Bringing the Heat - Friday.
Unfortunately‚ the pure and simple truth of a festival is that you're going to have to skip some bands. Stuck in traffic for a bit‚ I reluctantly missed the first few acts of day two.
I did‚ however‚ run into some friends outside the bowl who caught the unsigned Boston-based band Magic Magic. Although the friends were originally drawn by the idea that they would be catching a magic show‚ the self-described "pop groove and eerie melody" of Magic Magic definitely garnered the band some new fans and I was told that their indie/soft rock sound was a welcome trumpet to the morning.
Wandering into the main arena and past the ferris wheel‚ I made it just in time to hear the happy-go-lucky folk-rock music of the The Felice Brothers. I was happy to see them pull out an accordion and fiddle to complete the Appalachia traveling sound and was wooed by a wonderful rendition of "Fire on the Mountain" as well as their hit "Take This Bread." I also caught this band late-night at the Port City stage and felt that they may be more suited to a smaller venue than earlier on the Maine Stage. They seemed more energetic and happier to be playing and to interact more with the audience at the smaller venue and their later show was way more entertaining.
Looking for a little solace from the heavy sun‚ I made my way to the shaded Port City Stage to catch Bow Thayer already strumming. Their plucky‚ upbeat rhythms and on-spot vocal harmonies impressed. They are the epitome of country rock and I couldn't help but enjoy the foot-stomping rebel rousing of their music as I rehydrated.
Umphrey's McGee was without a doubt the afternoon's most sought-after show. Everyone I ran into was checking the time to make sure they hadn't missed the band from the Midwest. It has to have been years since I last saw Umphey's and was interested to see how their music had progressed since the last Lionel Riche cover of "Dancing on the Ceiling" I so used to love.
A massive crowd gathered in the bowl‚ shimmying and gyrating under the relentless sun as the band began an improv piece with heavy metal undertones. The band has become more technical in their tempo changes and flowed seamlessly from one genre to the other. Each member played off the others in an interesting hodge-podge of musical delight rounding it off with the closer "Higgins" back into "Bottom Half."
The Problemaddicts brought their hip-hop style to the festival‚ but unfortunately the sound was off and their lyrics were hard to understand. At times I thought I was listening to Charlie Brown's teacher lecture me because the reverberation created a muffled rap rather than the acrobatic rhymes the 5-man troupe‚ including Force from The Alchemystics‚ is known for.
"They might have been good rappers‚ but how were we to know?" I overheard someone ask.
Lucky for me‚ I had some stellar friends who were able to commandeer tenting spots in the stables adjacent to the Port City Stage. Lucky for them‚ they were some of the only people in the whole on-site camping areas who had a shaded area to pop their tents. An even better‚ we could hear everything from the Port City Stage perfectly from their faded red beamed and mucked out stables. Hurray for the early birds!
From the stables‚ I heard the Heavy Pets perform with their jammy‚ American rock and roll blended with reggae‚ rhythm and blues and jazz-funk. I listened for a while until Passion Pit called me back to the Maine Stage where I saw the end of Jackie Greene's set and a great cover of the Grateful Dead's "Scarlet Begonias."
Passion Pit the ?ber hip Boston band played old favorites including "Sleepyhead" as well as some of their older pieces. They told the crowd that this was the first time they had changed up their set list since embarking on tour. It was nice to see a mishmash of hippies‚ hipsters and hard rockers all dancing together to the same music. An awesome rendition of the Cranberries song‚ "Dreams" solidified that united front. I mean‚ hey‚ who doesn't like a good blast from the past?
The biggest surprise came from the band Ghostland Observatory who‚ before this festival‚ I was unaware of. Just a two-man group comprising of drummer Thomas Turner and front man Aaron Brethrens‚ these guys kicked the festival into high-gear with their visually impressive laser light show and contagious energy. They merged electronic riffs with classic instrumentation in a unique offering that had the crowd on their feet and dancing the entire time. Many were completely gob-struck as I looked around me mid shuffle-step.
On a high-note from Ghostland‚ moe. took to the adjoined stage and completely torn it up. Dressed to the Nines‚ they were joined by a suit-clad Keller Williams on their third song‚ a Grateful Dead cover‚ "Deal‚" and played crowd favorites "Rebubula‚" "Moth" and "Captain America" to a myriad of flickering lights. They blasted the lively crowd with a two-song encore of "Haze" and "She Sends Me" while I enjoyed a much needed ride on the aforementioned ferris wheel where the bird's-eye view down on the grounds was nothing short of breathtaking.
Sizzling Saturday and Necessary Sunscreen
An unordinary and disgustingly hot day for Maine‚ Saturday was sluggish for concert-goers. Without a mist tent or any canopies to find shade at the Maine Stage that were close enough to hear and see the music‚ people were sparse during the warmest part of the day.