MusicfestNW 2012 Festival Preview & Picks

What some of us might call the Pacific Northwest’s best music festival — and maybe the next and more relaxed SXSW — is Musicfest NW, a multi-day spread across Portland’s best venues. Featuring diverse and exceptional booking, this year’s picks have been written by three writers, each with unique tastes, to do the festival justice.


Hot Snakes

Wednesday, 11:00pm @ Roseland Theatre
Relatively newly reformed band Hot Snakes saddened the post-hardcore world (and beyond) when they exited the scene after the release of their last record, Audit In Progress. Catch them while you can. VIVIAN HUA


See all Previews & Picks For WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5


Purity Ring

Thursday, 11:00pm @ Berbati’s
Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring released a fantastic debut album called “Shrines” on 4AD this summer. Though full of mystical electronic layers, the duo’s music has a very fresh and pristine sound apt for their band name. Megan James’ tender voice sparkles among a bright and absorbing waterfall of percussive sounds and beats. KARLA HERNANDEZ


See all Previews & Picks For THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6


Music & Movement in Music Video

Friday, 6:30pm @ Holocene
This panel will explore how dance and movement intersect with modern music videos. Select music videos will be screened, followed by an open community dialogue with associated dancers, directors, and musicians. Topics covered may include differences in dance styles among different musical genres, trends of modern dance in contemporary music video, and spontaneity versus choreography in the creative process. A related brochure, featuring Q&A with directors and musicians, will be distributed with further information about the participants and videos screened.



Black Mountain

Friday, 11:30pm @ Doug Fir
Black Mountain are one of the best psych-rock bands out there because no matter how far out the songs get into space, the band always keeps your feet grounded onto Earth. PETER WOODBURN



See all Previews & Picks For FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7



Saturday, 12:00am @ Dour Fir Lounge
The lesser of Spencer Krug’s numerous projects, Moonface have quietly put out three impressive albums over the course of the past few years. It’s less Wolf Parade and more Sunset Rubdown, if you’re familiar with Krug’s other work, but it also brandishes its own dark, loud mystique. This year’s With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery showcases the groups imaginative and unique song writing skills, a heavy and heady album that deserves praise. With all the rotating, busy pieces in the band it’s worth catching Moonface when you can, as they might not ever come around again. ERIK BURG


See all Previews & Picks For SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8


WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5 (cont’d)

Andrew Jackson Jihad

9:00pm @ Hawthorne Theatre
Their unabashed energy shines in their folk-punk sounds, which sound like they were written with the enthusiasm of a kid with the lexicon of an adult. PETER WOODBURN


Red Fang

10:00pm @ Roseland Theatre
Portland’s beard metal heroes are always good for heavy riffs, tallboys of beer, and everything that is great about a metal show. Eat riffs, sweat beer. PETER WOODBURN


THURSDAY, SEPT 6 (cont’d)

These United States

9:00pm @ Aladdin Theatre
There’s something to be said about just really consistent, impressive rock music. The kind of music that These United States have made themselves famous for. Touring in support of their fifth studio album, this Brooklyn by way of DC band might not blow you away on stage, but they’re absolutely worth checking out. If you find yourself enjoying White Denim or Blitzen Trapper, These United States maintain that same sort of wholesome, classic style. ERIK BURG



9:00pm @ Doug Fir Lounge
Portland’s former tribal noise rockers are these days crafting glittery dance music that seems the anti-thesis of their former dark ways. Yet it hasn’t all changed; within the steady house beats are remnants of welcoming noise breakdowns, swirled in beautifully with dubby guitars and funky basslines. VIVIAN HUA




10:00pm @ Backspace
Zoo found Ceremony virtually abandoning their spastic hardcore beginnings and following the footsteps of Black Flag and Henry Rollins. Expect their next album to be a New York Dolls cover album at the rate they are heading.



Mean Jeans

10:00pm @ Star Theatre
Those native to the Pacific Northwest have surely run across this punk rock threesome in the dingy basement of your friend’s friend’s ex-boyfriend’s house party. Or something like that. Known for their no nonsense sound, Mean Jeans have grown out of their humble roots and into a show stopping act, making them one to catch this MusicFest. But before you do, make sure you know the lyrics to “Slime Time.” – ERIK BURG


Trampled By Turtles

10:00pm @ Aladdin Theatre
Who would’ve thought one of the fresher takes on bluegrass would come from way up north in Duluth, Minnesota. Trampled By Turtles have the bluegrass training in depressing Americana sounds, but more performed in the vein of Slayer. Feet will be stomped. PETER WOODBURN


Lightning Bolt

11:00pm @ Hawthorne Theatre
We even have an entire post dedicated to their live show awesomeness, which you can see HERE. The sample track below is the latest from their new EP, Oblivion Hunter. VIVIAN HUA


Flying Lotus

11:30pm @ Wonder Ballroom
The Warp Records solo powerhouse is back on tour and with a new record, Until The Quiet Comes. If recent samples prove true, his set at MusicfestNW may be just as spastic as always, but more roots-based and earthly. VIVIAN HUA


King Khan & The Shrines

12:00pm @ Dante’s
Although it’s been a few years since a proper album from this shifting group, fronted by raucous soul rocker King Khan, there’s no reason to believe they forgot how to put on a good show. Khan’s been busy with other projects and tours more recently, like his collaboration with Mark Sultan, but his work alongside The Shrines has always yielded the most fun and skillfully crafted material. Prepare yourself for little clothing, plenty of masks and even more belly dancing from this plump Indo-Canadian. ERIK BURG



Gardens & Villa

5:30pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
Indie funk rockers Gardens & Villa will be kicking off the Friday indie music circuit, opening for Menomena and Beirut After much experience this year and last with non-stop touring, they have gotten a reputation of being as on-point and cohesive as a pop band can get. VIVIAN HUA


Arrington de Dionyso

8:00pm @ Backspace
Arrington de Dionyso’s yoga-move-executing, Indonesian-snarling vocals are a guaranteed primal body workout. De Dionyso plays out quite a bit, but seeing him in Backspace seems like a weird experience, and may be worth it simply for that. VIVIAN HUA



Old Man Gloom

8:00pm @ Hawthorne Theatre
The neo-sludge supergroup featuring members of ISIS, Cave In, and Converge tours hardly never and should be at the top of everyone’s list for the weekend in Portland. PETER WOODBURN


Moon Duo

9:00pm @ Star Theatre
A hard group to pin down, Moon Duo have been consistently impressive and equally underrated since their humble beginnings in 2010. This year will mark their third straight calendar year with a brand new LP, readying Circles for release later this year. Their brand new single “Sleepwalker” hints at a more powerful and eclectic sound than their former material, proving the group might be ready to move on from their frantic psych roots. They’re definitely on the rise in 2012, so there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a commanding performance. ERIK BURG


These United States

9:00pm @ Aladdin Theatre
There’s something to be said about just really consistent, impressive rock music. The kind of music that These United States have made themselves famous for. Touring in support of their fifth studio album, this Brooklyn by way of DC band might not blow you away on stage, but they’re absolutely worth checking out. If you find yourself enjoying White Denim or Blitzen Trapper, These United States maintain that same sort of wholesome, classic style. ERIK BURG


Big Business

9:30pm @ Hawthorne Theatre
After moving from Seattle to LA to mush into the Melvins, Big Business haven’t been making too much of a splash. This is unfortunate, as the Biz’s sprawling sludgey sounds are the equivalent of an elephant doing a belly flop off the high dive. PETER WOODBURN


The Hood Internet

10:45pm @ Wonder Ballroom
Chicago party starters the Hood Internet have, of late, been less about their highly acclaimed mashups and more about original music and remixes. But that doesn’t mean this creative duo have forgotten about Dead Prez vs. Grizzly Bear or the look on people’s faces when Ghostface Killah meets Beirut. The group’s constantly turning pop music tropes on their head, so if you’re looking for something fun and you’re ready to hit the dance floor, look no further than Wonder Ballroom on Friday night. ERIK BURG


The Helio Sequence

11:00pm @ Crystal Ballroom
Every few years there are a few bands lost amongst the shuffle of keywords and marketing strategies, quietly releasing emotionally stirring music that goes mostly unnoticed in comparison to their contemporaries. Since the release of Keep Your Eyes Ahead in 2008, the Helio Sequence have remained mostly out of the public eye. But later this year they will release Negotiations, their fifth studio album, on Sub Pop. If their recent performance at the Sasquatch Music Festival was any indication, these two Oregonian natives are tired of playing second fiddle to other indie acts. ERIK BURG



11:45pm @ Wonder Ballroom
Not much that needs to be written about world famous DJ and producer A-Trak that hasn’t been written already. The man’s been DJing with vinyl since he was a child, has won countless competitions and in recent years taken over the globe with his mix of Beatport chart toppers and underground hits. Look no further than Infinity +1 for examples of that formula, and when he takes the stage at the Wonder Ballroom there’s no doubt that he will own the night. He’s one of the last holdouts of DJs that haven’t fully crossed over to the buzz-worthy EDM genre, so go see him before he does. ERIK BURG


Chelsea Wolfe

12:00am @ Ted’s Berbati
Surrounding Chelsea Wolfe is an air of mystery, even when she speaks openly about her art, her neuroses, and her apocalyptic dreams. With the release of her new acoustic album and her the impressive Apokalypsis right before that, she is certain to be an act to watch. VIVIAN HUA



Fucked Up

12:30pm @ Dante’s
Fucked Up released David Comes to Life last year, and it was probably one of the most impressive punk/hardcore albums to come out in the past decade. At MusicfestNW, the band will be playing the album in its entirety, and will surely be one of the best shows of the evening. PETER WOODBURN




6:00pm @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
If there’s one thing to be said about this Portland group, it’s that they haven’t changed a bit since their leap onto the scene with “RR vs D” in 2008. The fast paced, manic sounds of xylophones, keyboards and vocals. The imaginative rhythms and dream-like tracks make for a mesmerizing experience live, one rarely achieved by such a small group. Precise and hypnotic, AU are the kind of band worth seeing for both critical inquiry and random curiosity alike. ERIK BURG



Don’t Talk To The Cops!

9:00pm @ Branx
Seattle’s Don’t Talk to the Cops pull from pretty much every genre possible to create a pop-hooked-fueled, embarrassingly catchy, dance-driven mob scene. PETER WOODBURN



9:00pm @ Backspace
There is a rise of youthcrew outfits that are fine in tune with the emo sensibility and social responsibility and Defeater are at the forefront of the group. If you are older than 16 you might be the oldest one here – but Defeater plays hardcore so smartly you might not even recognize it as hardcore. PETER WOODBURN



Pure Bathing Culture

9:00pm @ The Old Church
The rising darlings of Portland, this newly formed duo has been performing for less than a year now, but their pitch perfect tones and undeniable charm have quickly jettisoned them to success. Their brand of easy going, no nonsense pop fluff might not appeal to everybody, but their execution is second to one. Guitarist Dan Hindman reminds me of a young Dave Longstreth on stage, and vocalist and keyboard player Sarah Versprille can captivate a crowd with her voice, making this new collective local standouts at this year’s festival. ERIK BURG



10:00pm @ Hawthorne Theatre
Last year, I had the brutal opportunity of witnessing Swans at ATP Festival in Asbury Park, NJ. Twas the most pummeling and gnarly show I saw all year — but also one of the best, hands down. I cannot wait to see Swans again, and if you like any kind of seizure of the darkest sounds known to man, I would wear earplugs and get to Hawthorne Theatre. VIVIAN HUA


Julia Holter

9:00pm @ The Old Church
Julia Holter is opening up for Sigur Ros on their U.S. tour this summer. That is a huge deal. Her voice and piano can fill the entire auditorium and album like no other – she is like a female James Blake minus the insane amounts of hype (though still lots of hype). PETER WOODBURN


The Soft Moon

11:00pm @ Ted’s Berbati
Face-pummeling electronic hypnotism from Luis Vasquez, who is also in the well-reputed psych rock band Lumerians. VIVIAN HUA




Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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