I had a great time seeing music at The Precipice: A Vermont Music Festival last night. If Friday showcased dance bands, last night was more rock and roll.
Around 4 I hopped into the car, drove to Shleburne and picked up my brother Ken. We headed back to the festival and arrived just before the first band went on.
We settled in and The DuPont brothers took the stage. They played as a four-piece with Zack on electric guitar, Sam on acoustic, Rob Morse on stand up bass and Dan Davin (?) on drums. They have a smooth easy style about them, but rocked out at times. Sam sang most of the songs and when he and his brother sang together, they blended wonderfully. They sang songs about waiting (Seven Days), astral travel when sleeping (1,000 Years Old), and stuff like that. They did a nice job blending mellow tunes with some songs that really rocked. The last song of the set was the fastest and it was quite fun.
I turned 180 degrees, and Osange Orange started right up. A synth growl began then the band kicked in with some down tempo indie rock jangle pop. The four-piece, guitar/vocals, keys, bass, drums, played politically charged songs that had a bit of rock to them. There was one song that compared ice melting directly to air with not being there in a relationship anymore. I thought that was a great metaphor, and a really good song. Their set was strong and mellow at the same time. I had a great time for every moment.
When they wrapped up, Barbacoa hit the other stage and kicked things into high gear. Their dark surf rock instrumentals are fun to dance to. Bill Mullins guitar work was killer, as always. Kirk Flanagan’s bass was locked in with Jeremy Frederick‘s drumming, and every song was a fun work out. They played a killer version of Trans Am, tossed in covers like Goldfinger, and Paint It Black, and tempted the weather gods with Gorilla Monsoon. The weather was grey with dark clouds, and just a mist of rain at one point, but generally perfect. That said, you don’t really have to tempt fate do you? Either way, the set was fun as always. They are such pros, it’s always great to be in their presence.
After their set, Duke Aeroplane and The Wrong Numbers took the stage. Well dressed in suits, the six-piece had a full cabaret rock sound. With guitar, bass, drums, keys/vocals, sax and trumpet player, the piano seemed to lead the way and the band filled in the rest of the sound. It was cool to see Matthew Kloss play electric bass, since I usually see him play stand up. I liked their set, but was hungry, and since the music was not going to stop, we took some time to get food and mingle a little. While wandering the grounds, I could hear the band fairly well, and I really liked them, even if I was distracted.
Up next Zack DuPont returned to the stage with his old band Japhy Ryder. They have played around town for a long time, but last night was the first time I saw them play. The six-piece with two drummers, guitar, bass, keys/trumpet, and trumpet player, jammed out some funky beats with occasional builds. Zack’s guitar playing was sweet, articulate, and smooth. They had the audience dancing and people seemed to have a great time. A couple of the songs rocked a bit and were fun. They wrapped up the set at twilight, then it was time to turn to the next stage, again.
Maryse Smith sang and played acoustic guitar, and was joined by Michael Chorney,,also on acoustic. I think her set was the same that she played at Radio Bean on Tuesday, except for dropping Good Thing and following 15 Steps with Liar. She has a great voice and a nice flow to her songs. She will just play some nice music, then drop it into a gorgeous chorus driven by her commanding voice, and that seems to happen on almost every song. Her guitar playing is nimble, but having Michael weave in and around her playing was pretty fantastic. After finishing with Liar she was told she had time for one more. She played a sweet version of Good Thing, and called it a night. One of her new songs, Orlando, is quickly becoming a favorite.
Another 180 turn brought me to an even happier place. Swale hit the stage with Joyless. It started slow and poignant then built and built until it was ripping at the end. Jeremy Fredrick sang backing vocals and pounded out the drums. Tyler Bolles held down the low end allowing Amanda Gustafson a bit more freedom on the keys. Eric Olsen ripped it up with killer guitar work and we were off and running. By the end of Joyless, it was rock and roll glory. The followed with Jack Sharp and Popular Crowd and played them at blistering speed and volume. I loved every rocking moment. They slowed it down a little for Soul Piggy Bank, then did a long slow build into Waterlanding. Again, late in the song, they built it into a monster and rocked it hard. They brought the tempo back down a little with the song about the gymnast, then played a stunning version of If You Get Lost. They followed with Old School, which is really slow, but even that one was a bit more uptempo than usual. They slammed it back into full gear for Everyone Likes To, and called it a night.
Lee Anderson directed everyone’s attention outside of the tent, to the right of the stage, for the Appalled Eagles puppet show. With all the music that was to come, Ken and I took some time to get another beer and say hi to Peg Tassey.
After a few minutes, four familiar people dressed like gondoliers, took the stage. The Italians (Swale in “disguise”) got set and invited the first guest to the stage. Joe Adler joined them for a rousing version of Pump It Up, and the audience bounced and danced. Nichole followed and sang a rousing I Love Rock And Roll. The next song was an indie rock song, maybe called Seasons. I think it was Brian someone who sang it. Despite not knowing much about either, it was a pretty good song, and well sang. Bill Mullins came up next for a deep voiced cover of Tom Jones’ She’s A Lady. I missed the name of the guy who sang We-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M., but it was done well and the audience was happily dancing. Kat Wright kept the party going with Party In The USA. Up next, James Kochalka played a rousing version of Justin Timberlake. I was very psyched, as I had not seen James play for a long time. Dan Bolles followed with a deeply sung version of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. The audience ate it up, but I was really wanting the music to start rocking again. I got my wish when the brought up Urian Hackney to sing the next song. Bobby Hackney Jr. took the drums. Julian Hackney and Paul Comegno joined Eric Olsen on guitar. I don’t think Steven Hazen Williams joined in on bass, I think it was just Tyler Bolles, but I was back a bit so it was hard to see. The Swale/ROUGH FRANCIS combo put the music into maximum overdrive on Iggy Pop’s Now I Wanna Be Your Dog. When the song ended, Tyler, Eric, and Amanda Gustafson left the stage, Williams took the stage, Urian and Bobby switched places. Rough Francis lit into their set. I did not recognize the first two, put they were powerful and fun. I-90 East was especially intense, and the audience was rocking hard, though not moshing yet. Staring Out The Window slowed things down a tiny bit, but Black And Red picked it right back up. The opening notes of Not A Nice Guy saw the front of the audience jump into most pit mode. The slam dancing was intense and people started surfing the crowd. Comm To Space followed, which Bobby dedicated to a couple of people who passed away recently. The song was filled with light dancing in the slow parts and the full on mosh when the song erupted. It was a wonderful show, and I could not have been happier.
My brother had to work in the morning and needed to leave a bit after midnight. We stuck it out through argonaut&wasp’s set. They are a four-piece with two electric guitars, bass and drums. The music was mostly beat driven dance music, but at times, the guitars roared and they rocked hard. It was a fun set.
When they wrapped up my brother Ken lobbied to leave, but I told him we had to stay for a couple of songs from the next band. And The Kids ferociously hit the stage with a killer Cats Were Born. The guitar, keys drums trio mixed dance sounds with indie rock and were brilliant as always. We stuck it out for three songs, then had to leave. We could hear them quite clearly for the slow steady walk out of the festival grounds, up the first hill, up the second hill, and all the way to the parking lot. It was hard to let the end of their set go, but it was a trade-off to get my brother to see how much great music we have in this town. I would have liked to check out Gnomedad, who finished the night and festival, but it’s hard to catch everything.
I am so delighted with all of the great musical talent we have in this town. I’m so grateful for people like Lee Anderson and Joe Adler and the ton of other people who put this all together. It was obvious that a lot of work went into it, and the whole thing ran very smoothly. I feel lucky to be able to be in the presence of all the talent that made this happen. Thanks everyone, you rock!