Day two…being so accustomed to three-day festivals, it feels weird that yesterday was the first day and today is the last already. It doesn’t feel like it should be over yet.
I woke up today pleased to see that Railbird was already addressing the dropoff/pickup issue and making changes. That’s how you know this festival is off to a good start – when there’s a problem, they listen, and they adjust as they go.
Our first stop today was Susto – a band I wasn’t familiar with, but came highly recommended by my boyfriend. They were one of the more straight forward rock bands of the weekend, which was a refreshing change of pace.
Jade Bird was next up. Along with all of her wonderful originals, she also pulled out a couple covers, like Johnny Cashes’ “I’ve Been Everywhere” and The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian”, each with her own spin on them.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones was the dose of energy we needed today. The 8-piece soul band from Birmingham was not at all what I expected to see this weekend, but I loved every single moment of it. Paul Janeway dominated that stage wearing a blue cape and his signature glasses – like a little kid meets Elton John.
I was so excited to see Gary Clark Jr. again live. I have seen him once before, and I remember this incredibly energetic performance. Today? Not so much. The whole band’s energy seemed low. It may have been the heat, or because they probably had more sound issues than any other act that weekend. The mix was ALL wrong. His guitar was feeding back, for an entire song all you could hear was the bass, there was a second guitarist on stage and I literally couldn’t tell you if he was actually playing or not – never heard him once. It seemed to almost work itself out by the end of their set, or it was a little better at least. It was also unfortunate how early and quickly the crowd cleared out, everyone was making their way over to Tyler Childers. We stayed ’til the end, and we’re glad we did, or else we would have missed his closing number, a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together”.
Tyler Childers was the only overlap from Forecastle Festival a few weeks ago. But I understand the decision. He’s from Kentucky, and he draws a huge and loyal crowd. He played a perfectly country set with a Kentucky sunset as his backdrop. It felt like the pinnacle moment of the weekend for many.
Hozier started a little late, but we immediately forgave him when he charmed us with his Irish accent, and undeniably powerful voice. I’m not going to lie, before tonight the only Hozier songs I knew were the radio singles, so I was pleasantly surprised by the range of music he plays. Soul, rock, folk, blues, but somehow it all still sounded like him. I also appreciated his incredible musicianship – at one point he was playing a 5/4 guitar riff while seamlessly singing over it. Respect. He also took a moment to appreciate some of the other performers, like Gary Clark Jr. and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
As we were leaving the festival, I already heard people talking about next year. If that’s not the sign of a successful premiere of a festival, I don’t know what is.