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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Show Review: Way Over Yonder Fest, Day 1: Local Natives, Lucinda Williams, Houndmouth, Bootstraps, Moses Sumney

Lucinda Williams played the Way Over Yonder Festival at the Santa Monica Pier

Show Review:
Way Over Yonder Fest, Day 1:
 Local Natives, Lucinda Williams, Houndmouth, Bootstraps, Moses Sumney
Santa Monica Pier

   Loyal readers will have certainly noticed a precipitous decline in the amount of writing about music  here.   This is a result of the combination of a number of factors:  Having said everything I have to say about "local music" (true for a number of years), some undisclosed changes in my participation in the record business, and an objective decline in the amount of shows attended.  It is a sad reality of this blog that the often exciting events in my life, as a criminal defense lawyer and record label owner must go undisclosed on this blog, leaving a steady diet of old book reviews in their stead.

  Yesterday I found myself on the Santa Monica pier for the first night of the two night Way Over Yonder Festival, a collaboration between the Echo and the Newport Folk Festival.  This was the second year for this festival- last year I saw Calexico, Justin Townes Earle and Jessica Pratt.  This year the main attraction was Lucinda Williams.
Bootstraps, played the Way Over Yonder festival- handsome lads indeed.

  Arrived at 430 PM sharp to see Bootstraps, a mainstream ready indie act, with radio friendly hits on tap, a professional stage presence and male model looks (literally) that is somehow label-less and playing the opening slot.  They had a Top 40 rock sound that reminded me of other Top 40 Adult Contemporary acts like The Script or The Fray.  The scuttlebutt among industry types in the crowd was that they had parted ways with indie leaning Capitol Records sub-label Harvest, which, if true, makes me wonder what the fucking fuck they are even doing at Harvest if they don't know what to do with Bootstraps.    I mean, they aren't in my income bracket, but if I had a spare hundred grand I wouldn't hesitate to try to get their song California on commercial rock/adult contemporary radio.
Houndmouth played the Way Over Yonder Festival at the Santa Monica Pier

   Second act was Houndmouth (not Houndsmouth, apparently) which I took in from the back of the pier while scarfing down an excellent fried chicken sandwich from the "Peaches" food truck.  During this episode it was clear that once again a show at the Santa Monica pier had delivered A plus people watching- which is  nowadays my primary criterion for whether or not I attend a show.  Houndmouth also had a highly professional stage presence, male and female vocals, and an accessible rock/country/americana sound.

Moses Sumney played the first day of Way Over Yonder fest.

  Moses Sumney was a bit of head scratcher as the sunset set pick- solo for much of the set with some accompaniment on acoustic guitar, he mixed singer songwriter material with more esoteric drone and electronic influenced music, none of which seemed to particularly impress the mellow crowd.

  The highlight was the set by Lucinda Williams.  I'm not a fan, but I know a priceless opportunity when I hear about one, and seeing Lucinda Williams play the Santa Monica pier is a priceless opportunity.  She opened strong with a couple of older hits, then veered into newer material that featured a heavy blues-rocks influence, and many, many, many lengthy guitar solos.  She also read her lyrics off of a lectern just to her right.  God bless her.  I have never seen so many middle aged white ladies dance with abandon as I did last night.

  Headliners, and Pitchfork approved, alt rock bros Local Natives took the stage to billowing clouds of pot smoke.   I've managed to totally avoid their rise to prominence. I'm not saying I hate Ian Cohen and everything he stands for, but his seal of approval was critical to me deciding to avoid them for the last few years.  But what can you say- they do know how to put on a show, they have an unpretentious stage presence and despite struggles with the sound mix, it was easy to see why people are into them.   If they are ever looking for a new band name, might I humbly suggest "Arcade Weekend?"  Good for them though, they have seemingly earned their success, and appear poised to become a top rank touring rock band.

  Again, the Santa Monica Pier earned high marks for people watching and just generally being an amazing place to see a live show.  I highly recommend it, and if you are so inclined, get down there today to see Jackson Browne play his hits.  18 million records sold IN THE US ALONE.  Running On Empty- it should be dope.

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