Chica Lishis dissects the Willamette Week's MusicFEST NW
It's been a busy month, sweeties. School has started, so, of course, my schedule is jam packed with cruising high school parking lots, picking up dope-smoking loners for an afternoon of? tutorials. And you? How does the tenth month of the year find your precious selves? Living la vida loaded, I hope. Well, here's a little tale of a Chica Lishis night out. Take two Seconal before reading and when you wake up in the morning, you'll think it was your "night in the life". For all I know, that may be how I came up with the story?* * * * * *
We use to have this really cool annual music festival in Portland. It was called North By Northwest, and was run by the fine folks who originated the internationally acclaimed music fest, South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. One weekend each year our lovely little burg hosted bands and industry folks from all over the planet. It was heaven, hitting the clubs where your favorite local band was sharing the bill with some "next big thing" from New York, or Japan, or Europe. Bands came from all over the world to play it. Death Cab for Cutie now sells out the Crystal Ballroom, anybody remember their set at the scrappy little Tonic Lounge? The rustic dive, Kelly's Olympian, once hosted the frenzy that is Flogging Molly. At The Drive In tore shit up at E.J.'s before anybody gave a rat's ass who they were. Betty Blowtorch and shots of tequila comprise a foggy, but fond memory of mine.
But, like so many big gatherings that are put on for the pleasure of many, the disgruntled views of a few finally had the management of NXNW throwing their hands up in frustration and say "Fine, we're taking our ball and going home!", which is exactly what they did.
So now, a Portland mag has picked up the torch and put together a local music festival, where our feelings won't get hurt 'cause the bands we can see every other weekend of the fucking year will get a slot in the festival, and there won't be any silly industry people running around town with their annoying cell phones, possibly checking out your band and giving you that one in a million shot of exposing your music to the world. AND there won't be much in the way of that oh-so-intrusive international attention that a widely known organization can bring. Nope, we in P-Town like to keep everything small and to ourselves. Don't you come knocking on our door, new and unusual talent! Don't you dare try to sneak a peak at what we got going on! We don't need, nor desire, exposure to anything happening outside of our own picket-fenced yard.
Jesus. We're pathetic.
Aw hell, I'm not one to get stuck on bitter (the uppers must be kicking in) and anyway, a local music fest is better than no music fest at all. So, last Saturday, I searched through the description list of 180 bands in hopes of something new and different. There were a handful of bands included from parts yonder and far, and after a brief period of compare and contrast, I circled four choices that had the potential to satiate me with a rock-stock-and-barrel good time
Now, I could dwell on the bands' musical prowess ad naseum like other reviewers, but since I don't know a bass guitar from a? um what's the word? real guitar, I'll just chat about me (the uppers are really kicking in!).
What goes good with a music festival? Why, an adorable little black dress of course! A sassy number with an empire waist, hem-line mid-thigh, knee high stockings and classic combat boots makes the rock go down smooth. I just happened to have such an ensemble, so, I wore it. I slapped a coat of black nail polish all over the tips of my digits (I never did like coloring in the lines), blow-dried my hair until it was a flaxen sheet of flowing locks, threw myself out the front door and hit the streets headed for Satyricon.
(Little known fact for you Portland peoples, Satyricon makes a damn good margarita. Not as good as XV, but not bad for a shit-hole music club.)
Gulping my first margarita in hopes that it would make me, uh? taller and thinner, I moved up to the front of the stage. Band One was on its way off and Band Two was moving itself on, plugging in this, and tuning up that, unpacking metal stuff here and there, and constructing a bunch of something or others that got topped off with big round thingies that kinda looked like enormous brass Chinaman hats. Everyone on stage looked very hurried and serious, (they always do) and I shivered with anticipation thinking all this solemn preparation must mean something good is headed my way (I always do, too).
Band Two turned out to be Dollar Store Cowboy, from Tacoma, Washington. There's was a fast and furious set, a major gas to start out the night, with a bunch of cursing, and yelling, and fire blasting, and jumping around like they were all pretending to be FIVE DOLLAR store cowboys from Tacoma Washington. I don't know nothing 'bout musicianship, so shit like the drummer stands up through the entire set, and there's a flame thrower incorporated into the show impresses the piss out of me. Plus, they threw presents out into the crowd, and I just love getting something for nothing. I scooped up one of the cowgirl hats and plopped it on my head, because I felt like it. 'Cause it was there.
It was then that my felonious friend, Little Ho Cheap, joined the fray, and after finishing the set and our drinks, we clapped ourselves stupid and moseyed out to our next destination.
The Cobalt had a full house of indie slobs with Aguilera wannabees affixed to their dirty limbs. Captain vs. Crew was the crew that we had come to see and they had already hit the stage by the time we rolled in. (The Cobalt's margaritas are only so-so, but that didn't stop me from drinking a couple of 'em. I was getting willowier by the minute.) What do I love about Captain vs. Crew? It turns out, not much, but their drummer is worth the price of admission; little chit of a gal, in a red bustier with an equally red tutu gracing her bottom half. And she plays simple, which is an accomplishment. Fifty drum fills during a three minute song are supremely annoying (hint to every other drummer in the world). Alas, CvC didn't throw out any presents, or light anything on fire, so my attention span quickly waned. Shortly after that, we wandered away to the Roseland to witness the Out Crowd.
Wouldn't it be fun if a band named itself the Out Crowd, 'cause they were all a bunch of closet queens, but now they're "out", in full regalia, rocking the socks of the rest of the world? Yeah, I thought so too. But that's not what the Out Crowd's about. Instead it's poppy, Britty, urban-backdrop music by a bunch of boys and one girl. It was good, but had someone on stage flaunted a feather boa in their g-string; I would have really been sold.
Oh, and the Roseland's margaritas suck. However, they do have these great chairs that roll around at the speed of light with the slightest provocation. After I accidentally slammed some guy in the nuts with one, Little Ho Cheap and me had big fun playing "Wheel Chair Race, GO!" on the expansive linoleum floor.
Which brings us to the fourth and final band of the evening. Back at Satyricon, we stumbled into the back room where seven people stared blankly at one guy on stage. He was a normal enough looking fellow, blond hair, medium height, non-descript attire, playing away on a guitar with no strings or tuning pegs. His band mate worked the floor in front of the stage, instrumentless, a too-tight basketball jersey over a white shirt, butt-hugging goober-pants, enormous sunglasses and a baseball cap, clutching a mic and singing/screaming for his soul. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you No Fi Soul Rebellion, and if they ever, EVER, come to your town, go see them, kay? It took balls to do what they did that night, playing to nobody with nothing but their CD player buried in that one guitar, looking as stupid as a box of hair, dancing and singing and running in circles until they had the attention and admiration of everyone in the club. By the time their set was over, our numbers had swelled to a whooping fifteen audience members and we couldn't get enough. I'll bet my belief in Martha Stewart's innocence that it was the greatest performance of the two-night festival. Brilliant. Stunningly, originally, brilliant.
Alright, they did give me a t-shirt after the show, but seriously, that has nothing to do with the fact that they were my favorite band of the night. Neither does the sixth margarita clutched in my drunken embrace. It's all a coincidence.
Love and rockets,
What would Brian Boitano do? Gosh! I've spent many a sleepless night wondering. If you have an answer, send it on over to [email protected].