I WANT TO SAY something about how this year's PDX Pop Now! festival is so much better than last year's, but I can't. Problem is, the committee behind the fest has always put on a good party. They've kept it free, kept the incest nil, and picked crowd pleasers over naked emperors. This year, like last, is outstanding.

If anything, the 2006 festival is less vanilla (more experimental acts, hiphop, and dance music) and tends to shy away from "Portland indierock" (and hell yeah for that.) With great bands like Thanksgiving, Old Time Relijun, Shaky Hands, and Evolutionary Jass Band, the lineup is staggeringly good, as is the double CD set that goes along with it.

PDX Pop Now! Communications Director Brent Bell talks shop...

MERCURY: I was a little confused how the actual deciding process went down for the festival's lineup. I think some people thought it was a public vote.

BRENT BELL: We actually never used the word "vote" anywhere this year, but described our invitation to the public to provide input on the festival lineup as a "requests process." We like the musical associations with the word "request"; you can request a song from a DJ or band, and it might get played, it might not. "Voting," we decided, connotes a competition with a field of candidates and a list of winners determined strictly by popularity. Ultimately, our lineup is partially curated and partially request-driven. We had our own wish list, but we definitely looked at the public's as well. This year we received 8,000 requests from 3,000 individuals for 900 bands (only a few of these were fictional). The booking committee undertook the Herculean task of researching every one of those acts (thank you, MySpace) and actually compiled MP3s and contact info for almost all of them. A lot of the bands that received numerous requests weren't on our radar, and several of them will be playing the festival.

How does this lineup, in your opinion, differ from last year's?

With Ohmega Watts, Cool Nutz, Strategy, Copy, Siren's Echo, and Dahlia on board, I think beat-oriented music—hiphop and electronic—may have a higher profile at this year's festival.

What can we expect in 2007?

I think we'd like to again produce events like the incredible July 19 city hall concert with Quasi and the Minders—extra events that get the public more aware of the ridiculous amount of musical talent in its city and encourage people to attend more shows. You know, forego Pirates of the Caribbean one night and go see Alan Singley or Nice Nice instead. We may also look at holding the festival outdoors. No promises.

See Music Listings on pg. 37 for the full lineup.