The Metro Gnome

The Gnome's back at ya, following last week's conspicuous absence. An editorial snafu caused the miscue, and the authorities have brought down justice upon the offending parties.

Unfortunately, the authorities left the building when it came time to plan this year's North by Northwest, which last weekend pumped a wee bit of life into the corpse of a city that is Portland, Oregon. Scouring the program guide for recognizable bands, it looked like the lineup for Amateur Night at the Holiday Inn Lounge. There may've been some spectacular finds hidden away, but while Portland has two weekly papers that offered previews, each had less flair for description than a cereal box writer.

Left to his own devices, the Gnome headed out to see the Gimmicks, but your usually trustworthy critic got waylaid into a nearby dive, where whiskey and video poker ate away the remaining hours of opening night. Too bad, because the Seattle punk rockers were one of the few bands who stirred anything vaguely resembling a "buzz" at the fest. Friday night brought hope, fleetingly. The best lineup, featuring a bunch of indie-pop bands such as Tullycraft and Kissing Book, was left to play a pizza joint with a makeshift sound system. Another promising bill, featuring Revolutionary Hydra and Little Champions, got started at 8pm, when most NxNW attendees were praying that their lethargic P-town waitron would pass by their table again so they could place their damned order. Finally, at around 11, Modesto, CA's Fiver took the stage at Satyricon and quickly launched into a spiky set of stoned-out desert rock. Onward the Gnome went, searching for salvation in a converted restaurant called Dante's, where fire licked from torches at either side of the doorway. Through the packed crowd—finally a packed crowd!--Bugs in Amber could be glimpsed, the seven-member crew squished onto a stage and jamming frantically as if intent on continuing the Inferno metaphor. With the last breaths through the flute and the final sway of the violin bow, Bugs in Amber gave way to the usually reliable Idaho, who have a fantastic new album coming out next month and who proceeded to whine about the sound to the point of distraction.

Two closing notes about Seattle bands. First, the Melody Unit played the Weekly's NxNW party late Friday night, as uninspired-sounding as ever, then proceeded to trash the hotel rooms this paper had graciously provided. To confirm how bush league these wanna-be rock stars are, they didn't have the guts to throw the TV through the window, so they opened it a crack and lobbed out the coffeemaker. Keith Moon spits on you, little children. Second, why the hell are you reading this when you should be rushing to the store to buy the new Red Stars Theory EP—untitled, but with a cartoon of a fuzzy blue sheep on the cover—on Touch and Go. Atmospheric, droney, and completely necessary. You betcha!

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