The Best Things We Heard and Saw at MusicfestNW presents Project Pabst

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Best Unfrozen Synth-Pop Gods: Duran Duran

Although the beer lines got absurdly long earlier in the day, I didn't really feel the enormity of the crowd until the transition between Ice Cube and Duran Duran. Seemingly all 10,000 people attempted to traverse from one side of Waterfront Park to the other at the same time, creating a brutal bottleneck around the middle section of the field. By the time I made it out there, I was a bit zoned out, thus I don't have much to say about Duran Duran other than that their massive stage production looked inspired by the virtual reality scenes from The Lawnmower Man. So how about we let the hardcore Durannies handle this one, then?

Karyn Smith: Regarding the setlist and the band—they were on point. Simon's voice was strong, clear, rested; John Taylor's funky bass always astounds me, but I really really paid attention to it yesterday—spot on. Erin and Anna, the backup singers, are essential to the new songs and brought it! Same with sax player Simon Willescroft—he just fits right it, like lead guitarist Dom Brown, who also needs a big shout out. The band has really got their setlist down to a great mix of old and new; "Pressure Off," from Paper Gods, is just an absolute blast to hear and dance to. The "Space Oddity" Bowie tribute had me in tears. "Save a Prayer" was magical.

Scott Dally: Their performance at Project Pabst was great, probably in my top three DD shows based on performance. Nick Rhodes was not there due to personal reasons, so that made a difference style-wise. They were well rested from a mini-vacation as they kicked off the second leg of their North American tour. So they were ready to kill it, and they did. What made the experience itself great was the fact that I was surrounded by friends who would normally not see a Duran Duran show. The fact that they were all around me singing and dancing to all the songs was something special and makes for a concert I will never forget.

P.S. On a side note, festival fans in Portland are generally pretty cool. Seems a lot more assholes in the crowd this time around. Kind of ashamed at many Portland Duran Duran fans. Be nice, man—we are all there to have fun.

Amanda Taplin: After 16 shows, you'd think I'd seen what Duran Duran had to give. There is nothing more that I love than being wrong. As a super Duranie I was particularly concerned about the lack of founding member Nick Rhodes. Known as "the Controller," he is integral to the functioning of the band and it is clear by their performance that they knew that. This has to have been one of the most high energy performances I've ever seen. SIMON HIGH KICKS, BITCHES! That man is almost 60, and is killing the stage with his signature awkward dancing, snarky banter, and pure love of front-manning. Sex sells and I've got cash.

John's bass was funky and loud and on point as always—something he never got enough credit for in the '80s, but there is no denying it now. His interaction with the crowd was full of hot-smug-goofball. The perfect John, in my opinion. Roger is never wrong. Ever. And when meeting him after the show, he was silly and sweet and grateful for our collective hatred of the "selfie," as we had the doorman take our photo. F my hair for having too much fun at the show!

I was in the very front for the first few songs, but the negative vibe from the audience forced me out. As much as I tried to steer the conversation towards mutual love of music, or Duran specifically, or enjoyment of the festival in general, people were catty and on their fucking phones editing pictures and posting on sites while Simon Le Bon was 10 feet from them! He was right there live in person and they missed it because of screen time.

My night got exponentially better when I joined my hubs—who is now regretting that it took him 30 years to see the band; he's a grumpy old man who was seriously impressed—and the group of good friends I had who had gathered together just off to the side. We danced and sang and laughed and they were so happy to see Scott and I see the band, but even more importantly, these "not really, just sorta, I only know the hit songs" fans were stunned by the awesomeness of the show.

Simon sounded great; the energy was extra high as the band knew they had to make up for the absence of Nick; they were fresh off a tour vacation. I'm now suffering from Post-Duran Duran Depression.

Best Bucket Drummer: The One Across the Street from Waterfront Park Playing Along to "Rio"

I don't know what his name was, but he was definitely shining, and showing everyone heading out to their Ubers at the close of Duran Duran's set all he…uh, can.

Courtesy Willamette Weekly

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