Wow. Last night was a brilliant night of music. I headed out just before 5 and made my way to the field behind the new Burlington College building. I presented my three day pass and got double stamped and arm banded, and headed in to the show. Funbridge were jamming some funky rock in the inTENT, but I briskly walked by, to the OmnipoTENT main stage, to see Swale. They were on and playing a killer version of Cancer. The sound was huge and wonderful and proved a harbinger of the night. For the most part, all of the bands had nice mixes and sounded great. Swale mixed up the pace with a couple of slower songs, but even Waterlanding had more of a rock edge than it sometimes does. They sounded so great, that if felt like an unpardonable sin to leave.
Unfortunately, Anna Pardenki and Her Apologies were playing in the CoexisTENT, and I had to check out her music. I’m not a huge fan of her band VT Joy Parade, but I’ve heard her solo songs a couple of times, and loved them. She was playing acoustic guitar and singing. Her band consisted of an electric guitar player, who had a mellow tone and shaded the songs rather than leading them. Matther Kloss played a killer stand-up bass, and kept the songs rocking. The drummer was solid and steady, and kept the focus on Anna. The first three songs were intricate pop songs with challenging rhythms and were fun to figure out. The next three were more straight forward and let her voice shine gloriously. I loved what I heard and bought her brand new six song EP.
Wave of the Future came on right after, in the InTENT, which was pretty close to where Anna played. They were dressed in matching bright greenish yellow shirts with the band name printed in the back to the future logo. They were full of intensity and enthusiasm and got the crowd rocking. With two singers, one of whom was the wonderful Samara Lark, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard guitar, they wreaked sonic havoc and were lots of fun. The bass player had a grungy rock sound, the guitar player Tim played fluidly with metal intent. The drummer was a wild man who knocked off a cymbal in the first song and used some double bass drum pumping when the songs needed to go over the top. The whole sound was like they were a rap band who played their own instruments, sang shouty growly vocals, instead of rapping, and sounded like a funk metal band playing ‘80’s pop. Whatever the heck they were, it was lots of fun and kept me dancing until the last note.
As soon as they were done, Steady Betty was set to go in the CoexisTENT. The ladies all looked fabulous in shiny sparkly attire. The rock steady music was slow and deliberate and it was impossible not to get your sway on. The casual pace of the music was pushed forward by the intent drumming of Jane Boxall and the rocking bass of Caroline O’Connor. The vocals, about justice and equality, were magnificently performed by Kat Wright and Miriam Bernardo, but the times when Caroline and Linda Bassick joined in, the power was magnificent. It sounded like a chorus of angels.
When their set wrapped up, I was going to check out the main stage to see what I could of Birdie Busch, but Joe Adler and the Rangers of Danger started up on the InTENT, which was just a few hundred feet away. Rather than making the long trek across the field, I just went and listened to Joe and the guys rip it up. With a full band, the Rangers of Danger sounded great. Mainstay Eric Seagalstadt was stunning, as always, on lead guitar. That guy can really let loose. They were joined by the bassist and drummer from the Indomitable Soul band, Samara Lark on backing vocals, a keyboard player, and Bob Wagner on lead guitar. A couple of horn players joined in at times, and Johnnie Day Durand played saw on a couple. There were a couple of slower songs and a couple really got in the groove and rocked. Eric and Bob took turns laying in wicked guitar solos and I was very happy. They opened with Spit N Fire Blues then played a killer rock version of the Mime. Joe Broke a sting, so they followed with a stripped down broken string jam version of Many A Girl. The fourth song, about Brothers and Sisters, caught fire and was my first highlight of the night. That thing just rocked! They followed with a slower blues song about Jersey, then kicked it into full speed for Mirror Mirror. They wrapped the set with a jammed out version of Hungry Like the Wolf, which featured two masked rappers at the end. Fun was had by all.
I went to check out Lynguistic Civilians in the main OmnipoTENT, but their rap did not grab me. I chatted with Kevin Lynman for a bit and we headed back to the CoexisTENT for Magic City, a tribute to Sun Ra. The music was like a mini orchestra playing mellow and extremely intricate outer space love songs. With Michael Chorney on acoustic guitar, a stand-up bass player, drummer, three horn players, a pedal steel player, a cello player, a viola player, and Jane Boxall on marimba, the sound was dense, yet easy and fun to listen to. Miriam Bernardo sang wonderful songs about being an angel from outer space, and the whole vibe was challengingly delightful.
Next it was back to the InTENT for the Skamaphrodites. With guitar, bass, drums, keys, a couple of horns and Dan Bolles singing, they played some fast rocking ska that got the audience going wild. Tyler Bolles and Steve Hadeka kept the rhythms tight, and now and then the guitar would reach out and rip. Dan was dancing to the groove the whole time and was a fun front man. A little ways into the set, the guys and girl from Wave of the Future came up front to dance or mosh or something. Much of the audience followed and the energy level was through the roof. By the last song, it was almost a full on mosh pit and Wave’s bass player ended up doing a little crowd surfing. My highlight was a quick run through of the Duff beer song.
After that fury, I took a stroll over to the main stage OmnipoTENT and caught a song by Kat Wright and the Indomitable Soul Band. They sounded nice, with Kat’s voice soaring. Unfortunately, Blue Button was playing soon, so I did not hang out long.
Eric Olson played with Swale from 5-6:30, then Swale had another gig from 8:30-10:30. He made it back to the Precipice to play with Blue Button when they went on at 11:15. With two guitars, bass drums and vocals, Blue Button played some furious punk rock. Heavy rockers like Fucking Burning Bridges and We’re Closed! were nicely balanced by slower, but no less intense songs like Hit and All the Young Dudes. The sound was very clear and they sounded fantastic. They kept me rocking from first note to last, and were my highlight of night one.
It was late and I was drained but I still had more to check out. I headed towards the main stage when I ran into Brass Balagan. They were playing drums and various brass instruments and were slowly moving from the big tent to the middle of the field. With no amps and power cords to hold them back, their sparkly Christmas lights highlighted their red jumpsuits, and made a gentle spectacle.
After checking them out for a bit, I headed back to the InTENT for Brainscapes. I thought it was just Matt Hagen and Bob Wagner, but they were joined by a bass player and drummer. Everyone played intently but the music was drifty and mutable. They did not play songs as such, but invoked some sonic weirdness. They rhythm section did not lay down a bed for the guitars to play over, but rather each of the four musicians wandered in their own way. At one point Matt coaxed some nice feedback and used a drill over the whammy bar to let the feedback flow. When he turned the drill on, it became really intense. Their set was cool, but I still had one band I wanted to check out.
Playing at the same time, across the field, was Barika. I stopped in for three songs and they were incredibly tight. Rise sounded fantastic, full and alive, and they had the audience dancing gently. They had a bass, drums and several horns and the instrumental songs had a beautiful sweep. I should have stayed longer, but I was ready to drop at that point.
I wandered back for a few more Brainscapes, the slowly walked up the hill to the exit. I saw Matt and Caroline and said good night, see you tomorrow. My body was tired so the walk home was slow and intent. Tons of great music played in my head, and my heart was full of happiness. Two more days of this, eh? I’m ready. Bring it on.