I saw this show one week after this one and the Big Sur experience was better but the San Francisco setlist was easily the greatest live music performance I’ve ever seen.

Musicfest Northwest is going on right now. While the event had a serious change in presentation last year, it wasn’t until this year that the nature of the change become so apparent to me.

MFNW used to be an annual collection of shows in the greater Portland area. All through town, any bar or venue or really room that had some combination of a stage and PA would be filled all day and night for a weekend.

It was massive, and probably a massive headache, but I saw some fucking incredible shows in the few years I attended. Future of the Left, Okkervil River, Lucero, and countless punk bands that made summer treks up and down the left coast. It was a very Portland festival.

Now, MFNW is a shit show hosted on Portland’s waterfront, with a shit ton of vendor tents sandwiched between two stages. It could be anywhere. The bands have no particular resonance or relationship to one another, other than that they play other similar festivals around the fucking world.

Portland has other (better) waterfront music festivals. MFNW was a way to participate in the zeitgeist without actually being in a place with a shit-ton of festival culture douchebags. This is how Portland has always been: subcultures coexisting in harmony but relatively separate.

Now it’s, “Throw everything at the water, call in a couple corporate sponsors and watch the cash flow.” Everything about Portland is changing to this way, and people can call it change or what happens but I’m going to call it what it is: Bullshit selling out for gold.

New sound art piece “Anniversaries”

So 20 months ago I took my last drink. Not forever. But for the past 20. And at least the next four. Knock on wood, and all.

I used to try and write a post on the anniversary of each month, but to be honest, after 60 days of not drinking it gets pretty easy. Now most of my thoughts are about how far to take this little experiment in keeping alcohol as a vice at bay.

Either way. These days I try and find different mediums to have these sorts of conversations in.

Under The Stars


Suburban Crime Music

Somewhere between my bathtub and the basement and this small shack behind my mom’s house outside Seattle, armed with my Strat, a delay pedal, a busted 30-watt amp, an iPhone and a four-track, I wrote and recorded an album. It’s called Suburban Crime Music and you can find out more about it here. (You can also open the stream in a new window at Soundcloud.)

This is a strange project for me, one I’ve been toying with mentally for a long time, but only in spring did I really start jumping in to playing extensively. These finished pieces are more finely-constructed versions of sessions I would play in my living room as a form of anxiety relief.

Download the album right here.

(It may show up in your MP3 library under Obstrepitum or Colin Smith, depending on how your software reads ID3 tags.)

(If you don’t understand what that means, congratulations, you probably didn’t get thrown into as many walls in high school as I did.)