Words & Photos by Anthony Abu-Hanna
The mud is drying and the sun is shining when the gates open for Day 2 of Sound On Sound, as the festival grounds start to fill with eager fans ready to be serenaded by a killer lineup of musicians. While the first day may have been hampered by weather, Sunday was a gift with perfect temperatures, sunshine, and good vibes.
Noon, it’s the perfect Snacktime
Philly-based brass band SNACKTIME kicked things off on day two of Sound On Sound. Things got funky right out the gate and it’d be a lie to say that people weren’t drawn up to the multiple levels of barricades to watch these groovy jammers throw down on stage. Even though it was a quick set, they left people wanting more AND they delivered by playing multiple mini-sets throughout the day at different spots on the festival grounds!
Thinking About The Good Times
Calder Allen, all the way from Austin, Texas, was a real surprise following Snacktime. This self-taught guitarist and singer-songwriter invoked Americana, in a way that is reminiscent of Brian Fallon, Gary Clark Jr, and his grandfather – Terry Allen. His deep, soulful vocals, especially on his single Good Times, took people on an emotional journey about finding peace and letting go of what keeps one from that peace.
Day two of Sound On Sound had a theme running through the afternoon and into the evening – nineties nostalgia. It started right off the bat with The Gin Blossoms, who had a delayed start due to some technical issues, powering through all of the biggest hits of their career. Their signature 90’s sound and energy has not faded away after all these years and drew the biggest crowd of the early afternoon.
Yellow Tinted Glasses & a Pink Gelato
Singer-songwriter and visual expert, Cautious Clay, treated guests to an artistic experience of musicianship and graphics for forty-five minutes, playing hits such as Cold War, Joshua Tree, and Shook. His hip-hop inspired music with a mix of electronic and organic instruments, shook the festival grounds down. But it was his natural musicianship that stole his performance as he switched up from playing guitar, flute, and saxophone throughout.
Unpaved Roads & Being Broke
Nashville’s own Margo Price sweetened up the afternoon with her country twang. The singer-guitarist showed off her commanding stage presence, bouncing around the stage, and even ensuring the photographers got some great shots of her right at the edge of the stage. Throughout her performance, she made sure to show off her bandmates, allowing them to take extended solos and the spotlight, as she stood back and strummed along with them.
Jesus Drives An Astrovan
Los Angeles’ Mt. Joy came crashing in to Sound On Sound in an Astrovan, or so it seems. The five-piece indie rock group, currently experiencing an explosion in popularity, commanded the festival crowds with an absolutely captivating performance. Opening right up, to an absolutely packed house, with Lemon Tree, the rockers dug in to a couple of their own songs before diving into a cover of Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road. Matt Quinn’s expressive songwriting and singing led the audience through a collection of hits including Astrovan, Strangers, Julia, and a fantastic ending performance of Silver Lining.
Go Now, You Are Forgiven
Dispatch came out heavy, opening right up with Skin the Rabbit. The multi-instrumentalist quintet, led by Chadwick Stoke Urmstrom and Brad Corrigan, buckled in for a festival set featuring hit after hit including Out Loud, Bang Bang, and The General. These roots rockers made sure the crowd was dancing on their feet. They closed out their set with a horn-fest, groovy, feet moving Letter to Lady J featuring SNACKTIME’s brass section.
We Got Taken To Church
Hozier, wordsmith extraordinaire, turned it up to 11. The festival grounds erupted when he opened right up with De Selby (Part 2) and led right into Jackie & Wilson. The Irish singer-songwriter took fans on a journey of some deep cuts and big hits, but pausing to take a break to announce his frustration at a drone that flew quite close to his face, before resuming the ride of high peaks and quiet lows. The special treat was when he performed his new single Damage Gets Done with his backup singer filling in Brandi Carlile’s parts. And as is tradition, he wasn’t going to leave these ravenous fans hungry without taking them to church to end his set.
“I was born here, so for the rest of the night I’d appreciate it if you just called me John.”
John Mayer hasn’t played a hometown show since June 25th, 2001. It’s been twenty two years since he’s played in the town he was born in. And he fed Connecticut something special to close out Sound On Sound. Right out the gates, he came swinging with fan favorite Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, setting the vibe for the evening – slow jams mixed with big hits. After that was Who Says, where he paused mid-solo to acknowledge all the photographers in the photo pit, and how far back he was from the front of the stage. He treated us photographers well, coming right up to the edge of the stage and shredding an acoustic guitar solo so we could capture “the shot”, before moving back to his spot and into No Such Thing. Settling into the rhythm, he moved deftly through some groovy, melodic masterpieces including Neon, In Your Atmosphere, Walt Grace’s Submarine Test January 1967, Your Body is a Wonderland, and Why Georgia, all the while regaling us with stories about growing up right down the road from the park. He even took fan requests for his joke song – Drone Shot of My Yacht and an encore change-up of 3×5.
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