Sunday’s stay at the UMS was shorter than I would have liked. In the end it was probably good for my knee but I wouldn’t have minded getting down there a little earlier. The reason I didn’t was because I had to go and celebrate my own birthday with my family. It really was inconsiderate of me to have my birthday the same weekend of the UMS but I suppose it just couldn’t be avoided.
So what of day two? Was it as good as day one? Better? Somehow equal yet different. I guess I’ll have to go over the whole thing with you here to let you know.
You Me & Apollo (who I apparently forgot to take a picture of) was a great way to kick off my Sunday UMS experience. This band, based out of Ft. Collins, has a really good indie sound. Perhaps there is nothing, musically, that makes them overly unique but their songs are well composed and enjoyable.
What really set them apart however were the vocals. Their lead singer, hipstery though he may have been, had an interesting delivery that made the songs unique and engaging. There was something about his voice and the way that he carried the song that I just found engaging. I realize that I talk a lot about honesty in music but it’s not something that everyone has. Some people force the lyrics or just sing unimpressive words prettily and that just doesn’t always cut it for me. I need feeling, I need emotion, I need to see a connection between the singer and the song. This guy has that. The pain and the heart and the soul are all there and it just works. I’ll definitely see these guys again.
I only caught the very end of Paper Bird’s set and I contemplated not saying anything about them at all but I was so enamored with the two songs that I hear that I just felt like I had to mention them.
They had this great acoustic sound that coupled beautifully with wonderful vocal harmonies. I was just taken by them almost immediately and knew that I had to see more. I really don’t have a ton to say because, well I didn’t see much, but I’m going to keep an eye out for them and hopefully bring a full review of them to you in the near future.
I actually saw Nathaniel Rateliff twice. Once Saturday and Once Sunday. I didn’t mention him on the Saturday post because I knew that I would talk about him here. Rateliff is one of those local artists who I had heard a lot about, mostly from friends, but had somehow never managed to see. That was a pretty big oversight on my part.
On Saturday he was the special guest that immediately followed the Joe Sampson performance on the Irish Rover rooftop. That set was very simple, it was just him and his guitar with Julie Davis joining him on vocals for several of the songs. His songs are well written and his voice has a sort of simple power to it. It’s not one of those overly pretty voices but it is good, and the earnestness with which he delivers his songs makes it wonderful. Really my only complaint about the acoustic set was that it was too short. understandably so, but still I would have loved to see more.
The strange thing about the Sunday set was that I actually liked it more than the Acoustic set. There was something about the fullness of the music with all of the accompanying instruments that added a sweeping quality to the songs. They were more urgent, more moving, and more powerful with all of that music behind his vocals. It was a wondrous thing to behold.
Those two sets weren’t enough for me, not by a long shot. I’m going to have to make a point of seeing him more often, of buying his music, of experiencing this more. He does get out of the state fairly frequently, often in support of Mumford and Sons, and if he’s anywhere near you you should go see him. You will not be disappointed.
These guys were, by far, the most unique thing I saw at this festival. They were a quartet that played what sounded to me like jazz, but, maybel like folk jazz. I guess. I don’t even know and to be honest I’m not even sure I liked it, mostly because the vocals weren’t that great. They were kind of stilted and aggressive which really didn’t work for me. Of course that was just when the guitarist was singing when the piano player sang the vocals had a more rough earthy quality that I really liked. He only sang on two songs though so it was hard to get into them. One of the songs he sang one, which as the last song, there was some banjo involved and it felt very different from everything else they had played and I liked it much more.
There’s no denying that these are talented musicians though. For the most part they just didn’t fit in with my taste and that’s not really their fault.
This was the worst of the acts that I saw. Really, the worst. I just didn’t get it and I didn’t like it. Not even a little bit. They had two drummers, which is one two many. A drummer and a percussionist is fine but two full drum sets is really just uncalled for is you ask me. their music was little more than a cacophony of noises intermixed with random tones. They had a woefully underused accordion and, hell, everything was just a mess. I just didn’t like anything they were doing. So much so that if my knee wasn’t bothering me and I wasn’t so looking forward to who followed them I would have left. I know that’s not a big deal at a music festival but if I’m going to write about someone I want to see everything they have to give. I stayed but, man, it was rough. Most baffling of all was the insane amount of cheers they got when they were finished. A lot of people seem to have genuinely enjoyed them and I just didn’t see how such a thing was possible.
I wasn’t able to find any videos of them performing live.
So we reach the pinnacle. The last act I saw and the main reason I wanted to go to this festival in the first place. I’ve wanted to see Ezra Furman ever since Mumbles talked about him on her blog over a year ago. After than one post I was an instant fan. I’ve bought almost all of the music that he’s put out and I love everything I hear from him. Something about this man just speaks to my musical sensibilities.
I missed my chance to see him perform with The Harpoons the last time they were in town which is unfortunate because it would seem the harpoons are no more. Ezra doesn’t seem to have a band right now but that’s okay. As he said last night, when it’s just he and his guitar, the words don’t have anywhere to hide if they are bad. So it’s a good thing his words are very very good.
On stage he seemed a bit nervous as he made odd, yet hilarious, jokes between songs. His stage presence was unique and endearing as he joked about being able to out song write people and made comments about his songs before he played them. I’m loath to compare someone to Dylan because, really that’s a rough comparison for anyone to live up to, but watching him solo it really seemed to be as close to early Dylan as you could get. He way playful and funny while his songs were beautiful and moving. He struck this perfect balance and the set was just amazing.
Sadly, with his set being at 11 on Sunday he was faced with the dregs of the festival, by which I mean an excessive amount of drunken people talking loudly throughout his set. He handled it well but for the twenty or so of us there to actually listen to his music it was supremely annoying. I really hope he comes this way again soon so I can see him in a crowd that is actually there to see him.
I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better end to this festival. Ezra met and exceeded all of my expectations. It was a great set and all I can really say is go and see him. If you get a chance see him. He’s a great songwriter and a great musician and I think he’ll win you over quickly.
Two songs from him in closing: