PDX Pop Now! Day 2
The Sun Finally Shows Up
And then the sun showed up... The real heat of the summer finally graced Portland with some consistency Saturday into the evening. Refuge became a sweat lodge for some, as the bands were cycled on and off the stages like clock work. Being the first full day of the festival, Saturday was filled from front to back with quality acts.
Here we go...
The day started off at the inside stage, with one of bePortland's favorite voices Ezza Rose. With her constantly shifting line up, you're never quite sure which members might be playing with Rose for the day, but they only add depth to her stripped down but colorful sound. This time it was William Joersz on upright and Ashly King on violin. Some songs would start as a sweet lullaby at times, lulling the early birds to the festival back into a pleasant dreamlike state. But this often grew into a rich texture between the three instruments and Rose herself, which kept the crowd on their toes.
Yeah Great Fine
The boys from Yeah Great Fine pulled the sleep from their eyes and launched into an lively set, attacking the audience right away with a bouncing melody line and tight drums. Singer Jake Hershman told the crowd he'd pull them from their hangovers right away, bounding around stage with his guitar. Drummer Dave Hires rarely let up the entire set, throwing in some odd time signatures with the vocal harmonies. This often mixed with an almost island vibe at times, though the songs would normally descend into some heavier moments, causing Hershman to vault off a chair into the air near the end of the set.
Archers started up the outside tent for the day. Drummer Anthony Frey drives the band's tempo with his furious drumming. Brothers Christopher and Michael Cantino shared vocal duties with plenty of heart, which really pumped up the early crowd. This band sounds like they might be practicing in a garage down the street from you, if you lived next to really tight band. Of course in this town, you very well might.
Palo Verde came to fucking win. Drummer Lauren K. Newman of LKN fame, and guitarist Terrica Kleinknecht brought it loud and hard, with sludgy post rock fun. Newman's drumming skills had the crowd hypnotized, with her flailing but precise style. A Kleinknect's guitar work was very complimentary and frequently change colors as she worked slowly but surely through her pedal board. The volume alone was enough to bring everyone to the stage and keep them there for the rest of the afternoon.
Lost Lander showed up in white, the members all decked out in some clothing that matched the scheme, be it a vest or jeans. Having just finished working with ex-Menomena member Brent Knopf on recording its material, the band brought its sweet pop infused creations to the crowd. Frontman Matt Sheehy, who played with Knopf in Ramona Falls, sang many songs that are coming out on the album, which is due in September.
Karen brought things back inside, and things started to heat up quickly. The fast paced trio had a new wave edge while keeping things pretty pop oriented. Bassist and singer Dustin Scharlach sang often humorous lyrics engrained in bouncing rhythms. The danceable drums lines ranged from spastic to driving, courtesy of drummer Aubrey Hornor. The band seemed to be enjoying itself on stage as it tore through its set, which definitely left a lasting impression on the rest of us.
Portland institution Loch Lomond played a hauntingly beautiful set right in the middle of the afternoon. While it was humid inside Refuge, the masses braved the heat to hear the choir of gold that is this band. Lead singer Ritchie Young bounced his falsetto off the spandex ceiling as his band swelled around him like an enclosed hand. The crowd hung on every note as chamber pop of this Portland favorite serenaded us.
Wild Ones' Danielle Sullivan voice floats over dreamy synth and guitar with an often busy drum beat provided by Andy Parker. It seemed a bit too perfect, there was little else needed at this point to convince everyone in the room that summer had finally arrived. All I needed was a tube and a river to float down.
Wizard Rifle pulled attendees out of their dream state once again, with a maddening set of caution to the wind rock and roll. Drummer Sam for relentlessly hammered his drum set, while guitarist Max Dameron shred quite proper. The songs were long but often took many quick turns that left us guessing. Believe me, heads were banged...
Living Proof's Prem and Tope hail from Seattle and Portland respectively. Their tight rhymes and lyrical trade off proved that the local scene is still producing all sorts of talented people, be they metal heads or MCs. Both of the duo spit at the crowd with solid interaction from every one present. The pair has put together some hits that really translated well live.
Extralone doesn't mess around with sequences, instead he plays the beats himself while adding synth and samples to the mix. It's got some really dark elements to it, which just makes watching that much more intense. This is an act you need to check out to really grasp the sound, which is probably why he doesn't post much music.
Portland's Monarques are every where lately, and for plenty of reasons. The indie band has flashes of the Strokes, 70's British pop, and takes a stab at 50's rock and roll now and then. Josh Spacek led the band through the genre bending set, which found the inside stage quite packed with local fans, young and old.
E * Rock
E * Rock did great things with a laptop and a bit of ingenuity. He made no effort to quiet the dancing the erupted right away into his set. The often droning melodies that poked in and out of the steady beat provided plenty of fodder for those that had been itching to dance through the pretty rock oriented afternoon.
Blouse did the shoe gaze thing properly. There were obvious comparisons to be made to British pop from the 1980's, yet the female led band makes it their own. There was long hair and feelings evident throughout the room, but never once did this band get too precious for its own good.
So picture this, Jimi Hendrix decides to put a bit of an African vibe to his songs, and in between playing with his teeth, decides to thrown down on the hand drum. That's exactly what it felt like when Dusi Mali hit the stage. Frontman Ibrahim Kelly brought some Afro beats to the early evening set, getting people off their feet and dancing like mad.
Purple and Green
The dance party had begun. Purple and Green came to the stage like a hurricane, DJ Adam Forkner dropping a fast and unforgiving beat on the crowd whiles singer Justin Leon Johnson leveled the place with his R&B vocal stylings. Johnson strut the shit out of that stage, eventually appearing in neon green cutoffs and nothing else but a green scarf, which he used to corral one of the girls on the side of the stage up with him to shake her ass. The crowd ate this up and you could feel the concrete shaking from the unrelenting fans. This had everyone there in a fever pitch.
Witch Mountain has a reputation for being brutal but astounding live. Singer Uta Plotkin takes a lesson from Dio and lays down some epic vocal lines that seem to sustain for hours. The band found some serious gold with Plotkin, her young lungs breathing a ton of life into this veteran band. And it was so loud, that the people up front couldn't even make out her vocals, that's metal kids.
By the time Nurses started getting set up, the outside stage was packed to the outside fencing. While it took some extra time for the band to get set up, probably due to singer Aaron Chapman's arm being in a sling. An extra guitarist was on hand to fill Chapman's guitar duties, while he sang to the excited crowd. The band's new album Dracula is set to be released on September 20th. The veteran act closed out the night quite satisfactorily to the crowd that needed to get it into the summer that had just begun earlier that day.