After a purposeful but exceptionally late night, Brandon and I are just now beginning to collect our thoughts from day one of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. It’s fair to say that amazing was bounced around more than a few times.
Work prevented us from catching local talent, the Dry River Yacht Club, but we arrived in time to catch Balkan Beat Box’s full show. While I can’t attest to being a huge fan, I can say that they did a banner job warming up the early crowd with their mix of electronic meets Mediterranean world music.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros came on next and pulled off the set of the night in our opinion. Easily the most energetic performance of the evening, Alex Ebert pulled the crowd in early by opening with, arguably, his most popular tune, 40 Day Dream. It was a stirring rendition and set the tone for what would end up being a 90 minutes set. Joined on stage by the Magnetic Zeros (including the very charming Jade Castrinos and reoccurring Office cast member, Nora Kirkpatrick), Ebert led the band through a solid mix of old and new favorites including Man on Fire and Janglin. As might be expected from a band that seemed more than willing to make things up as they went along, there were several ad lib moments that ingratiated Ebert and the Zeros to the thrilled crowd. This included a impromptu foray into the audience for the band’s new press photo. (You’ll just need to see the photo to understand how it played out.) This was live though and there was an awkward moment during Truth when Ebert laughed off forgetting the lyrics before being assisted by the Zeros.
The crowd now peaked, James Mercer and the latest iteration of the Shins took the stage to a ready and willing audience. Mercer was everything his fans could have hoped for but this is the Shins circa 2013 and, after the just completed crowd-centric Edward Sharpe show, there was no getting by comparisons. As the elder statesman of of the indie scene and perhaps its most beloved figure, Mercer has little reason to crowd surf or resort to concert cliches at this point. Yet, not playing the game doesn’t excuse you from making a connection with the fans and here is where the real difference was between the two sets. Ebert is a showman like Mercer used to be back when I first saw the Shins in 2002. Whereas Ebert and the Zeros held an ongoing conversation with the crowd all night, Mercer actually had very little to say between songs. But, oh how good those songs were!
You would expect the Shins to sound great and they did. Hit after hit, Mercer and the boys showed that, for all the controversy over lineup changes, quality songs are what matters at the end of the day. The band was tight and Mercer’s indie credibility made this as great a show, in its own way, as the Zeros before him. Look for a more detailed review of the Shin’s set at the end of the festival.
With day one in the books, Brandon and I can now look forward to seeing Deer Tick and the Roots as they hold down day two. Stay tuned for ongoing updates, photos, and observations.
The Shins sound incredible. How does James pick the set list with so many great tunes? #indiefirstworldproblems
After a sizzling hour and half, you’d be hard pressed to say that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros didn’t leave absolutely everything on stage. This was my first time seeing Alex/Jade and I have to admit to being blown away by the energy and pure joy shown by the band and crowd alike.
An awkward moment did occur when two fans hopped the fence and were handed the microphone. What would you say to a thousand entranced fans? Well, If you were this guy you would go on a sheriff Joe Arpaio rant before being unduly cutoff.
Politics aside, the shown has gone off without a hitch. Now we wait for the band that Brandon calls this generation’s Rolling Stones, the Shins!
Just a quick post from backstage at the MMMF. Edward Sharpe and company are putting on a simply incredible show for the music fans of Phoenix. This is a set that people will be talking about a year from now. From press photos with the crowd to Man on Fire to tap dancing, it’s clear that the good folks at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival made the right call inviting Ed and the Magnetic Zeros to this, their 10th annual show. More updates later as we wait for the Shins to come on.
Back from the Dead. To be honest, Brandon and I have been busy trying to figure out what the hell we will be doing in 4 months. Its been all consuming. Here are some tracks for you to hear. Enjoy.
podcast up later this week…
Josef Salvat – This Life (lil late posting this for ya’ll)
As always, the music posted here is for sampling purpose only. If you hear something you like, please support the artists by buying their music and attending their shows. We do.
*To request the immediate removal of a song, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Friends. From the flowerhouse family to you, we hope Santa makes all of your wishes come true. xoxo
(sorry for some of the audio clips, i’m too lazy to edit them out tonight)