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Hey! MusicfestNW Starts Tonight!

Holy crap! It's already time for my other favorite Portland festival (the other one being Pickathon, of course). Willamette Week's MusicfestNW starts tonight with just one show — Devonwho and Animal Collective's Panda Bear — and really gets rolling tomorrow. MFNW sprawls all over town, meaning sometimes it's a pain when you want to get from Holocene to the Crystal Ballroom in a hurry, but there are enough interesting shows that you can usually keep busy just skipping from venue to venue around West Burnside.

This year's MFNW lineup ranges from a generous gaggle of Portland bands to, oddly enough, Smashing Pumpkins, who play Saturday night at Wonder Ballroom. I'll head to Portland tomorrow to try to decide between the following Thursday night shows:

Ra Ra Riot, whose The Rhumb Line was one of my favorite unexpected records of 2008
Past Lives, the other post-Blood Brothers band
• The unstoppable Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
• Heartstring-plucking Seattle singer-songwriter Rocky Votolato
Major Lazer, because EW art director Todd Cooper says it's going to be awesome
• And, most of all, The Thermals, whose 2009 MFNW show was probably one of my Top Ten Shows of All Time, if I kept a list like that (which of course I don't, but I could try to make one; it might be fun). The Thermals' new record, Personal Life, just came out this week, and while I haven't had enough time to properly absorb it, I know two things: 1. It's too short! I want more! and 2. It's fantastic.

Lots more blog posts – from myself and Mr. Cooper, who'll be taking photos — and the occasional bit of Twitter snark to follow over the next few days, concluding with The National on Sunday night. Then and only then will I believe it's actually fall. It can't be until this weekend is over.