Returning to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland for Day 2 of Project Pabst was slated to be warm, in fact, it was going to be hot. Previous attendees of the fest will remember to the second year of the festival, temperatures pushed passed 100 degrees. Sunday’s forecast was expected to be in in the mid 90’s.
With the PBR iced, the water station at the ready, and the dust ready to be kicked around, I was able to start the day with a subtle and wonderful performance from New York band Frankie Cosmos. With a freshly buzzed haircut, lead singer Greta Kline spoke softly to the crowd in between tracks as more people filtered into the festival.
San Fermin followed up on the next time slot, performing on the Unicorn stage. They continued a theme from the previous day; that even though the stage is smaller, the music and performances culminating there are anything but. San Fermin played tracks from their new album Belong and created an intimate and charged connection with the crowd. With refined textures of the multi-instrumentalists paired with complimentary vocals of singers Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, San Fermin had an exceptional performance.
Moving to the Captain Pabst Stage, Chicago rapper and poet Noname took in the crowd. Sporting a Menace II Society shirt, she strode back and forth rhythmically and methodically laying out her rhymes and showering the crowd with lyrics that are created to provoke thought within the listener. Portland-based group Whitney was up next. With drummer and singer Julien Ehrlich staged at center flanked by core member and guitarist Max Kakacek, Whitney effortlessly played through songs from their album Light upon the Lake. As the sun dipped lower casting a golden hue across the band, the implications of their track Golden Days resonated more deeply.
Making my way back to the main stage, Spoon was up next. Their highly anticipated performance and tour is supporting their new album Hot Thoughts. Opening with a haunting intro to "Whisperi’lllistentohearit," the group’s newest work is their best as a band. Singer Britt Daniel orbits the band and conveys a presence of an unassuming rock star. Constantly beckoning to the crowd, Daniel coaxes them to let go while his bandmates feverishly created the sonic soundscapes to accompany his gravelly vocals.
A welcome addition to Project Pabst was the return of rapper Nas. While he has intermittently released music over the last few years, his prevalence as one of hip hops most prolific artists still stands. Performing from a slew of hits that culminated in the late '90s to into the early 2000’s, his music and the messages they convey still remain relevant to today’s culture.
Last but by no way was the man of the day; Beck took the main stage to close out the festival. Opening with "Devil's Haircut," the crowd reacted in a feverish pace as Beck played through a multitude of past hits. The singer is a triumphant force constantly reinventing his music while paying homage to the artists that influence his creative energy. His new track "Wow" electrified the crowd before he tore into a rendition of "Raspberry Beret" by Prince. Closing with the iconic Where It’s At solidified his allure as an iconic artist that will always define his stature. He had Project Pabst in his hands as the finals notes drifted into the late evening Portland sky. Project Pabst continues to redefine the way a festival should be, and next year attendees will be waiting in anticipation to see if it can be outdone.
It is a treat to review a show at the Tractor Tavern because, at its heart, it has to be a review of listening to music in the neighborhood of Ballard. Ballard Avenue on a September evening is everything that is beautiful in the world.
It’s relatively uncommon for contemporary artists to perform entire albums live from start to finish, and it’s even less common for them to play their new albums in their entirety. It takes a certain kind of audacity, one which Feist embodied wholly Wednesday night, as she played her Pleasure album…