Concert Review

Musicfest NW 2007 Review

Words by Ice Cream Man

Photos by Andrew Young, Dr. Knife

Musicfest North West was wisely scheduled the week after Bumbershoot so we were able to wrap things up in Seattle on Tuesday morn then head down to Portland on Wednesday to sling some cream at the opening night soiree at Kiehls Apothecary. Once in town Bessie and I stopped by Portland Ice Cream Company to load up. They’re probably my favorite dealer in the country. They’re super nice there and their selection, and prices, are the best. Not only do they carry the Fruitiki Popsicles I like so much, but last year we were even able to score some Butt Ugly Martian Popsicles which, for some strange reason, are tough to find.

I met Trevor, who runs MFNW, in May at Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge in Central Washington. He invited us to come to Portland and I mentioned I was interested. Once I checked my schedule I realized MFNW was set to go down the week before Austin City Limits Festival in Texas. For that reason it took a long time to confirm that it’d even be possible to make it because the drive from Portland to Austin is over 2000 miles and the thought of being rushed getting to Texas wasn’t so appealing. Not to mention that it’d be the tail end of Bessie’s 3 {1/2} months on the road and there was no doubt she was going to be in need of a rest. Needless to say, after months of encouraging emails and an offer from the fest and NIKE to help buy some ice cream, we hopped on board.

NIKE rented out Audio Cinema on the east side, sorta under the Hawthorne bridge, for three days- shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The first was Cat Power and Bobby Bare Jr. The shows were free if you had a MFNW wristband or stopped by Jackpot Records that day to pick up a pass. We rolled up about an hour before the show started and secured a spot right near the front of the block-long line. While everyone was waiting to get in we filled up our shoulder sling cooler and canvassed the line to dish treats to folks who were eager to get in. There are varying degrees of success with giving away free ice cream and this was one of the best yet. We had a captive audience, it was nice out, and we had a great selection of FREE treats. Throughout the three days at the NIKE shows, I’d say over 75% of the people there partook in some sort of frozen goodness.

I’ve seen Cat Power a few times so I decided to let the rest of the crew check out her set in exchange for me being able to rock some Bobby Bare Jr. I missed him in Asheville, NC this summer where he was playing with The Slip. I’m used to metropolitan show times and got there just as he finished his set. He played some songs by himself this time around then brought up a good chunk of The Decemberists to be his backing band. Once home I’m gonna track down some more of his music because I really liked what I heard.

Trevor had outlined a lot of the places he wanted us to cruise by and it worked perfect. There was another opening party at ACE cleaners in downtown and after wrapping up the NIKE gig and getting some grub I headed over.. The best part about this party was that the venue was completely encased by glass windows so everyone inside got to watch us give away a bunch of cream to all the beautiful random people strolling through downtown on a Thursday night. To close out the night we headed by Berbati’s which happens to be next door to the coolest donut shop in the world, Voodoo Doughnuts. It was a bit late and I knew we had two long days of slinging ahead so Jodi and I headed home and got some rest before doing it all over again on Friday.

Friday’s day show at Audio Cinema was headlined by Grizzly Bear and Deerhunter. We saw a lot of familiar faces in line waiting to get in and even got some applause when we drove up. “That’s right… FREE cream for all!” Andrew and Marley from Minute Morning Magazine were helping shoot and sling cream and Knife came up from Corvallis to hang too. Since I had seen both bands a couple times this summer I manned the truck while the rest of the crew went in to shoot and rock out. Right before taking off I headed back in to make sure the guys in Grizzly Bear got their fix. It was hot in there (we intentionally told them to turn off the AC so we could get rid of more ice cream.. ha) and treats for the bands were greatly appreciated.

We ended up back at Berbati’s because; A) We had a reserved parking spot, B) Roky Erickson was playing, and C) We heard parking at the other venues would be tough. I was hoping the cool folks at Voodoo wouldn’t be bummed that we were giving away cream in front of their donut shop but they came and grabbed some ice cream and even gave us some free donuts and stickers…RAD. We hit the line waiting, actually hoping, to get in and made sure everyone around got hooked up. Once it got a bit later we decided to close the night at Holocene with Dan Deacon.

I haven’t witnessed a scene like this in quite some time. Dan Deacon has BLOWN up this summer and rightfully so. My first encounter was at the Pool Party in New York. Bessie and I were backstage and I kept hearing this music that sounded like a DJ but with original tunes. After running out to check it out a couple times I realized it was Dan Deacon and he had his gear (electronics, mic, computer) setup IN the audience. A month or so later he destroyed Pitchfork fest and got hundred of kids dancing there as well. The Holocene show was no different and after giving away cream outside for about a half-hour we all slipped in, grabbed a beer, and danced our asses off when we weren’t mesmerized by the young folks who looked like they might be having too good a time. Afterwards we did our best to cool down all the dancers then got to bed some time close to 4.

It was a bit slow-going on Saturday but it was the last day so we got cracking early and headed over to Jace Gace for some world-class waffles. For the unawares, I’m a HUGE waffle fan. My other main business idea I had been pondering for years before starting Ice Cream Man was a waffle trailer. The waffles were so good we ended up heading back the following day with Jodi for seconds.

The schedule for Saturday was quite packed. After picking up our final load of cream from Portland Ice Cream Company we headed over to the Levi’s Store on NW 23rd and Burnside to give away ice cream for a couple hours. Levi’s is our main sponsor and they’ve made our summer tour possible (HUGE Thanks!) so we do our best to stop off at Levi’s stores, showrooms, and events whenever we get the chance. It’s nice to mix things up a bit too and sling cream to random people passing by and not just at rock shows all the time. There’s such a great mix of people in Portland and most people like free ice cream so we got to chat with a bunch of em.

After that we started on our way back to the east side for the final NIKE show when we noticed Brandon from Helio Sequence and his girlfriend waiting for the bus. The Burnside Bridge was closed for the weekend so there were some travel issues so they hopped in and we shuttled them across the river to their rehearsal studio to grab some gear before a day show. We then cruised a few blocks south back to the NIKE shindig to sling at the Ghostface KillahBronx show. The crowd was a bit different than the previous two days and, since it was a weekend day, there seemed to be a lot more heads. After hitting the majority of the line, I was amazed to see everybody get inside for Ghostface’s set. Wow. What more can you ask for? Free good shows and ice cream AND everyone gets in. Props to everyone for making a lot of people happy.

Helio Sequence and The Thermals were headlining The Crystal Ballroom that night so Knife and I decided to try our luck over there. Neither one of us had seen much music so we made it point to rock out some before the festival was over. The parking angels were with us and we got a spot right around the corner and locked up and headed in. On the way upstairs I noticed Comcast was doing some promotion where they were getting people to do video profiles for Dating on Demand. It took me about a millisecond to decide to play along. Knife snapped a couple shots during the Q and A which ended with, “Why would a girl want to date you?” “I’m Ice Cream Man, I’m on the road six months a year, don’t have any money, and live with my mom. Why wouldn’t a girl want to date me?”

Helio Sequence was having some technical difficulties that took a bit to fix but once things were up and running they rocked the house. It was the first time I’d been to the Crystal and it’s my new favorite venue. Soley for the reason that the wood dance floor is super bouncy and acts like a trampoline that gets everyone bouncing up and down. There couldn’t have been a better band to jump around to than the Thermals. They’re from Portland so the kids came out in full force for their headlining gig. I headed into the pit for a bit but, as it too often happens, a couple meatheads were more interested in pushing people around than the music they were supposed to be dancing too. We left a bit early to get to the official after party at Audio Cinema but once we saw a parking space a few spots from the entrance we moved Bessie up then went back in for the rest of the show. With megaphone in hand we lured over hot and sweaty kids to give away treats too then made our way to our final destination for the night.

The afterparty was setup a lot different than the day shows we’d been rocking and there wasn’t really a great parking space for us to give away ice cream. We tried to figure out something but eventually realized it wasn’t gonna work. Once Connie hooked us up with the necessary passes, we got the rest of the crew in then danced around and had a drink or two before calling it another late night and the end to one hell of a weekend.

Thanks to Trevor and Willamette Week for bugging us to get us there. Thanks to Christian and NIKE for helping out to purchase some cream. Without our trusty support from Levi’s and Jakprints, we wouldn’t have even been in the neighborhood. and… lastly.. .thanks to Jodi, Knife, Andrew, Marley, Connie, Kiehl’s, Chris & Sheila, The Relyea Family, and everyone else who helped out to make our cream slinging debut in Portland a huge success.

til next year…..

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