Friday-

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It would be difficult to follow the Dirty Three’s facemelting performance. I had been talking about it all day long to anyone who would listen, alternatively boring my friend from Seattle, my wife and the music editor of the local weekly paper here in Portland. But, man, Warren Ellis and the guys were so damned good. We kicked off the night at Backspace with No Kids, however the sleepy performance (including an audience seated on the floor) did nothing to stimulate us, so off we went to catch the tail end of P.O.S.

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Although we only caught the last few minutes of the MC’s performance, his set was another early highlight. Unfortunately, very few people came to watch P.O.S. and the Roseland felt absolutely cavernous. Their loss. Unfortunately, we had to hurry and head up to the Crystal Ballroom to catch the headliners, Sunny Day Real Estate.

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Though getting into the Crystal for the reunion show of SDRE was not as difficult as I had imagined, the packed room made it difficult to get anywhere near the stage. The band seemed to be in fine form, playing tracks from its recently reissued first two albums, but the acoustics of the Crystal swallowed the intricacies of SDRE’s music, leaving us with a swampy soup of drum, bass and hints of Jeremy Enigk’s voice. I didn’t want to remember the band this way, so we ducked out for what we thought would be a kick ass set by Bad Brains.

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Jesus fucking Christ. Throughout the night we had heard rumors that Bad Brains, unhappy with a last minute pay snafu, would only put on a 20 minute set. Though they played for well over an hour, perhaps 20 minutes would have done less to sully the band’s legendary reputation. While guitarist Dr. Know kicked some major ass and the audience went ape during the wild numbers and grooved during the reggae ones, what the hell was singer H.R. doing? Standing with one hand in his pocket and the other clutching the microphone, H.R. more or less mumbled his way through the set. What a disappointment.

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Mudhoney played an awesome set at Dante’s, I’ve seen them four times over the years and continue to be amazed at how much energy their shows have and how good they sound. They played a wide selection from their fairly substantial library of tunes (“Touch Me I’m Sick,” “Sweet Young Thing,” “In & Out Of Grace,” etc)

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For those fortunate enough, an invitation to the MFNW afterparty allowed us to rub shoulders with the rest of the industry folk. It didn’t help that one of my writers wore the same exact outfit that I did that night. Between downing free drinks named after the bands (Sunny Day Real Estate was the screwdriver) and eating fresh sandwiches, my friends and I tried to pick out the biggest hipster in the room. The award goes to the dude with the sleeveless shirt and empty hiking backpack. Congrats, dude. At 1:30am, the Thermals played an inspired set. Watching a certain local editor jam out with almost as much fun as watching Hutch Harris jump about. Another night ending at 3am. One more to go.

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by David Harris (Mudhoney section by Darren Higgins)
[Photos: Darren Higgins (P.O.S. and Thermals photos by Morgan Davis)

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