While the rivalry between the Mercury and the Willamette Week has been downright Hatfield vs. McCoy in the past, I'm ready to lay the gauntlet down in the name of good music. And speaking of, the WW-sponsored MusicfestNW has just that, as it hijacks our fair city for three nights of ear-ringing action. The festival has taken a drastic leap in quality due to new curator Trevor Solomon, formerly of Thrasher Presents, who has taken the event from the ranks of quaint local music gathering to that of nationally recognized musical festival. While there is just too much to goddamn do, here are my picks for these next three days.
Thursday, September 7
For the love of Christ, steer clear of the Crystal Ballroom tonight. I don't care if your car breaks down on Burnside and you just need to run in and call AAA for a jump. Doing so might lead you to catch a Dandy Warhols performance, which these days is a musical atrocity beyond words. I pity the poor Crystal Ballroom's chandeliers, which run the risk of colliding with the ego-swollen head of Courtney Taylor-Taylor. Duck and cover, kids. If you go, go early for the musical train wreck (in a good way) that is the Brian Jonestown Massacre's live show. Will Anton Newcombe show up? Will he be sober? Will he deflate Taylor-Taylor's head like a child's balloon? If denim-drama just isn't your scene, you can check out the white-dude blues of the Black Keys at the Roseland, or the pure pop sounds of Super XX Man at the Towne Lounge. But tonight's real treat lies across the river at the Doug Fir. Husky Rescue gets the Musicfest frequent-flier bonus, hailing all the way from Finland, a place that is even whiter than Portland. Their chirpy digi-pop is amazing, bringing to mind the finest days of the Cardigans, before they dropped off the face of the earth.
Friday, September 8
Even if you got all Multiplicity and cloned eight versions of yourself (or Michael Keaton), you could not experience all of what tonight has to offer. First, and foremost, the Zombies are playing Berbati's. Formed in 1962, the band is older than any Mercury reader ever, and a group with such a mighty legacy as theirs should not be ignored. Or you can ignore it, what do I care? The Roseland is hosting an obscene amount of hiphop talent with M-1 from Dead Prez (he knows both Dave Chappelle and Ghostface, making him about a gazillion times cooler than you), Little Brother, and a headliner performance by local legends Lifesavas. If stiff drinks and impeccable songwriting is your thing, hit up Doug Fir for the sad-bastard trifecta of Richmond Fontaine, Richard Buckner, and Eric Bachmann. If ordering from a bar is too formal and bootlegging your own 'shine is your thing, head straight to the White Eagle for the bluegrass/country of Clampitt, Gaddis and Buck.
Saturday, September 9
One more day of music, then it's on to sleeping in on Sunday and maybe looking into that liver-cleanse. Berbati's tonight is stellar across the board, with performances from the bombastic rock of To Live & Die in LA (who is celebrating their CD release) and the glitchy-rock of Stars of Track and Field. Also the Crystal is playing host to the teen/pre-teen sensations of Smoosh, professional Jesus pitchman Jeremy Enigk, and Spoon's Britt Daniel, AKA the coolest dude in rock. Come 1 am at Doug Fir, when Swords take the stage for their final show, a Portland indie legacy will lower the curtain on a great run, so you better be there and you better be loud. Speaking of loud, the Melvins are playing Roseland, but their volume level will probably just blanket the entire downtown area, so if you are anywhere west of the Willamette, wear earplugs.