After another good rest and a full buffet breakfast (essential for a successful day!) Sandra and I are off for what annually turns out to be our favourite day party. Current.org is a public community radio station based in Minnesota and never fails to attract a wide assortment of talented performers to their showcase and this year, we tick off a lot of boxes by joining them at the Barracuda
Biz buzz artist Dylan Cartlidge is up first. This youngster is quite the talent. With no album out yet, it's still early days but his indie, hip hop funk blend is unique. Dylan sings and raps while leading his 3 piece band on bass. A Freestyle rap about the current showcase proves he can be spontaneous and each song provides a new side to this young mans talents. He is smooth, and funky, and very impressive
The Barracuda outside stage has the second band of the afternoon and it is Cherry Glazerr. It's a blistering set of guitar rock led by Clementine Creezy. This 3 piece band has really perfected their craft and with a new album out, we get to hear a number of those songs live for the first time. There is a lot of energy with these guys and they are impressive
Inside now...it's The Beths. This New Zealand indie pop band produced one of my top 10 albums of the year and so I am very much looking forward to this show. This band creates some wonderful, cathartic pop songs, but the set does not goes exactly as planned. It's a subdued set to start as lead singer Elizabeth Stokes deals with the news of the attack at the Mosque in her home country and sadly she breaks down before the first song has started.
It takes awhile for the band to get going and it's difficult to watch as all you can do to help is to stand and cheer the band on. When she gets it going ...it is wonderful..as great as I expected, and my favourite songs come to life. It's intimate songs performed with jangly guitar riffs and great drum beats and it's a perfect form of energetic pop. While the show is a painful reminder that there is more important things in life then music it is also made clear that music can play and important role in helping to get through some very tough moments. As the band finish their set they gather for a group hug to support a clearly distraught Elizabeth and an appreciative crowd try to help with our applause.
We need a bit of a break so thankfully The Nude Party are up outside. This big band produce some ridiculously great Americans/Country/Roots rock blend of sound. It's big and bold..and incredible coming from this group of youngsters. With one album to work from, these guys fly through a set of 70's flavoured Rolling Stones inspired songs with a few Who and Lou Reed hints in there as well. It's a perfect set and a highlight of the week. If this is what these youngsters can produce so early in their careers..can't wait to see what the future brings
Mr Sam Fender is up next inside and while there are few artists we wanted to see multiple times, Sam happens to be one we can't get enough of. Sam Fenders songs build in strength, can be rather subtle to start but they build up quickly and he uses his fantastic voice to draw you in. Songs about suicide and relationships are are just as powerful today as they were earlier in the week and the band work very well together. Despite a warning that Sam has done quite a few shows already this week and that his voice is suffering, there is no evidence of that and it's impressive.
Outside is Justin Townes Earle. It's Americana at its finest from Steve Earle's son. With plenty of albums to work from, he plays a full set of fan favourites and new songs and has clearly pleased the many fans he has out here on the patio.
For a complete change a pace (and perhaps responsible for the confusion on the faces of the Justin Townes Earle fans) ..it's Fontaines DC. An incredible set of Irish punk rock. This band is fronted by a rather dynamically manic lead singer who prowls the stage while nervously chewing on his fingers and spewing some wonderful garage rock/punk songs. You can't help but follow front man Grian Chatten, as he sings about Ireland, but the band behind him is great as well creating a wave of guitar noise..It's a mix of aggressive and subdued songs that create an energy with the crowd that makes it clear that this set will be unforgettable for many. I find it hard to describe these punk rock sets but this one is a a beauty..just wish I had the words...especially when Grian ends the set with a song in which he has a tambourine in his hand.
Outside is the lovely Andrew Bird. Perhaps not quite as loud and wonderfully messy as Fontaines DC but he holds his own with his perfected style or warm indie rock. He is adored by this crowd and his summery folk rock blend is rather easy to get lost in. His music drifts effortlessly over the back patio and the melodies and whistling combine with his wonderful little band...it's a nice little set of easily loveable songs
Inside is a must see for Sandra and I. HeartBones are a band that is led by 2 of the most talented and entertaining singers we have ever seen. Sean Tilmann (Har Mar Supertar) and Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog/Sweet Spirit) can more then hold their own when they perform. Having seen them both perform and having watched the 2 of them absolutely mesmerise a crowd with their energy, seeing the two of them sing together is going to be a treat.
The few singles that they have released are all a lot of fun and knowing these two have done some recent shows at which they performed nothing but songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack...we know we will be entertained. To some, that may not sound that inviting but knowing these 2 are singing it makes it pretty attractive to us. The 2 of them perform a set of campy and fun retro pop while dancing together on stage and they work together beautifully and their fun attitudes can't help but wash over the crowd.
Sometimes music needs to be fun, and this is as fun as it gets. When they absolutely slay a cover version of "Hungry Eyes" by Eric Carmen, they have conquered the crowd. It's a rare showcase of these 2 performing together and with a full band behind him, we are very very glad to have been able to see them.
Next up is Bad Bad Hats . It's indie rock with a nod towards the 90's. It may not be as entertaining as what we just witnessed inside but it's warmth matches the temperature outside. The songs are short and sweet and upbeat and completely enjoyable to watch but during their set, we can't help but want to shift our focus to the stage inside and get ready for another must see set
Yola and her English Country Soul was about to overwhelm the massive crowd inside. Her new album, produced by Dan Auerbach ( Black Keys) has been a favourite since release. This young lady is a powerful talent, and her voice is exceptional. Her melodies are rooted in folk, country and pop and along with her band, she tells stories with her songs and between and her songs and has enthralled the crowd.
Performing with just a guitarist, Yolanda strums her guitar confidently while singing and the two of them work very well together. Can only imagine what this set of powerful yet vulnerable songs would sound like with a full band. No mistake though, Yola and her warmth and stunning voice are undeniable and will be a powerful force for some time to come.
At this point, it's been a full afternoon so we decide to get some rest, have some dinner, and get prepared for a full night ahead
After dinner we take the walk east to head to the Scoot In to see our new favourites Illiterate Light again. It takes no time for this duo to get the attention of the early evening crowd that has shown up. They burn through their same set of songs we heard earlier in the week but now, I am singing along ..they are pretty catchy.
We stick around long enough to check out Billy Strings. A local favourite..it's a Americana/Bluegrass blend that works well. It's a slight shift in the traditional as Billy's guitar playing roots apparently stem from years in a metal band so it's a bit different...but it's incendiary at times and psychedelic at others. It's intense but fun
Time to walk back into city, and head to the Brit Music Embassy. We get there in time to catch yet another Dylan Cartlidge set. It's just as good as his first and includes yet another freestyle rap about this event so..he definitely has some skills. Bad Sounds are up next. I kinda struggle to describe these guys. 70's dance mixed with some retro vibes. It's poppy and upbeat and it's entertaining. Big pop anthems and hooks keep the crowd dancing about and it's about of a party
Next up is a complete change of pace and it's The Comet is Coming. This trio create some absolutely fascinating electro jazz and while it's not normally my "thing" it's immediately undeniably riveting. There is no programming, it's saxophone,keys and drum combining into weird and wonderful abstract psychedelic and energetic creations more then songs. Honestly, I don't know where to look ..buts it is a brilliant shift in sound and the crowd is going crazy, especially when the saxophonist seems to be singing to the crowd with his instrument. This is fun
Last up...it is Her's. Despite the singer of this electro/dream pop seeming to be losing his voice, it's a solid set. After the Comet is Coming, this type of energy is no match for what we had just witnessed but it's quirky and slightly odd and danceable which at 1:30 am is rather important. I choose to drift away while listening to the last song by the band and wander the 2 blocks back to the hotel. One advantage of staying at our favourite hotel is that it's so close to the Brit Embassy...comes in handy.