Monday, September 21, 2009

All Tomorrow's Parties - Sunday

"Dude, your fucking hair is on fire!"

The masked man that crashed our campsite in at night ended up staying up all night and drinking. When I wake up, he is sitting cross-legged in front of the citronella candle, hammered and rocking back and forth. As I watch, the candle catches the ends of his frayed dreads and his head erupts in flame. I dash out of the tent and grab a gallon of water and dump it over his head. Zac approaches me from the other side of the house.

"I called security. This guy threatened me this morning, and I don't want to leave him here with all of our stuff."

Fair enough. Security comes over. Yes, they know we're here. No, we're not allowed to camp here. They'll see what they can do about this drunk guy. They drive off. It seems like an empty threat to get us to leave, so I mosey into the country club for breakfast.

As I drink coffee on the patio and read, dumpsters are being wheeled past me filled with stuffed animals, crazy orange shag carpet, pieces of a huge orange lighting rig, animal costumes, etc. The Flaming Lips are loading in.

All day today, one of the side rooms of the country club is being run by the band/project Oneida. Artists are in and out of this room all day, performing with them along with insane projections and lots of awesome equipment. I pop in here occasionally throughout the day to catch a weird psychedelic jam and grab a drink.

With some time to kill, I think it might be a good idea to check out the sauna. I run into Nick and Joe in the steam room. We utilize the showers and spend some time in the sauna. This place is glorious. Refreshed and rejuvenated, it's time for the first band of the day: The Boredoms.

Performing 9 Drummer Boadrum, this is the best band of the entire festival. Nine drummers, eleven guitar necks, all tuned to different chords. This band is the greatest. I feel fantastic after their set, and I had not even listened to them beforehand. If you watch one video on this blog, make it this one.

A cigarette and a beer later and it's the next performance. Caribou followed as the Caribou Vibration Ensemble, featuring Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

I don't even really listen to Caribou, but they play an amazing show complete with horn section, multiple drummers (who at one point stand on their drums and play each others' sticks in the air), and an amazing solo by Marshall Allen.

It doesn't stop here! Deerhoof plays next with Martha Colburn's projections behind them!

Because my friend is interning for Martha, I am stricty instructed not to miss this one. Hyped up on alcohol and adrenaline, we bolt over to Stage 2 to catch the end of Black Moth Super Rainbow. A heavy synth and vocoder band, I'm surprised to learn that the singer spends most of his time close to the ground, so no one can see him.

Nick is really stoked for Menomena, performing next on Stage 2. With awesome percussion and an interesting utilization of saxophone, I am also intrigued by their performance. As it turns out, this is one of our letdowns of the festival, as most of their saxophone tracks and auxiliary percussion is played back as a sample.

At this time, we must meet Eric at the campsite to take him to the bus station. It's a fond farewell, and he gives us his cards for his business, Blank Action Productions. We see him off, and drive back to the country club.

We head back just in time to catch the end of Boris. It's a loud, smoke-filled noise performance. They're unbelievable live.

The countdown begins. Crystal Castles are entertaining, but I don't really listen to them. No Age is performing a Husker Du album. The only band left for me is the Flaming Lips.

In order to understand the Flaming Lips as a band, you need to understand the Flaming Lips as performers. Lead singer Wayne Coyne strives to make every show as much fun as possible, and sincerely cares that the crowd has a great time. He conducted singalongs for "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and "Fight Test" and even concluded the show with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." This is the second time seeing the Flaming Lips, and they are still one of the best live shows I've ever seen:

Overjoyed and exhausted, we head back to camp. With empty pockets and empty ATMs, the last night of the festival wanes away. We spend the last night in the lobby, listening to Bradford Cox of Deerhunter sing Neil Young songs:

Zac disappeared, so the last night was just Nick, Joe, and I. We ignore the warnings about camping and sleep one more night in our meadow, undisturbed by both security guards, and drunks in masks. I will definitely return next year.


  1. Interesting that Portland-based Menomena plays to a backing track... I've noticed that here in Portland, substantial use of full backing tracks is quite a trend (see Talkdemonic, Helio Sequence, and a ton of smaller local acts). Sam and I had a week-long discussion about this earlier in the summer...when is it appropriate to use pre-recorded music and when it isn't, why is it disappointing?

    On another blog-related Portland note...

    - Vidmar

  2. I think much of the aspect of seeing a live band is you expect them to perform every aspect of their show live. When Menomena played a whistle sample for "Boyscout'n" instead of actually whistling, it kind of takes away from the live aspect and spontaneity.

    They also sometimes played sax, but mostly used samples of saxophone. Probably because the singer plays sax and guitar. But still, I feel like they should get someone who can play sax consistently.

    I read about that naked Flaming Lips bike ride. Sounds ridiculous. You guys should totally do it.

  3. so sad i left stumptown just a few days before the naked bike ride....oh well.

    I think if you are a well established band, you might as well get someone to play all the instruments that need played. Using a sampler as the instrument is one thing I think, but i agree that it does add something with the spontaneity and so forth. It is more exciting and interesting.

    And, the sax is one of my fav things about menomena. It is not something you see alot of in bands like that. This is not to say menomena is not spontaneous. this vid proves they are without a doubt. Think about how much the sax adds to this if you watch it.