Your one-stop MusicFest Northwest preview

Illustration by Maria Estrada

Your guide to the new and improved MusicFest Northwest

By Pioneer Log Staff

Haven’t decided which bands you’re going to see this weekend at MusicFest Northwest? Not sure you want to shell out those $65 for a day of live music? MusicFest Northwest was trimmed down to a weekend extravaganza instead of a weeklong, citywide celebration. Many Portlanders are less than stoked about changes to the fest (no more 21+ only venues, underclassmen). You won’t be booty-bouncing with Diplo at the Wonder Ballroom or drinking cheap beer with FIDLAR at the now-defunct Backspace (special shout out to the bouncer who threw out a handful of Lewis & Clark kids last year). Click here for Tickets and full schedule.

But with its new location along the waterfront, a solid lineup of accompanying events and popular after parties, MFNW is still going strong. You’ll be all set to fulfill your wildest summer-music-festival dreams with the Pioneer Log’s festival breakdown:

Shy Girls // American Apparel Stage at Hawthorne, Saturday 1:35-2:20 By Lauren Achee /// Arts Editor

Portland-based Shy Girls is sure to be the cure for anyone needing a moody fix. Consisting of solo frontman and producer Dan Vidmar, Shy Girls’ sound is like a less experimental The Weeknd, featuring some of the same smooth vocals, R&B groove and pop beats. The “avant-R&B” sound is feminine, yet has a side of straight-laced seduction, making Shy Girls an apt name. Performing at MFNW on the cusp of his first proper release (Shy Girls’ TIMESHARE EP comes out October 29), Vidmar is sure to do justice to the current new influx of R&B that has been perpetrating the airwaves.

Gardens & Villa // American Apparel Stage At Hawthorne, Saturday 3:25-4:20 By Lauren

Gardens & Villa is California coast without the sand stuck between your toes. The perfect soundtrack to any hitchhiker’s journey, the self described “coco vibes” gives a taste of Santa Barbara free living through breezy vocals with a strong percussion that makes you antsy in the best way possible. Their harmonies are reminiscent of fellow southern Californian band Local Natives, if Local Natives ever decided to include electronic beats. Gardens & Villa has already proved successful with the Portland crowd, as this is their second time at MFNW. For those who just left California (i.e. most LC kids) let Gardens & Villa be your last taste of the breezy, cloudless sky before the Portland rain.

Run the Jewels // Moda Stage at Morrison, Saturday 6:25-7:20 By Camilla Radoyce /// Staff Writer

Run the Jewels is an American hip hop duo formed by rappers El-P and Killer Mike back in 2013. With high-energy live performances, honest, relevant lyrical rap and old-school-yet-modern hip hop style, it’s clear that Run the Jewels will make this Portland crowd get nasty. Chris Coplan of Consequence of Sound gave their debut album four out of five stars, telling listeners to, “let your heart fill with love and bang your damn head up and down.” Don’t miss your chance to get your fill of those dope hip hop beats you’ve been craving live.

Phantogram // American Apparel Stage at Hawthorne, Saturday 7:25-8:25 By Camilla

Drawing inspiration from a diverse (to say the least) group of artists that ranges from The Beatles, David Bowie, John Frusciante, Sonic Youth to Prince, members Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel describe their sound as “street beat, psych pop.” Collaborating with big time artists such as Big Boi, The Flaming Lips, and A$AP Rocky to name a few, Phantogram has garnered plenty of fame while still managing to remain unknown to many. Expect dancy, awesomely instrumental ambience all set to a sick light show accompanying pleasantly smooth vocals and mind-blowing beats.

Girl Talk // Moda Stage at Morrison, Saturday 8:30-9:45 By Guadalupe Triana /// Managing Editor

Really, you haven’t heard of Girl Talk by now? Last year, people were losing their minds over Diplo. If that’s the kind of energy and flip-your-shit performance you’re looking for, this is where you should be. Known to bring a cathartic concert-going experience via live-sampling of all your favorite records and of course, outrageous props, Girl Talk will have you rolling all throughout Saturday night—if that’s your thing.

Modern Kin // American Apparel Stage at Hawthorne, Sunday 1:35-2:20 By Camilla

Although still fairly new, hometown trio Modern Kin has already landed a spot on Willamette Week’s annual “Best New Band” poll. Focusing on their vocals and harmonies, this band brings a folksy attitude to their rock vibe. Be sure to expect a surprising amount of intensity from these indie rockers who obviously have a great affinity for their chosen instruments. Guitarist and lead singer Drew Grow is known for his phenomenal vocalization and credits Talking Head’s own David Byrne for his unique staccato singing style.

EMA // Moda Stage at Morrison, Sunday 2:25-3:20 By Tyler Wayne Patterson /// Social Media Manager

You’ll probably forget about this performance, unless you want to convince others you have cool taste. EMA, which stands for Erika M. Anderson, delivers her vocals distorted, with just a hint that she doesn’t actually care. EMA has positioned herself to be the person you wanted to be your first day of NSO—hip, unapproachable and perfectly careless. Don’t come ready to dance. Rather, come ready to groove to music that seems to intentionally make you unsettled. The music is moody, grungy and electronically punk.

Fucked Up // American Apparel Stage at Hawthorne, Sunday 5:25-6:20 By Lauren

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Fucked Up comes to MFNW riding the wave of the June release of their third album, Glass Boys. Fucked Up is a no ifs, ands or buts punk band with a lighthearted twist. Their latest music video for “Sun Glass” features footage of punk fans moshing at their shows while a shirtless Damien Abraham (Fucked Up’s lead singer) growls, screams and barks at the audience, contrasted against scenes of the band eating ice cream in a graveyard and Abraham singing surrounded by a cloud of weed smoke. That’s unsurprising (Abraham just collaborated with Vice on a documentary about Canada’s marijuana industry.) Another reason to check them out: Apparently, back in 2012, when Fucked Up last graced the stages of MFNW, Abraham performed in his underwear.

Tune-Yards // Moda Stage at Morrison, Sunday 6:25-7:20 By Guadalupe

Ever think about the music that’s supposed to be playing in the background of an imaginary montage featuring you riding a bike or running through the streets or something? We really can’t be the only ones. Anyway, Tune-Yards make music exactly for what could be that kind of experience. The sounds that emerge from lead singer Merrill Garbus energetic self sound like a solid mixture of all great things in music: powerful,  edgy vocals all set to catchy, hypnotic rhythms. If you need to get acquainted with Tune-Yards before you check out their performance, we recommend you do it quick and start learning where all the “oooohs” in the song go.

Illustration by Laura Estrada
Illustration by Laura Estrada

Haim // American Apparel Stage at Hawthorne, Sunday 7:25-8:25 By Tyler

Its pronounced “high’em,” not “heyyy-m.” Catchy, smooth and so LA. Anticipate everything from this “sister act” groovy synchronized dancing to perfectly crafted pop songs. The harmonies are pleasing, the choruses are catchy and the percussion is on-point. The band delivers self-written and self-played music about love that almost anyone can relate too. Expect to buy the album, love it for a week, and then forget about it until you find yourself drunkenly yelling “I love this song” at a backyard summer party.

Spoon // Moda Stage at Morrison, Sunday 8:30-10:00 By Tyler

Since the height of their career in the early 2000s, Spoon has drawn crowds that resemble your hipster uncle—a rockist that can’t admit he likes pop music. Spoon delivers clean, likable pop music in an alternative rock getup. Expect to be surrounded by Death Cab For Cutie fans complaining about all the dancing twenty-somethings crowded around. The band has taken too long of a break to play much off their new album, so expect to hear all your favorites from high school.



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