I headed out just before 2 and took the familiar walk to the show. I could hear some heavy rock playing as I walked down the hill, and it just drew me into the InTENT. Violette Ultraviolet were on and rocking hard. Their sound was fluid and flowing and ferocious rock at the same time. It’s like they found a jam and worked it up to metal speed and let it drift back to a gentle whisper. With guitar, bass, and drums, the sound could be anything, but mostly it rocked. After their last song, they said something about Violette Ultraviolet coming up next, minus one member. I was confused, but thought it was time to see Jane Boxall in the main tent.
I walked over intently, but my timing was off. Andy Lugo was still onstage, singing and playing acoustic guitar. The song I heard had a good clip to it, and his voice was strong. I liked what I heard, but realized that I was missing some rock and roll.
I went back to the InTENT and Violette Ultraviolet were onstage with a different bass player. He looked familiar, from the last time I saw them. Their songs were more structured and song oriented than the other version of the band, but still had the huge ebb and flow to the songs. They were kind of like a pop rock band that could jam, and bring it up to metal intensity, or let it fall into delicate passages. The songs could go on forever, or be tightly played. They were really fun, and it will be great to see them more the next time I can.
When they wrapped up, I headed to the OmnipoTENT for Jane Boxall and friends. Jane was playing pop songs on the marimba. She sang with a quirky delightful voice and I was intrigued. Soon after I was in and sat down, it was a mellow show, she brought up Miriam Bernardo. She sang the next song with her wonderfully resonant voice and captivated the small but appreciative audience. When that wrapped up, Jane brought Kat Wright to the stage, but did not let Miriam go quite yet. She said it was a special day for Miriam and began to play Happy Birthday. Kat joined in and so did the audience, at the end. Miriam looked so delighted. Jane began playing, and used the marimba to create a full musical sound that caught all the needed parts of the song. Kat sang the sad and lovely, Love Is A Losing Game with elegance and grace. Next up Jane brought Raph Worrick to the stage. He sang one of his songs, Let’s Complain, then a song by Massive (marimba) Attack. From there Jane played three more before calling it a show. Her music was wonderfully played, whether using two mallets, four mallets or even six at one point. Her stage presence was delightful and it was a really fun show. Even the sound of a ferocious rock band in the background (Mickey Western and the Rodeo Clowns), that wanted to drag me away, didn’t.
I hung out for a bit, and bought an EP. I chatted with Caroline O’Conner for a moment but heard another rock band start up. I ran for the InTENT and Vetica were letting it rip. They are a four-piece, two guitars, bass drums, with one of the guitar players singing. The music was fast and loud and short and fun. Their catchy riffs got me dancing from the moment I arrived until the last note. It felt odd, with the rest of the small audience hanging back and sitting, but I could do nothing but rock out when they were playing like that. After last year’s Precipice, I had a song stuck in my head for a month or so. It was one of theirs and they played it third or fourth. I can still hear it now.
When they wrapped up, I took the short stroll to the CoexisTENT for Monoprix. With Brett Hughes on guitar and two microphone vocals, Tyler Bolles on stand-up bass and Steve Hadeka on drums, they played some very nice music. The pace was a lot slower than Vetica, and some of the songs were very country. They almost lost me in the middle. The playing was sweet, and subtly intense, but I was still in rock mode. Fortunately for me, by the end of the set, so were Monoprix. The second to last song rocked and the closer just tore it up. They woke me from my temporary lull and rocked me hard. Thanks guys!
When they were done, there was some noise coming from the main tent. I wandered over and Serotheft was on stage. With keys, drums, bass and guitar, they played something between jam and EDM. They had a bright, happy sound, but the dance beat did not do it for me.
Back in the InTENT, Bella’s Bartok took the stage. I tried to give them a listen, but the cabaret style music, with a country beat, discordant horns and shouty vocals was a bit chaotic for me. They held a crowd for their whole set, and there were people dancing. I could not find the way into their music, but lots of others did. That’s the great thing about festivals, not all music is for everyone.
I headed back to the OmnipoTENT and waited as Haley Jane and the Primates set up. With a guitar, bass, drums and front woman, they played some low key bluesy delightful songs. The singer was warm and engaging and her eyes could practically have a conversation on their own. She was a delightful host and brought everyone into the songs. They played a bluesy jam that ran through the lime and the coconut, to I don’t know but I’ve been told, while weaving in and out of one way or another. It was lots of fun. The song about the prostitute and the madam was really engaging. The song about being in love and calling all of her love’s family was just great, except that she never told us who Eliza is. It was a great song about the chaotic emotions of being in love. I wanted to stay for every last note, but heard another rock band start, and knew who that was. I wandered towards the CoexisTENT, as the Primates jammed out Aiko Aiko.
Lendway had just started as I wandered in. They had a bit of a rough start as the sound dropped out during Gone With Eraser. The band kept playing, though all you could hear was the drums. The sound man hit a couple of switches, and the amps kicked back in. They finished it up nicely, then had the sound drop in the next song. It came back on its own quickly and was smooth sailing from there. Matt got out the drill for a heavy feedback filled version of Hollywood. Songs like Take Your Gold Away, and You’re Safe With Us, showed they could transform breezy pop into a massive rock song at will. Despite the small glitches, their show was wonderful and filled my heart with joy.
They wrapped up around 7 and I was done. There were a couple of more bands playing, but none who would rock that hard. My body was extremely tired, my mind was over-saturated with music, but my soul was completely delighted, as I took the slow walk home.
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
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
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.