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Photo Review: Music Fest NW 2014

Music Fest NW moved to Waterfront Park this year, for a Saturday-Sunday festival featuring Spoon, Haim, Girl Talk, and The Antlers among others. Hot weather and angry reaction to an unfortunate no-water-bottles policy seemed to catch the festival by surprise on Saturday. By Sunday, the festival was allowing attendees to bring in factory-sealed bottles and had reduced the cost of water sold at the festival to $1. And the music.. Spoon and Haim were among the headliners Sunday; Tune-Yards and Girl Talk on Saturday.  We brought back these photos and notes from Music Fest.


Photos from Music Fest Northwest 2014

Gardens & Villa
Santa Barbara five-piece Gardens & Villa played an afternoon set Saturday and quickly drew a substantial crowd of bobbing heads. Frontman Chris Lynch channeled comedian Sam Kinison, donning a black beret and large circular sunglasses; playing mostly from their groovy, yet melancholy sophomore release, Dunes. They expertly weaved the melody from the Tears for Fears hit, “Head Over Heels” into their song, “Chrysanthemums,” between high kicks, declarations of love for the crowd  and the Willamette River. It’s not often you see a flute in indie rock, but Gardens & Villa incorporated it flawlessly.  — Rebecca McKillip

Man Man
While I caught the tail end of the set from Gardens and Villa, the first full set I caught on the Tom McCall Waterfront Park grounds was Man Man. This was my first time seeing the Philadelphia group and their circus rock did not disappoint. Frontman Honus Honus pounded away at a keyboard for most of the set, before donning a fur coat and vamping up and down the stage, belting out the group’s songs in a manner that reminded me of Modest Mouse singer Isaac Brock.  — Arya Imig

Future Islands
Four albums into their career, Baltimore band Future Islands is in their prime. Their Letterman performance earlier this year catapulted them to sold out venues across the country in support of their latest album, Singles. Lead singer Samuel Herring, a commanding and electric presence, boldly made his signature dance moves, to the delight of the crowd. He vacillated between fragile and fierce; both reaching out gently to the sky one moment, and theatrically attempting to rip his skin off, another. Contrary to their introspective lyrical content, light-hearted banter bookended their songs; some reaching deep into their catalog. Spotted: Gardens & Villa’s Shane McKillop, dancing in the front row.  — Rebecca McKillip

This was my most eagerly anticipated set and probably my favorite. When Herring goes into his growl or dances, it feels like he is doing his best to express the inexpressible, lost in the moment, compelled by the intensity of what he is trying to emote. Herring was easily one of the most engaging performers of the weekend, reaching out his hand to outstretched hands from the audience at times, and there were quite a few people in the audience doing their best to imitate his dancing. Herring felt genuine when expressing how humbled he was by the reaction from the crowd, and his stage presence, charisma and principled approach to his art were all inspiring. — Arya Imig

Girl Talk
Gregg Michael Gillis, commonly known as Girl Talk, closed out Saturday night’s festivities by bringing the party when the sky went dark. The stage: his plastic-wrapped computer, two massive inflatable hands and feet, several members from the audience, and two go-go dancers holding machines that dispensed several rolls of toilet paper over the crowd. His live mash ups of popular hip hop, pop, and rock samples kept people on their feet throughout his hour and a half set. Several people danced atop the Morrison Bridge, looking down on the massive dance party below. Confetti, balloons, and big bouncy balls were released throughout the set. MFNW attendees left the waterfront buzzing, ready for day two.  — Rebecca McKillip

Hustle & Drone - at the Star Theater Saturday night
I’d just seen Hustle & Drone at PDX Pop Now! last month but the local boys really felt good kicking it up a notch in the cozy confines of the Star. Singer Ryan Neighbors shone especially, slinking and swerving like an electric eel behind his station of keyboards. There were lasers early in the set and as I passed Red Bull collaborator and And And And drummer Bim Ditson at one point, we both looked at each other as we kept walking and said “more lazers!” — Arya Imig

Wild Ones
Hometown heroes Wild Ones had returned from a tour of the East Coast the night before and it was obvious that the group’s taut bedroom pop had grown all the tighter. It was definitely one of the highlights of the festival to see local performers who have performed at past MFNWs (singer Danielle Sullivan and keyboardist Thomas Himes had performed in previous groups as far back as 2007) command a big stage at a park they had no doubt spent hours walking over the course of their lifetimes. — Arya Imig

It was hard to believe Spoon hadn’t played here in five years! There was a tangible hunger in the air, then, for the mere presence of Britt Daniel on a stage within Portland city limits. That hunger was satiated and then some as Spoon stormed through a nearly-career-spanning 90 minute set like a conquering army with an all too acquiescent audience. To use some words I’ve used elsewhere in descriptions this weekend, they have a tightness and a confident swagger dialed in. Tracks from their great new record, They Want My Soul, fell into place seamlessly beside songs from their back catalog. There wasn’t a song I didn’t sing along or dance to, whether it was “The Way We Get By”, “Small Stakes”, “Jonathan Fisk” “Don’t Make Me A Target”, “Don’t You Evah”, “The Beast And Dragon, Adored”, “I Summon You”, “The Underdog”, or “Anything You Want”, the only track they played from 2001’s Girls Can Tell. A tremendously memorable set. — Arya Imig

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