Review: 48 Hour Music Festival

Music Seen
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 10, 2010

With a roster of 27 diversely talented local rock musicians, you walk into an event like the 48 Hour Music Festival — the culmination of two days of practice and construction of 20-minute sets by six spontaneously generated bands — expecting the unexpected (see "Random Rules," by Christopher Gray, March 5). But still: there's no way to truly steel yourself for a few of the spectacles on hand Saturday night at SPACE. Like, the sheer surrealness of seeing Zen Ben play oboe in the Eric Brackett Music Group, or Katherine Hulit (freestyle?) rapping her way through the Clöven Dözer's dank metal chords, or — most blessedly of all — witnessing Portland's only slightly ironic answer to Sade, in the form of ROY G. BIV (named for the colors of the rainbow).

Even the more conventional acts weren't quite nestled in any specific genre. Sister-ita, which seemed to be the consensus favorite of the night (though every band had their partisans), evolved from a rock band tweaked out by Casey McCurry's contrapuntal synth work into a juiced-up new-wave dance/rock act over the course of a few songs. Vaxxene (excellent singer Gina Brown wrapped up their set by saying, "You've just been Vaxxeneated!") found creative ways to get around their lack of a drummer, with a two-keyboard approach to the fanged doo-wop of "Devil's Reef," and taunting military ratatats on edgier rock tunes. Stoner band Jefferson Slaveship, with another great female singer (a theme of the night), Katie Gilchrest, peppered their big sound with Noah Defilippis's eager drum rolls.

Magnetic oddness prevailed among the night's other acts. The Eric Brackett Music Group, fundamentally warped by the aforementioned oboe show, were otherwise a fine minimalist post-rock group, thanks to Brackett's mastery of the taut, lethargic time signature. It'll take the polished live recording to decipher what exactly was going on with the shamanistic Clöven Dözer. Ultimately, it was ROY G. BIV who stole many of our hearts, with MPC- and drum-machine-driven slow-jam beats, the odd cello/slide guitar/dance interlude, and the sultriest and most brilliant hook of the night, courtesy of singer Ginette Labonville: "I want to text you all night long." Justin Timberlake: your next session band has arrived.

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