By NEIL FERGUSON // Portland's Project Pabst joins forces with MusicfestNW bringing an impressive lineup to Portland's Waterfront.
With homegrown festivals like Pickathon and PDX PopNow taking place in Portland each summer, the natural inclination is to reject the bigger, corporate fests that place themselves in the middle of the scene. On the surface, Project Pabst seems to be that corporate behemoth injecting a healthy dose of marketing into an already PBR-saturated Portland. Then again, if any beer is going to sponsor a festival in the Rose City, it seems fitting that it be the official beer of hipsters everywhere. Say what you will about the corporate presence of big beer, but the fact is that the organizers behind Project Pabst have put together a highly impressive lineup that shows they’re listening to music fans as much as they are the almighty dollar. Plus, for $90 for two days, the fest is a relatively decent deal considering the caliber of headliners (and small acts) playing each day. In case you are on the fence about hitting Project Pabst this weekend or you are going and just need some pointers of which acts to see, here are five acts well worth your time.
Punk trio The Coathangers are absolutely worth getting to the fest early for on Saturday, and their charged riffs will get you fired up for the rest of the day. Earlier in their career, the group’s sound was more of a raw, gritty punk, but on their latest LP Nosebleed Weekend they have embraced a sound that is a bit more pop, a bit more straightforward rock and roll, and a whole lot tighter. This is actually a good thing as it shows the Coathangers are a group hell-bent on progressing their sound into something more suitable for larger venues than scuzzy dives. Fear not though, as their music is still very much the perfect soundtrack for crushing cheap beer and banging your head.
It’s easy to look at Ice Cube’s acting career in such goofy family films as Ride Along, Are We There Yet? (and its sequel Are We Done Yet?), and The Longshots, among other gems, and forget the fact that at one point in time he was one of the most abrasive, socially aware forces in gangsta rap. For many these days, the chance to see Cube in all his glory is little more than a bucket list novelty. But, as someone who generally finds hip-hop to be disappointing in the live setting, I can say that few rappers put on a better show than Ice Cube. I can almost guarantee that much of his show will be spent dissing the haters who say he sold out and telling the crowd that he is still a gangsta and always on the hustle. In between these entertaining rants you’ll be treated to snippets of Cube’s biggest hits, like “Check Yo’ Self”, “You Can Do It”, “We Be Clubbin’”, and of course “It Was A Good Day”. There will also be a few N.W.A. tunes sprinkled in and a whole lot of West Side hand signals getting flashed. In the end you’ll get the good times and the gangsta, side by side, and you’ll wonder why rappers these days can’t be as cool as Ice Cube.
Let’s get something clear. Party rock is not that shitty band LMFAO giving douchebags and soccer moms across the globe a theme song for that one night of the month where they go to Dave and Buster’s. Party rock is Diarrhea Planet. The Nashville band plays early on Sunday, but their totally awesome guitar assault will be exactly the thing you need to shake off that hangover and kick off a fresh day of partying. There will be shredding (lots of it) and epic solos, and people will be crowd surfing (a lot) as Diarrhea Planet melt faces. This is the kind of music that makes you want to get drunk and jump off the roof into a pool. Besides the heavy guitar rock, the band with the shitty name have also proved they can write solid songs as well, most recently on their album Turn To Gold.
Earlier this year Brooklyn band Parquet Courts dropped their new album Human Performance. With its roughly strewn mix of garage rock meets Talking Heads with an art-punk tinge, the album easily ranks among the best of 2016 so far. The Courts are part of a wave of guitar-driven rock coming out these days that seems to embrace the DIY, zero-fucks-given attitude of bands like the Minutemen, as well as the almighty power of the shred. As a result, they have built up a loyal following of kids who are sick of being force-fed synth pop and EDM, and really just want to rock the hell out. Their sets are known to be rowdy, so their mid-afternoon slot will be the perfect boost of energy you need to get you pumped for Ween and whatever else you fancy.
This preview should really just be called “4 bands to see in addition to Ween” because that is truly the main attraction for myself and the legions of devotees to the Brown who will be in attendance on Sunday. In this writer’s personal opinion, the fact that Ween is not the headlining act is an insult to their legacy. Don’t get me wrong, Tame Impala puts on quite the show, but Sunday at Project Pabst is all about Ween. The band’s appearance at the festival marks their first show on the West Coast since reuniting back in February of this year, so you can bet that Gener and Deaner will be bringing Portland a setlist of Ween’s darkly humorous and always genre-crossing catalogue of songs.