A Casual Music Lover's Take on Project Pabst
I went. I listened. I drank beer.
Words by Danielle Mrkvicka
Two days of cheap beer, music that spanned multiple generations and genres, gravel, and more cheap beer. Oh, and it was really hot—in fact, the weather was probably the #1 topic of conversation amongst volunteers, artists and attendees. After the music, obviously. Here are the highlights from day one:
Iggy Pop: The man who proves that age is just a number
They don't let writers in the photo pit, so I had to watch Iggy Pop shake his leathery, 70-year-old bod from very far away. Strangely, I was fine with this—to witness Iggy is to witness a tour de force. And even from across the field, his star power reached out and punched me in the face. He kicked off his set with “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” hurtling onstage with fists pumping and hair blowing. When he segued into “Passenger,” I think I blacked out. Not to be a total fangirl or anything, but I was in complete and utter awe of his primal, ferocious set. This septuagenarian legend threw more life into his performance than most 20-somethings, flipping off photographers, spitting, and straining every last sinew in his impossibly weathered torso. By “Lust For Life,” the whole crowd had lost their shit—myself included. Everyone was feeling his raw, primal energy, and I think we were all wondering: Will we ever get to see him perform like this again? It was the performance of a lifetime, and we all knew it was special.
Father John Misty: Most shouts of “Take your shirt off!”
FJM was once quoted as saying, “I get sick pleasure out of reading about how much people hate me.” So, I should write something bad here? As much as I’d like to give you that sick, sick joy, Johnny boy, I don't honestly think I can. Between his snazzy outfit, dozen-odd-piece backing band, and snake-like dance moves, FJM delivered the night’s most cinematic performance. Say what you will about his notoriously asshole-ish attitude and lame attempts at comedy—the man is a born performer. He kicked off his set with “Pure Comedy”—no instrument in hand, just his sweet, crooning voice over a simple piano line. FJM is the king of the slow burn, offering up a unique brand of intensity. His songs started quietly and gradually built… and built and built and built before erupting into a dramatic crescendo. Then, he’d pull it back again, going completely silent while the crowd waited breathlessly for more. Oh, and while all was this happening, his inhumanly lush head of hair was blowing in the breeze. Got the picture?
Lizzo: Biggest twerkfest
Like most things that start with backup dancers, I was never not entertained during Lizzo’s set. The woman is a true triple threat: a soul singer, rapper and dancer with a personality of superstar proportions. From the moment she floated onstage in her pink, fur-trimmed robe, she absolutely commanded attention. As her joyful and explosive show unfolded, she sang and rapped about self-love and self-care, and got the crowd popping more than any act prior. As impressive as her performance was her irresistible charm—she had an infectious warmth and charisma that radiated outward. At one point, she was vibing off the energy so hard that she burst into spontaneous giggling and had to walk off stage. "Ain't nobody love me like I do," she crooned. Dang, that's some epic level of self-esteem, ‘cos pretty much everyone in the crowd was worshipping her.
Filthy Friends: Most celebs on one stage
Filthy Friends is a freaking supergroup started by Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, with The Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch, King Crimson drummer Bill Rieflin, Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5, and even Nirvana's Krist Novoselic joining in from time to time. As they took the stage, I expected to feel completely star-struck, but they were all so humble and chill that I nearly forgot they were… well, freaking legends. The whole vibe of the show was surprising laidback, too. It felt like a bunch of old pals getting together to just play for playing’s sake. Theirs is the type of music that comes from a necessity to create, not a need to make money or garner more fame. The members seemed almost unaware of the audience, swapping grins with each other as they played through their sometimes aggressive, sometimes hooky power pop. Sonically, the myriad influences were felt, but not all at once—it was almost like each song tried on a different mood, style or genre.
The Last Artful, Dodgr: The act who’s destined for stardom
I’m used to a lot of chanting, impatience and general waiting around before hip-hop shows, but The Last Artful, Dodgr (aka Portland’s very own Alana Chenevert) burst onto the stage promptly at 1pm. Equipped with an agile, melodic flow and a whole lotta charm, she delivered a solid, understated performance that gave me some serious vintage Missy Elliott vibes. The small crowd seemed strange to me at first, until I remembered that—oh yeah—Dodgr isn’t incredibly famous. Why though!? With her soulful, otherworldly voice and chilled out beats (provided by producer Neill Von Tally), Dodgr just sounds… different. And fresh AF. Plus, she’s got energy and attitude up the wazoo—I could 100 percent see her slaying a much bigger crowd. Someday, I’ll be bragging about how I saw her play in a totally intimate setting—you know, like, before she was cool. As Dodgr herself said before she launched into her closer, "This is just practice, and y'all lucky as fuck." I see no lies here.