Editor’s Note: As a decades-long fan of Tears for Fears, SMI photog Mocha Charlie shares a first-person look at what it was like to revisit her favorite band at a recent live show in Portland.
It takes a village to get things done. It takes courage to take your first step. It takes passion in your craft to continue doing what you love. And for myself, it took ONE band to be added to a music line-up that would get me to drive out of my comfort zone (within the city of Seattle) to make the journey to Portland, and that band has been number one on my “must-see” band bucket list for years.
The first band I ever saw live (“cough,”nearly thirty years ago), was Tears For Fears, and I have been longing to see them again ever since. Of course they have toured over the years; however, for one reason or another, the timing for me was never right. So, when the two-day music festival, Project Pabst, announced they’d be bringing TFF to headline their Saturday night event the last weekend in September, I nearly got in the car at that moment and started driving south. I cleared my calendar, and put in my request. I was instantly intrigued at what this festival was all about, because they had booked my favorite band.
Project Pabst was a labor of love. The love of beer, music, and fans of both that could come together and celebrate. The festival took place in the heart of Portland’s South Waterfront District, the 33-acre Zidell Yards is the largest undeveloped site in the city. It was far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area, and with its proximity to transit, and the river, it still maintained its own character. Granted, it was surrounded by chain link fencing, and the ground was dirt and rock (thank goodness the weather cooperated), which gave it an industrial feel, but the layout of the event was fan-friendly and very accessible
The event partnered with the Jeremy Wilson Foundation, whose mission includes being dedicated to providing financial assistance in times of medical crisis and to improving the overall well-being of individual musicians and their families. Wilson was on site at the organization booth at the event, meeting fans, and educating those about the program. They also accepted donations on site, which included a raffle for an acoustic guitar. One dollar of each ticket sold went to benefit the program.
Pre-show ticket sales hovered around the 12,000 mark ( single day or two day passes), and the VIP tickets sold out weeks before the gates opened. The event layout was fully thought out. With numerous PBR tents (obviously), water stations with free refills, a few food trucks, and other food vendors, fans were never far from tantalizing treats. What also made the event more of a party was the “arcade” tent which featured full size games, pinball machines and full bar set ups. Along the river they had Monster Jenga, and bean-bag toss, all of which were consistently being played throughout the day. The distance between the two featured stages was adequate to allow a short walk, and because bands played at alternating times, there was no noise interference.
As for the bands, they were lively, engaging, and relevant to yesterday and today’s music. Despite a few sound hiccups on the smaller stage, they all sounded great, and were in top form. The crowd eagerly awaited each band’s performance, sang along, and cheered throughout sets. Most fans made their way from stage-to-stage to enjoy each performance, leaving a few stragglers throughout, posing with the Pabst 20-foot tall unicorn mascot, and drinking their fare share of $4 PBRs until the main event. . . .
When the lights went dark, signaling that (what I had been waiting for all day) finally, TFF had taken the stage, I actually began to cry. The rush of emotion and memories from my youth flooded back all at once, and upon the first note, I was instantly brought back in time. That is what I expected to happen, I knew it would. For me, music in general resonates such strong emotion, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Playing hits from their catalog, the crowd surely embraced each song, including a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.”
They played 16 songs until the stage went dark. A gentleman turned to me and said, “Well, I guess that’s it.” I replied that there was no way that was it. They still needed to play “Shout.” Sure enough, they returned for one encore song: “Shout.”
Their album, Songs From The Big Chair (’85, certified triple-platinum in the UK and quintuple-platinum in the US) will be re-released on November 10, and will be available in five formats, including a 6-disc deluxe edition box set featuring previously unreleased material and a 5.1 surround-sound mix by Steven Wilson.
From a fan’s perspective, although I only attended the Saturday main location event, I couldn’t see any major problems. It appeared to be adequately staffed, the site was well-maintained, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. As a freshman event for the area, I’m sure it has a learning curve, but with my overall expectations, I was quite pleased. Will this be a yearly event? It may be too soon to tell. Will I make the drive again? I’m currently updating my “must-see” band bucket list. So, you never know.