MFNW: Like a Villain & Bob Mould
In spite of technically having started on Tuesday, Thursday was probably the first real day of MusicfestNW. Still, the lineup Thursday night was relatively sparse—not a lot of heartbreaking conflicts (although I wish I would have caught Bonnie Prince Billy; MFNW wouldn't be MFNW without at least a smattering of regrets like these).
I spent all of the day Thursday house-hunting, and I wound up utterly unsuccessful. My prospective roommate and I ended up rewarding ourselves (for the fruitless search) by going to the Old Church, and we got there just in time for Like a Villain's set, who totally destroyed in spite of occupying the opening slot for Typhoon. I've seen Like a Villain a handful of times, but only at smaller venues, and while I never underestimated auteur Holland Andrews' abilities per se, I couldn't envision Like a Villain being as transfixing in a less intimate setting. Turns out, the Old Church was the perfect environment for Like a Villain's strangely spiritual loop station lullabies. Andrews got a particularly positive reaction from the unsuspecting crowd of withdrawn hipsters and med school grads ("Typhoon fans"!) after playing an extremely musical-y song about talking under the covers with an impending lover about Pokemon. "You sure know how to make a girl feel pretty," Andrews remarked.
predictably delivered in spite of some technical difficulties, but I had to leave before they finished if I wanted to catch Bob Mould
(and I really wanted to catch Bob Mould). My friend dropped me off at the Doug Fir, and there was no hiding my disappointment when I realized that Mould wasn't playing with a band. Even weirder was his solo configuration: an overdriven electric guitar running through two different amps at a near-deafening volume, which gratuitously obfuscated the vocals. First of all: why couldn't an acoustic suffice? Secondly, as great as Mould's songs are, they can't really be conveyed effectively by just one guy. He isn't Elvis Costello. He isn't dynamic enough. Those songs need the other instruments, and I can't imagine anyone getting anything out of that set who wasn't already familiar with Mould's material.
"It's been a while since I've done one of these," Mould said as he took the stage, and I'm not really sure what he meant by that. Mould started the set with some newer material, before launching into fan favorite "Hoover Dam." I looked to my left and realized I was standing next to Stephen fucking Malkmus, who was bobbing his head and self-consciously mouthing along. A drunk fan in a Dead Moon shirt who was monopolizing the front row yelled at Mould in between songs: "THAT was my favorite song of the set!," which resulted in some repartee between an inebriated dork and the notoriously caustic Mould. I looked over and Malkmus was chuckling to himself.
Malkmus and I ended up leaving around the same, incidentally. I had to catch the last bus of the night and he probably had to go do something way cooler than that. But apparently Fred Armisen joined Mould on stage for an encore performance. Too bad we didn't stay. Malkmus probably would have loved that.