It’s 10:30pm on Sunday, and things are beginning to get hazy. It’s been a marathon weekend: I’ve logged nearly 20 hours of bands, mingling, delicious Korean tacos from Koi Fusion, and refreshments upstairs at Rotture. And at this point there’s still a set left to cover that promises to be fantastic. People are slowing down, and I see and talk to a few other faces that have been here as much as (or more than) I have over the past three days. One volunteer named Tony, who was at the booking committee meeting we covered recently, missed almost nothing this weekend. He’d seen at least a few songs from every single set. Talk about dedication.
Those of us who showed up to the last set expecting Hosannas were treated instead to the hip-hop of Luck-One. The original schedule had him on for the same time slot on Saturday, but the acts switched. Luck-One, with Spaceman and DJ Generic “on the ones and twos,” got the huge crowd shaking their asses and waving their hands in the air.
His rhymes were smart and lightning-fast. He gave Portland a lot of love, rapping “Luck-One, Spaceman, PDX Pop Now!” He seemed ecstatic to be performing in front of the enthusiastic hometown crowd.
After a pretty mellow day, the street filled up with what had to be over a thousand people coming out for Parenthetical Girls and Typhoon. Parenthetical Girls frontman Zac Pennington was a hilarious drama queen, despite the band’s brooding, emo lyrics. He said to the all-ages crowd, “We understand that you’re young, we understand that you’re lovelier than we are, but you don’t have to rub it in.” Which was ironic coming from someone as thin, pretty and fashionable as Pennington.
Parenthetical Girls played a set of catchy electro-pop with a flair for the theatrical. Pennington sang in a shaky, Morrissey vibrato while laptop electronics mixed with live percussion, instruments and drum pads. Pennington is a performer. Not content to simply sing, he strutted around the stage engaging in acrobatic antics with the microphone. After entering the crowd, getting back on stage, and climbing onto a stack of speakers, the sound man punched him. Pennington whined that it was his first time being punched on stage, by a sound guy no less! But, he also said he’s sure that PDX Pop has “high insurance premiums because it’s a free fest,” so he “probably deserved the punch.”
Even with the stellar, pumped up performance from Parenthetical Girls, the energy started to wane. It was pushing 1am on a Sunday night (or Monday morning depending on your perspective) as everybody waited for Typhoon (who went on way later than scheduled after multiple power outages).
Starting with their signature band-huddle, Typhoon settled into their first song. It started to feel like the wait was worth it until more power problems ensued.
They’d just started into the second song when the sound on the guitar died. This happened four times, and it kind of took the wind out of Typhoon’s sails. But once they started going again, to cheers from the crowd, the band was solid. Three percussionists, two violins, two guitars, bass, everybody singing… the band was massive, not only in size but in impact. “Starting Over” was perfect, and the moment where Kyle Morton sang, “I want to live but I don’t want to live” on “CPR – Claws Part 2″ was powerful and captivating. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re an über-fan until you find yourself singing along to every song.
But just when it felt like everything wasfinally, really gelling, the set was over. The late start time and technical difficulties made the set feel short, and you could tell the dismayed crowd wanted more. Unfortunately, they don’t really welcome encores at events like this.
It’s a blessing and a curse to be the final act of a three-day festival. There’s the notoriety of being the big name on the last set of a fantastic weekend of music, but there’s also the difficulty of keeping people around at almost 2am when the work week is starting. Apparently that didn’t matter to diminished crowd that stuck around for Skeletron.