photo by Adam Bagerski
Words and photos by Kim Ervin
We had a terrific time in Portland for our short little trip to Musicfest NW, but unfortunately it had to end sometime. Naturally, we ended it in the only way we know how â€“ with some three more stunning live performances from Damien Jurado, Pseudosix, and Deerhunter.
For the first two performances, Damien Jurado and Pseudosix, I had the distinct pleasure of helping Ms. Quilty 3000 on her show. It was the first time Quilty was in a different town doing her show, and it was also my first time as a DJ assistant. Usually I try to weasel my way out of things programming for fear that I’ll mess it up (see Day 1 entry re: knobs and technology). I have complete confidence in the service we provide and wealth of music information put out to listeners and taking, even the slightest amount, of responsibility for that is pretty intimidating.
However, when we do a remote broadcast our resources become much smaller, from the number of CD’s available to DJ’s to the number of volunteer’s who can program playlists. When the team needs help, you do what you can, right? So, there Quilty and I were trying to figure out a new system and flow to ensure nothing was left behind. She would load in the next CD, select her track of choice, put a little post-it note under the track she selected, and pass the CD off to me. From there, I would fill in the playlist with the appropriate information, artist, song, album, record label, along with any interesting tid-bits of information I could find in the two minutes that was left on the song. Then, repeat – for three hours. As I was doing my job, I couldn’t help but feel a huge amount of stress and wonder for those DJ’s who manage to do both jobs simultaneously, because not everyone is lucky enough to have a DJ assistant. (Surprisingly [sarcasm implied], there isn’t a huge rush of applicants for the 1am-6am shift) Plus, those people still manage to respond to email in a timely manner, and take requests on the DJ line. If that’s not a complete definition for the term multi-tasking, I’m not sure what is.
photo by Kim Ervin
In the end, everything went smoothly and I had a ton of fun, except for those parts when Quilty forgot to take off her headphones before “telling” me something to do. Ya know what happens when you try to talk to someone when you have headphones on, you inadvertently start yelling? Ouch. It was all in good fun though. I learned about a ton of new music that I need to check out; most of it is from artists that I should have looked into years ago. But isn’t that the great thing about KEXP â€“ no matter how in tune you are with music, some DJ is always going to be able to introduce you to something new because they have their own unique taste and history of music experience that will never seamlessly mix with your own. There is this endless supply of music, new and old, just waiting to be heard for the first time.
This was all I could see from where I was working!
photo by Kim Ervin
Damien Jurado played an incredible set to start the day off on the right note. Confession moment â€“ I’ve always had a soft spot for Damien. About 4 years ago, when news broke about Elliott Smith’s death, I was living in London and going to see Seattleite Damien Jurado at a place called the Borderline. I was hoping it would be a nice way to get a little taste of home in a town that was still very much unfamiliar. I decided that it would still be a good idea to go to the show, even though I was pretty saddened by the news of Elliott. Well, unbeknownst to me, Damien spent a lot of time in Portland and was friends with Elliott. So, he closed the set with a tribute to Elliott and played a cover of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon.” Everyone was choked up and Damien ended up having to cut the song short because he became too emotional. It was probably the most human and moving performance I’ve ever seen. I hadn’t seen him play since then and, although much trimmer, the performance on Saturday was no less impressive. He played some new stuff along with a J.Tillman cover and it couldn’t have sounded sweeter.
photos by Adam Bagerski
Next, Portland-based Pseudosix. Yet another fun new band I’d never heard, but heartily enjoyed. They had the right mix of bop, rock, country, and violin. Plus, they had a band dog named Clinton â€“ a puggle. Apparently, Clinton was the hit of the party the previous night with Grizzly Bear, Tiny Vipers, and crew. Enough about the dog; I highly recommend checking out their new release or checking back on the stream. They played on Saturday at 2pm.
photo by Adam Bagerski
Last up, Deerhunter. There has been a lot of talk about this band and the antics of frontman Bradford Cox, and it was the performance I had been waiting for all weekend. Minus some technical difficulties which lead to a little awkward crowd-band interaction, the set was entrancing. They rockedâ€¦hard. So hard in fact that my sensitive ears needed a break, so I headed to the back to listen to the radio mix, which sounded incredible. It was raw, emotive, and complex. Afterwards, Bradford talked about how he was worried about a few lyrics that discussed buying some acid, so he changed it to buying fake Louis Vuitton. Once I heard that, I became a dedicated Deerhunter fan.
All in all, the broadcast was an impressive showcase of music from a lot of up and comers, and Portland talent. Our crew was so much fun and the Doug Fir couldn’t have been more hospitable. Thanks to all the listeners and donors who came out to join us. It was wonderful having the opportunity to meet so many friendly people. If you’re ever in Seattle, give us a shout. And lastly, to Timie, Cheryl, Kevin Cole, Kevin Suggs, Kevin Helfrick, Quilty, Jack, Amy, Ann, Mike, Sara, Janice, Jenn, and Dave, thanks for the great time and letting me join in on the broadcast fun.