Someday I want to attend South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. It’s a bar-hopping live music extravaganza of epic proportions featuring fresh-faced local bands and grizzled national acts.
Portland’s MusicFest Northwest is what I imagine South by Southwest is like, albeit smaller and in the Pacific Northwest. (Duh!)
I witnessed everyone from veteran post-rock outfit Explosions In The Sky and dynamic Seattle hip-hop act Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to local buzz bands And And And and Ages and Ages during the three days I attended MusicFest Northwest 2011.
It was a solid festival. I would hesitate to call it great because the headlining options — Iron and Wine, Explosions in the Sky, Band of Horses –could have been better. But overall I enjoyed myself.
What would happen on mornings when dense fog made traffic visibility low if people got out of their vehicles and danced like maniacs to the music in their heads?
Forget trying to be on time for the job you tolerate; just dance amid the fog for a half hour. Would that make the world a happier place? A safer place?
I admit this is a pretty random series of thoughts. They popped up after I watched the Portland dance group Reporter perform a four-song set at Holocene in southeast Portland that was heavy on manufactured fog and precious little else. Reporter shared the bill with two other dance acts and three DJs.
I feel like I should have connected on some level with this band. I mean, they’re Reporter … I’m a reporter. This should have been love at first listen, right? Right?
As roadies set the stage for Das Racist’s show, I walked out on the second floor smoke deck of Branx music venue in Portland. Not to smoke, but to converse with friends.
We were talking when this odd, fashionably ironic kid with horn-rimmed glasses walked up to us. He apparently was from the same hometown as my friends. He had this laugh that resembled a stutter and a malfunctioning wind-up toy. His brown eyes were vacant.
He looked down at his watch. “I think they’re going on in 12 minutes and 40 seconds,” he said devoid of emotion. We expressed surprise. He repeated the timeframe before slipping a High Life bottle into his right sleeve and walking back inside.
A little background: I saw Das Racist and Holy Ghost! at Branx last Wednesday as part of the city’s Soul’d Out festival. For the most part, I was unfamiliar with Das Racist’s music. But what little I knew about them suggested they would be a fun show.