Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words. At least, sometimes I’d hope so. For the last month, I’ve been wondering and worrying about FTWELVE. What was the possible future? Was it still making me happy? I wasn’t so sure. Mentioning previous posts, I’d continued to be underwhelmed with shows I was attending especially if it felt like a chore rather than an honor – something I had never felt before.
Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely adore music. There is still that John Denver song that makes me cry every time and I dream of Newport Folk Festival every night but the minute I felt that I wasn’t getting any joy in it anymore – it scared the shit out of me. How could something so amazing be ruined by a year and a half of blogging? Was it seeing the blase attitude of many reports and photographers that covered so many shows? Did I suck the bitterness in through their prose? There was a negativity in the industry that I hadn’t ever thought was there as an outsider. There was a jealousy of those with success and a hatred of those who copied others…even though we all got into this industry because of one single thing: music. And we weren’t even the ones making it. Was it the crowds at the concerts I attended? Their negative attitude, their rudeness, their drunkenness and blatant disrespect for the band performing as they chat with their friends. It still confuses me to no end about why people would pay money to sit and talk while good people try their hardest to capture your attention.
All in all, I’m not entirely sure if FTWELVE will return. Perhaps it will take another band like the Lone Bellow to rip me apart and show me what music should make me feel again, perhaps it’s in two weeks after the Delta Spirit show and the Shakey Graves show but I know I’ll be back. Please send me your music still, please give me hope that this industry isn’t a lost cause because for right now, I’m a little lost on faith.
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Not to make this about me (it is my blog!) but I’ve been feeling really out of touch with music lately. I’ve even felt turned off by a lot of acts I used to love and how corporate festivals have gotten makes me so very sad (especially after Newport Folk Festival, which I’m aware is a completely different beast) so as I was walking to Boston Calling on Friday night it might have been that feeling that filled me with dread…it wasn’t a great progression to see the stages now being called “Capital 360 Stage” and the “Jet Blue” stage. It might have been the long summer that filled me with dread, that September’s Boston Calling was the start to a long and cold season in Boston or perhaps that college kids would litter the City Hall with their crop tops and high waisted shorts. Well, it wasn’t really any of those feelings that I felt when I entered through the media area and saw the same friendly faces greeting me and as I looked over Boston Calling’s expansive revamped set up, I started to remember the magic of Boston Calling.
There was a little bit of magic throughout the entire weekend, that’s for sure. Yes, I might be getting too old and too bitter to really appreciate a festival anymore – I rather the crowd know all the lyrics to every song, I get tired after standing for 10 hours, and I’m not exactly a fan of listening to music that I dislike – that’s absolutely true. But, that’s also no reflection on the wonderful job that Boston Calling does bringing curated music to the masses in the middle of City Hall. In fact that sentence is magic. When I started my freshman year at Boston University, I didn’t even leave the freshman bubble of Comm Ave for months. Boston Calling pulls people deep into the city to explore new areas and have new experiences which would have been unimaginable years ago.
There was magic found in the older and wonderful crowd that attended on Friday that I look on with the thought WHY DIDN’T YOU ATTEND ALL THREE DAYS! The three bands on Friday were curated so perfectly. The flow from Future Islands’s obscure weirdness to the reunion of Neutral Milk Hotel and their incredibly long beards to The National back for a second time and visibly excited to see how far the festival had come.
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t super pumped and excited as the many tweens were for Saturday’s lineup ending with headliners Lorde and Childish Gambino. I was really excited for Volcano Choir who I had seen literally destroy my soul at Paradise Rock Club two years prior (to the point where I was so out of it that I broke my wrist on the way home on my bike NO RAEGRETS!) but unfortunately, there was a rain delay which I’m sure everyone and their mother has heard about from the sheer amount of tweets going out. Honestly, without Twitter I’m not sure this would be run so smoothly – props to the Boston Calling Twitter Handle Person aka “I’m a cool mom” twitter handle. With Girl Talk and Volcano Choir cancelled my heart was crushed due to not being able to see Justin Vernon. Even so, when you reference the whole “not excited” comment made above, Lorde brought down the fucking house, a house that was sad and depressed because of the storm and cancellations. I’ve never fallen so quickly in love with an act. She stole the day for me. It was like the rain had not even happened, it was like she was playing to a sold out festival instead of people running through the gates to get to her last few songs. It was by far one of the most captivating sets I’ve ever seen. She was endearing and commanding, cute and sexy, she was fierce and powerful and she sung her gosh darn heart out. It’s safe to say I completely understand her and her art now.
Sunday was utterly gorgeous but it was also the start of football season and I’ve got mad cash invested in my fantasy football league so to be completely honest with everyone, I listened from the VIP section with TVs for the first two sets. Again, no raegrets. Sets from San Fermin and Lake Street Dive were highlights for the folk-obsessed older lady living inside of me because the vocals were oh so wonderful and the sun was beating down the exact right amount unlike the 90 degree humidity we had to endure Saturday.
All in all, as far as I can tell there is still a little bit of real magic left in Boston Calling but we’ve got to be careful to hold it and keep it every time we have another one because you can lose magic just as quickly as Harry Potter apararates.
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The Last Bison, a band that came out of Virginia in 2012, have a new tune for you. “Bad Country,” is the lead-off track from the bands’ new album VA (out September 30th). Their debut album with NPR dubbed, “Classical influenced southern folk rock,” but since then things have changed, perhaps for the better.
To capture the sounds on VA, The Last Bison spent many days in an old A-frame cabin on the outskirts of the Great Dismal Swamp, near the band’s home in Chesapeake, VA. Out came a new sound – filled with booming drums and a renewed energy. Additionally, they’ve pick up the anthemic sound found in many of the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons songs, which I’m not a huge fan of, but I support these guys.
You can also check out The Last Bison on a big tour in support of of the release, which kicks off toward the end of September (all dates below).
Blake Mills’s new track, “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me,” is beautiful song to get utterly lost in. Singer/songwriter Blake Mills collaborates often with Fiona Apple and Apple sings on this new single with Jon Brion. Apple sings background and Brion plays tiple. I can’t speak highly enough about – it’s a folk-rock tune that meshes expertly with the prettiness of singer-songwriter tunes – with exceptional lyrics.
Blake’s new album, Heigh Ho, is out September 16th via Verve / Record Collection which features Don Was, Jim Keltner, Tony Berg, Benmont Tench, Mike Elizondo, and Griffen Goldsmith. Listen below.
Do you feel it in the air a la the Newport Folk picture above? Folk is back with a vengeance (and it’s awesome!). There’s an explosion of folk shows in Boston, happening on Friday, August 22nd so if you have the ability to apparate, here are the five shows you should go to in no particular order.
Redbird at Club Passim | 8pm | $35: This is the most expensive show on the list because this stuff is cool. Redbird is Kris Delmhorst, Jeffery Foucault, Peter Mulvey with David Goodrich. They have recorded some albums and according to their bio, “convene occasionally on stages around the country and overseas to trade songs, jokes, and instruments around a few microphone,” this is third night and considering how intimate Club Passim is, sure to be a lovely time.