Thousands expected to head to Waterfront Park Aug. 21-23

MusicFestNW features a varied lineup of musical performers, from melodramatic balladeers to raucous punks. The lineup, which includes Foster the People, Beirut and Modest Mouse, is expected to draw anywhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people daily to all-ages shows at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland, where bands will play on two stages, says Matthew McClean, the festival’s talent director.COURTESY PHOTO: MUSICFESTNW - Last year marked the first time MusicFest NW moved from a club format to an open-air concert format at Waterfront Park. This photo shows the 2014 crowd enjoying an act.

The festival runs Friday through Sunday, Aug. 21-23, and shows kick off on Friday at 4 p.m., and at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. For a full lineup, visit

We spoke with three MFNW artists prior to their appearances here:

Twin Shadow, Aug. 22

George Lewis Jr., aka indie chillwave singer Twin Shadow, studied the pop charts from 1970 onward and noticed something about the biggest hits.

“Hit songs have a kind of grandeur to them,” he says, citing Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” as examples.COURTESY PHOTO: MUSICFESTNW - George Lewis, Jr., aka Twin Shadow, is among the artists set to rock Waterfront Park in downtown Portland this weekend.

“If you listen to songs like this you realize how huge they feel and how epic they are and how cinematic they feel,” he adds, noting a desire to capture such feelings fuels his songwriting. His passion for powerful songwriting can be found on his albums “Forge,” “Confess” and most recently “Eclipse,” which includes the melodramatic ‘80s-sounding ballad “To The Top,” which appears on the soundtrack of the film “Paper Towns.”

Twin Shadow almost came close to never reaching the top earlier this year when his tour bus crashed in mid-April in Colorado. Recovering from injuries has sidelined his drummer, Andy Bauer, who was hurt, along with driver John Crawford as well as Lewis himself and several other crew members. All three men have been getting better, he says, but it’s a slow process and Bauer won’t be with Twin Shadow when he performs at MusicFest.

“I don’t have full use of my hand,” Lewis says, noting he will only play a limited amount of guitar at his shows. “My hands are at a place where I feel I can probably play two songs or so. It will be different. I’ve never done an hourlong set without a guitar.”

In addition to playing on Saturday, Twin Shadow will share a bill with electro-pop trio LANY Aug. 21 at Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St. Both performances will feature selections from all three Twin Shadow albums, he says.

“I kind of want to tell a story throughout the set,” he says.

Divers, Aug. 23

Melodic, quirky-meets-cool Portland indie-punk rockers Divers will play early in the afternoon Sunday, and also play a free MFNW kickoff show along with The Helio Sequence from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, behind the Doc Martens store on the corner of West Burnside and 10th Avenue. You need a VIP wristband or ticket to get in, so head down to the store beforehand to get one.

Divers features Harrison Rapp on guitar and vocals, his younger brother Seth Rapp on guitar, James Deegan on bass, and Colby Hulsey on drums. Harrison plays Ray Davies to brother Seth’s Dave Davies, albeit without the occasional punch-ups that characterized the Kinks’ siblings relationship.

“I guess I’m more into the songwriting structures and vocals, and I guess he’s a better lead guitarist,” Harrison says.

Influenced by such bands as Modest Mouse, The Clash, The Replacements and Built to Spill, the band was voted Portland’s Best New Band in this year’s Willamette Week poll of local music experts. Interestingly, however, Harrison Rapp says the band has no built-in audience and wins over fans one chord at a time.

“I’m real happy with where we are, with where we fit in,” he says, adding, “I think we kind of fit in by not fitting in.”

Like Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska,” Divers’ debut album “Hello Hello” is thematic, dealing with bank robbers, and opens with a tune called “Getaway,” which could appeal to fans of Wilco, the Killers and any number of other anthemic types. Released on the Olympia label Rumbletowne Records, “Hello Hello” ends with the equally anthemic, Bowie-meets-Superdrag “Stateline,” and has earned numerous plaudits since its release. Harrison Rapp is the band’s lead songwriter, but welcomes input, he says.

“I usually bring in ideas, and we kind of take them apart and put them together again,” he says.

Beat Connection, Aug. 23

Seattle’s electro popsters Beat Connection features Tom Eddy on guitar and vocals, Jarred Katz on drums, Mark Hunter on bass and synthesizer and Reed Juenger on keys and electronics. Sometimes compared to Daft Punk as well as Talking Heads, the band focuses on electro-pop precisely because it’s so hard to define exactly what it is, Juenger says.

“It’s a genre you can bring in a lot of different influences to,” he says.

Indeed, from psychedelia to disco, a host of influences crop up in the band’s sound, including hip hop, funk and post-punk rock, which you can hear on such Beat Connection recordings as “The Palace Garden,” as well as singles like “Hesitation.” The band paints a complex tapestry of sound onstage, to the point where Juenger laughs when asked just how many cables are run from their instruments and electronics. The group works diligently to bring its studio ideas to a live audience, he says.

“There is a lot of work in the translation process,” he says. “We’re obsessing over it all the time. We’re thinking about

how the live show informs the studio and vice versa. They’re symbiotic.”

The band is a sign of the times, he adds.

“I think we’re a product of the Internet, and on the Internet you have access to all types of things all at the same time,” he says. “Hip hop, indie pop — if you were exposed to everything you should try to bring it all together. I think the eclecticism that exists in our music is also represented in our fan base.”

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