I caught roughly 17 bands, and a cold, but these are the ones that persist on my iTunes and SoundCloud – these acts cut through time and current cold medications.
They played a few cuts from their latest release Kingdoms Fall as well as a new unrecorded tune. GPB videoed while a contingent of smart phones and tablets provided live feeds to the interwebs. It was an early, yet animated, morning of heart-felt performances and conversation, the best gateway to a weekend of inspired live music.
Thursday night marked the official opening of Stopover and it did not disappoint. Full disclosure: I’d never heard of Kishi Bashi before I saw his name on the lineup, nor did I preview his music before going to Ships of the Sea.
What a magnificent surprise. Kishi Bashi is a lot of what I love about modern rock — a little Andrew Bird, some Sufjan Stevens, Temper Trap, too. A multi-instrumentalist, an especially fierce violinist, he and the band deliver well-arranged, melodically tight songs. The artist Tall Tall Trees also plays banjo and percussion in the ensemble, and all of it combined, wrapped itself around the core of my happy place until my arms and legs were moving in great elation. I could have danced and photographed these guys all night. Definitely a festival highlight.
Then on to Wild Wing to catch Kane Strang from New Zealand. Straightforward, guitar-driven, indie pop-rock, and perhaps the youngest lineup of players on the roster. Ben, the drummer, was the only one old enough to legally drive a rental car in the U.S. After Stopover they were headed to SXSW and then on to the West Coast for a series of tour dates. Oh Ben, what a lot of miles ahead…
What I like most about Kane Strang is his and the band’s sense of level-headedness and authenticity in who they are, refreshingly straight from the (well-rehearsed) garage, without an ounce of pretense. Seriously, check out his Facebook fan page – Kane wore the same sweater (before taking it off), jeans, and boots the night of the show. After their set, when he put the sweater back on, I got a photo of them with a friend of Ben’s dad who drove all the way from Atlanta just to support them. There’s a level of authenticity about Kane and bandmates that really draws you in and also comes through in the emerging craftsmanship of his songs. For sure, keep an open ear for Kane Strang.
Saturday night brought me to The Jinx to catch Dirty Dishes, which also delivered. Again, solid wall-of-sound indie rock. Check out the interview I did with guitarist, Jenny Tuite, the tone-deva-pedal-monster behind it all. Dirty Dishes are also headed to SXSW and an act to keep an ear on.
I caught Chief Scout Saturday night at Wild Wing, another band I’d never heard of before Stopover. These guys are based out of Athens with heavy funk overtones, hints of modern indie rock – big crunchy, noisy guitars – and a slight ‘80s New Wave psychedelic-retro feel. Solid alt rock. Front man Trey Rosenkampff is a gem to photograph.
Aside from genuinely enjoying their music, I loved how they all embraced the art of performance. Their costuming was bright and fun – each had their own sparkly shirt that shimmered as they played, and they noticeably bounced off of each other and the audience. When Chief Scout has a new album, no doubt it’ll be part of hissing lawns’ New Music Monday.
Biggest take away? Stopover, great live music, yes! Get to as many shows as possible. Next year, more rest and fizzy vitamin C drinks to keep the bugs at bay and the sounds on play.