Friday, August 31, 2012

omn's guide to mfnw 2012

Funny how the years of the 2000s coincide with the number of years MusicfestNW has been in action—like they planned it or something. Well, in its 12th year, MFNW 2012 continues its reign as Portland's largest, completely citywide fest. And, apparently, it's also the nation's third largest indoor fest, according to Wikipedia.

While Wikipedia's numbers may be slightly out of date as they fluctuate each year, the 2012 fest's tally is currently at 172 bands at 17 venues from Wednesday, September 5th until Sunday the 9th. For all your ticketing needs, go here... otherwise, here's who not to miss at MFNW 2012:

Wednesday, September 5th

After experiencing a nervous breakdown immediately prior to the release of their debut album, Manners, Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos was able to preserve and propel his band "higher and higher and higher." Yet, the singer used this experience and his continued struggle with bipolar disorder, stress and chronic fatigue as inspiration to create a record that's more than intimate—it's like eavesdropping, as bio writer Brent DiCrescenzo put it so well. The amazingly complex process of crafting that new album means:

"The songs on Gossamer carry anywhere from 60 to 200 instrumental tracks, according to Michael. If you ask Alex Aldi, Michael’s engineer, the number 80 to 120. (The maximum output on their version of ProTools is 120 tracks.) Whatever, it’s a fuckton."

Listen to it for yourself on "Take A Walk," the first single from Gossamer, and see how the Massachusetts five-piece recreates these sounds live as they kick off MFNW with LP on Wednesday night and follow that up with an encore performance on Thursday with The Hundred In the Hands, both at the Crystal:

Portland's proudest heavy rock exports Red Fang continue to top the local scene with their leaden, beer-soaked stoner metal—when they're around that is. Lately, it seems like they're either raging in Europe, supporting Mastodon or The Sword, or about to kick off another US jaunt with Black Tusk. We just ask them to come home long enough to record another album, film some more ridiculous music videos, and, hopefully, host another air guitar contest or some other such nonsense... here's in honor of bassist Aaron Beam's cat, "Hank Is Dead":

Thursday, September 6th

What began as a Gobble Gobble side project has become a known quantity and a burgeoning electro success in the year since Montreal's Purity Ring last played MFNW. The duo of beatmaker Corin Roddick and vocalist Megan James played Sasquatch in May, released their debut album, Shrines, on 4AD in July, and are now headlining their own set Ted's Berbati's Pan for MFNW. Check out the glitchy beauty of "Fineshrine":

For an avant-garde retro oddity that's contemporary, check out John Maus' set of late night synthpop at the Doug Fir. It'll be smart but danceable, a tad existential with a touch of disco, and dangerously intense from a man that's been releasing music since 1991, as well as playing keys for the likes of Panda Bear and Ariel Pink—if that gives you a little frame of reference. And to understand a little more, listen to "Head for the Country" from Maus' 2011 album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves:

Get the rest of our picks on OMN.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

often pulling double duty : johnny jewel on headlining the crystal with glass candy + chromatics

Double duty is often just a warm up for Johnny Jewel, the beatsmith behind the instantly classic, electric-analog dance acts Desire, Chromatics and Glass Candy. It's not uncommon to find the man opening, supporting and headlining a bill that features all three bands, in a glorious night-long marathon of back-to-back-to-back sets.

Incessantly busy and tediously a perfectionist, Jewel is either in the studio, helming the Italians Do It Better label, or on tour or the stage with one of three aforementioned groups. And this Thursday night, he'll kick off the all-ages, electro SuperFest 4 by playing sets with both Glass Candy and Chromatics at the Crystal Ballroom.

While Jewel and his crew determine each night's set list in the heat of the moment, he's sure to share new music from Chromatics recently released effort, Kill For Love, and maybe, if we're lucky, something from Glass Candy's long-awaited "monster": Body Work.

"Ida is at her all time best in the studio," Jewel says of the new Glass Candy record. "It's the record I am most excited about."

And as an added bonus if you attend on Thursday night, Chromatics will be selling double-vinyl copies of Kill For Love for only $10, which is a super-amazing deal because the magenta vinyl just came out on Sunday and the 10,000 copies the band pressed sold out in 12 hours—seriously shocking the band. Regardless, they've already put in an order for more, this time on ice blue vinyl, where "each pressing will be a different color."

You're doing double duty again with both Glass Candy and Chromatics. Chromatics just put out an album this year, the first in five years, and you've been touring behind that effort a bit. What's the response been like so far?

Johnny Jewel: It's been incredible. Chromatics has really come into their own this year. We've been around the world twice on the new record and it's been a blast. Festivals, runways, galleries, pool halls, loft parties, discotheques, opera houses. The only draw back is, we haven't been in North America very much. So we haven't played in Portland since January, which has been really hard for us. Our home town shows are so special for the bands. We are so excited to be there next week. We're all freaking out!

Listen to Chromatics' new album, Kill For Love, in its entirety via Johnny Jewel's SoundCloud:

How do you prepare for a show when you're playing in multiple acts on the bill?


Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, August 24, 2012

making superfest 4 a reality... by benefiting music in the schools

The Supernature and SuperFest crew are back at it again with their most ambitious, all-ages, electro endeavor yet. Longtime supporters of DIY dance and electronic music, SuperFest 4 will encompass four days—from Thursday, August 30th at the Crystal Ballroom with Glass Candy to two nights at Backspace to Sunday, September 2nd on the PSU Park Blocks for a free outdoor dance party—and, for the first time, benefit a local a nonprofit, Music In The Schools, run by Portland high school students.

Listen to the SuperFest 4 Synthquest DJ Mix featuring new and unreleased tracks by Etbonz, Vice Device (Atole remix), Solenoid, and Toning, as well as recently released songs by Miracles Club, Soft Metals, Strategy, Grapefruit, Jeffrey Jerusalem, and Palmas:

Working alongside Mast, who "booked half of SuperFest this year and does all the designs," according to Reyes, OMN spoke Manny Reyes about this organizing year's benefit as well as some tips on who to look out for on stage.

This year's SuperFest has notably grown in size and scope, with four days of music and some new venues hosting the fest. But, is this the first year the fest has been a benefit?

Yeah, totally. This is the first year SuperFest is a benefit—a new tradition we hope to continue. We [Eric Mast and I] were trying to come up with a cool theme and we thought how about we go for four days for the first time—and that's the theme—with a free day outside at PSU? Plus, it benefits a nonprofit organization made up of Portland teens that help music programs in Portland high schools.

How and why did you choose Music In The Schools? What's your connection to MITS?

I'm happy you asked this, because the honest truth is that we almost didn't do a SuperFest this year. Essentially, we chose MITS because MITS chose SuperFest as their big annual fundraiser! Eric and I met up and traded dozens of emails this summer with our friend Evan Neuhausen—who's pretty much our favorite Portland teenager ever. We met Evan at the first SuperFest, and he assisted Nilina Mason-Campbell at the last photo booth too. It was actually Nilina who suggested we meet with Evan to help promote SuperFest. And then it was Evan who suggested we join efforts on making SuperFest happen.

Why the new venues this year? What will these new locations enable you to do that hasn't been possible in the past?

The new venue choices were a decision made by MITS—since they are financing the whole fest and using their sponsors as well, we decided to go with venues with established relationships with MITS. Crystal Ballroom made sense because the space can accommodate any size of audience, plus they have a new sound system that will be in effect at SuperFest.

Backspace is the perfect size for all-local band dance parties, plus a lot of kids and their parents are familiar with it. And we special-requested Spencer of Operative to do sound which is a huge plus. We're renting subs and decorating the place to look and sound different too.

The free show (outside at PSU on SW Park and SW Montgomery) is a new idea that we are borrowing from our sister electronic summer fest Closer. It was important for us to have an all-inclusive night where anybody is free to come. We feel the three locations make the event feel much more like a festival too—there's no doubt now if there ever was.

Read the rest and find out who you should be excited about at this year's SuperFest 4 on OMN.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

portland neighbors challenged to spend within walking distance

Lents neighbor and neighborhood activist Cora Potter has issued a challenge to her East Portland community hoping to invigorate the hyperlocal business economy in her area.

The challenge?

Do everything in your “power to only spend money east of SE/NE 60th Avenue on the weekends,” Potter says posting on Facebook.


Because “small businesses aren't going to see our neighborhood as a viable market until we start spending money in our neighborhood and up the $$$$$ that changes hands here instead of taking it to Williams or Hawthorne or Alberta or East Burnside and creating the illusion that the economic strength lives there alone,” she explains.

Potter goes on to say that she believes many other Portland neighborhoods have “the reputation [of] being able to support businesses—and the businesses are flocking there in multiples.”

“There are three places to buy hand-crafted ice cream in and around Williams and Alberta,” but “when I look at the actual population and market statistics, this doesn't make sense,” Potter explains. “There's not enough people there to support that many similar businesses. So, what's going on? They're getting business from outside the neighborhood, and I'm betting that some of it is East Portlanders making a trek to get something nice because we can't get it here.”

Potter’s Challenge Is Spreading

Both the Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta districts “are on board with the east of 60th campaign,” Potter says, adding that “a few of my friends that live further north in Hazelwood and Parkrose are aware,” hoping that the word starts to spread there.

Blogger Jeff Lynott of Foster Powell PDX picked up the challenge by writing that while his community might “begrudge” other districts “for their vibrancy and access to shopping, groceries, and many of the amenities we lack, we also contribute to the disparity on some level.”

Admitting that Foster-Powell may not be in control of “environmental, economic or infrastructural elements that determine the shape, character and prosperity of our neighborhoods,” Lynott says, “we do have a choice in where we spend our money and which neighborhood businesses to support. And to that effect, it is no wonder that restaurants thrive on Division, but have little chance of expanding to the nearby environs of Foster Road. As long as we choose to hop in our cars to eat, shop and play, our own economy will lag and sputter.”

Find out why spending your money hyperlocally is important for your neighborhood and shared commercial corridor on Neighborhood Notes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

how to launch your neighborhood brand + engage your community

This is the fifth article in a series about neighborhood branding, which covers understanding and changing the perception of your neighborhood or business district by creating a clear, cohesive identity and brand for your community.

The hard work is done. Almost.

After what may seem like ages of interacting with your community to understand the perceptions of your neighborhood, followed by determining what to change, setting measurable goals, and creating a neighborhood logo, you’ve got in hand the physical beginnings of your new brand. You’ve got a cohesive brand identity—one that your community loves and can stand behind.

Now, it’s time to engage your community and spread the word about your new brand.

Consistency is Key

There’s a reason why you labored over creating a style guide for your logo. When you’re ready to launch your brand, it’s important to be prepared to introduce your new campaign and then move forward full throttle.

“Strive for an all-out, consistent launch, rather than slowly introducing various elements of a new image,” says graphic designer Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives. “The piecemeal approach presents a mixed message to those not familiar with a neighborhood or brand and complicates the desired message.”

“Part of that all-out, consistent introduction of a new image is making sure that all individuals involved with the organization have the latest and greatest image and marketing materials available for their use,” Fisher continues. “Volunteers often play a great role in many neighborhood and community groups. I’ve often seen the wrong logo, or marketing message, sent out by a well-meaning group volunteer who was never provided the proper materials.”

“A well-coordinated big splash in introducing a new logo, brand, and marketing or promotion program presents a newsworthy activity and helps totally define the brand introduction,” Fisher explains.

So, why not throw a party for yourself? (And your community, of course.)

Leverage a Popular Community Event to Launch Your Brand

Many Portland neighborhoods draw big crowds at regular, or even annual, events they host, so it makes sense to leverage the audience of events like Last Thursday on Alberta or First Thursday Art in the Pearl to unveil your new neighborhood brand.

If your neighborhood doesn’t have a signature community event, it might be a good idea to plan one in conjunction with the launch of your new brand.

Find out more about launching your brand physically and digitally on Neighborhood Notes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

spreading the poliça policy

The last time Poliça (pronounced po-lisa) played Portland, it was to a packed house at Bunk Bar just days after the Valentine's Day release of their debut record, Give You The Ghost. It was also one of the first gigs the Minneapolis-based act had played outside of the Midwest.

Since, the electro-R&B four-piece lead by sultry-smooth singer Channy Leaneagh has played and wowed big fest stages at Sasquatch!, SXSW, and, most recently, Osheaga and Lollapalooza. And as the band continues their second run around the States, they'll hit a much larger Portland venue, the Wonder Ballroom, on Saturday, August 18th before wrapping it all up at Austin City Limits in October and then following that with dates across Western Europe in November.

Born as a studio project between Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olson (of GAYNGS fame), Give You The Ghost's cool, darkly danceable electronic vibe is created by smooth basslines and plenty of electronic manipulation, from Leaneagh's beautifully Auto-Tuned vocals to Olson's intricate production, like on "Lay Your Cards Out" (below), which features Bon Iver's Mike Noyce on vocals.

But, when it came to take the act out on the road, Olson decided to stay home. In his stead, Leaneagh enlisted bassist Chris Bierden and two drummers, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, all of whom also played on the record, to aptly recreate the album's elements live. And as they've made the aforementioned rounds, the live sound has evolved into an even tighter and cleaner package that really allows Leaneagh's true vocals to shine—not to mention it's just a joy to watch the pair of drummers deftly knocking out the layered beats.

And without Olson, this lineup is continuing to turn heads, like independent New York record label Mom + Pop Music. The band are set to re-release the full-length album Give You The Ghost on August 14th alongside a Dark Star Remix EP, which features Gardens & Villa and Exitmusic. Plus, they'll surely turn more when they appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live, their second late night TV performance, on August 22nd.

Listen to the Gardens & Villa mix of "The Maker":

Talking about touring highlights and not rushing the new music, OMN spoke to Poliça's Drew Christopherson via email in the week leading up to the show.

Tell me the significance behind the name Poliça.

We were intrigued by the idea of having a name with little to no previous associations to it. Sort of like naming a human or a pet. Poliça is actually a slight misspelling of a foreign word [Polish] meaning "policy," which seemed like an apt declaration of our purpose as a band. While we enjoy coming together as friends and creating music for the simple thrill of it, we also felt a sense of urgency and duty to make this band the best it could be, and that would be our policy. Also, it looks good in print.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

portland retailers flourish in rent-free, collaborative environment

This is the third installment in Neighborhood Notes’ series on indie business collaboration through space sharing.

There’s something exceptional happening in the old Pacific Hardware and Steel building on NW Nicolai Street.

More than a century after its construction, Portland-based producers of distinctive, period-specific lighting fixtures and furnishings, Schoolhouse Electric, took up residence in the massive, four-story red brick warehouse, inviting a few friends to help them fill the 103,172-square-foot building.

The old edifice adjacent to the railroad tracks has housed many businesses over the years, but following a comprehensive 2009 renovation, Schoolhouse Electric purchased the property, dubbed it the Schoolhouse Factory, and has since ushered in the most dynamic period in the history of the nationally recognized historic locale.

Founder and owner Brian Faherty has carefully constructed an environment in hopes of making his on-the-edge-of-town, industrial location “a destination.”

To do so, Faherty invited other local, independently owned businesses to share the space, leveraging their audience, products and services to create a collaborative work environment that provides an exceptional experience for customers and collaborators alike.

Leveraging Audience

As Faherty envisioned his future company headquarters, he knew he wanted a coffee shop on-site, not only to create an ambiance and service his own employees, but also to draw customers to the slightly out-of-the-way destination.

Din Johnson, the owner and head roaster at Ristretto Roasters, was attracted to not only the space but also what he calls "the last industrial frontier" and a neighborhood full of artists.

But being an industrial frontier, Faherty understood that the location was not a high foot traffic area, like Ristretto’s other locations. With his collaborative vision in mind, and against the advice of one of his financial advisers, Faherty proposed to Johnson that rent would be free.

"We were looking to leverage his audience as well by putting us in the same building,” Faherty explains. “What we were going to get out of the deal in return for not charging rent was, potentially, customers and just people who were going to come into the space."

Faherty recognized that, aside from setting up shop in a somewhat idle area, Johnson also invested six figures in the build out of the corner coffee shop.

As it stands now, the nascent partnership is still an experiment and the situation may change depending on the results. Faherty alludes to the fact that Schoolhouse will probably charge for utilities in the future, "but in the beginning, we're not charging any rent and we're not charging any utilities because we want to give them a chance to get in and get the word out to their audience, and our audience, that they're here," he justifies.

Read more about the other collaborations, like independent designers Anna Mara and Reed LaPlant as well as Egg Press, happening in the Schoolhouse Factory on Neighborhood Notes.