Well, I was unable to write up this recap once I immediately returned to my abode after day two of Nelsonville Music Festival because I got home so late and my little legs were just killin’ me. The events lasted much longer than expected last night, as rain showed up halfway through the otherwise beautifully sunny day to put the brakes on everyone’s fun. Let’s find out what happened on the second thrilling installment of Nelsonville Music Festival 2013.
My first intention was to head over to the porch stage and catch William Tyler‘s set. Tyler is a very skilled and experienced guitarist from Nashville. He opened for Yo La Tengo when I saw them back in high school, and little has changed in his live repertoire since. Switching from 12-string Danelectro to a Fender Telecaster to an acoustic guitar with various tunings being put to use for all of the above, Tyler crafts lengthy instrumentals that push open tunings to the limit and make great use of their advantages. Without ever singing a word during these songs, he always made sure to introduce each one prior to performing, explaining the meaning or feeling behind the writing that went into each one, implying that his songwriting process is anything but arbitrary and a lot of passion and careful thought is involved.
Also at the porch stage was Wooden Indian Burial Ground, another group that traveled all the way from Oregon. The three piece played what can best be described as a poor man’s Thee Oh Sees, which isn’t a terrible thing at all, but they lacked any melody or variety found in Dwyer and company’s band of garage-psych minions. Despite having boundless energy, these guys grew a little unoriginal after the first ten minutes.
He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister were my first stop at the main stage that day. This interesting bunch from Los Angeles sported some circus-esque costumes, most notably upright bassist Oliver Newell, who garbed himself in some metallic-pink eye shadow, what appeared to be a subtle shade of rouge lipstick, and a fresh coat of metallic-aquamarine nail polish. He most definitely dressed to impress, and for my money, was the coolest member of the group. His bass lines really gave the songs some life. While not always up my alley, this California crew played a set of stompers that burred the line between country pop and folk rock. They were a fun watch and visibly enjoyed putting on a show for all of us.
Who was to follow next on the main stage but Lee Fields & The Expressions. As they were introduced, the MC promised that we were about to be taken to school- R&B school, that is. Boy was he correct. A very snazzily dressed Expressions took the stage first to lay down a soulful intro before introducing the man of the hour, (and what turned out to be about three hours), Lee Fields! This old cat can still deliver. If I could choose one word to describe Mr. Fields, it would be charismatic. During the cut “Ladies”, he took some time towards the end of the song to ask several ladies in the audience their names. After receiving such information, he would respond any of the following: “I know your man is pleased” or, “I bet your man is wonderin’ where you ARE right now” or, the best one by default for including a pretty obvious fellatio reference, “I know your man is pleased… all the way down to his knees!”
Sadly, after this song, right as Fields was making a very necessary deal out of disrobing from his jacket, he was told that the show was to be put on hold due to the very looming clouds that had crept over Hocking Valley. The stage was lowered, and the clouds poured some very heavy rain. This put the festival out of commission for at least two hours, but damn it, I stuck around. My highlight of the day was going to see Screaming Females, and I wasn’t gonna let some H2O dissuade me. Once the rain ceased for the most part, I headed back to the porch stage with some friends and we started playing frisbee. Who would join us there but the bassist for the Females, King Mike! Their playing may have been severely delayed, but I can say that I both received and returned many throws of the disc with the man. Score.
The porch stage somehow lost all of its power, and I soon could hear Lee Fields starting back up again on the main stage, so I headed back over there and watched him finish his set. Next up was the headliner, Cat Power. I ran into the most difficult decision of the night here. This power outage and rain delay combination had now left me with the annoying decision of choosing between Chan Marshall and Screaming Females. Most people would of course question said qualm and find no problem in picking Cat Power any day of the year. However, as much as I enjoy Cat Power, I was dying to see Marissa Paternoster shred live. If anyone’s keeping track, I gave Ugly a negative review when it came out, and it wasn’t more than a month after posting that review that I about faced and started listening to it constantly. It remains my biggest regret here on 402.
So, I went and saw Cat Power, (shown at the top), who opened with a very epic and slow-burning version of “The Greatest”. Each song she played was infused with histrionics; I would be hard-pressed to say that any of her numbers lasted under the four-minute mark so as to draw out the emotion she exudes. I stuck around for a few songs, frequently glancing back towards the porch area, but still saw no lights. At some points, I thought that I heard music in the distance in between Chan’s songs, however, there wasn’t a lot of light coming from back there, so I was in disbelief. I was incorrect. The Females had indeed started playing, and I disappointingly hurried over there for their last three songs.
What had happened was, they eventually moved a generator out there to give just enough power for the essentials, hence why not all the spotlights were active and from the main stage, you would not think anything was going on over there. When I showed up, Marissa was lying on the ground for minutes giving a face-melter. I may not have gotten to see much of them, but it was heavenly while it lasted. After my ephemeral time with them, I walked back to the main stage to hear Cat Power continue to play for a long time. Her set must have cracked 90-minutes easily.
By the time she and her band were finished, the hour had grown late, and The Coup, who was supposed to perform at 11:00 PM instead got a start closer to 1:30 AM. The funk-rap group, which hailed from Oakland, California as we were reminded so many times by frontman Boots Riley, played a truncated set and were anything but spiteful about it. Boots was the most entertaining aspect of what he described was to be “the rawest 20 minutes of your life,” but it wasn’t what he did during the songs. Instead, his banter that interluded was where the magic happened. Some choice quotations include: “I bet y’all are wondering what we’re talking about up here. Well, first of all- a lot of shit.” “We from Oakland, California!” “We here for the class war.” “We toured in France recently. I learned five French words: ‘bonjour,’ ‘bonsoir,’ ‘fuck that shit,’ ‘aujourd’hui,’ and ‘guillotine.’” Also, once introducing Silk-E, their female rapper whom Boots was clearly very proud of, he consistently praised her after each song by simply stating, “Silk-muthafuckin’-E.”
And that about does it. Hopefully tonight, the Festival doesn’t see another torrential downpour and I’m able to write up the recap when it’s all said and done. Once again, a big ‘thank you’ to Mona and Brid from Tell All Your Friends PR; I really appreciate it, girls! Now don’t touch that dial! (P.S. WILCO IS PLAYING TONIGHT… EEEEEEEE!)