Sep 2018 07

The Paris Theatre, Portland, OR
Friday, 08/10/2018 – Sunday, 08/12/2018
 

 

ReGen Magazine was privileged to be named a co-sponsor of this year’s PIGFest 3.0 in Portland, OR. Showcasing some of the Pacific Northwestern industrial and goth scene’s finest musical talents, this third installment of the regional festival was an event not to be missed, with bands like 16volt, H3llb3nt, God Module, Unter Null, Particle Son, Murder Weapons, Dead Animal Assembly Plant, Die Robot, and more! In a special contribution from writer John Glabach, along with some accounts from Dawn Woodkill of Murder Weapons and the members of Photona, ReGen Magazine is proud to present this firsthand account of PIGFest 3.0!

 

Part 1: An inside look at pulling off a music festival

 

What does it take to put on a festival like the Portland Industrial Gothic Festival? This year, I had the opportunity to get an insider’s view of the process as I was invited by Eric Powell (16volt, H3llb3nt) to help promote the festival and join the band for rehearsal, setup, and performances. Let me just say that what I learned first and foremost is if you do not have a passion for creating and performing music, do not even begin to try to make it as a musical artist. A festival like this comes down to an idea, a ton of work, months of constant pent up stress about building an audience, followed up by building tension the day of the show, and a lot of hurry up and wait… all for the privilege of playing a 30 minute to one-and-a-half-hour set in front of a crowd and hope it was well received.

The music industry is not for the weak or those who give up easily.

My Thursday arrival in Portland began with a bonejarring bang. The pilot slammed the plane down on the runway with authority. (Wham!!!) – Welcome to Portland. Next up, any music fan’s dream – I was picked up curbside by the guys from 16volt and whisked away for breakfast at Mystique, the strip club. I thought, ‘Oh man, rock star life! Here we go, and I hope I am up for this.’ That thought rapidly dissolved. Funny; there was only one dancer for the morning shift and she pretty much gave up halfway through her first song. It just didn’t seem like people were in the mood for much more than breakfast. Who’d have guessed? After a healthy dose of bacon, eggs, and hash browns, the work began. It was 11:30am and so far, the band had a couple of critical missing parts. Dave Sussman was stuck in Vegas trying to get a flight to Portland. Meanwhile, John ‘Servo’ DeSalvo’s electronic drum pads for H3llb3nt had apparently been routed from Newark, to Kansas City, to Austin, to pretty much anywhere but Portland. The drum pads were arriving at 2:30pm and the guitarist at 5:00pm. Rehearsal was scheduled to begin at 3:00pm and go until 7:00pm. So, change of plans. H3llb3nt would rehearse first since Dave was only playing one song with that group and 16volt would have to wait until after 5:30pm. The only downside: Servo would have to air drum his parts since there were not drum pads. If anyone was up to pulling it off with that kind of practice, Servo was.

We arrived at the home of Jason Moore, the drummer for Dead Animal Assembly Plant, who graciously loaned us his basement rehearsal space and was letting 16volt use his drumkit for the show. The awesome teamwork between bands was wonderful to see. H3llb3nt rehearsal went well and after two run throughs, it seemed the group had things down; impressive considering everyone had been practicing solo. Dave finally arrived around 6:15pm with the drum pads and the pleading with Jason for a little more time began. With a nervous look and a little pacing, Jason conceded and agreed to let us irritate his neighbors until 8:00pm. By the way, if Mike Rowe ever quits doing narration, Jason could totally pick it up and no one would know the difference; he’s got that radio ready voice.

16volt rehearsal was loud and crowded in the small rehearsal space. The 95 degree heat in Portland made for a smoky, sweaty, smelly rehearsal. 8:00pm became 8:15pm, and the guys finally wrapped it up. Equipment moved outside to be packed up and a frisbee game broke out in the middle of the neighborhood streets courtesy of Steve Hickey, the bassist who just always has energy. We loaded the five of us, three guitars, a bass, a keyboard, keyboard stand, and drum pads into a Jeep Patriot and maneuvered our way to find sustenance. Please don’t ask how all that gear fit because that magic trick will not be repeated. Dinner rolled in around 9:15pm and we found a Thai place that stayed open until 9:30pm, just in time for some phenomenal and much needed food. Odd how the wait staff seemed a little impatient with us.

The accommodations for the festive weekend included a couch, air mattress, and a trundle bed. After watching half of a thrilling movie called Downsizing, we chose our fates, and everyone passed out knowing two long days were ahead. Thanks Steve for choosing a movie that would all convince us sleep looked exciting.

 

Friday, day one of the festival arrived. After I cooked the band some greasy skillet breakfast eggs, we prepared for the day. We needed to pick up a U-Haul and go get the backline that we rented for the weekend and get to the Paris Theatre by 1:00pm for setup. From my perspective, things seemed to run incredibly smooth. The most complex part of the load in seemed to be navigating the 15 couches that were being stored stage front and wouldn’t move out until closer to doors. Probably the most exciting part for me was discovering the location where I returned the U-Haul was a popular location for some of Portland’s wildest homeless. A few nervous minutes praying my Uber would arrive soon passed with only a few wild screams, thankfully, none of which came from me, and it was back to the Paris Theatre.

Soundchecks for the headliner and opener went well and a couple other bands also were able to complete unplanned soundchecks. Things seemed very well under control by 3:30pm and doors weren’t until 7:00pm. I was impressed with how everyone arrived ready to do their part. I caught the same spirit and jumped in and assisted wherever needed. We found time to pursue coffee and get some walkaround time. The pent up ‘ready to perform’ energy was building in everyone except Dave – he appears always even keel in every situation. Hell, I even had that frustrated energy and I was just an observer. Unfortunately for me, my introvert reared its ugly head and I shied away from chatting up more of the bands and truly taking advantage of the opportunity I had in front of me.

6:45pm arrives, the couches are still dominating front stage, and the security and bar crew were slowly strolling in to help start setup. I figured the schedule was a bust and doors wouldn’t even open until 8:00pm, but these people were seasoned professionals. Rapidly, the place transformed from a furniture storage warehouse into a beautiful top-notch venue with hardly a 10 minute delay. Photona took to the stage just three minutes late and was welcomed by an eager crowd who arrived early. What an opener! Photona drove energy into the crowd with a crisp, clear 30 minute set that threw out a challenge to every band following them.

The curated bands for PIGFest drew out an eclectic crowd that covered every spectrum of the goth/industrial scene. There was of course an ocean of black, but there were nuances within that sea –cybergoths in full costume, brightly colored mohawks, people dressed to the nines, riveters, the old guard, and the new young crowd carrying the scene forward were all represented. There were even guys in white polo shirts who looked like they just got there from work. All were welcome, and all were greeted with friendly smiles and conversation. One of the great parts about music festivals is the bands are typically fans of other bands and they stay around; they interact with the audience and socialize. Try going to the larger festivals like Lollapalooza and getting that experience. First off, it’d cost you a fortune and second, the bands would be annoyed to have to talk to fans. At PIGFest, the bands genuinely appreciate their fans and interact with them. Conversations flowed throughout the evening and so many incredible stories were shared. The same was true among fans – a quick comment about a person’s shirt led to extended conversations about how they got into this type of music and what bands they were there to see; such a great environment.

H3llb3nt was going on around 10:45pm with four bands to follow. Each band member dealt with their stress and pent up energies differently. Servo pretty much drummed along to the bands and everything in site was eligible to be treated as a drum. Steve ate tacos, ate pizza, ate more tacos, and then he and I went for a walk and explored the incredible Powell Book Store, which has four stories worth of every book imaginable. Steve apparently explored the porcelain exhibit there as there’s just something about venue bathrooms that… well, you know… makes things more challenging. So, with that out of the way, we sauntered back to the venue in time to catch Punish Your God before H3llb3nt went on. The band disappeared to get ready and I found a space on the floor to enjoy the show. Zach Wager proved his prowess as an amazing front man and had the crowd riled up and dancing. He left for an instrumental piece that had the entire place dancing and it pretty much stayed that way the rest of the night.

H3llb3nt took to the stage as the curtains opened. The LED screen in the back created the perfect environment for what the band had planned. The video production was synched flawlessly with the music and bathed the band in dark shadows masking their actual personas. The thundering bass rattled teeth both from Hickey’s bass guitar and Servo’s electronic drum pads. The set was very well received by the crowd and many new H3llb3nt fans were spawned that evening. After the set, the band took to the outdoor patio and the couches to catch a smoke and breathe a sigh of relief. They were visibly relaxed and happy to have the set over and done. Hickey went for more tacos. I moved in and out to catch some of the God Module set. The evening wound on and I found myself talking with Servo about his touring life, the bands he was in, and some of the insane antics that happened. One of the great things about listening to a Servo story is seeing him act them out; his stories require some space, and everything has potential to be used as a prop or become a stage. The guy is just packed with energy and has incredible stories to tell. He needs to write a book, but that’s a whole different article.

Day one ends, and the crowd reluctantly flows out of the venue lingering outside for one more conversation and to capture some cherished merch. It has always bothered me that musicians must sell T-shirts to make money from their music… just seems so backwards. It’s 2:30am, everyone is exhausted, and the guys comment about how nice it is to not have to pack up tonight since they can leave everything set up for tomorrow. Off to Eric’s home for some much needed sleep in a cramped space.

 

Day two doesn’t really arrive until about 10:30am. We wake up, argue over who gets to shower first, and discover we have completely used up Eric’s stash of toilet paper. Off to a local breakfast shop for a late brunch and it’s time to trudge back to the Paris Theatre. Eric received a call while we were eating, and we learn no one has a key to the Theatre. Load in begins in 15 minutes and we are keyless; problem one for day two was just discovered. We make our way down to the Theatre and find there’s really nothing we can do but console the bands and reassure them someone is on the way with a key… we just weren’t sure who that was yet. Around 2:30pm, the hero arrives with the key and in we go. The Saturday bands discover the sea of couches blocking the way to the stage and find their paths to navigate their gear up.

Today is a more complex setup as Friday was pretty much all electronic. Today, the bands will be heavy on live drums and live guitars; soundcheck will be more complex. Adrian, who is also performing tonight, navigates the soundboard and works to troubleshoot gremlins, which seemed to arrive in the sound system overnight. 16volt’s soundcheck was long and complex; the ultimate cause ended up being the extended stage and the overhead speakers being set too far back for it. Once those were cut out, the audio dramatically improved and things started to properly roll. The bands figured out how to handle changeovers and two drumkits were prepared on stage. Being a pessimist, I assumed changeovers would be brutal tonight and the schedule would be shot. Once again, I was proven wrong and things flowed quite close to schedule – the art of those changeovers and how the prior band respectfully hurries to get their gear torn down immediately after finishing while the next band sets up in the same breath.

The crowd, perhaps a little hungover from Friday night was a bit slower to arrive, but by the time Murder Weapons went onstage, there was a solid audience ready for the second night of festivities. Dead Animal Assembly Plant (DAAP) pretty much blew the doors off the Paris Theatre with one of the more intense and lively performances I have seen in a long time. The insanity just grew and grew through the band’s far too short 30 minute set.

The guys seemed a little more on edge tonight. 16volt was headlining and certainly, this is their baby; this is the big event for them. The band members disappeared more and quite honestly, I was engrossed in the bands more this evening anyhow. Adrian H and the Wounds brought a completely different feeling to the venue after following DAAP. His set brought a darker, deeper feeling with a groove that gets into your soul.

The crowd packed in for Unter Null with a set that was very well received. At the close of Unter Null, the ocean of people flowed out for a smoke break and fresh air. I swam upstream to get a good spot and to see what the 16volt guys were going through for changeover. Quite honestly, it probably went too smoothly as the crowd wasn’t ready for another phenomenal act. However, as Derrek called with the word that 16volt was ready to rock, the crowd worked its way in. The guys did what the guys do, delivering a powerful set that was an unrelenting mix of older favorites and new material from the new Dead on Arrivals EP. With every song, the crowd got more and more into it. Of course, the evening ended with ‘The Cut Collector.’ I’ve never seen Eric close without that song… I can understand why – it’s a great live song. That sense of relief was even more visible in the band that night; they flowed to the patio as the audience worked its way out and grabbed a drink to relax. Everyone was refusing to leave, and the conversations went on and on much to the bartender’s delight.

Around 2:30am, we and the other bands began to realize we need to do tear down. This was the last evening for the H3llb3nt and 16volt crew, so that meant packing everything up. We tore down drumkits, cables and wires, merch, and guitars, carefully packing everything away for transport outside to the curb for pickup. We ended up loading the Jeep double parked in the street out in front of the Paris Theatre as the throngs of drunks from other venues, etc. flowed through the city, many finding their way into the never ending Voodoo Donut line for a late night treat. The Jeep was completely full of gear and we ended up having to take an Uber back to Eric’s home to unload all the gear there. Sleep finally arrived around 4:00am.

 

At 10:30am, I ended up having to wake up Servo and Dave as they were supposed to grab an Uber to the airport at 11:15am for their planned 1:15pm flight. My flight wasn’t until 3:30pm so I had a little extra time. Eric and I grabbed breakfast and chatted over old times and his ties to WaxTrax! and the challenges 16volt went through of always being just on the edge of making it and the same struggle other bands face of getting, building, and sustaining an audience.

Finally, it was time for me to return to reality and fly home. I caught my Uber to the airport, worked my way through security, and headed towards my gate. I found Servo and Dave still at the airport now trying to hop on a 2:35pm flight to Chicago as they missed their 1:15pm flight. Ah, the life of a rock star.

 

By John Glabach (JGlabach)

 

 

Part 2: Testimonials

 

Thanks to the efforts of Derek Moore, Eric Powell from 16Volt and H3llb3nt, and a fun filled three night extravaganza of gothic and industrial bands from the Pacific Northwest, PIGFest 3.0 was a resounding success! With Adrian H running sound with the help of Particle Son’s Jared Scott, everything was organized and executed smoothly. All of the bands were helpful and courteous to work with, creating a truly communal and cooperative vibe. It was also so encouraging to talk to folks in the crowd, the musicians sharing in the audience’s excitement and appreciation for this event. People flew in from Canada and all across the United States to experience this fantastic Portland festival. I can truly say that PIGFest 4.0 is awaited with great anticipation!

 

By Dawn Woodkill (DWoodkillMW)

 

 

Portland is a funny place. With one of us having been born and raised here, another here since 1990, we’ve seen so many changes and mass gentrification over the years that it is nearly always disheartening. Where is our town?

Enter PIGFest – a festival for the Portland Industrial Gothic music scene, and that it was… but it was also so much more. It was incredible band after incredible band. It was pure community, acceptance, and support for one another. It was a celebration of self-expression through music and art; reciprocal (and loud!) crowds, bands supporting one another, outside gatherings between sets, and new relationships being forged out of mutual respect.

This is Portland. It showed us that it is still here; the nugget of community, the expression, the comradery of similarly minded but distinctly individual people. We can’t stress the community feeling enough. This festival needs to keep going. It was expertly organized and promoted, and the stage manager was phenomenal with all of the wrangling he had to do.

For our part, Photona had a blast, we were honored to kick it off and hope to play again for PIGFest 4.0!

 

By Photona (Photona)

 

PIGFest 3.0
Website, Facebook

God Module
Website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, YouTube
H3llb3nt
Facebook
The Secret Light
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Die Robot
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Photona
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube

16volt
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp
Unter Null
Website, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Adrian H and the Wounds
Website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, YouTube
Dead Animal Assembly Plant
Website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Murder Weapons
Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, Bandcamp, YouTube
Xibling
Facebook, Bandcamp

Strap On Halo
Website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, YouTube
NoLongerHuman
Website, Facebook, Twitter
BL∆KK GLASS
Website, Bandcamp
Devoured by Flowers
Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp
Particle Son
Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Synthwitch
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube

 

Photos by Chamblin Hulslander – courtesy of PhotoSlavery Photography

 

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