Friday, September 7, 2007

MusicFestNW: Thursday Night

Tonight was the first night of MusicFestNW, Portland's answer to South By Southwest. I picked up my wristband this afternoon at the remaining outlet of Music Millenium, and later set out for the Crystal Ballroom to see Viva Voce's 10 pm set. Unfortunately, this was not to be. I got to the Crystal at about 9:40 and took my place at the end of the line. Which stretched around the block. This didn't bode particularly well, but the line started moving, so I figured there might be a chance I'd catch at least part of their set. But after about 15 minutes, a member of the Crystal's staff came out to inform us all that they'd reached capacity and that none of us were going to get in. This wouldn't bother me too much if it had been simply a supply and demand thing... MusicFest works on the wristband principle. You buy a wristband, which gets you access to all of the venues, all weekend long, and from there it's first come, first served. But here's the rub: The Crystal sold tickets to this show as well. So the folks with tickets got in no matter what, while those of us that had ponied up our forty bucks for the wristband were left holding the bag. Frankly, I found myself a little chapped about this. I figure, if you're going to include the show in the MusicFest line up, don't undercut those of us participating in the wristband flim flam by selling a bunch of tickets. I'm not even sure who to be upset with here... The Crystal? Viva Voce? MusicFest? But hey, I didn't let it ruin my night. I came home, made myself some Mac & Cheese and headed to Berbati's to see Roky Erickson:

I encountered another line outside Berbati's, but this time I was far enough up in the line to get in after a couple songs. Roky fronted a band back in the mid-1960s called the 13th Floor Elevators, and as legend has it, coined the term "psychedelic." There wasn't much psychedelia to what he played tonight, it was pretty much just four guys about your dad's age playing straightforward blusey rock. But they did a good job, and the crowd (average age being less than half that of the guys onstage) couldn't get enough.

From there I went to the Doug Fir to see the Portland's own Shaky Hands:

And, another line (I don't remember encountering lines last year)! But I managed to get in before they started. I saw this band at Holocene about a year ago, and they had a pop-ish sound, sort of a British Invasion Garage Rock thing, going on. They must have written some new material since, because what I heard tonight was a more nuanced, quiet/loud kind of thing. Imagine the Walkmen and the Pixies all mashed together. Pretty good stuff. Worth keeping an eye on.

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