The Music Fest NW Lineup is Boring


A few weeks ago I wrote about my predictions for this year’s Music Fest NW in Portland. In years past it had been a citywide event with 50+ bands over four days in every venue imaginable and some makeshift ones. The festival organizers this year took a lot of heat for moving out of the traditional music venues, into the Waterfront Park, and slimming down the schedule to two days with only nine bands a day. I wrote that this was a great change and was really excited about this festival.

But now, I’m with the naysayers. They just released the lineup. Bottom line? They could have done




Seriously, folks. It seems that the main threshold for book acts was “is the band very quirky (a possible positive) and appallingly one-dimensional?” I am really not sure who the target audience for this even is – maybe college students? It’s doubtful that they could afford the $100 wristband, but maybe.  Or maybe it’s music snobs (myself included) but who don’t like guitars much, or clever lyrics, and prefer tinny, thin vocals and computer-processed beats? Most likely they’re just trying to get the easily distractables among us who hear “music fest” and go just because it’s a thing to do whether they know any of the artists or not. Or to be able to later brag that they went to “Music Fest.”

My one concession is Spoon. I’ll give them that. Spoon is a great band, live and recorded, they’re sure to be great in this setting, and maybe even be worth a one-day ticket. But for your $65 you’re also getting….



Haim – A big international indie smash right now, but maybe a one-hit wonder (although I am happy that I at least got this one prediction right.)

Tune yards – A kind of world-music friendly quirky band but with limited staying power.

And then a bunch of other bands that barely exist on the cultural map.

Go with the other one-day ticket and you get Girl Talk, which brings the quirky mashup thing that they pioneer so well, but then it’s…

Phantogram (derivative electro pop)

Run the Jewels (derivate electro rap)

Future Islands (they’ve been around for a while, their singer dances a lot, and is genuine, but their music lacks gravitas.)

The organizers didn’t get any local and current wunderkinds like the Thermals, Ages and Ages, Radiation City, Wampire, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, nor did they snag any of the well-reviewed acts from SXSW this year like Against Me!, St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, the Front Bottoms, etc. Just generally not that good at all.

OK, enough negativity, but I’m not wrong, right?



One thought on “The Music Fest NW Lineup is Boring

  1. KHM says:

    Totally agree. Other than Spoon this lineup has about as much depth as a mud puddle. With the multitude of bigger, more renowned festivals in the area this year you have you wonder if the MFNW bell is beginning to toll.

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