After six long months in a Melbourne warehouse, Cut Copy emerged with their third record, Zonoscope, in February of this year. Their most cohesive yet sonically complex effort to date, the album has propelled the quartet to new heights, seeing them travel the world and selling out gigs along the way.
And the Zonoscope was the part of process that has afforded them this success. As Dan Whitford (vocals, keyboard, guitar), Tim Hoey (guitar, sampler), Ben Browning (bass), and Mitchell Scott (drums) hunkered down in that “old, dusty warehouse,” they quickly discovered a tropical air permeating their sonic experimentations and soon this aura pulsated throughout all their new creations. This imagined world was in utter contrast to their homemade recording studio surroundings, but as the “tropical, tribal, almost exotic sounds” kept naturally flowing the Zonoscope became the “device for looking into the world that we created making the record,” explains Dan Whitford. “The Zonoscope is some sort of telescopic, weird contraption that you look through to see into this world.”
Finding inspiration in experimenting with new instruments and through reinterpreting their own influences, you can hear the innovation of vintage sounds in every track on Zonoscope. Swirling vocal patterns two-thirds of the way through “Where I’m Going” stir up hazy memories of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You,” minus the sitar and strings, over twinkling synths reminiscent of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” until the dance-ready beats, yeahs, and hand claps are reinjected.
“Need You Now” is a yearning, dramatic album opener that builds, like much of Cut Copy’s 5+ minute tracks on Zonoscope, into a dance-y bliss (watch above). The deep, commanding form of Dan Whitford’s opening vocals remind of Dave Gahan’s balladry (and so many other ’80s anthems) while you can’t help but hear the tiniest bit of New Order in the electronic drums of “Blink and You’ll Miss A Revolution.” And closer “Sun God” rocks like a funky Happy Mondays cut with repetitive, Shaun Ryder-touched chants and a jammed out, Euro house breakdown that goes on and on.
The layers are multitudinous and a challenge to recreate live but Cut Copy has been doing it across their “northern hemisphere tour” over the last several months and will continue as they move south. On their first string of North American dates the Aussie pack skipped Portland, but currently on their last set of US dates, Cut Copy will finally bring their tropical vision to Portland’s Wonder Ballroom on Sunday, October 9th with equally danceable performances from Washed Out and Midnight Magic.
Powerful may not be the first adjective associated with the serene indie folk of Bon Iver but as the Bon Iver big band took the stage on Saturday night, a sold-out Edgefield knew they were in for a stirring evening.
With nine musicians on stage including singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, the band of choir boys organically recreated the intricately melancholy moments from Bon Iver’s small but complex catalogue. Opening the show with the first two tracks from his recently released, eponymous second album, they demonstrated an impressive display of musicianship. Supported on the rear flanks by two drummers and their kits (Matt McCaughan and Sean Carey, who also contributed piano), the cast of many swapped guitars for violins and brass, from the French horn to the trumpet and sax, and a woodwind or two all masterfully played by Mike Noyce, Rob Moose, Mike Lewis, and C.J. Camerieri. Reginald Pace traded trombone for bells, chimes and an intensifying thunder of mallets on a cymbal, and the always impressive Colin Stetson blew the largest baritone sax known to man in his sleeveless Iron Maiden tee.
But the entire show was typified by the performance of “Creature Fear” where Justin Vernon traded moments with his band. Close your eyes and you might assume there were just one or two performers on stage until the full glory of the eight backing Vernon coalesced, scaling swift peaks and seamlessly transitioning between sparse and immense. Vernon’s solo falsetto gave way to robust choir boy harmonies, the careful, solo strum and brushed heads burst into an invulnerable uproar, and natural euphony became aberrant with experimental eeriness topped by trilling electric guitar and squeaking violin.
Like another Midwest boy who’s an incredible songwriter and performer, the commanding stage presence of Bon Iver recalled a less theatrical Sufjan Stevens. Confirming this straightforward bent, Vernon announced, “We’re gonna try a cover we learned today. This is for all you Ahmericans out there” as he embodied the opening verse lyric “The country I come from is called the Midwest,” doing his best Dylan imitation (but quickly dropping that act) on “With God on Our Side.”
Although fans that saw James Blake on his first American tour, including a sold-out stop at the Doug Fir in May, worried about the intimacy that would be lost as he plays bigger and bigger stages, Blake himself is excited by the prospect–larger venues mean bigger sound systems with more low-end to create the massive sounds he’s seeking.
And James Blake demonstrated on Friday night at the Wonder Ballroom that the understated, introspective nature of his performance is still enough to captivate a larger audience, ably pulling the crowd in and keeping their attention with his drama-filled pauses and fragmented laments. Blake does have reason to fancy the increased power–his minimalist songs did sound good on a big PA whether he was vibrating the floorboards with active, soulful dubstep on R&S released EP tunes “CMYK” and “Klavierwerke”–the most club-worthy moments of the night–or providing a brief glimpse of unadulterated piano playing and vocals on “Give Me My Month”–the moment that most embodied Blake’s desire to play serious, solo piano sets, aiming “to make an art of the songwriting for piano.”
As many struggle to understand how James Blake can possibly be classified as dubstep, let alone what dubstep is, Blake simply described dubstep to OMN before the show as an “intense focus on a feeling,” and his stage presence, or lack thereof, was perfectly suited to amplify this emotion. Shy and subdued, his tall frame seated behind two keyboards, Blake mumbled a few anecdotes and was visibly touched by the audience’s reaction to his “melodic bass music.”
Listen to the entire OMN interview with James Blake including his thoughts on his new, “more intense” EP, Enough Thunder, expected in November and future collaborations with Bon Iver, aka Fall Creek Boys’ Choir, but sorry, not tonight at McMenamins Edgefield.
Reverbed, looped, layered and vocodered to create an Auto-Tune effect, the ever-transforming vocals wavered alongside the rhythmically discordant beats, both always on the edge of cracking to pieces yet masterfully restrained. The live layering and looping of the opening lines to “I Never Learnt To Share” captured the audience’s cheers as the audio’s balance panned from side to side, and the song furtively built into a droning, intense frenzy, which if ill-crafted would’ve been offensive. The same was true of the shattering yet delicately measured bass pulsations on “Limit To Your Love,” which obviously received the loudest cheers of the night especially when the disco ball started to spin.
Cameron Spies and Lizzy Ellison craft a nice press release. In what was likely the first one ever sent out (last February) for their latest project, Radiation City, the two declare to have
“cooked up yet another darling sound to tear you away from your TV dinner. The calmed echoes of amplifier tubes and secret gramophones, the soothing, sonic smile of a warbling Wurlitzer, and precisely sparse heart-throbbing drums bounce from the analogue souls of our newest musical Ozzy & Harriet.”
But the duo, who are also responsible for the electronic-psychosis of Spesus Christ, the minimalist ambience of Soap Collectors, the tape label Apes Tapes, and are a couple, have been more than able to back up their enchanting descriptions with bona fide recordings and live performances. What is heard on “The Color Of Industry” (below) holds fast when the quartet plays out–the warm, fuzzy effect the record has on your ears only heats up your body in person making the vinyl-pop nostalgia a living, breathing reality.
The (again) self-described “soothing siren-lullaby” of Ellison is contrasted by the once-in-a-while coarse vivacity of Spies in a perfect blend of guy/girl vocals that are further complemented, while the emotion is complicated, by the chemistry of bassist Matt Rafferty and drummer Randy Bemrose–who both supply additional harmonies. But it’s not all dreamy prose–unadulterated passion rears it’s head as formidable synths and guitar mix Brazilian jazz and ’50 melodies with modern dance and indie rock as vocals wail over bossa nova rhythms, from the rim-clicking clave combined with electronic touches on the album opener “Babies” (watch a home-baked chicken ‘n waffles edition via Into The Woods below) to digging in deeper on the heavy-soft undulations of ”Park”–their newest single, which you can listen to as the final cut on this Baeble mixtape. (Spies explains “Park “was conceived just after I first met Lizzy. I was still living down in San Francisco, and she was living in Portland. The song was simultaneously a lament about the distance between us and excitement about knowing her.”) With so many other hazy contemporaries around town, Radiation City may just float to the top based on their synchronous spark and the elegance of Lizzy Ellison’s voice in the live arena.
After a few tape releases on their own Apes Tapes, Tender Loving Empire quickly snatched up Radiation City and will re-release the once tape-only debut The Hands That Take You (stream the entire album here) on September 27th on CD, vinyl and as a digital download. Just returning from a comprehensive, 25-date national tour, the band will wrap it up with one final date: a proper release party this Saturday, September 24th at the Doug Fir with dream-pop pals Blouse and moody, avant-popsters Aan.
Beyoncé and Birkenstocks do not often appear in the same circles. At least, that’s what you would naturally assume. But allow Bibi McGill to defy your expectations. The touring guitarist and musical director of Beyoncé’s ten-piece, all-female band (affectionately referred to as Suga Mama) has found peace of mind in Portland, but not in the music scene. For Bibi McGill, it’s all about healthy living, yoga, and kale chips.
With Beyoncé Knowles’s fourth album debuting at number one in the US and 13 other countries (and with her and hip-hop mogul hubby Jay-Z expecting), you’d think it would be hard not to let that success overshadow the other band members. However with Bibi’s distinctive afro and tattoos, her rock star style and sex appeal, she stands out like a female Lenny Kravitz. Yet, she’s hardly defined by that.
Her ferocity on stage is contrasted by a solitary calmness off. Yoga may be Bibi’s true calling and it is central to her life off stage. A yogi of thirteen years and a certified instructor, she strives to practice every day, especially while on tour. It rejuvenates her body and gives her peace of mind away from the dynamic but draining performances.
Drawing pleasure from “low-key” key activities, Bibi relishes gardening, outdoor sports, raw food preparation, and spending time with her animals, family and friends—elements that sustain her. Rest, self-reflection and healthy eating maintain her life force, and she hopes to share these principles with the world through Bibi Kale Chips and her plans to create an “eco-empire” for food processing and community building.
Humbly, she’ll tell you she’s only interested in being the being the best person she can be, but her consciousness will have an impact on the world at large. It requires a strong, sensible woman to balance all of these roles. It also takes a self-assured boldness to pick up and move to a city that you’ve never even seen.
When was the first time that you came to Portland?
The first time I ever came was three years ago, right before I moved here. I guess what attracted me was the green environment, the outdoor beauty, the clean air, the conscious people. It's a beautiful city and it's down to earth. LA's cool if you like the sunshine and the ocean, but it's not the place for me. It's too busy, it's too chaotic, too much smog, people are, unfortunately, very pretentious there. It wasn't my vibe; I stayed there as long as I needed to be there to make my career happen and now I can live where I wanna live.
You hadn't even been here on tour or anything before you moved?!
Well, we did a tour date in Portland about three weeks before I came here and bought my house. But I had already decided long before that that I was going to move here. When I joined Beyoncé, I saw the tour dates and went, "Oh, we're going to Portland! This is great because that's where I'm gonna move!" I knew I was going to move here and when that tour was over, I flew back three weeks later and bought my house.
After getting your big break with Pink in 2001, you spent several years touring Latin countries with Mexico's Paulina Rubio and Chile's La Ley but the experiences left you burnt out. When the call came from Beyoncé, you weren't even going to try out. Why did you finally decide to audition?
At the end of La Lay, I just really was done with music. I was going to teach yoga and I was never going to pick up my guitar again. I started teaching yoga for a year, and it was one of the best years of my life, but after about a year my bank account was wiped out, my credit cards were maxed, and even though it's sappy [laughs], I got a million calls from so many people… texts saying, "Beyoncé's looking to put together an all-female band, you should go to the auditions." I told everybody, "No. No way." Beyoncé's cool, I've always loved her, but I wasn't going to play music again; I was done with that industry that just sucks the life out of you. It wasn't until I was going to bed and my dad called me late at night. Someone had called him in Denver looking for me; it was a little odd that someone found him. I told him no and I hung up the phone. Then I decided, "Well, I'm going to go because my dad called." [Laughs] Because I didn't want him to feel bad; I appreciated him calling to tell me. So I went to the audition, reluctantly, and once I got there I knew I was supposed to get the gig.
You started working with Beyoncé in 2006 and soon after you were tapped to be her Musical Director. What exactly does that mean?
It means a lot of different things. Beyoncé has a creative director. The creative director and Beyoncé work with the music and the entire show to come up with a blueprint of what she wants. When we go into rehearsals, I work with the creative director to execute and implement Beyoncé's desire, her dream, her blueprint of how things are supposed to go. Once we go on tour, the creative director does not go on tour with us so there needs to be someone in the band to make sure the rehearsals and sound checks are done properly; that people show up on time; that people play the right notes.
On stage, if there are any problems or issues I have to be able to communicate them to everybody in the band as well as people behind the scenes in production. I wear in-ear monitors, I have a mic and I'm able to speak to people. I have to call cues on stage and I have to cue people in production as well--there's certain parts of the show where stairs might need to be raised or people backstage, behind the scenes, sometimes beneath the stage, can't see what's going so I have to cue them and say, "Beyoncé's in place, raise the stairs " or "cue video." Things like that. So in addition to playing guitar, I have to do all that on stage and, honestly, a lot of times it's being a freaking psychologist, learning how to deal with people's personalities, and being the head babysitter.
It's way, way more than being rockstar and just going out there and shredding. You are conducting so many technical aspects of the performance… it sounds stressful!
Absolutely, it's stressful. I didn't sign up for that but I got picked for it and I have to say that I've grown a lot. I've learned a lot, and I've made myself a more valuable person for people to bring into their situation with that experience. So I'm really, really grateful that she picked me [laughs].
That's the technical side of things, but what's it like emotionally--sharing the stage with an international presence and playing every night in front of huge, sold-out crowds all over the world?
Between the screaming fans, who adore you and give you the biggest rush, and the personalities of the whole group, and seeing how people live their lives away from their homes, you got through every range of emotion from sadness, loneliness, and fear to being sometimes resentful. But for me mostly, I just am elated and blissful about the fact that I get to be on stage every night with Beyoncé. Beyoncé is amazing; I definitely look up to her and admire her. It's a great feeling; it's like a drug. You step out there on stage and you are literally exchanging energy with the audience. They feel your energy and you feel their energy; the more they give you, the more you're able to give and it goes back and forth between the two until you've escalated yourself into euphoria.
And then you have the issue of taking care of yourself [on tour]. I like to feel good when I'm on stage. I'm not likely to go out and party after a show and stay out till six in the morning. I'll get up early in the morning, I'll do yoga, I'll feel good, and then I'll make sure I'm ready for sound check. Being the Musical Director, you're not there to be people's friends even though I'm a very friendly person. But, nobody wants to listen to the Musical Director so between that and the fact that I don't choose the typical rockstar, party lifestyle on the road, I tend to be a little bit more isolated, so that gets lonely. Plus the fact that I'm away from my home, my animals, my garden, my friends, that wears on you. But that comes with the territory. You gotta find a way to balance it out and that's why I do yoga every single day on the road; it gives me the energy, stability and grounding that I need to keep going because the travel gets to you, the workload gets to you--we rarely have days off. But right now, I wouldn't trade it.
Although Beyoncé is technically your boss, what kind of relationship have you developed over the years?
Beyoncé employs hundreds of people and she's not there to be our friend. It's impossible with her workload and her other businesses responsibilities, interviews and schedule. She is really friendly and she goes above and beyond to make time for the band when she can. She will schedule something like a party at her hotel where we'll come over and we'll eat good food and talk and play charades… she loves to play charades [laughs]. Or she'll rent out a roller skating rink and have a party there. She tries but it's impossible to take the energy to try to get to know everybody and be their friend. That's not what we're there for--we're there to work for her and do a show; it's a production.
Do you play any solo music when you're not on tour?
Actually, I have no interest in that at all. I'm at a point in my career where I've been doing this a long time and I've been in bands where I've put together the band, held auditions, ran the rehearsals, flyered the town, booked the shows, struggled… I've done that for years and years and as a guitar player I'm not interested in a solo music career. There's other things that are important to me in my life that don't involve music. When I come off tour, I don't really pick up my guitar very much and I definitely don't play out. Once again, I'm not the typical band member. I'm very happy being a hired gun. I'm able to add my own flavor to Beyoncé's music because her music doesn't have a lot of guitar in it. I'm able to listen to it and create my own guitar parts. And when I'm done with tour, I'm done. I'm relaxing, I'm chilling. I'm not doing music.
Even though you've "made it" as musician, it's obvious that music's not the only thing that drives you. Music seems to be a job for you so tell me about your involvement in yoga and teaching yoga in Portland public schools over the last year.
Yes, absolutely. I've been doing yoga since 1998; I've gone through intensive yoga training and certification, which I completed back in 2004. I just love yoga and because of what I do, people watch what I do and how I live so a lot of my fans are just so interested in how I eat and yoga. When I came to Portland I heard about this yoga program called Street Yoga which teaches yoga to "underserviced youth" dealing with challenges such as abuse, homelessness, or metal illnesses, and it's helping them amazingly. The kids are like "Wow! I feel different" and realize the benefits of yoga--it decreases stress, lowers your heart rate, makes you feel better, releases endorphins in your brain that give you a high. Also, during my time off, I took on regular classes that I could teach just in public studios. I love to share yoga during my time off. It makes people feel better, it helps people become more healthy. I miss it greatly when I go on the road, but I have a regular practice when I am touring.
What's your personal regimen when you're on tour?
Absolutely every day I do yoga; that's my goal. And if there's one time when I'm on a plane for 20 hours and can't do it then I just can't do it but it's something I do every day. I don't take days off.
Do you open it up to anyone else? Does anyone on the tour participate with you?
Absolutely. Last tour, one of the dancers had not done yoga and he wanted me to teach him everything. Not only the Sanskrit words but the chants and all the poses an the names of the poses in Sanskrit. Every day we did yoga together and I taught him. There were also a couple times where I taught classes in the park or out on the lawn in front of the hotel or on top of a roof. I'm open to teaching anybody that wants to learn.
As such a calm, composed person, how do you balance your spiritual side while touring in such a loud, flashy and hectic environment?
Yoga's number one, but number two is eating healthy. You can't eat junk. There's a McDonald's and a Kentucky Fried Chicken in every country. And a lot of times that's where people go eat. But I eat healthy, I maintain a good diet, I get as much rest as I can, and it's important to spend time alone, whether it's in meditation or just to have quiet time because it's so easy to get caught up in different things when you're on tour. You're already going a million miles an hour so when you have some time to be alone and clear your mind, you need to do it--meditation, yoga, eating properly, and just being conscious. It's necessary but a lot of people don't do that and they burn out quickly or they wonder why they're always in a bad mood or agitated. That's what I do and it definitely works.
What kind of diet do you maintain? Are you vegan or vegetarian?
I am about 75% vegan raw; that's what I prefer to eat. The other 25% of the time I really eat whatever I want because I feel like nothing is 100%. Nothing. Our bodies aren't 100% mass, the earth isn't 100% water. People will go to extremes feeling like "I have to be 100% vegan!" Or, "I have to eat 100% raw." Whatever. I don't have a need to have to feel superior to people by reaching 100% or being judgmental of other people. I respect everybody and what they want to eat but I prefer vegan raw. And if I want to eat a hamburger sometimes, I'm gonna do that, or if I want to eat chicken or calamari or shrimp or lobster, I'm gonna do that too!
That's a great philosophy because I couldn't imagine traveling the world and limiting your dietary options. Number one, it can be extremely difficult to find food options; and number two, you might prevent yourself from partaking in certain culinary or cultural experiences.
Absolutely. You go to different countries and you want to experience what they eat! Unless it's completely scary and disgusting [laughs]. Most of the time I can usually eat vegetarian or vegan in just about every country and still experience the culture. But in Argentina, they have grass-fed cows. They don't use chemicals there, and they're known for some of the best beef in the world so when I was there I wanted to experience it, the Argentinian barbecues [laughs].
Tell me about your vegan raw, organic, gluten-free, dehydrated Bibi Kale Chips, which you can find in a couple co-ops around Portland.
Bibi Kale Chips are exploding right now and I'm just doing everything I can to keep it out there. But I'm not really prepared yet to get really big with it. I do have a business plan that's in the works with an amazing marketing strategy and I'm looking for investors over the next year because I'm going to move into my own kitchen, which I would like to have on a plot of land where I can grow some of my own ingredients, like the kale, and have a processing plant and my farm and eventually turn it into a little eco-village where I'll use mostly green, renewable energy resources as well as green building options. Everybody that has eaten my chips absolutely become addicted to them and loves them.
Do you see yourself as a role model?
Yes and no. I will be the first to tell people don't follow me; I'm lost. I'm a human being with emotions and trauma and difficulties and I'm trying to figure this whole life thing out just like everybody else. But on the other hand, I think everybody is a role model. Everybody has somebody that's looking up to them for guidance. So, yes, I can't help that people look to me and want to know how I'm doing and how I'm living and are inspired by the fact that I'm a woman that steps out there on stage and puts my complete energy into what I'm doing. I live my life trying to be as positive and healthy as I possibly can and I do that for me. But, I'm not perfect and I'm not out there trying to save the world. I'm just trying to do things that are going to serve my highest good as well as the highest good of everybody.
Give us a piece of advice for aspiring musicians?
Be realistic, work hard, and don't step on anybody on your way up. Plant good seeds.
That sounds like good advice for just being a upstanding human being.
I think so. If you try to be the best human being you can be, you're going to create everything that you want in your life. I believe in the law of attraction, I believe we're all creators, and if we have our head and our heart in the right place, everything is going to fall into place and we can be happy.
The Orwellian dubbed DoublePlusGood has anything but a straight-laced, tyrannical reputation.
In the last two years, the PDX “glitch-pop” duo has been a staple around town in the electronic scene, heating up basement dance parties and tiny bar “stages” (aka corners) at Valentines as well as sweaty all-ages affairs at Backspace or the adult-only Mississippi Studios with loaded electro-pop originals and a sometimes cover of Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” or Beach House’s “10 Mile Stereo.” Next week they’ll play Portland’s latest, hippest bar stage at Bunk Bar on Tuesday, September 20th with Youth.
Although Erik Carlson and Andrew Nelson count the live gigs, especially the fact that they’ve been able to book most of their own bills, and a West Coast tour as highlights of the past year, the real triumph (and relief) was the release of DPG’s second album, Here They Come, The Birds of My Youth, on August 27th at the Doug Fir via SoHiTek Records–the label run by Carlson.
An album that’s been more than a year in the making, Here They Come, The Birds of My Youth is the first DoublePlusGood effort as a duo; producer and vocalist Erik Carlson added drummer Andrew Nelson in 2009 as a live drummer but the relationship spilled over into the next recording, which was completed almost a year ago but “for whatever reason we made the process as cumbersome as possible,” says Erik. ”We did not streamline this,” he laughs.
Erik’s songwriting inspiration came from the pop melodies of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and both had a penchant for Phil Spector’s ’60s recording techniques. But even with a cohesive vision for the album in mind, the process was easily prolonged. From scheduling time to record in a huge concrete, “bomb shelter basement,” as Andy puts it, which was once a Ford Model-T factory, to organizing the general prerequisites of mixing, mastering, creating artwork and finding money to press the albums, the record was finally ready a year later than anticipated.
But Here They Come, The Birds of My Youth finds the band at its densest and brightest–layers of Carlson’s affected, melodic vocals ride sonic levels of bleeping, twinkling synths alongside added samples that glisten and chirrup, and it’s all backed by the echo-y thump of Nelson’s live drums–and also their proudest. And while the two have been perfecting so many of these songs live over the last two years, the live favorites sparkle in their recorded form.
The latest Thievery Corporation album felt too dark. Musically, both the dazzling sounds of the sitar and a Corp staple, the lively, patios-rapping duo See-I, were notably absent. Many of the dub-reggae influenced vibes gave way to bleak raps and sullen slow jams--albeit, TC does that well. There's still plenty of beauty in the music but the world incited is one of distress, paranoia, and surveillance; the album's art points a jet-black security camera in your face below the title: Culture of Fear.
Yet, as the Corp chandeliers lowered from the darkness, settling above the stage, on Wednesday, September 14th at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland already knew that Thievery Corporation Live brings a completely different atmosphere. For one night the familiar downtempo electronica was sensationally uptempo.
Recreating live what DJ/producers Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have done in the studio for more than 15 years is no easy feat but a couple busloads of talented artists and instruments could do the trick. With seven players on stage, including a two-piece brass section, two guitarists, keys, percussion and drums (but no Hilton), and a revolving door of seven guest vocalists, the audience was starved for Thievery Corporation's international blend of acid jazz, reggae, trip-hop, funk, dub, electronica, and hip-hop.
The entire concert hall was up, standing and shaking hips, from Rob Myers' distinctive opening sitar notes on "Lebanese Blonde," accompanied by the exquisitely airy vocals of Buenos Aires-born Natalia Clavier, to encore closer "Light It Up" where all five guest rappers, Sleepy Wonder, See-I, Ras Puma, and Mr. Lif, plus a throng of dancing ladies from the audience filled the stage as the show-stealing, barefoot-grooving bassist Ashish Vyas took to the front row.
The varied cast of vocalists, with a new face taking center stage on at least every other song, made it almost easy to forget all the live instrumentation creating TC's intricate, beat-heavy textures until they put you in the dark and gave the crowd an instrumental breakdown highlighting the body-vibrating, low-end basslines, the critically involved auxiliary percussion, and the booming kick drum beat, on which a classic Thievery Corporation target, painted Rastafarian green, yellow and red, was emblazoned--it was mind blowing.
Two overstuffed chairs also flanked center on stage, and as the concert opened, Rob Myers picked up his sitar and sat cross-legged on the cream psychiatrists-like lounger on the left for "Lebanese Blonde" with a shit-eating smile on his face... and ours. The minuscule rouge velvet armchair right was later, daintily, filled by the stunning, Iranian-born songstress LouLou Ghelichkhani on "Sweet Tides" during the second song of the encore after Rob Garza came down from behind his keys and electronics to play guitar on an instrumental jam.
Portland electro-dance-starters Starfucker (STRFKR) may have lost a longtime band member (Ryan Biornstad) and picked up a family-friendly letter mash, err, moniker since the release of their second, highly-anticipated album (Reptilians) in March, and now they've revealed their third video (see one and two here) from Reptilians for "Bury Us Alive." The Joshua Cox-directed cut is full of dreamlike visuals where some kind of out-of-body, psychedelic trip meets a space burial while a moss man's face flowers, and it's all concluded by bodies crumbling into carbon dust. Plus, there's four of them in the clip.
Freshly a trio, comprised of songwriter/producer Josh Hodges, bassist Shawn Glassford, and drummer Keil Corcoran, the band has shown no signs of slowing down as they've recently played for massive, West Coast festival audiences at both San Francisco's Outside Lands and Seattle's Bumbershoot with the addition of Ian Luxton and Patrick Morris (of Strength), both on keys, guitars and vocals, to their touring crew.
And the exciting ride continues for the local boys as the touring schedule soldiers on around the country, wrapping it all up in Portland on Wednesday, October 5th at the Wonder Ballroom with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Big Troubles, and their Mexican touring buddy Alexico. Expect them to play their newest song, "Dragon Queens" (below), from their recent Polyvinyl, 7-inch split with Champagne Champagne.
Brandon Ellison and I recently attacked both Seattle's Bumbershoot and Portland's MFNW in consecutive weeks. After a straight week of seeing concerts every day and every night, here are the fruits of our (and a few others including some amazing photogs) labor from Bumbershoot 2011 and MFNW 2011. Get the daily recaps from the former (day one, two and three) and a great MFNW festival diary written by #bonerjam Numero Uno.
It’s the 11th edition of MusicfestNW and like usual, there’s way more than live music than you can possibly devour so it’s best to choose your plan of action for each night and see if you can stick to it. This is the one time of year where every lineup is absolutely stacked with your favorite bands, local and otherwise.
The Pioneer Courthouse Square showcases are back as are the free Nike gigs at the Wonder on Thursday (The Joy Formidable and Brand New) and Friday (Reptar and MSTRKRFT). The five-day extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday, September 7th and runs through the weekend, Sunday, September 11th. Some tickets to individual shows are sold (or selling) out but some all-fest wristbands are still floating around, so check out your remaining options here to make sure you can get into the gigs you need to see.
With 190+ acts at 20+ venues, here are a few of the acts OMN will not miss at MFNW 2011:
Wednesday, September 7th
Opening night at MFNW might offer the fewest options but those with wristbands will be rearing to go and locals like Sean Flinn & The Royal We will provide the lighter yet captivating, emotive folk fare at Bunk Bar while riot grrl become riot woman Corin Tucker (formerly of Sleater-Kinney) will headline with her band, which includes Sara Lund (Unwound) and Seth Lorinczi (Golden Bears), at Mississippi Studios. Right click to download the first single, “Doubt,” from The Corin Tucker Band’s Kill Rock Stars debut, 1,000 Years.
Also, for more familiar faces in a new band, one of the Corin Tucker openers is Hurry Up, a new effort from Kathy Foster and Westin Glass of The Thermals with Maggie Vail (K Record, DJ Magic Bean, Bangs).
OMN will be hitting Bumbershoot this weekend to get an early glimpse of The Kills but you catch them at the Crystal Ballroom, which is sure to fill to capacity so get there early and be prepared to wait in line. You may know Alison Mosshart from her time with Jack White’s The Dead Weather, but she really shines in the minimalism beside guitarist Jamie Hince. Releasing their fourth album, Blood Pressures, in April, allow the bluesy, garage rockin’ duo to blow what’s left of your right mind.
Thursday, September 8th
Must-see local openers: Who cares if you stay for the headliners, here are some OMN favorites that open gigs on Thursday.
Aiming “to make the best record that we could,” the husband and wife combo of Viva Voce released their fifth, full-length studio album, The Future Will Destroy You earlier this summer and you can hear a sampling below. Of course, you could stick around for the freshly reunited Archers of Loaf if you must.
Brainstorm helped shut down this year’s PDX Pop Now! fest with an amalgamated punch of styles, and now that the duo has added a friend (Aidan Koch from The Bubs on synths) expect even more noise from these bombastic blenders. Plus they’ll hold down the Doug Fir stage with samplistic electro-poppers Purity Ring (a new project from Corin Roddick, of New York’s Gobble Gobble, with vocalist Megan James) and White Arrows, who are set to release the RAC-produced “Get Gone” (below) and a debut record (also produced by Portland via Porto RAC-founder Andre Anjos) in the near future. Headlining the not-too-shabby bill are MFNW 2010 performersPhantogram.