It’s been a weird 48 hours. Wednesday evening was spent innocently enough with first-world problems like pissing and moaning at long lines and lack of a phone charge. I caught a nice back-to-back of Lucinda Williams and the Hold Steady, blissfully unaware at the horror that was happening across town with the drunk driver plowing his car into an innocent crowd outside of the Mohawk. It seems trite to talk about the music and it feels disrespectful to send in snarky musings about the goings on, with the pall of the tragedy that is hanging over the festival—and there is a pall—but at the risk of sounding melodramatic, music always heals, so let’s talk about music.

Divers
  • Divers
It’s fitting that the first band I bring up is Divers, because they were one of my inspirations for coming down this year. Not since Pure Country Gold have I been this excited about a Portland band. They have a new album in the can, and hopefully that will at least allow people to get a taste of why I think they are so special. But—to trot out the old cliché—you have to see them live to really see what they are about. I hate comparisons, but I also hate reading about a band and not being able to put them in context, so I guess to get you in the ballpark, they are a little Replacements and a little Springsteen, with a house show mentality. They opened the CD Baby showcase, and just killed it. If you live in Portland and haven’t seen this band yet, you are missing out.

The ability to see shows has been super frustrating. You imagine this Pollyanna world where you can flit from venue to venue, popping in and catching 30 minutes of a band you want to check out, but that just isn’t reality. The festival is so oversold that if you have your heart on seeing someone, you really have to make sure that you are catching at least half a set from the previous band just to make sure you get into the venue. I tried to catch Lee Fields, but even with the mighty Portland Mercury badge I was 150 people deep in the line outside the sold-out venue, and I couldn’t get over to Parquet Courts—who released my favorite album of 2013—because they were eight blocks from the venues where I wanted to catch the after-11 pm shows.

Bob Mould
  • Bob Mould
I ended Thursday with Bob Mould. I wondered if I was wasting my badge by seeing an artist I have seen upwards of 20 times, but Bob was with band, which means you are going to get Bob, Jason Narducy, and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster—who quite possibly could be the greatest drummer on the planet. Plus, Bob has a new album out, so I wanted to check out if he was going to still stay in the same vein as the fantastic Silver Age that he released 18 months ago. If this show was any indication, he is actually going louder and faster than anything he has done since Hüsker Dü. The godfather of post punk never disappoints. Glad I went.

Other quick random musings: Caught a day show at Easy Tiger with a band called Matrimony out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Irish lead singer with a small dose of Avett Brothers. It’s worth checking out.

Gary Numan is mostly known as a one-hit wonder with "Cars." He should be better known as the man behind the criminally underrated Tubeway Army, but now all I can think about is his show being Dinosaur Jr. loud. With all due respect to Phil Spector, Numan may have the most insidious wig in the history of music.

I can’t make this up. Friends whose taste I value HIGHLY told me that they were blown away at the—wait for it—Spandau Ballet show! Trust me, these people throw compliments around like manhole covers when it comes to music. Still trying to process it.

The festival is still young, I’ll try to actually talk about a band whose members are under 50 in the next post.