MusicfestNW kicks off tonight, and our awesome unofficial guide is the most complete, fully unbiased, entirely useful guide around—if I do say so myself. It's also the only guide with a rundown of all the free shows you can see without a wristband. For example, if you don't want to spend a cent, there are some totally free things you can do tonight to keep yourself occupied, including a secret(ish) show with a secret headliner. I've given you a pretty obvious hint below, but if you're feeling lazy and don't want to read that far—or if you're just a little slow, which is perfectly fine, no judging—press play on the video above.
From our free guide:
Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost): A Film About Bobby Bare Jr.
Journeyman songwriter Bobby Bare Jr. gets the documentary treatment, and you get a welcome break from live bands. Sit down, watch a movie, and enjoy the introduction from director William Miller. We bet at some point during the film, Bare Jr. will make one of those pop-smack sounds with his mouth. 7 pm, Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, FREE, minor allowed w/parent
The Garage Party: Secret headliner, The Last Bison, Minden, DJ Gregarious
Eleven magazine, Tixie.com, and Marmoset Music are throwing an unofficial kickoff party with music from Last Bison and Portland up-and-comers Minden. The headliner's a secret, but an excellent one that we recommend unreservedly. Want a totally obvious clue? Take a look at the longer featured articles in this pullout guide, and look for one whose initials are "K.B."8 pm, Green Drop Garage, 1417 SE 9th, FREE, 21+
Also, click the jump for lots of previews of other MusicfestNW shows happening tonight! (Wristband or admission fee required.)
MUSICFESTNW: AGAINST ME!, ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD, JOYCE MANOR
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Against Me! singer Tom Gabel made rock 'n' roll history this year by coming out as transgender. Now fronted by the newly minted Laura Jane Grace, Against Me! plays the same great, angry, poppy punk, newly invigorated with purpose. Tonight they kick off MusicfestNW with a bang. NED LANNAMANN Also, read our article on Against Me!
Joyce Manor's new "full-length," Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, is a bit of a grower, which is weird considering it clocks in at just 13 minutes, making it significantly shorter than the band's already meager debut. But what it lacks in its predecessor's anthemic immediacy, it makes up for with irresistible weirdness: Frontman Barry Johnson offers his best Morrissey impression in "See How Tame I Can Be" and the deliberately lo-fi "Drainage" sounds uncannily like one of those Evan Dando hotel-bathroom demos. An unrecognizable cover version of "Video Killed the Radio Star" tops them both in terms of unexpectedness. Joyce Manor have outlived "fad band" accusations and are still the life of the pop-punk party. MORGAN TROPER
HOT SNAKES, RED FANG, HUNGRY GHOST
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Almost exactly 10 years ago in these very pages, fledgling music writer Ezra Ace Caraeff declared Hot Snakes to be the "best punk band alive." Caraeff has since come and gone as the Mercury's music editor, but now this writer upholds his statement. Rick Froberg and John Reis formed the band in San Diego in 1999, seeking creative control over their music after major-label experiences with their pioneering project Drive Like Jehu. Along with bassist Gar Wood and oscillating drummers Jason Kourkonis and Mario Rubalcaba, the Snakes created three albums of lovingly crafted and jubilantly performed rock 'n' roll, self-released on Reis' Swami label. Over a six-year interlude in which band members devoted themselves to other projects, a widespread dedication to independent music took root across the country and globe. The music and model of Hot Snakes persist as a beacon of what it means to love and make music without compromise. MARANDA BISH
PASSION PIT, LP
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) The helium-suck pop of Passion Pit doesn't exactly indicate a brooding, damaged soul at work, but with a batch of tour dates canceled earlier this summer to improve frontman Michael Angelakos' "mental health," it seems there's more going on underneath Passion Pit's bubbly surface than meets the eye. That marriage of dysfunctional angst and purest, shimmering pop can yield great dividends (see: Kanye), and Passion Pit's just-released record, Gossamer, seemed poised to become a sensation. But it just doesn't sound quite good enough to be one. Rather, it gets bogged down in ordinary, plodding rock-radio rhythms even as its zooming, candy-coated pop accessorizing vainly tries to tug it up into the stratosphere. NL
SLOAN, BOBBY BARE JR., THE MINUS 5
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Among my most cherished stereotypes is the one I have for Canadians being fair, reliable, and down to earth. (It's okay, some of my best friends are from Canada.) The poster band for my oversimplification is certainly Sloan. Each of the four members write and play their own songs, and in two decades, they haven't had a single personnel change. But this heartwarming democracy would be meaningless if they weren't so consistently enjoyable. On The Double Cross, their 10th, they've made their most tasteful album yet. This is really saying something, because it runs the gamut among such seemingly at-odds sounds as folk ("Green Gardens, Cold Montreal" sounds like a Donovan cover) and disco ("Your Daddy Will Do"). An ineffable sense of warmth and generosity holds the stylistic pastiche together and puts Double Cross among the best Sloan albums, including 1994's Twice Removed, which they perform in full tonight. REBECCA WILSON