Can Portland's Creative Community Survive Development, Price Surge?
[Here's the first part of our new music intern Lex Chase's coverage of this year's Soul'd Out Music Festival, which just wrapped up its two weeks of shows last night.]
I was approached by Ned a few weeks ago about covering the randomness that is the Soul’d Out Music Festival happening April 12 through 25, and I said yes 'cause if there is anything that intrigues me it’s a lineup that doesn’t make sense to me. Let me start off by first saying that I have never been to a festival so random and scattered as far as talent and age range. That being said, some of these shows are the most interesting I have ever seen. In my opinion it would have to take an extremely well-rounded person to buy an all access pass to this festival. Here are the insights and realizations I’ve come to while attending the festival.
Lesson #1: Never underestimate the importance of formal wear at a Maze concert...
On Thursday, April 12, the festival started off with a bang: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. I showed up at the Keller wearing something I’d considered nicely dressed for a show, but turned out to be more like sweats compared to the Sunday formal attire everyone else seemed to be fitted in. The energy and enthusiasm of the audience matched that of the performance.
The opening band warmed the crowd up with some jazz jamming, and by the time Maze & Frankie Beverly took the stage, every single person in the Keller was out of their seats grooving. Regardless that this show was in a seated auditorium, there was very little time spent in seats. The auditorium was large but Frankie's engagement with the audience couldn't have been more intimate. He spoke on age, love, and how Marvin Gaye convinced them to change their name from Raw Soul to Maze. Every other aspect of the show was Energy, energy, energy... There wasn't a second you could be bored even if you wanted to, because either your neighbor or Frankie himself would take you out of your seat. Overall, if you haven't experienced Maze, you should. (Not bad bedroom music, hint hint.)
Lesson #2: There probably isn't a song that the Portland Cello Project couldn't cover.
Speaking of bedroom jams, the next show I saw was the complete opposite. It was local favorites the Portland Cello Project at the Doug Fir Lounge. Once again I was underdressed, sporting some neon face paint as I moseyed my way through a mixed bunch of young and old to get a front-row spot. My initial reaction was meh, but once they did a rendition of “Toxic” by Britney Spears I was won over.
The Portland Cello Project's ability to take something considered “mainstream” and spin it in a creative way is what makes them so appealing. It was a seriously fun show, and I was impressed by their passion and execution, but is it something I would see again? Probably not. It was like a one-night stand, fun and necessary for the time being but once was plenty.
Lesson #3: There is hope in electronic music beyond dubstep…it’s called Bass.
Days later it was time for some new music. It was time for up-and-coming London act SBTRKT, flying in from Coachella to play an almost sold-out show of hip twenty- and thirtysomethings rolling their balls off. Before I go into SBTRKT's set, I have to mention the opener Bassdrum. Bassdrum looks like the president of a Dungeons & Dragons troop. How someone like that could produce so much filthy bass is beyond me. He was like Baths on acid. (Baths is also a popular electronic artist, recommended if you like Animal Collective.) I spent most of my time outside chain smoking during his set worrying if I had listened I would have been "bassed out" by the time SBTRKT came on.
Forty-five minutes passed and two guys with tribal masks entered the stage full of electronic equipment and a drum kit. Damn, there are live shows that blow you away and this was one of them. Their incorporation of the live drumming coupled with electronic mixing was a refreshing twist to the connotation most dance electro shows have today. SBTRKT at some points was playing Ableton and the drums as the same time. The packed house was dancing the entire time—no dull moments at the Wonder that night. (Sorry about the lack of photos... the Wonder was strict.)