Update! We now have Liza Lubell's photographs to accompany this post.
While much of the post-weekend attention should deservedly be devoted to PDX Pop Now, there were some other shows in town this weekend also--too many, in fact. It was difficult to decide what to do with one's self, with No Age, Sharon Jones, the Hold Steady, Girl Talk, and Jay Reatard all performing at the same time as the weekend-long local music festival. Oh, and Fleet Foxes.
After much quick-rising buzz, Fleet Foxes have finally arrived, playing a headlining show at a sold-out Doug Fir on Friday. Their debut self-titled record has already won over a significant crowd of people who aren't really hippies but kind of like hippie music anyway, and these devoted new converts paid careful, quiet attention to the band's studied, note-perfect set. The band's much-regarded harmonies were there in full-force, with Robin Pecknold leading the group in flawless, gliding vocals.
It actually felt a bit studied, and the audience was too reverently hushed. I've heard all these songs before in a live setting and Friday's show--while gorgeous in many ways--didn't really grab my emotions. It felt a bit like a museum piece. Still, Pecknold's voice is a thing of wonder, particularly during "Oliver James" (which the respectful crowd took very seriously, not emitting a single peep during its a cappella close), and new drummer J. Tillman's stage banter is as hilarious as it is during his solo shows. "Mykonos," from the Foxes' superior Sun Giant EP, was the highlight of the set, with rocking power building up through the song's different sections.
The Dutchess and the Duke's set was actually a little more engaging, with jangly '60s-style folk-pop that felt more spontaneous. Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison both strummed electric guitars while a third guy shook the tambourine. It felt like something from new wave black & white foreign film, not exactly twee but not quite rock either--like the yé-yé music of France in the early '60s. It was a lot of fun.
Harper Simon--son of Paul--opened the proceedings accompanied by Blitzen Trapper's Eric Earley on keys and Starfucker's Josh Hodges on drums. He did a mellow, folkie set, singing with a voice not unlike his father's; it was pleasant but nothing mindblowing. They closed with a cover of Buffalo Springfield's "Burned." Harper Simon also played a show at the Laurelthirst last night, and opens for Thao & the Get Down Stay Down at Holocene tomorrow night.