[Above: Portland Fest participants. Photo by Localcut.]
Today's Portland dayshow might have been the better showcase of CMJ, what with its free coffee and infinite weirdness. Portland's is the only scene strange enough to make Baltimore look sane, and the three floors of the Knit were crammed with one deeply odd act after another: there was Rob Walmart, who performed out of a converted ice cream truck parked on Leonard Street; Tenlons Fort, a hefty, nerdy looking fellow who sings heartrending R&B over homemade backing tracks, and Starfucker, whose two synths-two drum sets-three samplers-fifteen pedals-a four-track-two guitars and a turntable setup is one of the most elaborate this correspondent has ever seen.
But the best band of the day was Hailey, Idaho-based Finn Riggins, a guitar, synth and drum combo that plays pulsating, anxious post-punk that has an arrestingly ramshackle quality to it. Their sound is simultaneously full and stripped-down: there's very little looping and no reverb; only labyrinthine songwriting and epic, often ecstatically-shouted choruses. They were kind enough to give me a demo to review; unfortunately I set it down at the showcase's free coffee bar and didn't realize this until I returned to my apartment uptown.
Listening to their Myspace was like getting a swift kick in the gut: much to my horror, I learned that I had just misplaced one of the best records of the year. So for the love of God, Finn Riggins, if you're reading this, please send me another copy of A Soldier, A Saint an Ocean Explorer. Reviews will be nothing if not hyperbolically good.