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Posted September 20, 2013 by Portland Live in Show Reviews
 
 

More Tidbits from MFNW ’13


Are you already missing MFNW? Can’t wait for next year? Neither can we!

Here’s a couple more reviews of some of our favorite MFNW sets…

Bob Mould // 9-5-13 // Doug Fir

20130905BobMouldPunk singers can usually rely on blaring guitars and relentless kickdrum to get them through a set, but Bob Mould was entirely on his own at the Doug Fir. Stripped of everything sonically except an electric guitar and his voice, Mould was a single buoy in a sea of fans.

The show wasn’t a neutered version his former band Hüsker Dü’s loud, cheeky sets. Mould captured an earnest and forceful atmosphere in the packed venue, playing songs from his solo work as well as old Sugar and Hüsker Dü tracks. What Mould lacked in bandmates he made up for in his driving vocals and clever lyrics.

With the drums and bass shaved off, some tracks such as “Something I Learned Today” and his closer “Makes No Sense At All” were difficult to pick out among his more than 20-song set. As soon as he strummed the first few chords and screamed, “Walking around with your head in the clouds, makes no sense at all,” the front row lit up with sets of glinting white teeth as the audience sang along.

Hardcore Sugar and Hüsker Dü fans instantly recognized his older material, but Mould blended his performances into a seamless show that translated well for his solo material and work from former bands. The 52-year-old proves that extravagant outfits, stage gimmicks and even a couple of bandmates aren’t required to put on a fiery rock set.

Superchunk // 9-6-13 // Crystal Ballroom

20130907SuperchunkAudience members at Superchunk’s show at the Crystal Ballroom might have been surprised to see four men on stage. Longtime bassist Laura Ballance was MIA at the show, her backing grooves replaced by Jason Narducy. Ballance had to quit the tour before it even got off the ground this spring after suffering from an ear condition that makes her sensitive to certain sounds.

While Ballance’s stage presence was missed, Narducy picked up the slack with his precise plucking. Having played with Bob Mould and Telekinesis in the past, Narducy had no trouble keeping up with singer Mac McCaughan’s throttling performance.

The group played a torrid set ranging from classic tracks “Slack Motherfucker” to songs they debuted for the first time off of their new album I Hate Music.

Their mix of alternative pop with a thick coating of punk rock made Superchunk’s set as catchy as it was unrelentingly in-your-face. Superchunk is ten albums into their career, but they play with the same energy and passion as when they formed in the late 1980s. Watching them play gives you the impression that they just got back from recording a few songs on a cheap 4-track, not spending days cooped up in a sleek, expensive studio.

This DIY aesthetic is what keeps fans swarming to their shows to sing about kicking slack motherfuckers to the curb.

20130907HelioSequenceThe Helio Sequence // 9-7-13 // Aladdin Theater 

If you close your eyes while watching The Helio Sequence live, you expect to find a stage filled with musicians playing every instrument at their disposal. As you lift your eyelids, you instead find two men creating what appear to be sounds out of nothing.

Drummer Benjamin Weikel multi-tasked with keyboards and sticks, while singer Brandon Summers tackled vocals and guitar. Together they create a buzzing wall of sound that is hypnotic and ethereal. Their more-is-more approach to songs is energetic without the drone that kills similar bands’ stage presence. With drums constantly beating under relentless guitar melodies, it is easy for a band like The Helio Sequence to drone on and bore an audience. The duo broke this pattern with hooks designed to enslave ears within the first verse.

Watching Weikel drum is like watching a pack of hotdogs go through a blender. His head jerked up, down, left and right as his body contorted with the beat. For slow, thumping tracks, his body was curled and mostly still, waiting for its moment to finally explode.

Summers countered Weikel’s spry drums with sweet, mesmerizing vocals. He used his voice to drive most of the melody, with the guitar bolstering his wide singing range.

This Sub Pop duo lives up to its studio albums with the same energy and passion they put into their recordings. They create one of the biggest sounds possible with only four arms.


Portland Live

 


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