PDX Pop Now! Day 3
The Weekend Winds Down
What a weekend... I'm still trying to power through the day, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Let's get right to it:
Water Tower Bucket Boys
The Water Tower Bucket Boys kicked off Day 3 on the outside stage, it was a perfect way to wake up, a bit of knee slapping and hand clapping. When the boys launched into a furious cover song for their closer, a song by a band called Roadkill, it jacked enough people from their slumber to get ready for yet another day of free music goodness.
Cloaks plays mysterious, often intense music that's controlled by the two members throughout the performance. Often ominous, often danceable, the two musicians often lead listeners through an array of soundscapes and the dreamy result sent many to the shade as the sun began to bare down on attendees.
Hausu plays fun indie rock with a 60's vibe, though a bit more lo-fi. The crowd pulled itself from the shade to bask in the sunny tunes that this band offered. It took little time for Ben Funkhouser and his group to rouse people into sing alongs and overall merriment.
Port St. Willow
Port St. Willow is the solo project of Nick Principe, which is often compared to Sigur Ros and other ambient beauty. The quiet and simple melodies that begin one of his songs is often fed with later of looping and samples, enough to create a textural lullaby that called people back inside of Refuge.
Rollerball is melodic rhythm at its best. The bouncing basslines that the band's bassist, who's a spitting image of Henry Rollins in the right light, often drives the songs while keyboardist and singer Mae Starr croons through the complex structures. With years of songs and shows under their belts, this band's solid set visited the experimental edges of melody more often than the rest of the festival combined.
With a name like Nasalrod, you better be seeing at least a bit of punk coming out of the speakers. Luckily the band complied, with a bit of old school hardcore thrown in for good measure. The singer "Chairman" jumped out into the crowd, trying to incite some type of dance pit in the unwilling crowd, while the relentless rhythm section hammered out a throbbing beat throughout.
Portland's biggest buzz band Radiation City proved yesterday why people are feeling feelings again all over the city. The often 60's girl group tinge mixed with danceable beats and indie charm won over the mid afternoon crowd in a big way. Within that hour the attendance jumped dramatically, and people were begging the young band for an encore that they weren't allowed to comply with.
The Woolen Men
Like the PDX Pop Now! folks suggest, there's a bit of Velvet Underground at work in the Woolen Men's sound, however I hear a bit of Violent Femmes in there too. Maybe it's the lo-fi approach, or the fact that there's no drum throne like the "Blister in the Sun" band, but nonetheless, this talented group offered listeners a different take on darker pop.
Diesto likes to shred. Ask anyone that was there, or anyone who's even heard of this band. Drummer Devon Christian Shirley isn't fucking around. He effortlessly lays down thick, rumbling beats that the rest of the band uses to catapult their melodies into the crowd like a siege. This was hands down the LOUDEST band of the festival, and my ears are still ringing from standing near that bass cab.
Classical Revolution PDX
Classical Revolution PDX doesn't care what you think of classical music, they already love it. But they will do their damnedest to get you to like it. The quartet of ladies came up to the stage and told listeners they must be snobs when listening properly to classical music. Then they ripped into a Philip Glass piece for string quartets like it was no big deal.
Onuinu is the project of Dorian Duvall, and it is a dance party in a box. The artists cycled through a set, barely taking a moment to acknowledge the crowd, instead focused on keeping the dance alive. There is an often Radiohead like drone to some songs, though the influence of countless other acts is clearly evident as well. The crowd did not want this set to ever end.
Holy Sons plays indie rock that borders on the edge of pretentious, but they never quite push over that boundary, bringing songs back to the fun side of things seconds later. The songs never feel rushed, allowing the vocal work to be featured amongst the levels of sound that envelope it.
Musee Mecanique featured instrumentation like a saw, accordion, and other eclectic offerings. The beauty of this band is that they don't let these precious instruments take away from the quality of the songwriting itself. Anyone can pick up a glockenspiel and act like they are doing something clever, but without a leg to stand on it just seems kinda sad. This band puts the song first, making sure it flourished on its own, and that's something rare nowadays in this genre.
Kelly Schaefer plays rock that seems to straddle several smaller classification of this genre. There's a bit of Riot Grrl, there's a bit of sweetness, and there's some serious rock star lungs in this girl. The girl sang her heart out to the sunset and the gathering crowd. She even brought up a few friends to scream their voices raw at the end of the set. Hopefully she's resting a few days before the next show.
Brainstorm is a force to be reckoned with. There isn't quite anything like this band on the musical landscape in Portland, much less any where. The complex and varied range of sounds that this duo produces is seriously inspiring. Even though I heard sick drummers the past three days, none of them can touch the originality that Adam Baz produces. Couple this with the band's first performance with an extra member playing keys and providing a feminine touch to this boys party really got the crowd jacked up.
Guidance Counselor is no more. Ian Anderson's dance party ended last night at PDX Pop Now! as the festival wound down. But the crowd wasn't ready to let the man move to the Bay Area just yet. The crowd went apeshit after several technical glitches delayed the show. Once the beat was dropped, the crowd surfing began, and the little girls in the front row immediately started getting thrusted over the stage. If they weren't smiling madly, one might have thought they were getting killed. Anderson ate up the attention and gave the crowd song after song, until the last note of his current project dropped, and now he's on to the next one.
Who did you like on this day?