Not even an apparently temperamental camera could keep us from getting at least a few shots from Friday's opening night of PDX Pop Now! 2009, though we missed most of the early sets. Of those, Peter Broderick almost quieted the building on the indoor stage with a set of hushed songs drawn largely from last year's Home. He was joined in the effort by both his mother and sister. In the true spirit of the festival, this was followed immediately by the manic antics of The Mint Chicks, all caffeinated two-minute jams and amp climbing energy.
The venue then shifted to the outdoor stage, where this year's fest got its first taste of hip-hop in the form of Animal Farm. An initially confused-looking audience didn't seem to know how to react to admonishments of "Jump up!" and "Get your hands up!" Animal Farm eventually won them over with a theatrical set of old school-leaning hip-hop, complete with plenty of DJ turntablism and even a nod to Cab Calloway.
Next up was one of our most-anticipated sets of the festival (if only because we'd never seen them before), and Explode Into Colors didn't disappoint. Traveling somewhere between psychedelic jungle funk and reggae turned inside out, the trio brought the crowd to a frenzy, illiciting those old concert dinosaurs crowd-surfing and stage-diving. The music was deceptively simple, but primal, its reverb-heavy vocals lending an air of the Jonestown recordings to the set between songs (a bit random, we know, but that's what it sounded like). As with many acts, the only question about Explode Into Colors is how well their live spectacle will translate to recordings. Judging from "Paper (Hot Sax Version)," their contribution to this year's PDX Pop comp, they're off to a good start.
MP3: Explode Into Colors, from PDX Pop Now! 2009- "Paper (Hot Sax Version)"
The night's closing set found Scott McCaughey eschewing the more homespun sound of his Minus 5's new Killingsworth, for some old-fashioned plug and play rock n' roll. Moshing to the Minus 5? Yes, it happened here. Pared down to a bricks and mortar trio, this more muscular verison of his band fell not far from his other sometime act, The Young Fresh Fellows, and it turned out to be a wise choice by the forever dark-spectacled McCaughey. They wrapped up just past 1am, ripping through a set that included covers by Seattle punk legends The Sonics and Neil Young, whose "Don't Be Denied," perhaps imparted a bit of advice for the all-ages crowd and served as an apt and epic closer. Watch for The Minus 5 (homespun version) here as part of an upcoming in-studio session.
See the full photo set here.
Watch for more coverage here throughout the weekend....