AU Backspace Beirut Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom Doug Fir Gardens and Villa Imaginary Scoop J. Mascis Lake Lemolo LP Mbilly Menomena Mississippi Studios Moonface Passion Pit Pioneer Courthouse Square Reignwolf Tallest Man on Earth The Hawthorne Theatre The Helio Sequence The Melvins The Roseland Theatre Those Darlins Young Turks

Must-see picks for Musicfest NW {9/5 – 9/9}

As you wind down from Bumbershoot weekend next week, don't forget that a mere 48 hours later (yep, we're talking about next Wednesday, folks) there is whole 'nother festival getting underway midweek: Portland's own Musicfest Northwest. Boasting an impressive lineup of both local and national headliners, it's difficult to decide who to see — we feel like we've changed our schedules a million times already! So, pack some walking shoes and check out some of our picks to help keep the venue-hopping as easy as possible. Make sure to check out the MFNW site to get exact set times and to make your own customized schedule.


The first night of the fest is seems decidedly easygoing: open your night with a passion-filled set of powerful vocals from LP before catching the first night of dance-heavy pop at Passion Pit's two-night stint at the Crystal Ballroom. If you are thinking you need something to do before 9pm, head to the Mission Theater and see Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost): A Film about Bobby Bare Jr. at 7pm, then catch the man himself playing the Doug Fir at 10:40pm.

7:00p :: Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost): A Film About Bobby Bare Jr., Mission Theater
9:00p :: LP, Crystal Ballroom
10:00p :: Passion Pit, Crystal Ballroom
10:40p :: Bobby Bare Jr., Doug Fir

Runners up: The Minus 5 {Doug Fir @ 9:00p}, Sloan {Doug Fir @ 11:00p}.


Thusday is really the first full day of shows, and man, is it packed. If you're following our lead, we think there's really no excuse not to miss Reignwolf since he's the first show of the night — those screaming guitar solos and blues-laden vocals are a great way to start! Stick around and hear high-energy punk from Those Darlins before heading up to Mississippi Studios, where you can check out Portland's Mbilly before you are utterly mesmerized by the dreamy pop sounds of Lemolo. That's where we'll be!

7:15p :: Reignwolf, Roseland Theater
8:00p :: Those Darlins, Roseland Theater
9:00p :: Mbilly, Mississippi Studios
10:00p :: Lemolo, Mississippi Studios

Honorable mentions: These United States {9:00p @ Aladdin Theater}, Quasi {10:00p @ Hawthorne Theater}, Old 97's {10:30p @ Roseland Theater}.


The trifecta of seeing Menomena, Beirut, and The Helio Sequence in one night really can't be topped. Menomena and The Helio Sequence are both coming out with new albums in the near future, and Beirut's spectacular 2011 album The Rip Tide is still on heavy rotation — can there be a reason not to go? If there is, we can't find it. Make sure to get to Pioneer Courthouse Square early for Gardens & Villa, who are sure to please with their synthy sounds. If you have a gap in your schedule between 8pm and 11pm, catch the sweet dreamlike sounds of Lake or the latest lineup change-edition of the Melvins, Melvins Lite at Backspace and the Hawthorne Theater respectively.

5:30pm :: Gardens & Villa, Pioneer Courthouse Square
6:30pm :: Menomena, Pioneer Courthouse Square
8:00pm :: Beirut, Pioneer Courthouse Square
9:00pm :: Lake, Backspace
10:30pm :: Melvins Lite, Hawthorne Theater
11:00pm :: The Helio Sequence, Crystal Ballroom

You might want to also make room for: These United States (if you missed 'em the first time) {9p @ Aladdin Theater} and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart {11p, Star Theater}.


Here's our take: kick off the formal start of the weekend with AU and their spacey, multi-instrumental tunes at the mainstage, and then make sure to catch Young Turks for some hardcore rock before heading to the Roseland Theater for J. Mascis and his beautifully constructed guitar melodies. Then, close out your night with Tallest Man on Earth's sparse folky tunes at the Crystal Ballroom before you head to the Doug Fir for some indie rock with Moonface. Pow!

6:00pm :: AU, Pioneer Courthouse Square
8:00pm :: Young Turks, Backspace
9:00pm :: J. Mascis, Roseland Theater
10:30pm :: Tallest Man on Earth, Crystal Ballroom
12:00pm :: Moonface, Doug Fir

See also(s): Girl Talk {8:00p @ Pioneer Courthouse Square}, Typhoon {10:00p @ Aladdin Theater}, Sebadoh {10:00p @ Roseland Theater}, Big Freedia {11:00p, Branx}, Milo Greene {11:00p, Mississippi Studios}, and The Builders and the Butchers {12:00a @ Bunk Bar}.


Finally, an easy night of choices: the only place to be of the last day of the fest is Pioneer Courthouse Square to see Atlas Genius, followed by School of Seven Bells showing off their synth-pop tunes before the final act of the night (and of the fest itself), Silversun Pickups

5:30pm :: Atlas Genius, Pioneer Courthouse Square
6:30pm :: School of Seven Bells, Pioneer Courthouse Square
8:00pm :: Silversun Pickups, Pioneer Courthouse Square

Tickets are still available for purchase, and you can read all about your options here.

We'll see you down in Portland!

Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop Okkervil River On The Road Tallest Man on Earth The Builders and the Butchers The Cave Singers Thee Oh Sees

MFNW recap: the pre-weekend edition, part II — Okkervil River, Tallest Man On Earth, Bobby Bare Jr.

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Day two at MFNW: also known as Friday, September 10th. With tons of shows all over the city to choose from, we chose to spend our imaginary day with the folks over at KEXP for a series of kick-ass in-studios, and to focus on the highly anticipated Okkervil River / Bobby Bare Jr. and Tallest Man On Earth / Cave Singers sets that night.

Friday morning at the Doug Fir, with Bobby McHugh:

Doug Fir / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Bobby McHugh / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Doug Fir / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Bobby Bare Jr. and his de-lovely band, in-studio for KEXP:

Bobby Bare, Jr. / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Tallest Man On Earth, in-studio for KEXP:

Doug Fir / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Tallest Man On Earth / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Underslept and over-caffeinated, we took to the Doug Fir for early performances by Bobby Bare Jr., The Tallest Man on Earth, and Thee Oh Sees. BBJ’s big-guitar, Americana-ized indie rock (as in indie.rock ‘n roll) jangled our insides awake, giving us a glimpse of what we could expect at the opening set later that evening over at the Crystal Ballroom. The Tallest Man On Earth’s power mini set — a good six songs or so — followed shortly thereafter with an entire band’s worth of sound, crippling our wide-awake hearts with sad stories and achy chords. And Thee Oh Sees’ jangly, yeller.surfcore antics took us out on a high note — their mega-upbeat songs with a little bit of noise and a little bit of B52’s-esque male / female counterpart vocals had us bouncing out the door looking forward to the rest of the night.

Bobby Bare Jr., live at the Crystal Ballroom:

Bobby Bare, Jr. / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Bobby Bare, Jr. / by Victoria VanBruinisse

By the time the Okkervil River show rolled around, we were coming out of our skin with excitement. Good as it was, Bobby Bare Jr.’s set earlier in the day proved to be only a mild, pared-down morning version of everything he was capable of bringing — as he started up the last song of his pre-OKR set, we were dancing along saddened, hoping that it wasn’t time to end his performance yet. His guitar work was enormous, the songs were fluid and transitioned well from one to the next, and the stage presence of the entire group translated fantastically. According to the chatter around me in the pit, there’s a documentary on BBJ in the works — so fans of his world will definitely want to stay tuned.

Okkervil River’s headlining set at the Crystal Ballroom:

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Will Sheff and company finally took the stage after another twenty minutes or so passed, and proceeded to put forth one of their best performances we’ve seen to date. Happy — and actually enthusiastic — about performing, they had it up at 11 for the whole show, playing songs that were better than any hand-crafted fantasy set list we could have come up with on our own. They opened their slice of the night up with “Black” (a traditional closer / end-of-set song on the 2008 tour) and managed to keep the momentum up for about ninety minutes straight — songs like “Red,” “Plus Ones,” “Lost Coastlines,” “Black Sheep Boy,” “A Girl in Port,” “A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene,” and “Unless It’s Kicks” literally had the room bouncing along and / or standing stick-straight in reverent silence, depending on what the tone called for. It was hands-down the best performance of the weekend — so much so that if we were to see no other shows until rOctober, we would have done so fully satisfied.

The Crystal Ballroom / by Victoria VanBruinisse

There’s so much more to tell about Friday, like the stellar Tallest Man On Earth / Cave Singers set at the Doug Fir, the late-night Builders and the Butchers show, and all the amazingness that went on during David Bazan and Rocky Votolato’s performances on Thursday. You can read all about the latter (and everything else that went on throughout Thursday’s sets) here.

{We’ll have more photos and commentary from Friday — including shots from the Tallest Man On Earth’s Doug Fir nighttime show — up soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the imaginary flickr pool for more of Thursday’s and Friday’s photos.}

Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom David Bazan Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop Okkervil River On The Road Rocky Votolato Tallest Man on Earth

MFNW recap: the pre-weekend edition, part I — David Bazan, Rocky Votolato, and more!

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Musicfest, Musicfest Northwest, M-F-N-Dubs, Baby SouthBy — whatever you want to call it, this past weekend’s slew of shows down in Portland were nothing short of an absolute blast. We ran rampant through the quadrants for four days straight, shooting every show we could get our hands on, swooning exponentially more as each night passed. Here’s just a fraction of what went on for the first half of the fest, during Thursday’s and Friday’s sets.

Rocky Votolato at the Doug Fir:

Rocky Votolato / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The big knock-it-out-of-the-park set on Thursday was David Bazan / Rocky Votolato set over at the Doug Fir. After the stage was properly warmed up all day with KEXP in-studios from the likes of the Cave Singers and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Rocky took the spotlight (after what was likely a gorgous set by Joshua Morrison, that we hit town a little too late to catch) and the room over for a good forty minutes, with a set that pleased both rabid forever-fans and fringe-fans alike. There was something almost infectious about his performance, as he surpassed the standard singer/songwriter storyteller vibe and instead delivered each song with a repectful, earnest, homage-y vibe that struck the major chords of our very own indie-lovin’ heartstrings.

The forever-fans sang along gleefully, word-for-word, elbowing each other during standout lines, chatting about summers past and how his songs had composed the very soundtracks that they’d lived by. The newer fans and never-heard-of-hims in attendance couldn’t help but get caught up in all the love, smiling from ear-to-ear at the energy the fans and Rocky seemed to be co-generating, helping to fill up the room with goodness. Much more than just an opening set for Bazan, Rocky Votolato’s slot was a standalone performance in it’s own right, and with endless choices on the dance card that evening, very much worthy of the time given.

David Bazan + Band at the Doug Fir:

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

As previously stated, it would seem as though the most recent incarnation of David Bazan (+ Band) can do no wrong. Every set that passes seems to get more cohesive, songs off of the newest album (Curse Your Branches) get better and better with each live listen, and any older, unearthed pre-solo Bazan work gets more polished and evolved-sounding every time the band takes a pass at it. Case in point: seeing something like “When They Really Get To Know You, They Will Run” on a non-Pedro the Lion setlist would invoke a fearful cringe from any number of long-standing PtL fans, as no cover version or reworked lineup could possibly do the original a fair amount of justice. However, it’s appearance on the DB+B setlist brought nothing but waves of joy to the imaginary camp in attendance, especially for those post-touring PtL fans present who thought they’d never hear it performed live in their lifetime.

That solid perfomance, coupled with Bazan’s signature anthematic chord progressions and a packed house, made the DB+B set the best of the night.

condiment heaven / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Thermals, kinda / by Victoria VanBruinisse

toasty / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Low-key mayhem ensued after the Doug Fir set, including (but not limited to) band sightings at one of the many Portland food-cart compounds, and much late-night geek-out-ery about the evening’s performances and everything that was coming up for Friday — most notably, Okkervil River’s headlining set at the Crystal Ballroom. Read all about that (and everything else that went on throughout Friday’s sets) here.

{We’ll have more photos from Thursday — including shots from the Thermals’ Crystal Ballroom show — up soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the imaginary flickr pool for more of Thursday’s and Friday’s photos.}

Bobby Bare Jr. David Bazan Imaginary Scoop Joshua Morrison Laura Veirs Menomena Okkervil River On The Road Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside Tallest Man on Earth The Cave Singers The Decemberists The Head and the Heart The Helio Sequence The National The Thermals The Walkmen

Countdown to Musicfest Northwest in 3… 2…

Technically, you can get your Musicfest Northwest (MFNW) on starting tonight — there will be a few gigs going on around town down in Portland to warm up the masses — but our imaginary coverage will officially begin tomorrow and we can’t hardly wait!  There’s quite a few acts and sorta-showcases that we’re espcially stoked to see… so without further ado, here are some of our picks for the best-of-the-fest shows for the next four days.

Please note: the approximate start times are listed for the first band only and are subject to change — always check your internets before heading out!

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
Thursday, 10p @ Berbati’s Pan

[sallie ford and the sound outside]

Having seen and heard a lot about these darlings since their 2009 blip on our Seattle radar, it’s going to be quite a treat to catch them at a hometown show. Full of good ol’ fashioned big-bodied electric sound and a pair of lungs that just won’t quit, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside are as swoon-tastic as it gets!

David Bazan + band / Joshua Morrison
Thursday, 9p @ the Doug Fir

[david bazan / by hot avocados photography]

Does this even need an explanation? Hot on the heels of two stellar performances at Bumbershoot, David Bazan (along with the current installment of his band) have fine tuned their sound to some true indie rock perfection. Achy and anthematic to the core, we’re super-stoked to catch them at a venue like the ‘Fir. Add in local favorite-home-safe Joshua Morrison, and you’ve got a night on your hands to remember.

The Thermals
Thursday, 10:30p @ the Crystal Ballroom

[the thermals]

The Thermals killed Bumbershoot, the new album rules, and we’ll be there with bells on. ’nuff said.

Okkervil River / Bobby Bare, Jr.
Friday, 10p @ the Crystal Ballroom

[okkervil river]

One of those lineups that makes you grateful that the bookers are playing close attention: a headlining set with OKR and a warmup by local favorite Bobby Bare, Jr. sounds like the next best thing since sliced bread. The boys of Okkervil have been hard at work, following up their last album with some amazing work next to the great Roky Erickson, and judging by the sound of the twitterverse, on to the next recording of something beautiful.

The Tallest Man On Earth / The Cave Singers
Friday, 11p @ the Doug Fir

[cave singers / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Talk about a pity party. In the best of ways, we mean. With the sweet, haunted, fill-the-room-up sound that both of these acts generate, we’ll be lucky if anyone is left standing at the end of the night. Gorgeous, powerful, goosebumpy times are a-comin’.

The Decemberists / Laura Veirs
Saturday, 6p @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

[colin meloy / the decemberists / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Well, duh. If you didn’t get to hit the mainstage this past weekend in Seattle, make sure you get yourself over to this show to get your night started right.

The Head and the Heart
Saturday, 9p @ Berbati’s Pan

[the head and the heart / victoria vanbruinisse]

Yay! Seattle, represent! Deemed by Seattle Weekly as “the best band that didn’t exist twelve months ago,” our very own Head and the Heart will be taking Portland by storm on Saturday night. We’re excited to hit the town with them and watch our friends in sister-city PDX take in everything they’ve got to give. It’s gonna be Blissfest 2010, for sure.

Shabazz Palaces / Champagne Champagne / THEESatisfaction
Saturday, 9p @ Jimmy Mak’s

[theesatisfaction / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Another no-brainer. Three fantastic cuts that showcase the best of the PacNW’s specific flavor of, with well-delivered lines and thoughtful beats crafted to match. The perfect antithesis to any one of the achier lineups of the weekend.

Saturday, 11p @ the Crystal Ballroom

[menomena / laura musselman]

Menomena. Crystal Ballroom. Saturday. Be there. (Seriously.)

The National / The Walkmen / Helio Sequence
Sunday, 5p @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

[the walkmen / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Deemed the big headline show of the weekend, we can’t wait to get our elbows into the crowd for this one and all the amazing it has to deliver. Between the solid freakout that the National brings and the feel-it-in-your-back-teeth loud of the Walkmen, we’re pretty sure we might disintegrate on the spot as we close out the ‘Fest with this mega-show.

Phew. That’s a lot of music. Tickets are still available on the MFNW website, where you can also make your own handy-dandy schedule in an attempt to make it to every show on your but-all-of-these-are-a-must-see list! We’ll be splitting ourselves into quadruplets, covering everything we can get our happy hands on, and sending in reports as we’re able.

See you in PDX!

{Big thanks to Laura Musselman for the Menomena photo, and to the TIG flickr pool for the stellar Thermals shot!}

Berbati's Pan Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom David Bazan Imaginary Scoop Menomena Okkervil River Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside Tallest Man on Earth The Cave Singers The Decemberists The Thermals The Walkmen Wonder Ballroom

It's time to prefunk! Music Fest Northwest is coming, September 8-12


While everyone is prefunking Bumbershoot, we’d like to take a moment to officially get the prefunk to the prefunk for Music Fest Northwest going. Starting today.

If you’ve never been, MFNW is like a crazier, spread-out-ier Bumbershoot — spanning four days and venues all over town — or a tinier, cleaner SXSW. Minus the industry hoo-ha and power-showcases and seminars. Beginning on Wednesday, September 8th, our sweet sister-city will be hosting a veritable slew of amazing bands all over town. Acts like Okkervil River, Menomena, the Decemberists, the Cave Singers, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, the Thermals, Dave Bazan, Bobby Bare, Jr., the Walkmen, the National, and the Tallest Man On Earth — among many, many others — will be bringing an extended weekend of bliss to Portland for our listening and viewing pleasure.

We’ll be featuring more of the bands we’re excited to see play this year over the next week, and posting our recommendations on which shows we think you’d like to catch, day-by-day. Until then, however, please enjoy the official MFNW commercial — and when that’s done, take a minute to swing over to the MFNW website and get started on your schedule. Tickets (may) still be available by the time this posts — you can check here to see what’s left, although the three-day VIP tickets have already sold out.

Stay tuned for more prefunk!

Bobby Bare Jr. Jr. Live Show Review The Crocodile United State of Electronica Velella Velella

Bobby Bare, Jr. broke my heart, and U.S.E. helped me forget all about it.

Saturday was probably the weirdest multi-show night I've experienced in quite some time. Hopping from the Tractor to the Sunset, or catching Jon Auer, Pablo Trucker and Visqueen all in one night – that doesn't sound like it's beyond any kind of logical scope. It's just a handful of shows. But Bobby Bare, Jr. at the Sunset — a whopping dose of brilliant, funny, melancholy singer / songwriter — and then the U.S.E. show at the Crocodile? Seriously. Strangely enough, the shows meshed up a lot better than I realized they would, and I even had enough time in between to find good parking.

Bobby Bare, Jr. was just amazing. The Sunset was packed to the gills forty minutes before showtime — mind you, for the early show! People had crammed in all the way up to the stage, drinks in hand, grinning ear-to-ear. Save for the track he did for one of the live KEXP compilations, I hadn't acquainted myself much with Bobby's work, except to know that I liked what I had heard so far. And when he took the stage to roaring applause and decibel-breaking whistles, it was no disappointment for this new fan — he absolutely killed.

We were treated to a good long set of favorites and some gorgeous covers, recordings of which were available (at shows only) for ten bucks. Ten bucks! Tracks by America, and Bread, and a host of full-throttle American heartbreakers. They were sold out by the time I made my way to the back of the room, but if you happen to find yourself in Ballard tonight, you can probably pick up a copy — an electric version of last Saturday's set is taking place with Mark Pickerel and some other local faves sitting in to kick it up a notch. It's the early show, so watch your clocks and get there in time for a good spot!

Bobby Bare, Jr. [by hot avocados photography]

Bobby Bare, Jr. [by hot avocados photography]

Bobby Bare, Jr. [by hot avocados photography]

Then it was off to the Crocodile, to shake it up for U.S.E. and Velella Velella. Holy crap. From mushy-hearted funny to a full throttle dance party, in three notes or less. Just like the Sunset, I walked in to a fully packed house and wove my way up front (thanks to Laura) to catch the remainder of the show. And it was totally and completely awesome.

Velella Velella was one of those bands I knew that I knew, but couldn't think of their sound — and what a treat it was to hear them live. Pulling off live music like theirs can be a little tricky, but they hit a homerun, and had the whole room dancing from the very start of their set. U.S.E. brought their game face to the stage shortly afterward, and proceeded to assault the crowd with a big shot of sparkly disco-ball amazingness. All sore feet and ringing ears afterwards, it's a show I'm glad I made a point of getting to.

On a side note, it's nice to see the Croc transition so well from holding full-throtte rock shows to full-force electronica night, with the lighting and sound skills to match both cases perfectly. I know I'm the new girl and all, but I'm sure glad this club is back in town.

Velella Velella [by hot avocados photography]

Velella Velella [by hot avocados photography]

Velella Velella [by hot avocados photography

Velella Velella [by hot avocados photography]

U.S.E. [by hot avocados photography]

U.S.E. [by hot avocados photography]

U.S.E. [by hot avocados photography]