EARLIER THIS MONTH, while experiencing a slightly less than enthusiastic response from the crowd at the Crocodile, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss of Quasi proclaimed Seattle music fans to be jaded and boring, and declared Portland to be where the real fun takes place. They might have a point, especially considering the upcoming Alternative Independent Music Festival (AIMFest) set to take place Saturday, August 28 -- rain or shine -- in downtown Portland right under the Hawthorne Bridge. When was the last time a Seattle music festival featured such thrilling events as a Badger Catch or a Cardboard Box Crawl?

Though it's been MIA for the last four years, Portland's AIMFest was always one of the most anticipated music events of the season. First organized by Snipehunt magazine's Kathy Malloy, and then by Pond's Dave Tweibwasser, AIMFest was a true independent music festival by every definition, featuring indie bands and no corporate sponsors. Were such a festival to take place in Seattle, one could imagine organizers throwing a Goodness or a Harvey Danger on the bill to ensure a heavy turnout, and of course KCMU or the End would become involved in some way. Not so with AIMFest, whose most high profile band this year is Sunset Valley, currently signed to Chicago's Sugar Free label.

In addition to Sunset Valley, this year's lineup includes P-Town's own version of the Melvins, the Heavy Johnson Trio, as well as Sean Croghan (Crackerbash, Junior High), Mandarin (featuring Steve Burch from Sprinkler and Pond vocalist Chris Brady), Sara Dougher (Cadallaca, the Crabs), Braille Stars (solo project of Gilly Hanner, formerly of Calamity Jane and No. 2), Jeremy Wilson (Dharma Bums, Pilot), and others. Fun and games include a one-handed rope climb and tours of the haunted, shadowy corner, as well as a crying competition, electromagnetic wave sculpture contest, the paper towel toss, and everybody's favorite, the house cat petting zoo.

Rain or shine, it's gonna be hot.

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