The day started off similar to the closing day of last year’s Project Pabst. The crowd was small, but potent. The opening acts were strong. And it was hot, hot, hot.
For the early crowd that was dedicated to a full day of music, there was only one way to barrel through the heat: Pound a water, get a slice from Atlas Pizza, and crack open a cold Pabst. The rest of the day took care of itself. Here are some of the highlights:
One of Portland’s favorite weird psychedelic rock bands opened up the day, and I can’t think of a better choice. The trippy reverb, tribal drums and saxophone played off of the early afternoon sun, inviting the small crowd toward the stage.
Wampire’s sound is as varied as their look. Some had clean-shaven faces, some sported beards, and one was dolled up in makeup. One wore a polka dot Americana shirt, another an oversized panda shirt, and another a button-up. At one moment, it was all psychedelic breakdown riffs with power drum chaos, the next it was melodic vocals and dreamy guitars. But one thing was universal about the performance: rock and roll. Good old Portland rock and roll.
At first, I wasn’t too excited to see this Portland band. After researching their music, I felt like it was too crisp and high-pitched. However, their live performance is different: It has more soul.
In their live performance, the reverb is wet on the vocals, which I think does Danielle Sullivan’s voice more justice and blends with the music better. This tweak made the sound less boppy and more poppy. And overall, their live performance just has more energy.
I told our editor that I thought they were stronger live, and he reminded me that I had actually already seen them play on the Portland Spirit for the KPSU Kruise during this year’s Soul’d Out Music Festival. I remember enjoying the show but didn’t remember their name when I was researching the festival lineup. This solidifies my theory even more—if you’re not into Wild Ones’ recordings, check them out live. You may be pleasantly surprised.
From Toronto, Alvvays (pronounced Always) fit in well with Portland’s bright, sunny day. Their dreamy, summertime pop was the perfect sound for such a hot afternoon. Alvvays is very similar to Tennis’ older music: Both are surfy, lo-fi pop bands with a female vocalist. But where Tennis is out at sea on a sailboat, Alvvays is on the beach chillin’ with a beer.
The crowd seemed especially impressed with the song “Adult Diversion” (listen above). It made me feel like I was back in my hometown of Ormond Beach, Fla., looking at the waves with a beer in hand, enjoying the lost nostalgia I never had.
When the millennials moved to Portland, Passion Pit was hot. At Zidell Yards on Sunday, they were hot again. And just in time for the swell in audience size.
A month after I moved to Portland in 2008, Passion Pit’s Chunk of Change EP came out and quickly became the end-of-summer soundtrack. At the time, the friendly synthpop, high-pitched vocals, and dance music with video game tones was still fairly unique. Seeing them for the first time seven years later, I was happy to see that their music still holds up, and that they put on an energetic performance.
To top it off, they played my favorite song exactly when they should have—last. And that was after the crowd cheered for an encore. It made me feel like a younger version of myself, reminding me that I’m still a “Sleepyhead.”
It felt like I had just pressed D7 on The Vern’s jukebox as the ‘70s British punk rockers took the stage. Even though they looked like they could’ve been your uncles, they brought their youthful, anti-establishment energy. And they sounded good.
With original members making up half of the band, the audience could still feel the authentic Buzzcock energy, and went especially wild for “What Do I Get?” It was also enough to instigate a mosh pit.
Next time I’m at The Vern and I see that one really surly bartender, I’m going to press D7 on the jukebox and brag that I saw this band live—especially because he won’t think it’s cool. That’s punk rock, Johnny.
Speaking of being uncool... once again, I feel like it is really uncool to admit that I like Weezer—first in the ‘90s when I was growing up in the South, and now, as an adult in the hippest, “oh no, not that band”-city in the world. But maybe that’s what being a Weezer fan is all about.
The original nerd band headlined Project Pabst, and from start to finish, it was solid and enjoyable. They are still musically very tight and clean.
Weezer started the set with the best possible choice for an opening song—the opening track off of The Blue Album, “My Name Is Jonas.” I get goosebumps when I hear that song, imagining a younger version of myself driving alone on the highway. It was no different at Zidell Yards.
For some (me included), it was the first time in a while that they’d heard these songs. And it’s not until you hear all of them together when you realize, “Wow, these guys have a lot of hits,” and “Wow, I know the lyrics to this whole song.”
Weezer proved to be a great choice for a closing band at a festival geared towards Gen Xers and millennials by bridging the age gap with hit songs and nerd-dom—two things that Portland loves.
The second annual, 21-plus Project Pabst matched the first year’s festival in lineup, affordable food and drinks, free video games, and overall energy. It was a hell of a fun way to spend two scorching summer days.
As Captain Pabst valiantly sailed out to the horizon on Sunday night, he left behind thousands of buzzed-to-drunk Portlanders, all hopped up on music and in good spirits. We enjoyed the visit and look forward to having him back in town.
See you next year, Cap’n.