What Was Sound: The Noble Underdog of PNW’s Festival Season

Thousands of festivals have been done by now. New events typically end up unorganized, at the hottest part of the summer, or the set times schedules are conflicting. However, What Was Sound conquered nearly every possible issue I had cataloged in my mind. It was a mild weathered afternoon in the crux of Portland spring, but the sun was bright and shining. One large stage was perfectly centered in the middle of the city on the waterfront with plenty of room to watch or lounge and a shaded VIP lounge— minimalism at its best.

Conveniently and promptly starting at two in the afternoon, Jujuba set the tone with experimental jazz, enticing spectators to dance.

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Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats
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Fruit Bats
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Fruit Bats

“We are experiencing some technical profiencies”.

El Ten Eleven‘s mathy electronic peeled away layers of reality and exposed my mind to the innards of ambient jazz. The duo- Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty- were the perfect soundtrack to a dying sun.

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Kristian Dunn of El Ten Eleven
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Kristian Dunn of El Ten Eleven
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Tim Fogarty of El Ten Eleven
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Kristian Dunn of El Ten Eleven


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Woods created serene landscapes of sultry vocals that could only be described as a modern passionate Phil Collins.




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Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV

DIIV  casually walked on stage while an intimately-sized group of people crowded around. Lead guitarist Zachary Cole Smith was cracking hilarious jokes and everyone on stage seemed to be in great spirits. The band played through most of Is The Is Are, their latest full-length album. Cole continued the playful banter in between songs while striking a few notes when I was stopped dead in my moshing tracks. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine DIIV to play “Oshin”, a song I have had on repeat for weeks and from their first full-length. It was beautiful, raw, pure, and dark. Their entire set was a timeless work of art I will never cease to forget.