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Tuesday, September 29, 2009 presents Sharon Van Etten, Natureboy & Rey Villalobos is proud to present our first ever live music showcase on Saturday November 7th at Union Pool. The show will feature Brooklyn's Sharon Van Etten, Natureboy, and Portland's Rey Villalobos. DJ Scot Bowman of The Sky Report & will be spinning between sets. Artist Brad Nack will be hosting a reindeer art show in the lobby during the show. Doors open at 9pm. 21+ $12 The day of the show or purchase $10 advance online tickets here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MFNW (Music Fest North West) Portland, OR - Day 2

Pack AD / Scout Niblett
The Doug Fir

Explode Into Colors / The Prids
September 18th, 2009

The Doug Fir interior feels warm—like a bucolic fishing cabin. It’s the perfect venue for a cold winter’s night, tucking the audience down a long flight of stairs where the stage sits comfortably and Portland’s advanced indie illuminati gather to stand, side by side, drinking one of the city’s signature products: craft beer. The floors near the bar emit a bright yellow glow, complementing the roughly hewn lacquered reclaimed pine logs that comprise its siding.

Tonight the opening act is Scout Niblett, a thirty-something English singer-songwriter whose voice is something you can ease in and listen closely to. Named for the youthful character in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, she invites her audience inside. Her dark, wavy hair falls across her smooth, pale forehead into her eyes, causing her to periodically flick her head, a sexy defiance of gravity’s inevitability. Her slow, undulating songs fit the room, indelibly alternating between vocals over guitar and vocals over drums. The audience sways with her, gripping their organic IPAs a little harder as she accompanies her stories with percussion. At the end of her set, within minutes of waving and dropping her instrument, she camps out near the merchandise table, greeting fans who seem as humbled by her as she is by them. Quite a number of them stutter, bow their heads, and manage to say little more than “thank you.”

In an act that seems either like an expression of the festival’s eclectic nature or a clumsily misguided pairing, Vancouver, BC’s Pack AD take the stage, and suddenly the Fir’s warmth is clear-cut : an all-girl twosome, guitar and drums, featuring a robotic churning sound that is as isolating as Niblett was inclusive. We quickly escape, moving venues a few blocks across the neighborhood to Holocene, in time to catch the middle and crashing end of The Prids’ set. One of Portland’s best kept secrets (hopefully nationally exposed, hopefully) the bouncy gothic rock harkens back to some black-clad divinity: Joy Division, and to a lesser extent, exuding mythological moodiness like Bauhaus. In spite of their dour costume, the crowded modernist demonstration bounces the crowd, sending them into joyous ecstasy. It seems like everyone here is ready for the russet onset of autumn. There are scarves and coats, even though the day’s high temperature was close to eighty degrees.

The Prids set is, as usual, fantastic, and over far too soon, giving way to Explode Into Colors, a trio of local girls I’ve never taken the time to sit down and listen to before (check that, corrected). Theirs is a dynamic sound that doesn’t easily leave you, primal like The Slits, yet filled with a calculated, artistic remove à la Laurie Anderson. Their set relies on a strong array of sounds and effects, and although it’s technically scattered, forcing the lead singer to constantly banter back and forth, their energy carries them through, howling, pounding like escaped primitives into the night.

- Erick Mertz

MFNW (Music Fest North West) Portland, OR - Day 1

Girl Talk / Brother Reade / Guidance Counselor
Roseland Theater
Thursday, September 17th 2009

“Who robbed Martha Plimpton’s wardrobe?”
A voice shouts from somewhere on the stairwell leading up from the bottom floor of the Roseland Theater into the balcony bar. There is no drinking allowed downstairs, which in part explains why it’s so packed: the crowd tonight looks wet around the ears, at best. In fact, I comment to my wife as we sashay up to the bar that the last time I saw so many underage girls in tank tops, it was my junior year of high school at a basketball tournament. She laughs.
I was seventeen.

They’re here for the night’s headliner (and arguably the festival’s main draw), Girl Talk, but they first have to wait through Guidance Counselor, a manic, hard-driving four-piece force with a Joy Division-cum-Oingo Boingo shoegazing appeal. I’ve never heard of the band and have to ask someone next to me about them. In the end, Guidance Counselor, while far more sophisticated emotionally than the precocious crowd, end up feeling a little careless. The lead singer strips down to his underwear (dark silken boxers, it appears), dives into the crowd for the finale, and then quickly packs up his gear with the rest of his band, shivering and pale under the stage lights.

Between sets, I look around at the crowd and wonder how any teenage boy gets laid these days. These guys are skinny, odd amalgamations of too much and too little. There are some Dungeon Masters in the midst, I theorize, but masters of little else. Five hundred years ago, I ponder, these would have been considered warriors. They would have been sent out onto the plains to defend the village. Looking at some of these guys, I wonder whether or not they could defend the cat box.

Brother Reade is atrocious. We spend the set wondering what cartoons the visual installation rips off, whether or not we’ll understand even one of the bellicose rapper’s lyrics, and lastly, what will be the best position to stand in for Girl Talk. We decide to split up: I’ll wander down and take pictures, my wife dancing toward the back. When the stage is set and Girl Talk mans his “two laptops and a microphone” setup, the clean and sober crowd is spun into madness. Looking back at the throng feels almost presidential: people stretch, pump their fists, and chant. Girl Talk as the referential mix begins.

Girl Talk seems to know the criticism that watching his work is a little boring. He takes the stage with a crowd of fans, a video of his own performance going on in the background, and a cadre of toilet paper-streaming stagehands. It’s a little much (okay, it’s obnoxious), but excess is certainly his milieu What’s clear from the beginning is that anyone in the audience feeling for the clean beats and transitions from Feed The Animals will have to wait for the iPod or car stereo. Beats are constantly dropped, muffed, and missed, at one point leading the Mac-Master to stop altogether, get situated while imploring the crowd to hang in there and give him more, shouting for Portland to stand as one behind him. When the show gets flat (and it does, in spite of the endless frolic), he relies on the pathos of a Michael Jackson cut, one bar of the late King’s voice, to bring the crowd back to its frantic peak. But it feels like too, too much. Michael appears three or four times in seventy-five minutes, the last time, almost telegraphed.

Eventually, I emerge from the firing line—er, photographer’s pit—and find my wife, a tireless dancer and sometime hip-hop enthusiast. She’s sweaty and tired, but wants to leave (probably to avert the crowd), much to my surprise. When we compare notes, it doesn’t feel right to her either. On our walk onto the street, we all but wonder if Girl Talk isn’t your standard college DJ who caught lightning.

Dirty Three
Berbati’s Pan
Thursday, September 17th 2009

Just five blocks away is The Dirty Three at Berbati’s Pan (in the same block as the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts, for those interested in a NyQuil crueller).

It’s a five-block walk from Girl Talk, maybe seven minutes, and yet it feels like we’re a hundred miles away. The mood in the brick building is somber and thoughtful, the crowd more Merlot than high school math class. There is a wait outside, even for wristbanded attendees (most of the festival headliners are packing the crowds in).

Walking in fifteen minutes late on their set is interrupting something therapeutic. The three-piece plays with its back turned to the crowd, that introspective mood conveyed from on high. Between songs, violinist Warren Ellis flaunts the pensive, bookish mood. He seems tall—his head reaches near the rafters, feeling like Rasputin in his long, wavy hair and thick beard. He’s given to elaborate tale spinning, describing songs as descriptions of 48-hour comedowns from methamphetamines, or worse, cursed, hateful interactions with angry Chinese neighbors. Then he goes out and makes love to his instrument.

It’s clear that Ellis is intense while still capable of being playful, willing to tempt absurd interpretations of his band’s complexly structured, emotive songs. The crowd is unaffected, raising bottles of beer to their mouths with all of the excitement of stoned marionettes. What the centerpiece musician manages to pull off with the violin is, itself, performance art.

However dour, it’s a performance. When we walk out, we encounter some leftover crowd from Girl Talk. One of the girls was familiar as one from onstage. She’s exhausted, so sweaty that her bare arms are steaming in the cool September night. They want more but rue being shut out. Behind the Roseland, they speculate which car Girl Talk drove in or if he’s already gone. She may have been crying.

My wife and I smile at one another, ruing and relishing the flower of youth.

- Erick Mertz

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Ramona Falls at Bruar Falls

Swedish husband and wife duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums took the crowd at Bruar Falls by storm. Many, including the drummer of Ramona Falls, agreed that we all had witnessed one of the best live shows ever. The singer Mariam Wallentin's voice combined Southern Spirituals and Björk-like melodies with jazz improvisations. Her husband Andreas Werliin's tribal and complex drum rhythms fed off her vocals. The result was a refreshing improvisational collaboration. The only thing that comes to mind to compare them to is a more soulful and savage incarnation of Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie's side project The Creatures. In addition to singing Mariam also played steel drums, harmonica and beat drum sticks on various surfaces. The duo's musical spontaneity and strong confidence set a high water mark for a live show. Video below to catch a glimpse of brilliance.

Next up was Brent Knopf's of Menomena new project Ramona Falls. There music kind of has more synthesized Andrew Bird type thing going on with the strings mixed with a high on the neck place capo, nylon string guitar sound. Knopf's voice sometimes bring to mind Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. They opened with their song "Russia" off their debut Intuit, but it was like seeing a barber shop quartet play after The Swans. There wasn't an once of musical excitement left in room. Ramona Falls is a fun band and the show would had been much more interesting but not after such an emotional roller coaster ride of Wildbirds & Peacedrums set. The band couldn't bring the crowd back to the lofty heights again. The drummer of Ramona Falls said it best. "Thanks to Wildbirds & Peacedrums for playing the best live show I've ever seen in my life, right before we go on, Thanks Guys!".

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Natureboy is un-plugged & FREE this Thursday 9/10/09

Natureboy's Sara Kermanshahi and crew have released one of the top three LPs of 2009. Check her out soon before she leaves the intimate streets of Bushwick and starts headlining the big NYC venues. Cedar Apffel produced her debut album and celestially captures every beautiful understated melody of Sara's voice and her delicate heartfelt guitar work under his audio microscope. Check out the beautiful tunes "Heart to Fool" and "Cursed Fired" on their myspace page. They missed having a cool show date (9909) by one day. This show is supposedly unplugged, showcasing the artists un-amplified and in the raw. Sara shares the bill with Brian Amsterdam from Werewolves and Vin from Soft Black.

Sep 10 2009 10:00P Northeast Kingdom - Brooklyn, New York

Bowling and Glass Candy only in Brooklyn

The Portland based electronic disco punk duo Glass Candy will hit Brooklyn Bowl this weekend. If you haven't heard the tasty treats guitarist/synthesist/general producer Johnny Jewel is dishing out on MP3 and vinyl with his amazing front women Ida No, your truly missing out. I thought live they wouldn't be that great. Was i ever wrong! Ida No will steal your heart and she commands the stage. Mike for the Italians Do It Better will be spinning some grooves. The Glass Candy crew is off to Canada and Europe after these shows.

Sep 11 2009 10:00P VAGABOND Miami
Sep 12 2009 10:00P BROOKLYN BOWL + Mike Simonetti New York City

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Morgues Live 10/6/09

The Morgues played a free show at Pete's Candy Store this Sunday, Sept 6, 2009. The band ripped through an eight song set which brought back fond memories of Mazzy Star and The Jesus & Mary Chain sans the fuzz and maybe some Dylan thrown in the mix.
Singer-songwriter David King rotated from song to song, either singing and playing chords on his Epiphone guitar or singing while gently shaking some type of sleigh bell tamborine. Besides King the band's line-up consists of another guitarist, who had a beautiful Harmony guitar and the chops to play it, a lady bassist who rocked a P-Bass, the most photogenic drummer you've ever seen (no fuc# faces at all and a very Max Weinberg style - minus 60 years) and a keyboard/organist who knew how to add just the right amount of textures.

On their myspace page you can hear the great tunes "Geez Louise Get Yourself A Room" and "Caterpillar" or check out some low-fi videos I shot of the show, or even better you can buy their newly released E.P. for under $3 Are Fast Cars on Ashley's Dollar Store label or pick it up it at iTunes and Amazon. King mentioned after the show, he plans on releasing a few more EP's in the near future. Keep your ears peeled for their next show.

Set List:
Side Walk
Song for Kirsten Dunst
Geez Louise Get Yourself A Room
First Fall
Take My Watch I Say
(Probably not in the best of order)

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Morgues are playing this Sunday!

The Morgues play a free show at Pete's Candy Store this Sunday, Sept 6, 2009, sometime between 8:00pm - 11:00pm. They just released their E.P. Are Fast Cars on Ashley's Dollar Store label. You can pick it up at iTunes and Amazon and somewhere else.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cass McCombs 3rd Video from Catacombs

The video is for "The Executioner's Song." The video is very dark and visually captivating - make sure to watch from start to finish! It was directed by Aaron Brown, who also directed the video for "Dreams-Come-True-Girl.

Frankie Rose and The Outs

Frankie Rose (ex-Vivian Girls and beautiful standing drummer for Crystal Stilts) has new project entitled of Frankie Rose and The Outs. Check out her new tune "Where Do You Run To" on her myspace page.She has some stuff coming out on Slumberland Records and some upcoming shows.