Family (QRO photos), etc., this year’s MFNW is big on Northwest.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since this region has produced some of the finest acts in recent music history.  But for Portland resident, it’d be nice to catch bands that one doesn’t have the luxury to see every few months.

 

Phantogram @ Wonder Ballroom
Phantogram

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Phantogram live was as good as ever.  Warming up the audience at the Wonder Ballroom for Ra Ra Riot, Phantogram filled the air with the sound of sweet beats and catchy rhythms.  Hearing their driving beats through headphones and hearing them through a sound system like that of the Wonder Ballroom are two completely different experiences.  you're so hot, Phantogram's Sarah Barthel!With every hit of the kick drum you are punched in the chest and goose bumps will ensue.  As always, there were at least two audience members who yelled out “You’re hot!” to Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel.  The music was hot as well; especially the new song they unveiled to mix up the show a little bit. It’s obvious that Phantogram enjoys what they do very much; the smiles never wore from their faces through the entire set.  Strobe lights flashing, high heels stomping and crowds cheering.  Good style and very music says that Phantogram will soon blow up to be one of the top bands of 2010/11.

-Shawn Beckman
you're so hot, Phantogram!

 

Ra Ra Riot @ Wonder Ballroom
Ra Ra Riot

Wesley MilesClick image for full gallery

The interesting thing about Ra Ra Riot is that it is difficult to accept such well put together rhythms and sounds coming from such a young looking group of people.  Despite this, the band defies their potential stereotypes by writing and performing amazing music.  Playing mostly songs from their August released record The Orchard (QRO review), Ra Ra put together a lively and unique set list.  Rebecca ZellerWith a cello and a violin being taken advantage of in just about every song, the show had a more epic feel to it.  To see a place like the Wonder Ballroom packed to the rafters is quite the site on its own, but to see it that packed out with a bandMilo Bonacci like Ra Ra Riot playing a show like they did is a whole different experience all together; one of the best concerts of the week.

-Shawn Beckman
Ra Ra Riot

Gabriel DuquetteOn the second day of Musicfest NW, the sun broke through the thick grey clouds by late afternoon.  My first stop: the Nike-sponsored free shows at the Wonder Ballroom, to checkout the buzz around Ra Ra Riot.  If you have the world’s biggest sportswear company backing you up, you must be doing something right.  Right?  The young New Yorkers looked like they had just left their Syracuse University campus.  RRR’s jingle-jangly chamber flavored pop rock radiated youthful energy.  Mathieu SantosYou could say they’re like the cheerful cousin of the Arcade Fire (QRO live review).  Watching the sextet bounce around, and shuffle back and forth (except for drummer Gabriel Duquette, of course), made you feel like you were at the most happening party on campus.

-Autumn Alexandra LawnAndel
Ra Ra Riot

 

Deelay Ceelay @ Roseland Theater
Deelay Ceelay

Delaney KellyClick image for full gallery

After having seen the most enticing choice of the day, it was a guessing game for me.  Few days before the MFNW, I went through the lineup, and sampled all the bands I was unfamiliar with.  And I’d say I didn’t know a good 75% of them.  One band that made my list was Deelay Ceelay, a two-drummer outfit with video art projections.

Like a Siamese twin, staged in a mirror-like arrangement, Chris Lael Chris Lael LarsonLarson and Delaney Kelly wielded their drumsticks like magic wands, matching their pre-recorded music and remixes.  The Portland duo’s work can’t be filed simply under some musical category.  The visual projections are just as vital as the audio performance.  Judging by appearance – the shaggy hair, dashikis – and psychedelic projections would suggest some neo-hippie show.  Featured in museums and film centers, you might expect Deelay Ceelay to be some inaccessible, experimental avant-garde mumbo jumbo.  I have a fine art degree, and I like some of that mumbo jumbo stuff.  But Larson and Kelly had all the kids in the room, happily intoxicated with their hypnotic non-stop set of electro-pop funk beat wave.

-Autumn Andel
Deelay Ceelay

 

Past Lives @ Crystal Ballroom
Past Lives

2 Past LiversClick image for full gallery

Opening for Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and The Thermals (see below), Past Lives had some high expectations to live up to.  Unfortunately, not a lot of people were there to see them live up to the expectations, as they had about half the crowd Ted Leo had and about a a Past Liverthird of the crowd that The Thermals had.  However, nothing fazed Past Lives as they played their high energy and very, very loud set.  Some of the smart fans brought along earplugs to protect their ears from the high-pitched screams and piercing snare hits.  Luckily this was a welcome addition to the set as in only aided in warming up the audience for the acts to come.  Past Lives live is a very exciting and well-executed performance that leaves you a little bit deaf, but wanting more.

-Shawn Beckman
Past Lives

 

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

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Late on Day 2 of MFNW, an audience comprised mostly of Thermals fans most thoroughly appreciated the tunes from Ted Leo & the Pharmacists at the Crystal Ballroom.  It wasn’t long into their set (maybe a few songs) before plenty of mosh pits emerged in the pre warmed up audience due to the punk rock style of Leo’s music.  Fast punk/indie/rock shows aren’t solely for the twenty-somethings either; Leo dedicated songs Ted Leo & The Pharmaciststo those over thirty years of age, and even the relatively older fans seemed to enjoy the show just as much.  About an hour or so long set left everybody in the audience sweaty from either moshing or being bumped into by other sweaty moshers.  That alone says a lot about a band’s live performance; if every fan is worn out by the end of the set and the band is dripping wet then they have done their job properly.

-Shawn Beckman
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

 

The Thermals
The Thermals

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Finally, the band of the night; a band that was given a huge welcoming by hundreds of screaming fans: The Thermals.  Fortunate to have proper introductory acts from the bands Past Lives and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (see above), The Thermals would be greeted with an a Thermalenthusiasm like none other.  No doubt the happiest band of MFNW, The Thermals ran out onto the stage and after high-fiving the audience for a minute or so, got into their lively upbeat music.  Most bands have played their live show tens if not hundreds of times, and I’m sure The Thermals are no exception.  This is why it was all the more impressive to see the band so captivated and overjoyed to play their set.  The energy never came to a lull for either the band or the audience as the night went on.  The set ended with the same sense of vibrancy that it began with, and The Thermals provided the ending to Day Two of MFNW that the entire audience was yearning for.

-Shawn Beckman
The other 2 Thermals

 

Mark Olson @ Mississippi Studios
Mark Olson

Mark OlsonClick image for full gallery

Sleep-deprived and worn-out, thought it might be nice to end the night at an intimate venue, near my home, with a mellow singer/songwriter showcase.  I’d forgotten about the small stage and poor lighting at the Mississippi Studios – memory of The Church concert back in April (QRO live review).  The few minutes I spent getting acquainted with the music of Mark Olson, and A.A. Bondy sounded promising – thought it was up my alley: pretty and narrative.  After one song by Mr. Olson, I wished I had gone to Holocene to see Cold Cave, though it would not have been as convenient to get back to my house.  It took me some time to warm up to any alt-country, and enduring the former member of The Jayhawks’ acoustic set took some patience.  Despite my disinterest in this genre, Olson put on a solid performance, aided by a percussionist.  The almost white-haired singer’s weathered voice had strength, and conviction, warbling about the meaning of life, as his guitar, and on one occasion, a dulcimer wept gently.

-Autumn Andel
Mark Olson

 

A.A. Bondy @ Mississippi Studios
A.A. Bondy

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It seemed like an eternity between the time Mark Olson finished, and by the time A.A. Bondy started his set.  The more mature crowd than the two previous venues, with their restrained attitude, did not help to keep my narcosis at bay.  Finally, just A.A. Bondywhen I was about to give up waiting, the lanky singer/songwriter, accompanied by a percussionist and a bass/keyboardist, fired up their gear.  The former singer and guitarist for the Alabama rock band, Verbena, looked like he still rides his skateboard, and not someone who belts out sentimental folk tunes.  Bondy’s music was even mellower than Olson’s.  So soothing was Bondy’s wistful vocals, that if I had stayed any longer, I would have dropped to the floor.  Maybe next time, when I am in a better shape, I can fully appreciate his well-crafted songs.

-Autumn Andel
A.A. Bondy

 

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