FPSF 2012 Rundown, Pt. 1: Caddywhompus + Girl In A Coma + Quiet Company + Diplo + Young the Giant + Morris Day + More

I’ve been very, very remiss when it comes to posting about the impending Free Press Summerfest, I’m afraid, and now here we are, and it’s just over a week from today, Saturday-Sunday, June 2nd-3rd. And in the meantime, not only have the FPSF crew added some new bands to the bill and removed a couple of others (no Wavves or Roky Moon & BOLT? Ah, damn…), but they’ve also released the official-shmofficial schedule for all to see.

Holy freaking crap, y’all; this is what happens when I leave town for a couple of weeks and thereby fall behind on literally every goddamn part of my life. sigh.

But never fear, we’re on this. As we’ve done the past two years, we’re going to be doing some brief little rundowns on a totally-random selection of bands playing over the course of the festival.

Now, we’re not going to be able to get to everybody — we apologize, but there’s just no way, folks, with 126 freaking bands/musicians playing (by my count, at least). On the good side, though, we’re not the only (or even the first) people doing this. Both the awesome David Cobb, over at Houston Calling, and Jessica over at the almost-as-cool {Pretty Riot} are doing rundowns of their own of various Summerfest-playing bands, and they’re well worth checking out; heck, they both just did a writeup of The Eastern Sea, who I’ve seen every year at FPSF so far and who happen to be one of my favoritest bands in the Universe, hands down.

Alright, enough of that; here’s the first pile:

I’m sad to say it, but it’s been a year or two since I’ve checked in on the Caddywhompus guys; I enjoyed 2010’s Remainder quite a bit, even if it blurs the line between CW and previous band Riff Tiffs to near-invisibility, diving more headlong into psych-rock than Chris Rehm & Sean Hart‘s earlier EPs had.

They pulled it off, though, and with new(-er) EP The Weight, they’re going even more in that direction, with similarly excellent results. There’s less experimentation than there was on those first stabs at the band’s sound — which, yeah, I adored — but in its place stands a band that’s fully confident of what it can do and is out less to screw around and more to actually write songs. And write them, they have. The four tracks on The Weight merge the band’s early squall with more restrained, thoughtful song structures and a seriously spacerock-y vibe, and it goes like gangbusters. Looking forward to seeing these guys next weekend, seriously.
[Caddywhompus plays at 7:30PM on Sat., June 2nd, at Stage 7.]

Lazer Cun*zz
sigh. I get the “hey, let’s shock people!” impulse, I really do; hell, I was kid once, just like everybody else, and that’s an essential part of being a kid, in my book. But dangit, said shocking-ness can be a little painful when, say, you’re trying to listen to a band at work, while doing other stuff, and they’ve got a name like Lazer C***zz. If any of my female coworkers had come and looked over my shoulder, the trapdoor down to HR would’ve opened beneath me in a heartbeat. But hey, it’s just a name, right? In that sense, it doesn’t bother me one bit — the only reason I’m even including the stars up there is because, well, I don’t want somebody’s blocking software blacklisting SCR as a porn site or something.

So, getting beyond that, LC turns out to be an in-your-face, punkish rock trio that includes scene stalwart April Brem Patrick (of guitars, Vivian Pikkles and The Sweethearts Über Alles, and a bunch of other bands I’m blanking on), one that sounds pretty damn promising based on the handful of songs currently up on their BandCamp site. The songs buzz and bash along nicely, especially “Two Girls, One Cup,” which makes me think weirdly of Magnapop with its nonchalantly hazy roar; I think that one’s a little bit of an anomaly, mind you, with most of the songs falling more squarely on the punk side of the equation. Either way, I’m going to have to keep an eye on these three ladies, awkwardness-inducing name or no.
[Lazer C***z plays at 2:45PM on Sat., June 2nd, at the SHFL Stage.]

Girl In A Coma
I’ve actually seen San Antonio’s Girl In A Coma relatively recently, back in October when they were touring with Concrete Blonde — the wife’s a lifelong Concrete Blonde fan, and I’d liked what I’d heard of GIAC, so I ponied up for tickets, and we made a date of it. And holy wow, were GIAC impressive; heathen though it probably makes me, I think I enjoyed their set more than the headliners’ (although to be fair, by that point my back felt like somebody’d been kicking it with steel-toed boots, so I had to go sit down against a wall). They played the Fitz stage like they owned the place, and while they were on, they damn well did. Musically, they were flat-out rawk ‘n roll with hints of rockabilly and country thrown in at various points (and yes, you really should check out their Patsy Cline cover), with frontwoman Nina Diaz‘s fiery guitars and alternately sultry and snarling vocals grabbing the attention of everybody in the place, no matter who they were here to see. Recommended.
[Girl In A Coma plays at 7PM on Sun., June 3rd, at Stage 6.]

The Avett Brothers
To be honest, ’til today I’d never actually heard anything by North Carolinians The Avett Brothers. I’d heard good, good things about ’em from friends whose tastes I generally trust, and I’d glanced at some of the press surrounding the band these last couple of years, but I’d just never gotten ’round to hearing ’em. “Just more Fleet Foxes/Bon Iver-esque indie-folk rootsiness,” I figured. But dangit, now that I’m giving it a chance, I get it now. The songs are folky and rootsy, sure, but they’re warm and heartfelt and melancholy while not being out-and-out depressive, like the best Band of Annuals songs or the cheerier (relatively) side of Fleet Foxes. It’s great, familiar-but-not-sounding stuff, and I desperately need to hear more.
[The Avett Brothers play at 7PM on Sun., June 3rd, at the Jeep Power Amp Stage.]

Quiet Company
And here we are with one of a handful of bands I really, really, really need to see at this year’s Summerfest. Quiet Company‘s 2011 release, We Are All Where We Belong, came out of utterly nowhere — to me, at least — and freaking floored me, with its combination of shiny, infectious, perfectly-crafted, Jon Brion-esque orchestra-pop and intensely personal, introspective lyrics. With this album, frontman Taylor Muse has chronicled how he lost his previous faith, stepping from a belief in God towards a more secular, this-is-all-there-is humanism and choosing the girl he loves over any kind of religious dogma, and it’s a fascinating, affecting listen, like talking to a good friend who’s had some life-changing realizations. We Are All Where We Belong isn’t Muse wondering where he’s headed; he’s actually already thought it through and made his decision, and this is him essentially explaining it to some outside listener. It’s pretty incredible, both as music and a memoir of sorts.
[Quiet Company plays at 1:30PM on Sun., June 3rd, at the Presented By Chipotle Stage.

I have to say, I know who Diplo is and what he does behind the scenes, as it were, more than I know any of the music he himself has released. I mean, c’mon, he’s the guy behind a fair chunk of M.I.A.‘s now-classic “Paper Planes,” and who’s since worked on albums for everybody from Bruno Mars to Beyoncé, not to mention about a bazillion remixes of other artists’ music; in a way, his own stuff’s kind of the secret side project. Which is a shame, really, because Diplo makes some awesomely, ridiculously hard-hitting beats on his own dime, bridging the gap between hip-hop, reggae, Latin sounds, and straight-ahead dancefloor dance like it’s less a chasm and more of a (fuzzy) pencil line. I’m not usually all that big on DJs in general — there are only a handful that I’d listen to on a regular basis outside of a dimly-lit club somewhere — but this guy’s pretty damn impressive. And hey, beyond that, he seems like a genuinely nice, down-to-earth dude for somebody who rubs elbows with the bigshots and quasi-bigshots of the music world.

Oh, and I think he’ll be popping up (at least) twice during Summerfest, seeing as he’s playing solo and with dancehall outfit Major Lazer, so keep an eye out.
[Diplo plays at 2:50PM on Sat., June 2nd, at Stage 3.]

I missed out on seeing LIMB at last year’s Summerfest, and I regretted it as soon as the reports started rolling in. See, the LIMB guys (guy? not sure who all’s in the group, beyond founding member James Templeton) won the “opener” spot on the Main Stage, right before the biggest prime-time names started rolling on, and I heard rumors after the fact that they got booed by the crowd. I’m not entirely sure why, frankly — maybe the outfit’s genre-fucking car-crash of sounds just didn’t fit the sunstroked, ready-for-the-biggies vibe? I can see how that’d happen; the music they make’s not something you can just throw on and jam to, generally, but takes rather some serious attention and thought to absorb.

It’s worth the effort, mind you, on both debut EP The Shape of Punk for Some and later EP LIMB and Himself (which I think is a collab between the main band and Alex Cardenas); if you’re really listening, the disparate, densely-layered sounds all somehow resolve themselves into something totally strange but kind of, well, beautiful, in a way. Seriously, lisen to “Jimbasajeet” and tell me it doesn’t sound like the long-lost offspring of The Chemical Brothers’ poppier moments and Aphex Twin’s devilish mindfuckery.
[LIMB plays at 2:50PM on Sun., June 3rd, at Stage 3.]

Young the Giant
Been meaning to give Young the Giant a listen for a little while now, after hearing good things about ’em, and I’m damn glad I have, now. Despite the band being signed to once-metal label Roadrunner, they’re anything but, instead mining a veing of midtempo alternarock that owes quite a bit to the whole romantic-pop scene of the ’80s, with plenty of soulful vocals and sweeping, U2-esque choruses, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. The band can rock — go looking for live footage of them playing “My Body,” and you’ll get what I mean — but they’re also more intimate than a stadium full of sound generally can be, coming off like the rougher younger siblings of soul-rockers Ambassadors or a scuffed-up Killers.
[Young the Giant plays at 3PM on Sun., June 3rd, at the Jeep Power Amp Stage.]

Morris Day and The Time
When I first saw the lineup for this year’s Summerfest and saw Morris Day and The Time on there, I started doing a happy ittle dance right there at my desk. No, I’m not kidding. I’m psyched as hell to hear the band’s still together and still touring, honest; I went through a phase where I couldn’t freaking stand Prince — I didn’t really appreciate him as a songwriter or guitarist ’til I got to college — and when I saw Purple Rain, well, my teenage self immediately rooted for The Bad Guy in the film, the Anti-Prince, Morris Day himself. I didn’t realize at the time that Prince basically owned The Time (according to Wikipedia, he still does, which makes the fact that the band’s touring under that name kind of interesting), but just saw them as a cool, pimp-style funk band that should’ve kicked Prince’s ass. Hey, it was the ’80s.

Plus, we’re talking about a band that included/includes Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Jellybean Johnson, all three of whom ended up producing an insane amount of music in the early ’90s. Granted, it wasn’t all good, but hell, Jam & Lewis and Johnson helped to create the overall sound of the whole damn era…
[Morris Day and The Time play at 3PM on Sat., June 2, at the Jeep Power Amp Stage.

That’s as much as I can do right now, y’all; more to come soon, I swear.

4 Responses to “FPSF 2012 Rundown, Pt. 1: Caddywhompus + Girl In A Coma + Quiet Company + Diplo + Young the Giant + Morris Day + More”

  1. tom klein on June 14th, 2012 at 12:23 am

    girl in a coma kicked ass. how can you review 3 bands performances that were performing at the same time though? kind of impossible. the headliners were flat. the bands you praised were playing at the same time

  2. Jeremy Hart on June 14th, 2012 at 8:04 am

    That’s just how it worked out, man, sorry — we put all 126 bands/people playing in a big list and then randomly picked the ones we wrote up, and these were the ones that came up. Besides, to each their own; I love GIAC, too, but I can easily see how some people might shrug and give ’em a pass.

    I should note, btw, that these weren’t/aren’t reviews of the bands’ *performances* — still working on that (although Aaron Brown’s writeup has already gone online, w/Jason Smith’s to follow). These were *previews* of some of the gigantic pile of people playing, not reviews of the actual sets they played at FPSF…

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