Monotonix in Portland

September 6, 2008 No comments

Tonight MusicFest NW featured of the best shows on a stage in Portland. It was truly punk. It was crazy, wild wonderful and simply amazing.

I’ll have a complete report soon. Here’s a sampling from the show.

David Walker at Badazzmofo.com who was at the show and captured these videos:


Categories: Music Tags:

Can You Please Not Sing Along With The Music??!?

Vampire Weekend
I can’t say I’ve ever really been much of a fan of Vampire Weekend. When I hear their music I can’t help but hear how they’ve clearly lifted their musical influences (they’re a simple mix of 80’s ska band and Paul Simon). I had a spot in my MusicFest NW schedule so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Could they deliver something live that expanded beyond the affable tunes on their debut album.

As I stood there tapping my toe to the music, realizing that the ‘we sound just like the album’ show wasn’t going to win me over an argument broke out between concert goers.

Could you PLEASE not sing along to the music!

While it wasn’t quite an altercation, the ‘discussion’ soon heated up into a full blown argument. The behemoth of a guy standing in front of me (and blocking much of my view as he constantly leaned over to give running commentary to his date) puffed his chest and looked like he’d charge at the scrawny guy who was belting out the words to one of his favorite songs. Could there actually be a fight over the right to sign at a rock concert?

This wasn’t the first time I had experienced something like this. When Arcade Fire came to town I was sitting up in the balcony. The couple next to me jumped up and started to dance to “Rebellion (Lies)”, soon after the couple behind them hollered over the music for them to ‘sit down’.

This whole phenomenon is astounding to me. I grew up in an era of music that measured a good show by how much you jumped around, sang and danced. A truly great concert was once which swept you up and made you a part of it, made you forget that you had shelled out some dough to watch someone stand on stage for a few hours and bang on instruments.

Music has changed, it’s become much more personal. Rather than getting together and ‘putting the record on’, people now listed to more of their music through little white iPod earbuds. It’s a pristine, unencumbered and solo musical experience which doesn’t translate when that music is transformed and shared by a large room full of people.

The iPod generation has had its impact with artists as well. Vampire Weekend played an extremely clean show, rarely deviating from their recorded songs. In many ways their reproduction of their pristine sound helps make them a hit with the crowd. It’s a neat and tidy relationship.

Soon after this incident I went down to Satyricon and saw the Israeli Punk Band Monotonix. It was the complete antithesis. As the entire room jumped and danced with the music, collided and collectively sweat I was reminded why I used to love to see music live. You go to a concert for the same reason you see a comedic movie with an audience, to share that experience. Something happens when people come together to share the music they love and I hope that the iPod generation can get educated about that.

Categories: Music Tags: ,

Musicfest North West and Time Based Art Festival – TBA '08

September 4, 2008 No comments
Time Based Art at The Left Bank Project

Time Based Art at The Left Bank Project

Tonight two major arts and entertainment festivals had their kick-off events. Both showed that Portland is big enough to support two huge festivals, even when they run at the same time.

I started the evening at MusicFest NW, their kick off party was an outdoor cocktail party in the lot next to the Wonder Ballroom. Less of a scene than a gathering, the party was most notable for the extremely long line for the open bar. The bar line was almost as long as the line of people waiting to get in to see the bands. Did I really wait fifteen minutes for a shot of Soco?!?

I caught the Battles whose set was well received. As I listened to their mostly instrumental music, I couldn’t help but think “Music Geeks”. The Battles play with passion and energy but their music often is over-thought and muddled. I enjoyed some of their songs but wasn’t ever pulled out of my ‘hey I’m watching a music show’ space and so my aside from some toe tapping and light head bobbing the set left me a little cold. I was surprised at how many people brought kids to the show. Maybe mathrock is something that appeals to kids.

Just a hop skip and jump away at the new Left Bank Building PICA launched their Time Based Art festival with a warm and welcoming party. The party was open to anyone and everyone and the scene was a nice mix of people. The Left Bank Project (which is dubbed ‘The Works’ for the TBA Festival) is a very cool venue with so much space that there were tons of nook’s and crannies to explore. One area’s tenant was a version of Backspace Cafe just for the fest. Also a nice patio area featured a work in progress by Justin Gorman whose large format graphic painting was fantastic to see in progress.

Some of the other art, including Big Skin by Lizzie Fitch, Anna Halprin’s Blank Placard Happening and the Flash Choir were solid misses. (Perhaps the Flash Choir would have done better performing in the outdoor space).

A solid start though to two landmark Portland festivals

Categories: Events, Music Tags: ,

Nutshell Restaurant in Portland is Screwed

September 1, 2008 No comments

Even Bigfood Would Be Bummed

Even Bigfood Would Be Bummed

The restaurant started out of a simple proposition – create a unique place which served gourmet food that used fresh local and natural ingredients and didn’t have any animal products. The words VEGAN weren’t plastered across the sign or on the menu. The food was just Vegan by nature. The restaurant had its roots in a series of very successful Vegan family dinners run by then Tabla chef Sean Coryell. Coryell went to great lengths to produce intricate and flavorful dishes using a wide range of exotic ingredients. Speaking with Sean at those family dinners you’d hear his absolute passion for the food.

Coryell enthusiasm fueled a nearly year long effort to build Nutshell. Opened in late 2007 and located on North Williams, Nutshell won raves from the Veg community and even won over some hardened omnivorous Portland foodies. But no sooner had it opened than the signs began to show that things were not well behind the scenes. An ever changing menu and constant experimentation by Coreyell and almost manic fascination with expanding the restaurant to Tokyo, Hawaii… “global man” created an environment where food could be extremely hit or miss.

Coryell’s departure from Nutshell marked a significant change. The menu with a thousand revolving dishes was simplified down to just a handful, the portions cut back significantly and although the restaurant was built with an open kitchen as its centerpiece the men and women in the kitchen made it perfectly clear they were all about business.

This week Nutshell made another turn. With rumors circulating about its demise and increasing complaints about the food and service Nutshell added butter, eggs and cheese to just about every dish on the menu (There’s even an egg on their pizza). With a bad taste already in their mouth this move infuriated the Vegan community and signaled another clear step towards the end of this once beloved eating establishment.

So what went wrong? Were Coryell’s eyes too big for the patron’s stomach? Did the Tabla team bungle things behind the scenes as they did with the Ten 01 opening? Or is it too much to thing Portland can sustain a gourmet vegan restaurant? (or even a Vegan Strip Club?) I think Portland can absolutely sustain Vegan restaurants, even a gourmet one, but like all restaurants they need to be well run. Just because something is Vegan doesn’t mean it’s going to be an immediate success and adding eggs to your plates doesn’t mean you’ll stay afloat. I’ll be surprised if Nutshell didn’t shutter its doors by the end of the year or completely reinvent itself (ala Ten 01).

Categories: Food, Vegan Tags: , ,

Laughing Planet – Good Solid Eats

August 13, 2008 No comments

laughingplanet I met my friend David Walker today at Laughing Planet on Belmont for lunch. I’ve been to the restaurant many times but today as we were finishing up our lunch it struck me how much I enjoy eating there and just how consistently dependable it is.

What makes Laughing Planet works so well is that they’ve got a very simple concept – healthy bowls and burritos with lots of options. Being Vegan I appreciate just how many vegan friendly choices they have on the menu, and with a fair share of meated options it’s an easy choice when meeting a friend whose omnivorous. I also like that you can add tofu or tempeh to any of their options. Although I’m Vegan I can’t say I have much love for tofu. It’s “OK” and if prepared right I can enjoy it. I enjoy the tangy almost nutty taste of tempeh much more and always feel more full than when scarfing down tofu. I’m also a fan of seitan and it’s various ‘fake meat’ forms.

Its easy not to appreciate some of the good things in life, especially places we visit on a regular basis. They fade into the fabric of things and so it’s nice to just stop for a moment and say… Wow, this place is really something…I’m glad its here!

Categories: Food Tags: , ,