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MusicfestNW Thursday: MY EARS, MY EARS

Honestly? I didn't think my first night at MusicfestNW would involve staying out until after one in the morning, allowing my ears to be totally fucking battered, but lo, it did, and it was a little bit awesome. I did stay at Holocene all night, true, but I knew Calendar Editor Chuck Adams was out and about — I'm sure he'll check in later about Battles and M. Ward — and, well, see, it's more fun to have someone to talk shit with at shows, and the only other person I knew who'd be out last night was at Holocene. So at Holocene I stayed (after a brief and unsatisfying trip to the super-speshul VIP tent outside the Wonder Ballroom, where the cocktails, though they don't deserve the name, were all made with Vitamin Water. I ditched mine — nasty! — and grabbed two tiny bottles of the stuff for later. I'm a sucker).

The Holocene lineup looked like this:

8 pm: Silver Summit
9 pm: Oxford Collapse
10 pm: Bodies of Water
11 pm: Starfucker
Midnight: Deerhunter

Silver Summit kind of went in one ear and out the other. Pretty enough, but not enough to grab my attention; I bought an old-fashioned (they make really good ones at Holocene) and snagged a little table, and spent most of their set making doodles in my MFNW schedule.

I just saw Oxford Collapse at Holocene a few months ago (with my new favorite band, Frightened Rabbit), and while I tend to avoid writing much about them (the aforementioned Only Person I Knew at being in the band and all), this show, I've gotta say, was a notch or two up from the last. And that one was good, too; this one was just better, and not only because singer Mike Pace kept cracking the crowd up by commenting on the various perks of the festival's corporate sponsorship (something about how drinking from mini-keg shaped cans of Heineken makes you look like a giant). I'm sorry to say I don't have the band's new album yet, so I can't tell you what the name of that new song I really liked was, but so long as they play "Please Visit Your National Parks" and that one other song I don't know the name of, I'm happy.

As for Bodies of Water, the less said, the better. I'm not proud of my bitchy judgmental side, but frankly, the chances of me liking a band in which one of the members is wearing a full-body leotard are pretty small. They weren't terrible; they just weren't my thing. Plus, it was more fun to stand in the hallway, catching up with my friend and watching various people (from a guy with a book-related website to two busty blondes) come to talk to him about how much they liked Oxford Collapse's set. There was a fair amount of kicking each other every time a member of Sleater-Kinney walked by, also. (Two outta three, if you're curious.)

Eugene shout-out moment: Former Horsehead bartender Kris Clouse turned up. Hi, Kris!

Starfucker was cool, but seemed to go by awfully quickly. I felt like I never quite got a sense of what they were doing. In retrospect, this could have had something to do with my being chatty instead of paying attention. Sorry, fellas; I liked your band, I just need to go back and actually listen.

Deerhunter, on the other hand, provided one of those moments when you see a band and are half overwhelmed and half entranced, half thinking about how you want to listen to them again at a lower volume so you can think straight and half incapable of thought. In short, it was fucking loud. I'm listening to them via MySpace right now and it's not even beginning to approximate the sensation of leaning my head against the wall and feeling my brain rattle.


Photo by Jeff Walls. I should point out that he had a crazy flash; it was super-dark in there!

They're also quite funny, these folks, and watching various members of other bands stand to the side of the stage, engrossed, was an added level of entertainment. (Also entertaining: Holocene's hyperactive, totally funny soundwoman, whose energy levels I seriously envy.) There was a whole thing with the bassist being a shapeshifter, the possibiltiy of puking, a Q&A session somewhat inspired by/in rebuke to a Q&A Crispin Glover had about a movie he made ... yeah, it was complicated. And awesome. And loud. And shoegazery — a My Bloody Valentine comparison was made, but I think it involved extra decibels — and assaultive and kind of intense. I kept being reminded of seeing Mogwai; if you're not up for what you're in for, you aren't going to like it.

I liked it. I also liked stealing a seat in Holocene's weird little side-of-stage nook and finally getting off my feet for the first time in hours, and enjoying corporate-sponsor-provided beer while trying to have the kind of conversations you have when the band is so loud, you hurt your friends' ears trying to yell loudly enough that they can hear you.

I have high hopes for tonight: Britt Daniel! Jaguar Love! TV on the Radio! Fuck yeah! But first: shoe shopping and, er, failing to resist the urge to go buy Deerhunter and Oxford Collapse records. Yep.