Tag Archives: Arya Imig

MFNW Presents Project Pabst (Night One): The Arya Imig Report


Duran Duran // Photo Credit: Yousef Hatlani

This review is part of a series on MusicFest Northwest Presents: Project Pabst. This include Digable PlanetsGuided By Voices, and Day Two of the festival.

By Arya Imig

When one music festival merges with another, it’s easy to assume that some capitulation to acknowledging vulnerabilities has been made by one side or another. Regardless of the circumstances which led to the merger of MusicFest Northwest and Project Pabst, the results of the lineup and attendance prove that greatness recognizing greatness pays off. The elements that have made the festivals successful separately over the last few years, especially since MFNW moved to a single site day time model, were on display in stereo Saturday at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

That said, the most valid criticism of the result of the merger is that it resulted in a deficit of all ages access to events of the festival. This is an issue worth acknowledging the importance of, and addressing with legitimate understanding of why it’s good for all parties involved. There are many valid legal reasons why the festival itself was unable to be all-ages due to the alcohol sponsorship involved being in conflict with the state’s convoluted and antiquated liquor control laws. There are many small ways to involve the next generation of music fans in enjoying the artistry of some of the icons who played this year. Future legend Vince Staples at the Doc Marten’s store is one thing, but let’s hope it’s a template that can be built on for next year. Other than this major caveat, with Sunday tickets and weekend passes sold out, it’s safe to say the festivals made a smart decision in joining forces.

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REVIEW: Turtlenecked – Pure Plush Bone Cage


By Arya Imig

Turtlenecked is the latest, but perhaps greatest, find by Good Cheer Records, who have dedicated themselves to chronicling the emergence of the best potential Portland has to offer. They succeed. Turtlenecked mastermind Harrison Smith exemplifies the aesthetic the label best strives for with his debut album, Pure Plush Bone Cage. Songwriting comes first for Smith and you can tell by the myriad of sound that are taken into account into developing his sound.

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LIVE: PowerShares Tennis Series, Rose Quarter, Portland, OR

By Nick Winterfeld

DSCN0814Andre Agassi // Photo credit: Arya Imig

Portland tennis fans had a rare treat Thursday night at the Moda Center when four retired players including John McEnroe and Andre Agassi stopped by for a charity tournament. The PowerShares series is a 12-night event featuring American tennis stars over thirty. In addition to Agassi and McEnroe, the Portland stop, the ninth this year, featured James Blake and Jim Courier.

Portland doesn’t often host tennis events of this caliber. The last time we had anything close was in 2007 when the Davis Cup Final was held at the Memorial Coliseum. While The Power Shares series doesn’t come close to matching the prestige of the Davis Cup, Thursday night was still a very big deal for Portland tennis fans, and it was something we don’t see here nearly as often as we would like.

Nike, the ubiquitous shoe brand, has been very good to tennis, and by extension, so has Portland. No Nike-sponsored player made it as big as Agassi, who splashed onto the tennis scene in the early 1990s.  His charismatic style, combined with aggressive marketing by Nike using his image, helped to bring a new, larger audience to tennis.  Just when John McEnroe was nearing retirement,Agassi, along with contemporary Pete Sampras, seemed to pick up the torch, beginning a new era of Americans dominating the scene.  I had my own pair of Agassi Nikes, white with purple trim, when I was ten. I don’t know if they made me a better player, but they sure looked cool.

DSCN0803John McEnroe // Photo Credit: Arya Imig

The year I got my Agassi Nikes, 1992, was also the year Agassi won Wimbledon, often considered the grandest of the grand slam tournaments. At the time, he was the first American to win the title since John McEnroe had last won in London in 1984.  He would go on to win all four grand slams at least once, a feat unmatched even by Sampras.

Thursday night was a one-day tournament featuring three,  single-set matches; two semi-finals and a final.

Game one featured James Blake and Jim Courier. While Courier is the more accomplished player, he was no match for the younger, quicker Blake. Next came Agassi versus McEnroe. Even at the age of 55, McEnroe is fast and a formidable opponent for Agassi. On Thursday, however, Agassi, the 90s favorite, was at the top of his game, advancing to the final round to face Blake, the youngest player in the tournament.

While the previous two nights saw Blake take the final round, Thursday belonged to Agassi.

This was the first time I had been to a professional tennis event, and I was not disappointed. From my ninth-row seat I was treated to first-hand greatness. I’ve been watching the pros (including these very men,) play on TV since I was a four-year-old boy. But to see them perform in person is something else altogether. Though I knew to expect this from seeing it on TV, it is almost disconcerting to be at a sporting event where the crowd applauds after a play-disconcerting yet delightful.

DSCN0770James Blake // Photo credit: Arya Imig

The fans relished seeing these legends, especially Agassi and McEnroe, compete live.  And the players, for their part, loved the opportunity to still compete and dazzle the audience, post-retirement.

McEnroe brought his famous flair for arguing with the umpire, and even throwing his racket at one point. Would the crowd have wanted it any other way? Agassi, for his part, was ever the gentleman-genuinely modest, and unfazed by the ugly taunt from an audience member, or by his courtside interviews with the slick Brett Haber of the Tennis Channel.

Thursday night’s event was a love letter to Portland tennis fans, and the love was reflected right back at the legendary men on the court.

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Two Boys, One Show: Mazzy Star, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon and Arya Imig

After 17 years, Mazzy Star decided to make a new record, Seasons of Your Day, and go on tour to support it. The band kicked off the tour in Portland, and despite the expectations we had, Arya and I felt somewhat let down by the show. Below is the conversation we had about the performance, and how we feel after a few days.

Hollister: I don’t know what to say. I kinda started feeling underwhelmed.

Arya: Oh man, so many people walked out, dude. [Referring to the mass exodus following the band playing “that one song”, in this case “Fade Into You”]

H: That’s really ridiculous. But somehow not surprising. Did it feel kinda weird to you, too? Or was it just me? Something about the show was sorta off.

A: I don’t know about weird. It was about what I expected, given the reputation and music involved. This wasn’t a Cut Copy rave hall show, it was literally the music and only the music speaking for itself. Whether that’s alienating or not is an interesting question.

H: It felt really alienating. I thought the performance was good, but the problem was that a) the band performed almost in darkness, and b) it sounded pretty damn close to the record. It lead me to wonder, would it have just been easier to listen to the records at home in my living room, instead of standing in a giant room with a bunch of people drunkenly yelling?
You know me, I eat up reunion shows like nobody’s business. But that one felt less celebratory, and more… I guess it just felt like they were going through the motions a little bit.

A: Yeah in a lot of ways that’s exactly what they were doing. If performing live is such a god damn chore for her [Hope Sandoval, Mazzy Star frontwoman], why bother?

H: I almost feel like nobody told her that you can just make a record and not go on tour to support it. I have to wonder if the fact that Portland was the very first show of the tour might have affected it, but apparently Seattle didn’t get much out of her, either.
I get the whole “shy, semi-reclusive musician” thing, but I’ve seen a handful who have seemed grateful to get up there. Why perform, if you don’t want to? In the end, I feel sorta bad for everyone else. You and I got in free to cover it, but what about the people who paid like $40 after fees for that performance? How would you feel if that’s what you got for a show that spendy? I know it isn’t that spendy, but $40 is a fair chunk to spend on a ticket at the Crystal Ballroom, and in Portland in general, unless it’s the Schnitz or the Rose Garden or whatever.
A few days on, I feel like I wasted my time. I kinda feel bad for the people who walked out saying, “I’m never going to see that money again,” and now have a bad taste in their mouth about such wonderful, beautiful music.

A: I saw some pretty bummed expressions. And when I wandered over to all ages, people near me were spouting kinda pissed off things like, “Oh yeah let’s play another slow one”, but that was like somebody who was just a douchebag unfamiliar with them.

H: I’ll admit, the bulk of their oeuvre is unfamiliar to me, but I still know the score. It’s not as though they’re a very dynamic band, sonically speaking. They made/make blissed out dream pop. Of course they’re gonna play another fucking slow one.
What could have been better about the show? Would you see them again, after that?

A: I don’t really feel like I would see them again except if it was in a more intimate venue like the Aladdin or the Doug Fir.

H: Was that a weird case of the opener being somehow more interesting to watch than the headliner?

A: It was kind of a very stark contrast, but I appreciated it for not dragging out the monochrome.
As for what could have been better, certainly a show like that could have felt perhaps more powerful among fewer people … for how intimate that music is the space did not suit it and it wasn’t a matter of sound or anything, i thought the sound was actually pretty good where I was. Things sounded pristine. Or, as you think, almost too pristine. What was positive – i loved hearing the harmonica playing live.

H: Oh my, the harmonica made me swoon.
I’ve never had a problem with pristine, but the issue I took was that it sounded like it was a straight-up recording, if I closed my eyes. I guess, it wasn’t that it was pristine, it was that it was a little too… lifeless, maybe?
I don’t know if “lifeless” is the word, but it felt like they were just playing the notes and singing the words, instead of actually feeling them. Like I said: going through the motions.

A: I.E. pristine: don’t play the semantics game, if it sounded like the record then it sounded pristine and you had a problem with it sounding like the record.

H: Fair. I just wanted a little more mud, I guess. I didn’t want a carbon copy by a band that wasn’t really even interested in making the copy.

A: Yeah, true, it was carbon copy. Honestly though her nerves are probably at fault, because she can’t deal with improv. I thought they looked into some very swayable grooves at times. It’s definitely a wanderlust sound though; I told David [Sexton, friend of the show] they evoked the claustrophobic feel of a desert at night.

H: I can kinda see that, actually. That’s a very interesting way to put it.
When it comes down to it, I don’t feel like it was a BAD show, just disappointing. The music was fantastic, but unremarkable in its execution.
I’ll look forward to reading reports from other shows on this tour. I’d feel bad if they played a complete tour like that, with Sandoval never getting the steady footing to put on a really, really good show every night, or at least enjoy it.

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