Savannah Stopover 2013: Photo Gallery & Review
TheBlueIndian.com returned to Savannah in early March for our second trip (and the third annual festival) to Savannah Stopover. The three-day festival not only offers insight into the oncoming SXSW festival, but also incorporates a mass of local & regional talent – food, music & art – that won’t be making the trip west.
We arrived Friday night (travel plans prevented us from attending Day One – booo) and walked to Forsyth Park to catch most of the nearly 2 hour long of Montreal set. The crowd was spaced out quite a bit, but went back for nearly the entire length of the park. of Montreal was up to their normal tricks with flamboyant costumes and a stellar light show projected onto the white tent covering the stage. The costumed minions that fans of the band are used to popped up in a new garb every few minutes doing everything from making an impromptu backing to mastermind frontman Kevin Barnes, to creating a headless humped human riding mount – which they brought him out on mid-set. The band even came back for an encore of “She’s a Rejector” that seemed to draw one of the more known responses from the raucous crowd.
Following this show there is a gap in the schedule to allow people to get back downtown, where the majority of the music is set to start back. We decided to hike over to see Chris Cohen at the B&D Burger stage sponsored by Bragg Jam who played through some jams as we caught the tail end of his set. We hung out here for another moment to see Jacco Garder, all the way from the Netherlands start his set. After a few songs we decided to head over to Club One to see the The Suzan.
The Suzan came all the way from Japan and we wanted to at least say we saw a 3 continents worth of acts before we got too hyped on diet sodas in one night. This 4 piece punk girl band playing at the home club of famous Lady Chablis seemed extremely appropriate, and to top that off Lady Chablis herself was at the door greeting Stopover guests as they entered with hair that I believe reached the 2nd story. Great high energy show and we found out later that among the packed room was well known Television personality, and all around good guy, Ty Pennington. It was dark and the band was sparkly, so it is no surprise we missed seeing him.
My fandom of the band Real Estate took over and I insisted we take the long hike to go see guitarist Matt Monidale’s dreamy side project Ducktails over at the Knights of Columbus hall. The hike proved to be worth it as we caught the majority of the set including the title track off their recently released LP The Flower Lane. Nearing the end of their set Monidale was grinning ear to ear and asked at least 3 times how much time they had left as he seemed ready to lay his iconic New Jersey groove sound down until he got the hook. Ending to a loud applause we decided to stick it out on this side of town to catch Snowmine. The call was a good one as the Brooklyn based boys cranked sout some dreamy pop tunes in the hall while the crowd soaked it in liberally. We stayed through the end of this set and headed in for the night pleased by what we accomplished in such a short time.
We spent the next morning and early afternoon in the Dollhouse Production Studios while they recorded the final three bands for the Savannah Stopover record they are making. It was a blast and the bands we saw and the studio staff was phenomenal; we are excited to see what the record sounds like because the recordings we heard were phenomenal.
Little Tybee was the first band we made it to that evening after a long afternoon in the studio (I’ve always wanted to say that). They played to a packed crowd as this half-local band grooved through material they had released on their 3rd LP, For Distant Viewing just a couple days before. It is full of dreamy grooves and harmonic bliss and seeing these complex songs weaved together in person is always a treat worth seeking out.
Next up was Shark? who hails from Brooklyn and rocked and rolled like it’s meant to be played – loudly. It’s catchy for rock and as energetic as it was loud, so if that suits you, perhaps you can help these guys figure out why they have a question mark at the end of their name, but we already know, because we saw them, and we’re not telling.
We left a bit early to see another band with a fun name, Bear Fight! who play stadium style rock heavy and loud, but sound little like Shark? who we just left. These guys are Savannah natives, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t call them out for not realizing there has already been a british band named Bear Fight! and they are also not to be confused with Boston’s Bearfight. I typically let it go, but as a humble travel blogger who constantly is looking up bands on his phone via google, facebook, spotify, soundcloud, twitter, etc. then you should probably do the same before you settle on a name to make it easier for people to find your actual band. Great band, great live performance, hell of a time trying to figure out who they were or where they were even from.
We headed to see one of the band we spent half the day with in the studio, Royal Canoe. These guys are an eclectic group from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who is producing one of the most unique pop sounds I’ve come across. It’s catchy and you’ve probably never heard anything quite like it. Sometimes multiple guys are playing bass, sometimes no one is, sometimes three guys are on synths and keys, and plenty of times they use effects on everything from a drum pad to the microphones that the lead singer and backup singer and harmonizers are crooning into. It’s a great show, full of overly polite and ridiculously talented Canucks, and was a favorite of The Blue Indian crew down at Stopover.
Down to the homestretch, we were all feeling great and ready to ride out the last couple shows without much pause, so we decided to stay on this side of town rather than truck over to see some GA boys, the Whigs tear it up on the other side of town as it was a bit of a walk, or petty cab ride. We instead decided to check out Chicago quartet Filligar that consists of 3 brothers and a childhood friend. They sound like Southern Rockers to me with a looser style through their jams, upbeat harmonies and use of keys to keep the sound moving while the guitar riffs are unmistakably blues driven. Great show, and while these guys have been putting out music since they were teens, they sound like they’re going places now.
We also checked out this mountain who is out of Johnsonville, TN and reminded me immediately of Mumford & Sons as they tend to lean on the passionate upbeat and moving pace with harmonies and banjo picking alongside an array of other instruments that this six piece group masterfully swaps around for just the right mountain country sound they need. Extremely fun to get down with and takes me to the Blue Ridge mountains that they hail from.
Yip Deciever consists of two Athens musicians and members from of Montreal who are armed with two small keyboard synths, a sampler box, and a bass guitar covered in duct tape. This was our next to last stop, and we danced real nutty as they played dance-pop R&B while constantly chatting in between songs. It reminded us of up and comers out of Nashville, Cherub, with high energy and an equal amount of chagrin and charm in performance and style. Definitely a live show worth checking out, and it also sounds great off the record.
Our final destination for Savannah Stopover was with Roadkill Ghost Choir. This 6 piece out of DeLand, Florida is exploding all over the South East after having their 2012 debut EP, Quiet Lights receive critical acclaim seemingly as soon as it was available. They put on an incredibly tight performance with their melodic southern grooves and well thought out lyrics. It is one of my favorite EPs of 2012, and I find myself getting the verses, chorus, and guitar riffs of all kind stuck in my head off of it almost every day. It’s indie-folk from beginning to end and it’s as good a debut EP as I’ve heard, so check them out because they’re doing nothing if not touring constantly.
Beat from an exhausting few days in Savannah, and with dreams of Austin for SXSW on our horizon we carted ourselves back home to get some much needed rest spending the entire walk back chatting back and forth about our favorite performances and our great day with Dollhouse. The conclusions were the same all around, Savannah Stopover is an certainly an excellent festival to catch bands heading to SXSW, but it stands on its own without question. From the variety of venues to experience live shows in, the ease of traversing between them, to the friendly and welcoming volunteers and staff scattered around a town that is equally welcoming, we cannot wait to get back to Savannah for 2014’s Stopover festivities!
Photos: Peterson Worrell