It’s Friday, September 9th and I’ve had no sleep from the night before’s shenanigans. But Music Fest NW waits for no-one, not even a dead woman walking. So I man up and make my way into the Doug Fir at the ungodly hour of 10am to see what UK’s spindly, former baby Goths-with-vampy-names The Horrors a) look like and b) sound like when they have to perform tracks off of fab new album Skyying at a time when they should be drooling in bed.
Poking around in the garage, I find a very tired looking Joshua (nee Von Grimm) and Rhys (formerly Spider Webb, looking all dandy in a stripey shirt with a cravat) having a smoke before having to face the audience. I say hullo. They nod. Barely. Lead singer Faris sits down near me in the empty club and we start chatting. He asks me if I’m Irish. I tell him no, I lived in London for 7 years and my accent is kinda bastardized. He tells me his girlfriend – also from Vancouver – always gets questions in London if she’s Irish so he wonders if all Vancouverites have a slight Irish accent. I laugh. We’re getting on great! Then I ask him if I can take a candid picture. He declines. He has clearly been coached not to accept promotion unless it comes via his “people” (which I’m sure the Horrors have). Gods Londoners sometimes need to crawl outta their own arses…
…still, all I can fixate on is their hair. Remember the Horrors when they looked like this? Awww! Least Joshua’s hair is more managable now. Uh…yeah. “Changing the Rain” and “I Can See Through You” sound fab, incidentally. Even at 10.30am.
Aaaaand now for something completely different. The lovely, beardy folk-rocker called Dan Mangan, from my hometown Van, is next up at KEXP and plays an absolutely stunning set of tracks from his upcoming album Oh Fortune. We all forget about the Horrors’ hair and swoon. You need to know about Dan Mangan. if you don’t already. His songs are made of the pretty and he’s ridiculously nice and witty on air. Afterwards, he and I chat and make plans to get drunk at our fave local bar when he’s back in Vancouver. As you do.
After a lunch of Sizzle Pie (a slice o’”Kylesa” for me), I wander though the warehouses on NE Couch and Davis up to Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts (Too) to queue for a Maple Bacon Bar (with real bacon on top, and it’s insane good) and this, the Miami Vice. Here’s Brittney, one of KEXP’s photographers, helping me with my hard work.
After lunch, it’s PDX’s Typhoon’s turn in the studio. They seem to have 1,698 members, and remind me of a sort of Polyphonic Spree-meets-Arcade-Fire thing, though not so kooky and very pretty. Here, they hang out waiting for a group shot. Remind anyone of school photos?
LOOK AT THE CUTE TYPHOON HORN SECTION! What’s a baby Typhoon called? Breeze? AirCon?
But I was waiting for this. Old 97’s singer Rhett Miller brings his geetar and stomping boots and plays one of the best KEXP sessions of the week. Sure the music’s a bit samey rawk, but he takes requests, does a cover of REM’s “Driver 8” and looks to on-air DJ Kevin for encouragement. And when he gets the thumbs up, he even plays an encore. It’s brilliant. Afterwards we chat and take a pic together, because he is a cutie. And I like cuties.
Then it’s back to the hotel for a 45 minute nap before…
…newish Portland rappers TxE at the Roseland Theatre, playing just before Mackelmore and Lewis. To enjoy this set and take this amazing pic of Epp standing on air, I had to go through a metal detector. Oh those keeeeraazy rap shows filled with all-ages kids!
But TxE (pronounced T&E) are really quite fun, and both Calvin and this guy, TOPE/Anthony Anderson, climb on into the crowd. The kids duggit. I duggit. Check ’em via Facebook.
After TxE was Shabazz. Was really looking forward to checkin’ out the former Digible Planets’ Butterfly in action in his newer joint Shabazz Palaces, ‘cos I dig their SubPop album Black Up! muchly. It’s a delicious dark muddle of twisty hiphop. Problem is, there’s some serious sound issues tonight and it’s the wrong room for ’em. All I seem to get from Shabazz’s performance is a dark mumble. Bummer.
….aaaaand now for something completely different. AGAIN. I rush up the street to the Crystal Ballroom to catch the last few songs of Weinland and then watch with nodding appreciation of the wonderful Sharon Van Etten. But it’s about 145 degrees inside, and I’ve not eaten. I inhale another slice at the back of the venue while trying not to dehydrate. But Sharon, you’re a beaut.
Then it’s rushing back DOWN the street to the EMP Backstage lounge, where Toronto pedal-hoppers PS I LOVE YOU (whom I love) have finished up and local trio/heroes The Thermals have taken over. The lounge is rammed and I climb onto a sofa near the door to watch the indiepoppunksters do a brilliant fun set. In fact, it’s so fun that this happens. At the back of the room I catch up with Ben PS I LOVE YOU, then head next door for the last bit of Ladybug Transistor.
…f0llowed by Julian (from Elephant 6/The Music Tapes) and the rest of weirdies in Olivia Tremor Control, doing their sort of indie rock 60s psychedelia to an absolutely sardined crowd in the narrow Someday Lounge. I tweet PS I LOVE YOU’s Paul Saulnier to tell him sorry I missed him, and that I was next door at Olivia Tremor Control. He tweets back “Let’s party!” So I…
…scream “MORE COWBELL!” at Will Cullen Hart (or maybe I did?) and then type back at Paul, telling him I’m gonna head back to the EMP to find ’em. But when I get there? Guess what? The Thermals have blown up their amp, shutting down the rest of the night…and the place is empty. So I head to the Horrors a few blocks away, eager to see if how their hair fares at midnight instead of 10am. In the meantime, Paul PS I LOVE you is tweeting me: “I’m at Olivia Tremor Control!”. We are rock ships passing in the night. Shame.
At the appropriate-named venue Dante’s, The Horrors are playing in the dark. Pretty much. And even though I’m standing next to a mixing board stage right and next to Von Grimm, all I can see is this…you know, hair. But the band sounds great, and are rightfully more on point for their actual show. I’m thankful for a bit of Brit, quite frankly.
And that’s it! Stick a fork in me, I’m done! Absolutely shattered after 15 hours of music, pizza and doughnuts. Good thing there’s not another day of MFNW ahead! OH. \m/
NOW READ PART ONE, FEATURING SEBADOH, THE ARCHERS OF LOAF, UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA …and FRED ARMISEN!
NOW READ PART THREE, FEATURING ANTLERS, EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, TYPHOON, AVI BUFFALO AND OFF!
FOR MORE PICS FROM MUSICFESTNW, PEEP MY COVERAGE IN CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND