Notes and observations from Upstream Music Fest Day 1 – The Seattle Times

Notes and observations from Paul Allen’s Upstream Music Fest:

  • The first band of the day (Thursday, May 11) was Los Angeles three-piece Midnight Faces, one of Thursday’s few non-Northwest acts. At the open-to-the-public stage in Occidental Park, the group played slick new-wave rock to a late-afternoon crowd of passersby and curious office workers.
  • A larger crowd turned up when rapper and Sub Pop signee Porter Ray played the same stage a few hours later, and the bass was loud enough to shake the park’s many bricks.
  • Industrial Revelation played the festival’s most striking venue—Court in the Square, a high-ceilinged brick-and-glass atrium. Some of the jazz group’s nuances were lost in the cavernous space, but they made up for it with showmanship and energy.
  • Minneapolis band Poliça’s chilly electro-pop drew a long line at Upstream’s beer garden, where crowds had to dodge showers for much of the evening.
  • At Flatstick Pub, Upstream’s de facto reggae venue, a one-man band called DUBCHAMP played a minimal hybrid of reggae, dub and electro using an electronic drum set and a laptop. He played the same beat for long stretches, but the energy was palpable.
  • Producer and record label owner Raica played a thumping hardware techno set that was a good fit for Kraken Congee’s brick-walled basement.
  • With its dense, proggy metal, the excellently named He Whose Ox Is Gored was perhaps the first day’s loudest band.
  • So Pitted’s jagged, jarring punk made for one of last year’s best local records, and its raw two-guitar attack was just as vicious live.

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