|Photo by: Hannah Cook|
The final day of Nelsonville Music Festival is always bitter sweet. While comforting thoughts of showering and real beds circle through your mind, the idea of it all being over is disheartening. Back to real life we go.
But before we do, ACRN has one last review of Nelsonville day three. May the memory live on. Until next year, Nelsonville Music Festival. You've been a dear friend.
11:30 - Shovels and Rope
I'd only heard great things about this band all weekend. They played both the Porch Stage and the No-Fi Cabin on Saturday, and they sent a buzz throughout attendees, much like Givers two years ago. Unfortunately, I didn't catch them yesterday, so I was determined to wake up early, pack my group's tent up quick, and be at the Main Stage for Shovels and Rope to see the splendor for myself.
And boy, did the festival-goers have it right. These guys were down and dirty. Their twang and strain in the duo's voices was strong and made for gloriously inglorious harmonies. It was DEFINITELY worth it to get my ass out of bed, as day three was off to the best start possible.
Not only are Shovel and Rope incredibly talented musicians, they are also genuine people any one would gladly get to know. Their stage presence is endearing to say the least--the natural chemistry between the two performers made apparent by their constant interplay--yet it is formidable. They are impressive multi-instrumentalists who switch roles (guitar, harmonica, drums, vocals) between tracks and sometimes play multiples at once. And they can conjure both a solem love song and a foot-stomping ballad in turn.
This trio of girls looked like they were about 15, but their Over 21 wristbands implied otherwise. Like many acts at the festival, these girls could harmonize with the best of 'em.
Though they sounded great, there wasn't a whole hell of a lot to look at. And barring a few hippies, who may or may not have been on some of the good stuff, people at the Porch Stage were sitting in the shade to soak in the music, if not all weekend, at least for afternoon sets like this one. I enjoyed these gals, but I wanted to make it over to the Main Stage to see something a little different.
1:00- Hayes Carll
My man was SO excited to see Hayes Carll. So, my group went over to the Main Stage to do so. And though Nelsonville is technically a folk and bluegrass festival, it rarely dives into straight country (at least this year). But, man oh man, was this guy country. I stomped my feet as much as I could, as it was day three and they were achin' because of my not-so-smart footwear choice of flip-flops. I could get behind Mr. Carll, but it was too damn hot, so I retreated back to the comfortable shade of a tree after a few songs. Festivals are just tiring, y'all.
1:45 - The Tillers
On day three of a music festival, when temperatures reach into the high 80s, shade must be sought and one of the best spots to find it at the Nelsonville Music Festival is at the Porch Stage. At that moment, when heat was getting the best of me, The Tillers provided traditional Appalachian folk with a twist that had a relaxing afternoon vibe.
3:00 - Matt Bauer
I chatted with this guy earlier in the week as a part of our Q&A series, so I was definitely going to make it out to the No-Fi cabin to see him. And doing so is always an effort--you gotta stake that place out if you wanna get inside to really hear the unplugged music and have a seat. Fortunately, I was able to do so for Matt Bauer.
This guy is soft-spoken. Even from my second row bench, it was hard to hear his whispers. But, his banter was delightful, full of talk of "the Interwebs" and how he has an affinity for kittens. This is my kind of guy, and not just because of his adorable personality. The music was soothing and soft. His banjo plucking backed almost-whispered vocals, creating something that's somehow so comforting. If the cabin wasn't so steamy, I probably would have taken a nap. And trust me, that is a compliment.
The No-Fi Cabin is a pretty exclusive joint. Limited seating, guestlist hung outside the door--it’s quite the venue. If you don’t arrive at the end of a set in anticipation, you’ll miss out on your show. This place requires planning and patience. It’s also hot as hell.
I arrived at the end of Michael Hurley’s set--an adorable elderly man who’s handy with a guitar and even has a knack for t-shirt design--to await Matt Bauer’s acoustic set. Pushing through, I secured a seat towards the front of the tiny room (and by tiny, I mean TINY as it seats about twenty or so people) and watched Bauer set up his guitar and banjo.
He was quiet. Too quiet. I was watching Bauer, but kept hearing the Flying Clouds of South Carolina from across the grounds. But when I caught snippets of Bauer, it was pleasant. His songs are soft and easy-listening. He doesn’t play anything too upbeat or rush through his music. It’s all very relaxed, very purposeful, it seems. His final two songs, when he got a little louder, were haunting. “Don’t Let Me Out” was the highlight of the set, but its encore “Florida Rain” is also worth a mention.
Bauer was also very humble, taking time to speak to listeners and accept compliments with a smile. He asked names to put to faces and was always willing to listen. He also has a sense of humor--just ask him about the "interwebz" and cats. I'll be keeping my eye on this one.
4:45 - Horse Feathers
Oh man! The fullness of this band.
Once again, the Porch Stage was a retreat from the heat of the day, but it was also the place to catch some of the finest acts around, including Horse Feathers. These Portlandians perfectly capture orchestral folk, which is something I am always down for. I think I've fallen in love.
Horse Feathers is by far my favorite discovery from the Nelsonville Music Festival. Their vocal harmonies are gorgeous but it is their instrumentation that steals the show. Drum, cello, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and the occasional saw played with a violin bow blend together and build off of one another as Horse Feathers creates layer upon layer of entrancing orchestra folk. Look them up if you don’t know them--they are definitely worth multiple listens.
There’s not much to say about Horse Feathers besides that they're extremely talented. Their songs, full of layered string arrangements and airy vocals, are some extremely pleasing sounds. They performed at the Porch Stage--not too big, not too small--but it was still a question as to how they would take their quiet tracks and transform them on the big stage.
While warming up, the audience was treated to hear each instrument individually--the violins, guitar, drums, cello, and, of course, Justin Ringle’s voice. This is important to note because, when they started the show, all of these pieces that were so unique just melted into each other, into one giant swirling sound. There wasn’t really a flaw to be found. They also played songs from all over their discography, not just sticking to their new album Cynics New Year. “Cur in the Weeds” was a particularly well-received tune, however, there didn’t seem to be one disappointed person at the show.
For a debut, I’d say Horse Feathers did a damn fine job and Ringle seemed pretty content with it as well. Hopefully, they make a return to the festival next year.
5:55 - Dawes
The Main Stage was running behind, which was not ideal, as everyone was pretty tired out. However, I was determined to stick around, as the closers of this year's Nelsonville just happen to be two of my favorite bands. First up was Dawes, who I saw about a year ago when they opened up for Bright Eyes. Though they tend to keep things in mid-tempo, Dawes can rock out. Once again, harmonies were key here. When they performed "When My Time Comes," it was just hard to beat that.
It was also quite fun, as they got the audience involved, and the crowd was definitely in to it. Including some bro-y looking dudes in front of me in the first row. They were donning backwards baseball caps and cut up t-shirts, but they loved their indie rock--these same guys were clearly moved by Iron & Wine two days before. I guess you just can't judge a book by its cover.
Dawes, a folk rock trio not unknown to the festival circuit, put on a lively and upbeat set of pure Americana. They invited the audience to sing along--some more unwelcome than others--looking at you boys who wouldn’t stop yelling “WOOOO” and clapping off beat--on their more well known tracks and they never took down the energy level. A perfect pre-headliner warm-up and near-closer to Nelsonville 2012.
Dawes is a current “rock band.” Their music is catchy, their stage presence enthusiastic, and they certainly have no problem engaging an audience in their performance. Those in the audience at the Nelsonville Music Festival were only too happy to have them perform--some people seemed a little too happy.
I’m not sure when it became acceptable to be completely trashed at a show and shout the entire time during a concert, but I’m going to guess never. However, you always have that group of guys that has to make a scene. Sadly, they take away from the show and fans will go home thinking, “Yeah, Dawes was great, but those guys were complete jerks.” And that’s putting it nicely.
Rest assured Dawes, these guys didn’t take away from your talent. Dawes appealed to persons of all ages. I watched hip twenty-somethings mouth the lines to “When My Time Comes” as well as people in their 50s and 60s, no less passionate. It was clear that the crowd enjoyed the show and would gladly have a sing-a-long with these amiable lads again sometime.
8:00 - M. Ward
This was it--the end of the festival. I'm always sad to see another Nelsonville come and go, even if I am exhausted by the third day. M. Ward may just be one of my favorite artists of all time, and he's been on my list of people to see for years, so to say I was excited was an understatement.
Matt Ward came out with all the hits, including "Never Had Nobody Like You," "Chinese Translation," "For Beginners" and "Helicopter." He was the definition of cool, with his trademark sunglasses, but the enjoyment that Ward gets out of performing was clear by the big ol' smile on his face. This is a guy who loves what he does, which makes me love him even more.
It's no secret that M. Ward is good at the guitar, but he rocked out with his instrument of choice. This, combined with the aforementioned love that poured out of him, definitely made for the best performance of the best Nelsonville Music Festival I've been to yet.
Matt & Kim satisfied the hot mess of a crowd with their peppy, dance set.
Passion Pit transformed The LC into a dance club with its manic synths and high energy.
Machine Gun Kelly put on an X-rated, nearly riotous show at MemAud the Friday before Halloween.
Twenty One Pilots played a monumental hometown show in Columbus to a sold-out crowd.
Pink Floyd would be proud of Wish You Were Here's Cleveland set Saturday night.
Fiona Apple gave a feisty performance in an otherwise regal venue.
Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony's reunion show in Cleveland was anything but a harmonious good time.
Santigold proves to a packed Newport Music Hall that she is one of a few performers today that can release great music in the studio and have the talent to back those tracks up live on stage.
In its 10th edition, the Number Fest still rages.
Jeff Mangum gave a stunning performance full of songs from In The Aeroplane Over The Sea at the Boomslang Festival on Thursday night.