The Precipice Day 2 July 27, 2013   Leave a comment

It was going to be another long day and night of music, so I did not want to get there too early. I looked at the schedule and really wanted to check out Alpenglow. I left a little after three and took the moderate walk to North Avenue, and followed the hill down to the show. I headed for the main stage OmnipoTENT, and Alpenglow was playing. They played relaxed gorgeous songs with an electric guitar player, bass, drummer, singer/acoustic guitar, and a banjo/keys/violin player. The guitarists and banjo player often sang with splendid three-part harmonies. The banjo gave the songs a bit of an Americana feel, but their sound was more of a mellow indie rock sound with a propensity to rock, which they did a couple of times. The audience sat rapt for the show, and towards the end, someone from the audience shouted out to them “you make me feel good”. That really sums them up.

I wandered towards the other two tents, when I heard this huge rock and roll roar. I almost ran to the CoexisTENT and Barbacoa were on stage. The three-piece, guitar, bass, drums band played loud nimble surf rock and got the audience dancing. Bill Mullins, jr.’s guitar playing was spot on and exciting. Kirk Flanagan and Jeremy Fredericks kept the beat driving, and it was fun to give the body a shake. They played a bunch of songs then were set to wrap it up with Paint It Black. The song soared in the middle, then rocked hard into the conclusion. I think they were going to leave after that, but were told they had time for another. They kicked out another blast of joy, and called it a night.

I missed that there was more going on in the non-tent domed structure that they called the TENTacle, and wish I had clued in that Milton Busker was playing at the same time as Barbacoa. I would have liked to check him out, but walking away from Barbacoa would have been hard.

I headed back to the OmnipoTENT and caught a few songs by Maryse Smith. She sang and played acoustic guitar and was joined by Michael Chorney, who also played acoustic. The guitars were quiet and elegant and her super strong voice soared over the top. Her poignant lyrics, about the complexities of relationships, were laid before us, wrapped in the gentle comfort of the guitars. The relaxed sitting audience was quiet and respectful and her music was enjoyed by all.

After her set, I headed out into the hot summer sun, to the InTENT, for Errands. They are a two-piece, singer/keyboards and drummer. The drummer was a wild man who mostly played regular beats to a click track. The keys provided a drone and the vocals drove the melodies. They were kind of like a trance band, who blurred the lines between dance, pop, and rock. Their set had a rocking feel and was lots of fun.

It looked like the Dirty Blondes were set to play next, at the very close CoexisTENT, but it took forever for them to take the stage. Finally, they were set, and lit into a fast, heavy rocking version of Burn. With Becky and Diane singing (and sporting Ornan t-shirts), Eric driving the rhythm with his massive guitar sound, the other guitar player and bass player (whose names I always forget) keeping a fast pace, and Ornan’s full rock drumming, they had a ferocious rock sound. Crybaby had a nice bounce to the rhythm. We, well most of us, did the dance for the Kung Pao. Scorned Woman rocked hard. Hallelujah and Oh Dirty Blondes soared. They followed with a raw and earthy version of drunk. Someone said something about not being in shape, so Diane hit the floor and started doing pushups. She bounced back up and they lit into Slut. The sound was pure rock and roll, and Jackin’ Off, which followed, kept it up. They followed with the song to honor the drummer and explain why a whole host of famous drummers would never be the drummer for the Dirty Blondes. I love Ornan’s Song. They pushed the bounds of good taste, tossing out small packets of white powder while playing Yayo, then ended the set with That New Guy Is Not James Bond. Becky sat back and let Diane sing the first line of each chorus, then joined in, like she was not sure which Bond guy Diane would think of next. They left the stage, but the audience begged for another. They came back for a rousing Too Drunk To Vote and called it a night. I just love the fury when the Blondes play.

I headed back to the OmnipoTENT for the Dupont brothers. Zach and Sam kept switching electric and acoustic guitars, and were joined by Pat on bass (with the distracting hair) and Tim on drums. The songs were mellow countryish bluesy rock. The bass had a throbbing sound, and both guitar players had a fluid style. Sam and Zach sang with tightly perfect harmonies, and the whole sound had a Southern California relaxed rock vibe, until the last song, which revealed itself as a bit of a snarling rocker.

I wandered back towards the other tents. Something With Strings were playing countryish tunes in the CoexisTENT. It was not quite my speed, so I sat a long way back and listened for a while. They sounded nice and played well. I got up to wander, and they lit into a fun version of Act Naturally.

I went back to the OmnipoTENT to see if Ryan Power was ready to go on, but it was a guy and girl playing samples and sonic weirdness. Fat Paul let loose a lot of sound, but it did not do it for me. I headed back to the InTENT to see if Vedora were ready, but they took a long time to set up.

After a bit, Ryan Power and his full band were set to go in the OmnipoTENT. I hung back a ways, and listened to a song or two from afar. They sounded nice, and his oddly timed pop songs were cool, but I was looking for some rock, and I knew Vedora would let it loose soon.

Vedora at the Precipice photo by Sean Altrui

Vedora at the Precipice photo by Sean Altrui

Vedora at the Precipice photo by Sean Altrui

Vedora at the Precipice photo by Sean Altrui

The InTENT, with red backing drapes, looked like it was a set from Twin Peaks. Vedora came on rocking with Terrarium. The new drummer (Charlie?) held his own and kept the songs together, even as Matt tried his hardest to use his guitar to rip them apart. Promises and Basalt Anchor sounded great, then they jammed out some new songs. I think one was called the feeling, and I need to listen to them more, but I really liked what I heard. Caroline’s bass drove the songs, and her singing was delightful, as always. They followed the very new ones, with the newish Sober. It started with some killer guitar work, then slid into the slow grind build that comprises the song. By the end, Matt was calling down the thunder of the gods with his overt the top guitar work. The audience seemed amazed. For the next song, they switched gears with a cover of Careless Whisper. A bolt of energy shook the audience out of its trance. People danced happily as Matt’s brother James rocked the bass and Caroline unleashed the sax. They followed with another new one that had Matt go over the top on guitar. They ended the set in a rain of feedback, and it was just a glorious set of rock and roll.

Vedora at the Precipice photo by Sean Altrui

Vedora at the Precipice photo by Sean Altrui

After really rocking out, I headed to the OmnipoTENT, and kept up the pace as Rough Francis hit the stage. Their songs were somewhere between heavy rock and punk, and sent the crowd into a frenzy. With two guitars, bass, drums and over the top front man, Bobby Hackney jr., they rocked the audience into a full on mosh pit. A cover of New Rose brought out the crowd surfing, before they eased off and merely rocked hard for the next few. They kicked it back into high gear for the closer, and the moshing continued. The band is great, and I cannot say enough about the drummer. That guy rocks so hard, I sometimes think Rough Francis is a drummer and a bunch of guys trying to keep up.

I was totally spent at that point, but really wanted to check out Superhuman Happiness. I wandered aimlessly for a bit and ended up in the TENTacle and caught a few songs by Hana Zara. She played acoustic guitar and sang visceral stories about life. It was easy to follow the story lines as her words and voice painted pictures. She was really intense, and I loved every moment. I heard a band playing and thought it was Superhuman, so I was a bit antsy. I finally ducked out after a song, but when I realized it was someone else, I ran back for the last few. I really enjoyed her show.

As soon as she finished, Superhuman Happiness started up in the OmnipoTENT. They began with a long slow building epic piece of music. After a long ride, it settled into a nice dance groove. They were immensely talented, but the straight up dance music, didn’t compel me. The audience danced happily as I slowly walked towards the exit. At the top of the hill, as I was heading out, I could hear them playing See Me On My Way. It seemed perfectly appropriate, as I took the slow walk home.

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