Portland’s first winter beer and music festival was a chill scene

the scene-2

In a chilly warehouse at Thompson’s Point, a crowd on Saturday night gathered in hats, coats and gloves to sip beer and rock out to an eclectic roster of local and international talent for the first annual Sunaana Festival.

The vibe was apres ski party meets retro rave. The site’s developer Chris Thompson, dressed in his Nordic finest, assured me that the heat was on. But you wouldn’t know it.

This mega event space, Brick South, just opened, so kinks are still being ironed out. The biggest kink (that few performers seemed to mind) was the heat, or lack thereof. Pity that this music and beer fest arrived on the coldest night of the year. The 55-degree temps a few days back would have made the scene easier to handle. Once overhead fans are installed, the heat will no longer get stuck in the soaring rafters, Thompson promises.

Or did the frigid vibe add to Sunaana’s Icelandic ambiance? It certainly kept the 20-plus beers from Maine, Massachusetts and other locales cold. Though hot toddies might have had more takers.

Maine musicians like Dave Gutter, frontman of Armies, seemed cut out for the ice bar environs. “It’s cold,” said the ski-hat wearing singer after riffing off a strong opener. “I feel so alive.”

His duet partner Anna Lombard put on a brave face as she belted her Amy Winehouse vocals through the hanger-like space. Slipping off a coat, then jacket and settling on a mere t-shirt, as the well insulated crowd cheered their high-energy set, was pure rock ‘n roll.

MAmmut

The stage antics of Katrina Mogensen of Mammut kept the fest lively.

Speaking of impressive, Icelandic art rockers Mammut pulled the crowd from the dark corners of Brick South to the stage for their riveting, deep-winter set. Lead vocalist Katrína Mogensen sounded more like Sinead O’Connor than Bjork while channeling Michael Stipe (circa 1993) in her stagecraft.

Dressed in black with bright red eye shadow and a mussed up tassel of blonde hair, the saucy chanteuse had the crowd eating out of her expressive hands. “Goddess!” “Goddess!” chanted the 20-something females at the foot of the stage as waves of reverb turned the moment into a sonic winter reverie. Playing with her vocals, scatting frantically into the mike and owning the stage like a punk rock sprite, Mogensen made the most of her 30-minute set.

Looking forward to taking a break from Iceland’s “shitty weather,” Mammut must have felt right in their element on this 11-degree night. Though we noticed a visibly chilled Mogensen heading for the exits post-performance.

Scott Sorry, performing before Mammut, delivered a Dropkick Murphys-esque performance (complete with tweed Scally caps). It was loud and lively and went down well with the Oxbow and Gneiss on tap. Between sets, circus performers hung limberly from hoops as crowds gathered to watch and snap photos.

The room was by no means at capacity, which made for a more appealing experience. But if you like piling into the sweaty masses wait for Thompson’s Point outdoor venue to open with UK rockers The xx on May 26. No parkas necessary.

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.