Sunday, September 7, 2008

Music Fest Northwest Recap

We are packing up out of Luke's garage, preparing to set out on the road again. We had an interesting, and also fun, weekend here in Portland for Music Fest Northwest.

We began the musical weekend back at the Doug Fir Lounge on Friday morning at 11am to film Seattle radio KEXP's live broadcast of Blind Pilot's set. Bryan, the manager who gave us permission to film their show on August 30, was extremely helpful with giving us a location release again and introducing us to the staff of KEXP and getting their ok - with the condition that we stay out of the way and share footage. Jim and Kyle from KEXP was great to work with and gave us free reign of the area and Jim, the audio engineer even hooked us up with a cd of the broadcast. We also realized that morning that we had forgotten to complete another logistical aspect - getting permission from the festival to shoot Blind Pilot's set on Saturday at the Fez Ballroom, and anywhere else that the band might go. Jim had introduced us to Dave Allen, previously, and until recently, of Gang of Four, and now blogging at Pampelmoose music blog, and after Emily fretted for a bit about our lack of access to the festival, she decided to ask Dave (not really knowing who he was) how he got a press pass. He gave her a number and Max called up, explained who we were, sent her an email when we got back and the day before the show we were in possession of press passes for both of us. I guess luck is back to smiling on us.

After receiving our passes, we started looking at who the other acts were at this fest and realized we didn't now any of them. We knew that Blind Pilot was playing before Sir Mix-a-Lot, but beyond that we hadn't really paid much attention to who else would be playing. In general, we are not up on new music. Most of our music collection in Baltimore consisted of 30 year old records, and Max was fairly active in the NJ/NY hardcore scene in the late 1990s. Deciding to document Blind Pilot's tour is the most cutting edge decision we have made in a long time.

After the band loaded in their equipment, and we got our forms signed, at the Fez, we went to the Roseland Ballroom and saw the first part of Bouncing Souls' set. Max wanted to express his Jersey pride, and see how the intervening twelve years had treated them. It was cool to see that three out of four 'Souls were still the same, but they were definately much older than when Max last saw them. Although they did still have a lot of energy and the 16 year-olds there were moshing in the front, singing along. We left and went back to the Fez Ballroom to set up for Blind Pilot's show. There were a lot of the bands on the lineup, and they did a quick sound check before they went on, which is difficult when there are nine musicians to mix. The result was that the vocals were too soft, and the feedback from their monitors was awful. After seeing them at so many venues, we have gotten fairly used to what it sounds like when well mixed and well delivered. They played through the feedback, and not being able to hear themselves play and the audience stayed enthusiastic - another testament to their ability to engage a crowd.

After the show, we figured we'd check out Helio Sequence at the Crystal Ballroom, a Portland-based band that people at the festival had been buzzing about. We caught the last part of the show and their final song when they were joined by Menomena, one of the Luke's favorite bands. It was great music that made us pretty happy. In addition, Isreal met Helio Sequence after the show, gave them a CD and was told that they already had the album and had listened to it (all the way through and more than once)and really liked it. Israel was visibly honored- glowing even.

We met up with some of the band outside the Crystal ballroom afterward, and all headed over to see if we could catch Sir Mix-a-Lot, and for the first time that weekend, the press passes could not get us into the show. We did manage to send a camera up with Israel to get this photo, as the band said they had to go get their instruments from backstage. We also hung out with some fans who couldn't get in, and then watched them get escorted off the premesis after they posed for a photo of them begging to get in.

After getting our camera back, we saw the last two songs of Flipper, the legendary San Francisco-based band that now features Krist Novaselic on bass - which was funny after our time in Elma, WA where he was referenced a lot and Blind Pilot was compared to Nirvana. Bruce was spot on, pitcher of beer in hand. They were loud, awesome and a great way to end the evening. We headed back to Luke's garage, making one last pit stop at Potato Champion, before we head out of Portland- and this time we won't be coming back any time soon.

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