Circuit des Yeux's performances are like a guided tour through several decades of psychedelia; cherry-picked moments of visionary art rock, viewed through a classy romantic noir cabaret lens. The band is in full tilt as my girlfriend and I enter the Doug Fir's rough hewn...

2014 was an amazing time for music, and this year, rather than asking the Gina Altamura and Van Pham of the interdisciplinary Portland venue and nightclub Holocene to list their favorite up-and-coming Portland musicians, we decided to give them the opportunity to highlight their favorite shows of 2014, both local and international. The dynamic result is not exclusively Holocene-centric, and definitely gives ample nods to Portland's experimental music scene.
PHOTO: SZA @ Holocene, Courtesy of Red Bull Sound Select SEE ALL POSTS RELATED TO: PORTLAND MUSICIANS + HOLOCENE PORTLAND  
This week, I found myself at Portland's Doug Fir Lounge three days in a near row. While it is perhaps my second must frequented venue after Holocene, rarely do I have the chance to go so many times in one week, and to observe such varying acts. Hence, in celebration of today's full moon in Gemini -- just like our Intuitive Navigation event tomorrow eve at Holocene -- I shall endeavor a twin review of two notable female acts: Bay Area R&B singer Goapele and indie rock veteran My Brightest Diamond, both of whom put on great shows, but in vastly different ways and to vastly differing crowds. The full moon represents the femininity and intuition, and today's Full Moon in Gemini (during a Sagittarius month) looks to the twin sign for an outwards celebration of life.
My Brightest Diamond and Goapele Live Show Review at Doug Fir Lounge  
Started in Beijing seven years ago, the Modern Sky Festival is now one of many big music festivals that take place across China put on by its namesake company, Modern Sky Entertainment. On the weekend of October 4th and 5th, Modern Sky took the plunge into the US market, starting in New York City, where you can't throw a rock on any given day without hitting some kind of festival.Modern Sky Festival 2014The weather, too, wasn't exactly cooperative. An outdoor concert in a Northern city in October is always going to be a gamble, and had Modern Sky taken place a weekend earlier, it would have basked in unseasonable warmth. Instead, less fortunately, the barometer ended up taking its first real dip into fall teh weekend of the festival, and a long Saturday morning rainstorm left puddles across Rumsey Playfield -- some of which were still lingering after everything wrapped up on Sunday evening.
Modern Sky Festival
Natasha Kmeto
A couple years ago, I asked Decibel's founder Sean Horton how he manages to make an appearance at every single one (or almost every one) of the showcases during Decibel Festival. His advice was simple: "Don't drink, don't do drugs, don't eat, DON'T STOP!" While this may indeed work for Sean (is he a robot?!), I am but a mere human and had to abandon at least one of his key tenets (I'll let you use your imagination as to which ones). Overall, I felt like my Decibel Festival 2014 experience was less cohesive than in past years, but that may have just been due to my own headspace; I had a hard time settling for just one showcase each night, so ended up show-hopping far more than I ever have at Decibel. Here are a few of the performances & showcases that stood out. Natasha Kmeto @ EMP Sky Church for the Opening Gala; Photography by +Russ
See all Decibel Festival Coverage
Pickathon Festival started out as a much more roots, folk and bluegrass-oriented festival. As those genres were gobbled up by eager indie-whatever kids looking to break into a new style, Pickathon adapted with the change. Although bands like Nickel Creek, The Barr Brothers, Shakey Graves and Della Mae hearkened back to the festival's old style, a surprisingly rock-heavy lineup was the face of the 2014 version of Pickathon Festival. Bands like The War on Drugs, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco and Brownout/Brown Sabbath were the big draws -- but looking back at it, you couldn't really tell much of a difference in the end. The 2014 version of Pickathon was still the excellently curated, family-friendly (and even more adult friendly) affair that the 2013 Pickathon, and every year before that, was. Pickathon Festival 2014The reason for that is that in this day and age where festivals are hardly differentiated by anything except for stage names, Pickathon sets itself apart from the rest of the musical wasteland by removing its wasteful tendencies. Everything happens at Pickathon for a reason. The end result means that the random stages set up throughout Pendarvis Farm are stellar and sound issues are rarely a problem. Many of the shows are recorded and broadcast live courtesy of a horde of volunteers, which also creates a massive musical archive in the process. Beer, medical attention, phone chargers and general information are all handed out by bright-eyed and cheerful volunteers who are as excited to be there as anyone else. The devil is in the details at Pickathon, stretching from wall art in the portable bathrooms to showers set up within earshot of a stage. For one weekend a year, Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, becomes the happiest place on Earth for a few thousand people smart enough to know one of the best festivals in the country is happening on someone's backyard. There is every reason to trek down the dusty roads to any of the stages at Pickathon, and no reason to leave.
Pickathon Festival 2014

 

"Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.” Jordan Smith, of Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet

This year, it seemed like the Pickathon lineup was for the boys and girls of rock and roll. No band epitomized that approach like a double billing of the six-piece Diarrhea Planet. The band has four guitarists all shredding a pop sensibility through the power of metal and punk, and in the grand scheme of things, their music sounds like their name -- explosive and relentless. A band of this magnitude of rock can sometimes be a bit off-putting, but a smart time slot and the jovial approach the band takes live makes it seem like you are watching your best friend's band play its first real show. Pickathon Festival 2014 Their first set of the weekend began at 1 a.m. on the first night, with an apology to Gavin, the sound guy in the Galaxy Barn, for helping four guitarists and four vocalists close out the night. Once apologies were dispensed, Diarrhea Planet proceeded to relentlessly shred through their material, and despite the oppressive temperature inside the barn, the crowd responded accordingly. A new song devoted to the lost art of crowdsurfing had Pickathon attendees leaping on top of each other as the sweating, seething mosh pit took over the whole barn. When all was said and done, a hundred-plus people made the long walk back to their tents covered in a variety of different sweats, only to do it all again the next day. Diarrhea Planet’s second set at the famed Woods Stage Saturday afternoon was just as raucous. Although the cry for crowdsurfing fell on deaf ears, perhaps due to the gentle nature of the stage setup, the six-piece had no issue picking up the slack. Amplifiers were climbed on top of, crowd members were thrown on top of band member's shoulders mid-guitar solo, and outside of the fact that the sun was still up, it was hard to distinguish any less enthusiasm from the drunken barn burner less than 24 hours previous. At the end of it all, it could all be summed up in guitarist/vocalist Jordan Smith's approach to the afternoon, as he said, “We are playing in the woods. Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.”

 

Northside Festival
2014 marks the sixth year of Northside Festival, which is a three-day barrage of shows, both free and pay, across Brooklyn venues. On an annual basis, Northside does a nice job of including a range of up-and-coming bands across all genres in addition to the heavy hitters. Our favorites this year include some bands that are popular names on the indie tip right now, along with some garage rock staples.
Reviews by Ian King and Judy Nelson The War on Drugs @ 50 Kent (Sunday, June 15th, 2014) One of the most highly anticipated shows at Northside, with perhaps the exception of CHVRCHES, The War on Drugs have built a reputation as being an excellent live show. And these guys delivered. They were introduced as one of the "greatest American bands in the world" or some crap like that, which I think is stretch, but they sounded amazing. Seeing their rise to indie rock fame has been interesting to watch, especially since the departure of Kurt Vile and his separate rise to fame. Their show was solid, and they played a mix of songs from their 2014 album Lost in A Dream. Most of the crowd looked a little dazed, but perhaps it was a mix of the summer heat, weekend hangovers, or just general entrancement at the show itself. - Judy Nelson
Here is a quick summary of GOAT, and the story is meant to be taken with as many grains of salt as possible. GOAT originally hail from Korpilombo, Sweden, from a community that has a history of voodoo worship. At various times, the incarnation of GOAT has lived on for 30 or 40 years amongst members of this village, and now, the current incarnation of GOAT contains three members from Korpilombo, augmented by a few folks from Gothenburg. All bands need good stories, and GOAT’s is one of the better ones. A quick Google search of Korpilombo and voodoo yields nothing but GOAT-related results. Combine this wonky backstory with the fact that live, the members of GOAT all wear cloaks and masks and operate in a shroud of mystery, and it is enough to be almost too much of a schtick. But what makes the tradition of GOAT work is that the band doesn’t let this aura undermine the music.

Lucky me; I've managed to see the French electro-surf-punk band La Femme twice in the past month! Touring the States following the release of their insane new 15-track deluxe album, Psycho Tropical Berlin, La Femme are a Parisian six-piece that encompass the city's stereotypes in...