This past weekend marked the 15th iteration of the MusicFest NW festival in Portland, OR. It is the festival’s second year returning to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. MFNW could not have asked for a better weekend: perfect weather, great music, welcoming atmosphere.
The weekend kicked off late Friday afternoon with a performance by Portland natives, Lost Lander and their unique brand of melody-driven indie pop. Following Lost Lander was Milo Greene, the Los Angeles-based five-piece. Milo Greene released their sophomore album, Control, earlier this year. Control distanced the band from their more folk roots into something more upbeat and percussion-driven.
Misterwives put on the best performance of the evening. Misterwives, whose sound ranges from ska to R&B to pop and several places in between, kept the crowd engaged and interactive throughout their entire set and left the headliner, Foster the People, with a lot to live up to. Foster the People took the stage at 8:30 pm and closed out the first night perfectly as they commanded the attention of everyone in attendance.
Saturday continued Friday’s trend of incredible performances. Title Fight, the Pennsylvania post-hardcore band, put on one of the rawest and most emotionally driven sets of the weekend. Other sets included the very 80’s inspired Twin Shadow and the experimental Battles.
The penultimate set of the night was from indie legends, Belle and Sebastian. Frontman Stuart Murdoch paused after their first song to ask Portland if they were still weird before continuing with their set, which ended with Murdoch encouraging audience members to join the band on stage, creating the biggest dance party of the weekend. Belle and Sebastian were followed-up by Beirut, who would close out the night. Beirut’s set, while more subdued than the set prior, was the perfect way to wind down the day, with their iconic blend of indie-folk and world music.
Sunday was kicked off by Seattle natives, Beat Connection. Beat Connection wrapped up a country-wide tour supporting Django Django earlier this month. The band is gearing up to release their newest album, Product 3, later this fall and have just announced a tour supporting the album.
The day continued on with performances by the classic rock/Americana-inspired Strand of Oaks followed by Portland, Maine-based indie rocker Aly Spaltro and her band, Lady Lamb. One of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, and only hip-hop set, came from Danny Brown. Brown, the Detroit-based rapper, put on hands-down the most energetic set of the weekend. Brown tore through a 45-minute set, seemingly fueled by the limitless energy of the crowd, however, perhaps it could have been the other way around.
Brown was followed up by The Tallest Man On Earth, whose stage presence was infectious. Frontman Kristian Matsson, of nearly every artist that weekend, looked like he was having the most fun just being there. The weekend ended with its biggest set: a grand homecoming performance by Modest Mouse. The band was clearly enjoying themselves, finally playing a hometown show after releasing their newest album. Isaac Brock and the rest of Modest Mouse reminded everyone in attendance why they command one of the most dedicated followings of any band in the world.