Monday, June 3, 2013

Oysterfest Music Festival - Festival Review

     We went to the Guinness, Oyster and Music Festival (Oysterfest) in Golden Gate Park on Saturday June 1. It certainly helped that the weather was near perfect in San Francisco. But it would have been a good experience if conditions had been less favorable. Even at its height, the crowd density was comparable to what should be expected in the early afternoon of one of the high profile festivals, such as Outside Lands, Coachella and Austin City Limits. That is, it was not difficult to be within 20 feet of the stage, the other concert-goers were respectful, the lines for food and beverages were manageable….
     Oysterfest included a main stage and a dance tent. We meandered to the dance tent a number of times, but only entered once. The sound system was powerful without being overpowering. The crowd was entertained and entertaining. But our focus was on the main stage.
      For the two locatioons, the set times were:
12:00- Branches
12:30- Family of the Year
1:40- Shiny Toy Guns
3:05- Mutemath
4:35- Devo

12:00- The Schmidt
1:00- Chris Clouse
2:00- Classixx Live
3:00- Bag Raiders
4:00- RAC
     The surprise of the day was Branches. Their performance was “tight” and the combination of the female and male vocals was effective. Then, throw in instruments that set the band apart from the norm and it brings a music lover to that “space” we all know too well, namely that thought process as to why some bands receive national exposure and radio play while far more talented bands receive far less attention. 
     On Saturday, we particularly enjoyed the use of the pump organ, which is shown in the above picture. Regardless of the difference in the sound of the pump organ relative to comparable modern instruments, we view the band’s (Natalie Nicoles’) decision to continue with the use of the instrument as evidence of prioritizing their "sound" over all else. Branches also features a banjo and throws in some horns for some songs. 
     The Facebook page of Branches identifies the core members as Tyler Madsen, Natalie Nicoles, Jacob Montague, Tyler Goerzen, Mitchell Dong, and Michael Springs.
     "Helicopter" by Branches

     "Maps of Wars" by Branches
NoiseTrade: (we recommend that you leave a tip):

     The second band was Family of the Year. This was our fourth opportunity to see the band. The positive difference between the Oysterfest performance and our first opportunity (with Bell X1 at The Independent in 2009) was unmistakable. The band has undergone at least one personnel change, and it has paid dividends. On Saturday, they “nailed” their current hit- “Hero.” As a whole the performance was solid.
     In praising Family of the Year, Steven Tyler referred to the band as “The Mamas and Papas on acid.” This is one of those statements that gains circulation because of the origin, rather than its accuracy. The band’s music is not psychedelic and is not the increased energy of an acid trip. But like the Mamas and Papas, Family of the Year relies on harmonization. The “on acid” reference must be based on the heavier guitars, as compared to the music of the Mamas and the Papas.
     According to Wikipedia, “Family of the Year is an American indie band from Los Angeles, California consisting of members Sebastian Keefe, Joseph Keefe, Christina Schroeter, James Buckey and Alex Walke.”
     "Hero" by Family of the Year


Shiny Toy Guns
     Shiny Toy Guns put together a great combination of showmanship (is "showwomanship" an acceptable term?) and quality music. The band transitions well from its melodic songs (such as “Somewhere to Hide”) to its punk songs (such as their current single “Speaking Japanese”). "Speaking Japanese" seems to have the same masked theme as the 1980 song “Turning Japanese,” but we cannot make that statement with a high level of confidence. While the material was otherwise their own, fortunately Shiny Toy Guns also performed their cover of David Bowie’s “Major Tom.”
     Shiny Toy Guns is based in Los Angeles, California. The current members are Carah Faye Charnow (Vocals/ Synth), Chad Petree (Vocals/ Guitar), Jeremy Dawson (Synths / Bass), and Mikey Martin (Drums).  
     "Speaking Japanese" by Shiny Toy Guns (recorded at Oysterfest)

     "Mercy" by Shiny Toy Guns

     We saw Mutemath in 2012 and expected another good show at Oysterfest. We were not disappointed. The stage presence of the drummer (Darren King) is worth the price of admission. But the frontman (Paul Meany) also has a strong stage presence. At the 2012 show, ­­­­­­­­they brought out a black inflatable mattress and Meany used a wireless microphone as he stood atop the mattress and the crowd passed the mattress around the venue (body surfing style, but with a mattress). At Oysterfest, the density of the people would not have supported such an antic, but Meany walked through the crowd with his wireless microphone and the concert-goers were appreciative. A picture of Meany while next to us is below:
     We admit to favoring the earlier offerings of Mutemath over the material from their most recent album. But that doesn’t stop us from attending their concerts.
     According to Wikipedia, “Mutemath is an American alternative rock band from New Orleans that formed in 2003. The group consists of lead vocalist and keyboardist Paul Meany, drummer Darren King, guitarist Todd Gummerman, and bassist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, but they often perform on any mixture or variation of these instruments.”
     "Blood Pressure" by Mutemath

     The headliner was Devo. We remained in our position all day, but suddenly the people around us aged at least two decades. It was as if a time warp affected about 80 percent of the people within 20 feet of the stage. Or maybe the younger crowd was pressured out by their parents after Mutemath finished. 
     We were skeptical that members of a band formed in 1972 could have credibility in performing the high energy new wave music that is characteristic of Devo. The band was surprisingly successful, but the show was not as entertaining for us as it was for people around us.

No comments:

Post a Comment