Words and photos by Kim Ervin
As you know, weâ€™re down here for Musicfest NW. Tons of tremendous artists ready to entertain the masses and last nightâ€™s main attraction â€“ Spoon. After their successful invasion of Capitol Hill in July, I thought Spoon would be a great way to kick off my Musicfest experience. But, unfortunately for my festival plans, I was lured to Powellâ€™s Books. For a self-professed book nerd, a trip to Powellâ€™s Books is like a trip to the Godiva Chocolate factory for a chocolate addict. Ten books and many dollars later, I decided it probably wasnâ€™t the best idea to head to a show with 20 lbs worth of books. According to those who attended the show, Spoon were at the top of their game and started the festival off on the right note. Now, ten books later Iâ€™m filled with regret.
Fortunately, we had three amazing performances today that quickly wiped away the pangs of guilt for missing Spoon. The Brunettes, beleaguered and hungry from the three-hour drive in the wee hours of the morning, showed up at the venue 30 minutes early to setup their gear. Generally, weâ€™re pretty lucky if a band shows up on time, but 30 minutes ahead of scheduleâ€¦well, letâ€™s just say itâ€™s rare. Perhaps, it was a good omen because the performance was incredible â€“ everyone was calling it the sleeper hit of the broadcast. Iâ€™ll be the first to admit, I wasnâ€™t terribly familiar with the band when they were booked. They were more or less one of those, â€œOh yeah, Iâ€™ve heard of them but havenâ€™t heard any of their stuffâ€ bands. But the early morning hour and lack of sleep only seemed to make them rock harder. There was an assortment of horns, mics (6 band members who are all vocalists) and keyboards that came together with such ease and vigor. For me, it was certainly a highlight of the broadcast.
Next up was another fave â€“ The Helio Sequence. About four years ago, I had a love affair with their last album, Love and Distance, so Iâ€™ve been anxiously awaiting new material. Luckily, they confirmed a release date for their next release (January, 2008) and treated us to a few new tracks. They sounded full and powerful, as usual, and I came away impressed that two people could make so much noise.
The last performance of the day was saved for Portland fans, The Thermals. A favorite of listeners for many years, the band pulled together a tight performance that was full of energy and, I think, a few new tracks. The crowd was probably the largest weâ€™ve seen so far, and some Grizzly Bear folks even stopped in to catch a few songs.
Iâ€™ve been excited about the number of members who are taking the time out of their days to spend some time with us. More exciting is the complexity of their stories and how they became connected to the station â€“ many are ex-Seattleites, some found out about us in Chicago then they moved here and kept tuning in, otherâ€™s are listeners who just happen to be in town for Musicfest and heard about the broadcast at the last minute. If youâ€™re in the Portland area tomorrow and without something to do, I highly recommend signing up for one of, or all of, our live performances tomorrow. Weâ€™ve got Damien Jurado, Pseudosix, and Deerhunter lined up. Weâ€™d love to have ya join us â€“ you wonâ€™t be disappointed!