MusicfestNW features eclectic lineup Aug. 15-17

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF MODERN KIN - Portlands Modern Kin combines indie roots and post-punk sound, and theyll be part of MusicFest NW, which moves to Waterfront Park to appeal to more people.Spoon, Girl Talk, Phantogram, Haim, Run the Jewels, tUnE-yArDs, Future Islands, F*cked Up, Man Man, The Antlers, Gardens & Villa, and The Districts are among the acts that will take the stage at MusicFestNW, which commences this weekend with a new format.

The festival’s redesign makes it both more attractive to fans and sponsors, says Trevor Solomon, the fest’s executive director. For the first time since it began in 2000, the festival will take place primarily at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland rather than at multiple nightclubs. You can still go to Dr. Martens parking lot, the Doug Fir Lounge, the Star Theater and Bunk Bar for nighttime shows, which kick off Friday, Aug. 15 (and are ticketed separately). However, most of the acts will play at the waterfront from 12:45 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16-17.

Although some fans of the old format initially grumbled about the change when it was announced in February, ticket sales seem to be going well, and Solomon thinks the festival’s attendance could rival the Waterfront Blues Festival, which draws thousands each year.

“We wanted to change the model so that everyone could see all the bands,” he says, noting some

MFNW attendees in the past had complained about missing bands they liked when one was playing at the same time as the other in different venues.

It’s also easier to get sponsors — which include longtime fest partner Willamette Week, as well as such new ones like MODA — to pony up for the festival now that it’s mainly in one site, Solomon adds.

“For a sponsor, now we could say every eyeball is on you, whereas before it was a little more challenging,” he says.

As for the music itself, Solomon says he’s a big fan of Spoon’s indie rock whereas synth-popsters Future Islands “is probably the hottest band around now.”

Prior to the festival, the Tribune talked to two Portland acts, Shy Girls and Modern Kin, about the festival:

Shy Girls

The brainchild of neo-soul singer Dan Vidmar, Shy Girls is among a number of acts resurrecting the R&B sounds of the 1990s. Like many contemporary artists, Vidmar uses modern technology as well as instruments to create his sound, which you can hear on his latest EP “Timeshare.”

“I produce everything on my laptop in Logic Pro,” he says. “I use a combination of hardware, software, acoustic instruments, etcetera, and the process is pretty different every time.”

On stage, he employs a band.

“The set-up is always being tweaked, but right now it’s a four-piece with two keyboardists and a saxophonist who also acts as a deejay of sorts, running and sampling the beats off of a computer,” he says.

A native of Pennsylvania, the 27-year-old moved to Portland in 2009 after finishing college. He performs regularly outside the city, and says he’s gotten good receptions in Los Angeles and New York. His EP has sold well in Europe, he says, adding he’s ready to play MusicFestNW, though not without a bit of trepidation.

“I think you need a little bit more of a mature attention span in order to truly enjoy our music,” he says of Shy Girls. “When we play outside during the bright midday sun, it can be difficult to create the proper mood for people. If it were up to me, I would only play shows indoors or at night, with the proper lighting and all that. But I can’t be that picky at that point in my career.”

Although he doesn’t consider himself part of the EDM, or electronic dance music, world, Vidmar notes he’s written and performed for such EDM artists as Cyril Hahn and Odesza.

You can catch Shy Girls at 1:35 p.m. on the Hawthorne Stage on Saturday.

Modern Kin

Portland guitarist Drew Grow, bassist Kris Doty and drummer Jeremiah Hayden make up Modern Kin (formerly Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives), who combine indie-roots, British invasion, post-punk rock and a dash of noise to create one of our city’s more distinct sounds.

Grow sings like a cross between a mild-mannered Johnny Rotten and a more emotional David Byrne, and credits the latter for inspiring him to make music.

“It’s not very common that conceptual artmaking so seamlessly fits with music for the masses,” Grow says of Byrne’s music. “I’m interested in this.”

Grow says his grandparents both sang in an opera chorus, as did his mother, who turned him onto music.

“She carried on singing around the house and taught me my first chords on the three-fourths-size guitar that was handed down to me after my brother grew out of it,” he says.

The family sang in the house and car, and a sister played piano. Church also played a role — or in Grow’s case, a “roll.”

“It was a very musical, holy-roller church,” he says. “I remember services being music and singing for hours — a congregation of recent northern European immigrants playing Southern gospel. Pretty hilarious in retrospect, but not unlike the Rolling Stones if you think about it.”

A music student in the 1990s, Grow quit school to play regularly and has tackled everything from love to death in his songs. Modern Kin put out its debut record on Hayden’s Amigo/Amiga label last year, and Grow notes the band strives for integrity.

“I’m not one of those people who can endeavor to make meaningful music for people to sell cars with,” Grow says. “Music has given my life meaning and given life value for me in very dark times. ... I am thankful for those musicians in my life who share these values and who keep my vision clear.”

Modern Kin plays the Hawthorne Stage at 1:35 p.m. Sunday.

Fest facts

• MusicFestNW performances include night shows and afterparties presented by Pitchfork, Dr. Martens, MailChimp, Red Bull Sound Select, and MFNW itself, and feature performances from Killer Mike, Flatbush Zombies, Com Truise, Superchunk, Future Islands, El-P, Tacocat, Bobby Bare, Tijuana Panthers, and more. You can find the full schedule at

• Tickets for the waterfront show range from $65 to $300 and can be purchased at or at

Willamette Week offices, 2220 N.W. Quimby St., from 9 a.m. to noon, and from 12:30 to 5 p.m. weekdays.

• MusicFestNW will run in concert with TechfestNW at OMSI. Info:

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