IF YOU LISTEN to the talk around town (and on social media), you'll hear some say that the heart of MusicfestNW has been removed. This year, the multi-day festival—historically an eclectic blend of music scenes and tastes, taking place in various corners and venues in Portland—transitioned to what is now primarily a two-day event on the Waterfront. It could be argued that the new, streamlined format has diminished MFNW's past focus on underground and up-and-coming acts.
Thankfully for those of us who enjoy parsing new and unconventional talent each year, an alternative has been created by two guys with decades of combined experience in the Portland music scene. Josh Hughes and Seth Montfort have put together Festicide, an underground festival (of sorts) that's intended to offset MFNW's new formula.
With the help of local promoters David Rose and Robert Komets, Hughes and Montfort have put together seven shows over the course of three days, featuring 25 local bands performing at six different venues. Attendees will see bands that span from buzzsaw grind to doom metal to quirky art rock. All the shows are under the Festicide umbrella, but each will operate independently, and cost either $5 or be free—so there's no need to handcuff yourself to a wristband for the weekend.
Another key element to Festicide is its sans-sponsorship approach, which Hughes and Montfort feel—aside from the music, of course—was the most important part of putting together this "decentralized idea of a festival."
"Major labels don't have the kind of money to throw around like they used to in the '90s. Now, in their place, are these corporate sponsors," says Hughes. "You gotta figure, the sponsors are getting so much savvier about how to not seem like they're branding the whole thing the whole time, but you know they're still getting something out of it. It's creepy to me because I can't figure out what it is.
"We're not any kind of purists," Hughes continues. "We just wanted to show that you could do something like this, in a cooperative way, and it could still be cheap or free, and that the bands will all get paid, and we don't need corporate sponsorship to put it together. We just need some thought put into it."
Festicide isn't the only thing Hughes and Montfort are doing to showcase the underbelly of Portland's music scene. They're still producing scathing noise rock with their long-running band Rabbits, and they also recently decided to revitalize the independent record label Eolian Empire, which had been dormant for a few years. Since its rebirth more than a year ago, Eolian has pumped out more than a dozen releases—vinyl, cassette, and digital—of local heavy acts.
"We feel like these last few years have been a special time," says Hughes, "and we wanted to document it from the inside."
Through simple hard work, Hughes and Montfort are swiftly becoming champions of the Portland underground. The two remain excited and eager to pass along the benefit of their experience. Hughes promises Eolian will keep its eyes and ears locked ever downward, never holding on to anything too long, and always searching for a new sound.
"There's gonna be other good bands that come along," he says. "People just get attached to bands, and it's so dismissive, and rude to say there's nothing new going on. You're just not out there. There's cool shit all over the place."
Stoneburner, Hungers, Sól—The Know, 2026 NE Alberta, 8 pm, $5
Vice Device, XDS, Slow Screams, Draft Dodgers—Alhambra Theatre Lounge, 4811 SE Hawthorne, 9 pm, $5
Rabbits, Honduran, Diesto, Towers—Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th, 3 pm (matinee), free
Nasalrod, Tiny Knives, Tyrants—Club 21, 2035 NE Glisan, 9 pm, free
Thrones, Sedan, Disemballerina, Acre—High Water Mark, 6800 NE MLK, 9 pm, $5
Drunk Dad, Sloths, More Hell, Moan—Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th, 3 pm (matinee), $5, all ages
Big Black Cloud, Polst, Sad Horse—Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick, 9 pm, free
Note: Due to the fire at East End on August 8, and the subsequent water damage, Festicide's two East End shows have been moved to different venues.