By: Gracie Roberts
At the beginning of this month, Portland, Oregon hosted what was the biggest and most successful MusicfestNW to date. For five days, the residents of Portlandia crawled out of their living spaces to watch music professionals from the local, regional, and national music scenes perform in their beloved city. As the festival was designed around the schedule of the working individual, performances didn’t begin until evening hours on weekdays. This meant that as the sun set on Portland’s beautiful city skyline, things were about to get wild.
Wednesday, September 5 began with a bang as one of MusicfestNW’s headliners, Passion Pit, took the stage at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom. This electropop fivesome’s popularity has been picking up speed since 2008, when their Chunk of Change
EP was released. Now, with two studio albums and handfuls of singles and remixes underneath their belts, Passion Pit has become a household name for lovers of both indie and dance music genres. At the Crystal, Passion Pit lit up the stage surrounded by the dazzling chandeliers and ornate murals that decorate the venue’s walls. While showcasing tracks from their newest album, Gossamer
, Passion Pit didn’t forget to return to their roots. “Eyes As Candles” and “Little Secrets”, two tracks from Manners, made up the final portion of the group’s Wednesday performance. Due to their immense popularity, though, Portland welcomed them back for a second performance the following evening.
EDM filled the Wonder Ballroom on Thursday, September 6. The Wonder seemed to be the spot for MFNW’s DJs and electronic artists, as a single stage setup had been provided for all artists to set up their equipment on. With multiple LED screens spanning the length of the Wonder’s stage, it was quite the sight to see. At 9:30 p.m., Jacques Greene stepped up to the plate to show Portland what he was capable of. Jacques Greene is a native to Montreal, Canada, where he produces house and other types of dance music. In January, Greene released Concealer
EP, which gained attention from Pitchfork Media. “Arrow (feat. Koreless),” “Another Girl,” and “Tell Me” are some of Greene’s most well-known tracks, and they have got this artist rising up in the EDM scene across the country.
Jacques Greene was followed by Nosaj Thing
, the Los Angeles native who knows how to take the term ‘experimental’ to a new level. Born Jason Chung, Nosaj Thing has grown up producing music in some of the most unlikely yet innovative ways. This has seemed to serve him well, as his sound is unlike any other in the EDM world. The atmosphere inside the Wonder Ballroom reflected this, as the crowd almost didn’t know what to do when listening to Chung’s music. Although one could dance to the steady beat that was always provided, it was almost best to sit back and enjoy the ambient, synth-filled vibe that was present with Jason bobbing along onstage. In one word, Nosaj Thing’s style could be described as elegant. Needless to say, MusicfestNW was lucky to be able to feature this talented artist in its roster.
closed out Thursday’s dance-filled night at the Wonder. FlyLo was born Steven Ellison in Los Angeles, where he continues to produce experimental electronic and hip-hop music. Beginning with the release of 1983 in 2006, Flying Lotus has consistently released EPs and albums jam-packed with fresh material. Ellison is known for making conversation with his audiences, and this was true for his Portland performance. The artist did a great job of pumping up the crowd as he performed his own material as well as Clams Casino’s “I’m God” and sampled from a slew of top hip-hop tracks, including Drake’s “They Know.”
Friday, September 7 brought Baauer
to the Wonder Ballroom stage. Baauer is Harry Rodrigues, a new face in the hip-hop and EDM industry that has recently been making frequent appearances online and in live performances. At only 23 years old, Baauer has successfully gained attention with his music that he describes as “hip-hop born from the Internet.” Making his appearance at 9:45 p.m., Baauer beamed in front of the Wonder’s crowd as images of flames danced on the venue’s surrounding LED screens. These flames truly represented the fiery energy that was brought by Baauer’s set, which featured tracks from Dillon Francis, Ludacris, and Huey. It’s clear that Baauer is a true lover of hip-hop, and this love was clearly appreciated and reciprocated by the Portland crowd.
A-Trak, another one of MFNW’s largest names, took to the stage at 11:45 p.m. Another Montreal native, A-Trak a.k.a. Alain Macklovitch has been active in the EDM since the late 1990s. In addition to DJing and producing his own music, A-Trak is the co-founder of Fool’s Gold Records. At the time that A-Trak stepped onstage, the Wonder Ballroom was almost unbearable with humidity and sweat, but neither the artist or crowd really seemed to mind. Macklovitch did his thing while dressed in pants and a leather jacket, casually wiping his brow from time to time. His set featured some hits from other artists, such as Martin Solveig’s “The Night Out,” Kanye’s “Mercy,” Dr. Dre’s “Explosive,” and Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says.” However, A-Trak made sure to keep it real with dropping some of his own favorite hits, such as “Big Bad Wolf” and his remix of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll.” Macklovitch seemed to be having a great time onstage, as he mixed alongside his friend and fellow Fool’s Gold member, Danny Brown. A-Trak’s set was set apart by his keen ability to scratch records live. As an award-winning turntablist, A-Trak has been able to perfect his scratching skills throughout his years active as a musical artist. Portland was truly honored to witness such talent in an intimate venue.
Pioneer Courthouse Square was home to Girl Talk
’s performance on Saturday, September 8. Girl Talk is Gregg Michael Gillis, a specialist in mashups and digital sampling who is native to Pittsburgh. Gillis has come far in his production skills, having released five albums and two EPs since 2002. Girl Talk was especially pumped up for his Portland performance, as he explained that it was his final show before fifteen days of vacation. This confession set the stage for an energy-filled night, as Girl Talk gave it his all to the crowd who was ready to dance the night away. Fully-loaded toilet paper rolls were spewed into the crowd as Gillis featured tracks from Night Ripper, Feed The Animals, and All Day in his set. Some newer tracks included material from Adele, Lady Gaga, Calvin Harris, and Daft Punk, all of which got the crowd on their feet and singing along with the lyrics. Girl Talk brought a positive and energetic vibe to the Pioneer Square crowd, and with a sea of confetti and balloons, his 90-minute set finally came to a close.
Sunday, September 9 wrapped up MusicfestNW with headliners Silversun Pickups performing at Pioneer Courthouse Square. After five days of dancing and music, Portlanders were ready to reflect on the last week of pure excitement that was brought to them by MFNW. The city is eternally thankful to have such a wonderful music scene at its fingertips and can’t wait for what next year will bring. Thank you, MusicfestNW!