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Dirigimus brings heavy alternative to Old Port Festival

Concert preview/interviews by Kevin Steeves.

Despite the incessant rain and overcast skies that covered Portland last week, the 39th Annual Old Port Fest is still a go, as thousands of tourists and locals flock to the Old Port District to take in the sights and sounds of six stages and the resulting frustration of closed-off streets and chaotic traffic detours.

But what you won’t see taking part in the days festivities are 14 of the cities more independently minded and popular bands; including some who have released some of Portland’s best music in the past two years. Bands such as Heavy Breathing, Whip Hands, Mouth Washington and AWAAS. Those bands will take the stage (and the rooftop) of Mathew’s Pub at 133 Market St. as part of a two day festival curated by the Portland’s Dirigimus music Cooperative.

The Dirigimus Festival is an alternative to the corporate free-for-all of The Old Port Festival and a more accurate representation of Portland’s current musical landscape, according to James Cooper, a member of the cooperative who spearheaded the weekend’s events and vocalist for noise-rock band Heavy Breathing.

“Hell yes I think this fest is one thousand times more representative of what’s going on in the Portland music scene than anything else during [Old Port Festival],” said Cooper. “I mean, that’s the goal really. Old Port Festival has always been kind of a drag musically, and this year we really put together something epic and none of it would be possible if we didn’t have enormous cohesion between all the stray cats and dogs.”

Also playing as part of two day festival is the sinister procession of Portland’s The Coalsack in Crux, who are in the process of recording their as-yet-untitled sophomore full-length album. Leif Curtis, guitarist for The Coalsack in Crux, agreed with Cooper’s sentiment about The Old Port Festival being an incomplete survey of everything the city has to offer.

“So the fest, well, popular for who?” asked Curtis. “Not for anyone who has any interest in any challenging subculture, that’s for sure. Surely, there’s at least a few hundred disenchanted kids — not to mention musicians themselves — who are not having their interests represented because the music they like or perform just doesn’t fit the safe mold that the Old Port fest represents.”

Curtis and the rest of The Coalsack in Crux will perform on the second day of the Dirigimus’ event, at the co-op’s headquarters in Portland, along with the West Coast doom metal veterans Witch Mountain and Lord Dying, a sludge metal foursome from Portland, OR.

The bill for the two-day event is extensive, so we recommend you check-out the event’s Facebook event pages here and here. Sunday’s rock-and-roll rooftop at Mathew’s kicks-off at noon, while Monday’s bill at Dirigimus HQ starts at 9 p.m.