Act 1: Jahriffe.
The afternoon kicked off with a little rasta from Jahriffe and the Jah-N-I Roots Movement, as a light crowd starting filtering in, and sunlight filtered in through the cloud cover. A very cool, very chill, relaxed set to warm up the crowd. As the clouds started to disperse, and the sun broke through, the crowd got plenty warm!
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Act 2: Anjimile
Full sun greeted Anjimile as more fans continued to find their way to the festival. Absolutely a fan favorite, it’s no wonder WERS put them on the bill. Pure poetry, set to music, creating an overall ethereal experience.
Here’s Anjimile’s story and winning demo tape submitted to NPR:
This is the song I was still humming at the end of the show, it’s called “to meet you there.”https://anjimile.bandcamp.com/track/to-meet-you-there
Act 3: Air Traffic Controller
Aptly named for lead man Dave Munro’s service in the Navy as an air traffic controller, they also managed to control the skies for their set. They really got the crowd going, singing along with them on the song, “Live In,” getting everyone to sing along w/ the chorus:
“All we can do is live in the time we’re given.”
As luck would have it, after taking my pics from the photo pit, I plunked myself down on the lawn, and found out that I was sitting right next to his mother, and the rest of the family cheering him on from the crowd. So proud, beaming. She shared that the song, “The House,” was really a story about her life. But not the video! The video is a spoof. She also shared that the song, “Bad Axe, Michigan,” is also a true story.
Here are links for both songs.
“The House” https://youtu.be/-99VtVCArXc
“Bad Axe, Michigan” https://youtu.be/Ck_7BgCwnew
Another band I just can’t get enough of!
While there was a lot of sunshine at the start of the set, clouds started moving in again by the end, but it was still so hot. So. Hot. Time to visit the Hydration Station. I was so tempted to make cut-offs out of my cargo pants.
Act 4: Juliana Hatfield
Another fan favorite. I met some wonderful Smith students on the lawn this time. I love Millennials, they are so upbeat. I think I might be a Millennial at heart. I may have been getting a little delirious. So hot. I drank my water and ate my pop tarts.
Act 5: Buffalo Tom
The crowd had definitely grown, reflecting a slightly older crowd having followed the careers of both Juliana Hatfield and Buffalo Tom since the 1990s. And they did not disappoint, playing a mix of old and new songs, and getting everyone on their feet for “Soda Jerk,” off their 1993 album, Big Red Letter Day.
Rain started during this set, from a sprinkle to a steady drumming, and out popped all those rain ponchos and umbrellas, like magical multicolored mushrooms sprouting from the lawn.
There was also a generational change-over as well as a stage make-over between acts, as some older audience members peaced out, having had their fill of music, sun, and rain, while Millennials pressed in, creating almost an audible, perceptible hum of energy in anticipation of the closing act.
It was a good time to grab a grilled cheese sandwich from Roxy's Grilled Cheese Food Truck, and enjoy the party band that was wending its way through the crowd.
Miraculously, the rain started tapering off, back to a sprinkle, and then there was just a cool freshness to the air. Just like that, all the umbrellas popped back away and disappeared as quickly as they’d come out, and fans shed their soggy plastic poncho skins.
Act 6: The Bleachers
The band came on maybe two or three minutes late, but would more than make up for it at the end. They played everything, their whole set, and then some! The band jumped right into action, with lead man Jack Antonoff literally jumping about the stage, with unbridled athleticism.
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick!Jack jump over the drummer’s drumsticks!
He was everywhere. He was bounding about, like a basketball player, singing and playing with abandon. With my media pass, I got to take pics from the photo pit for the first three songs of each set, and so overcome by the energy and adrenaline and the visual and auditory input, I can’t even remember the first three songs. Except that they were great!
Actually, the rest of the show is a bit of a blur, too. I can’t even say in what exact order they played the songs, except that they played everything in the set, squeezing it all in: Shadow, Wild Heart, Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song), Like A River Runs, Let’s Get Married, I Miss Those Days, and on and on, including the song, Everybody Lost Somebody, that starts with that iconic blast of the sax. If you follow Jack on twitter at all, you may have read that a number of songs are about the loss of his sister, when he was 18. It’s raw, it’s real, and strikes a chord.
You survive, you gotta’ give yourself a break
But there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to settle up with Heaven!
It’s a debt I gotta’ settle in Heaven.
It’s a song everybody can identify with, at least anybody who has lost somebody. Here’s the MTV Unplugged version of it:
At one point – actually several points – Jack stops to talk to the audience. He let us know that some things might happen during the show, and it’s okay. The stage is wet, and people might slide and fall down, or break a tooth, and that’s okay, it’s normal, it’s just what happens during their shows. No need to put that stuff on the internet, though!
I’m not sure he realized it, but the way he described his shows also applies to life. It’s loud, it’s messy, it’s fun, sometimes people fall down, and people even get hurt, and you just have to keep playing on.
He didn’t talk about the loss of his sister directly, but he stopped at one point and had his keyboardist hold one note, a deep vibrating note, maybe a B flat. Listen, he told us, listen to that, that one note. Did we hear it? It’s dark, right, but within that darkness, there’s hope, too. Compare that to silence, just nothingness, emptiness. Stop, and listen to silence. Play the note again, and hear it just humming there, you can feel it. The difference between silence and that one note - huge!
Other notes, if you go up, not right, up another note, way too light, too cheerful. Back to that first note thrumming there.
It was that first note that he heard, when he had all these songs in his head, and needed to get them out, hearing that one note made him see the way, to go from emptiness to something, and that one note led to the next note, and the next, and led to his first song. He dreamed of having a band, with two drum sets, and playing with his friends, and it all started with that one note, which led into the song, Rollercoaster.
Life is messy, and sometimes it even involves false starts and do-overs, even, and that’s just what he did! He actually called for a do-over a few lines into the song, and scolded us for not being into it enough. “Get on each other’s shoulders, come on!” And some did, all of us hands in the air, like we’re riding the best roller coaster.
As time was running down, and he still had so much material to cover, he literally started singing faster, checked in with the BPD on time, and then surprised us with a little Depeche Mode, that really got the crowd bouncing up and down: “I Can’t Get Enough.”
Plink! Plink! Plink-plink-plinkity!
With the BPD’s blessing, they played their last two songs and left the crowd jumping and singing along with “I Wanna’ Get Better,” and “Don’t Take The Money.” I think so anyway, but I could be wrong. Who can remember every turn on a rollercoaster? You just hang on, let go, and enjoy the ride!
I Wanna' Get Better
Don’t Take The Money
And you know it’s been a good ride when you get off, and you just want to run and get right back in line, and do it all over again!
So, hey WERS, what do you say, can we do it again next year?
And, if you want to see The Bleachers again, they’re playing again this Saturday August 25th at The Shadow Of The City Music Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey, put on by The Stone Pony.
Road trip anyone?
Happy Wicked Good 2018!
What I heard over and over all day, from walking through the crowd:
This is great, I hope they do it again!
Everyone really couldn’t get enough.
There are more ways to get music now, than ever before: Pandora, Sirius, Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Not that many people even still listen to FM radio. I still do, but maybe I’m an anomaly. If I am, I’m not alone. By my estimates, there were at least 5,000 in the crowd by the end of the day Saturday. So, I’m not alone.
Realistically, more people are getting their music from a variety of disparate sources, analogous to the pressures that print media is facing, trying to stay alive, relevant, and in business, in the Digital Age.
Even though there are more ways than ever for a band to put their music out there, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get found and heard through the noise, although strange and crazy and random things can happen. It’s like an ocean awash with messages in bottles, and every single bottle holds a surprise inside. We have more options than ever before, but there’s no road map. Our FM stations have the opportunity to provide that service by playing new music, and not just the continuous do-loop play lists on all the other stations.
Just as we’re getting more of our music and news online, our interpersonal interactions are happening more and more in a virtual world, through facebook, twitter, texts, snapchat, instagram. E-mail is old fashioned. How often do you use your phone to talk anymore?
And yet, even as more of our social interaction becomes virtual, there is still a really deep desire and need for human connection, and there is no better or more powerful way to connect with people than through music, especially live music. Some of my favorite memories are music: Farm Aid in the 1980s, a Shawn Colvin concert in Copley Square in 1991, and hanging out on the Esplanade waiting for Sarah McLachlan to arrive and perform. This show will rank right up there as one of the best.
Sometimes you find music, or music finds you, just when you need it most. For us, we found The Bleachers one Saturday night, just camped out on the couch, so lame, just flipping through channels, and came across their show on MTV Unplugged, taped at The Stone Pony, and we were hooked. So much energy, maybe even channeling a little bit of Bruce Springsteen, with “baby-we-were-born-to-run” kind of energy. This is the kind of music that reaches into your chest, gives a joyous punch to your heart, and makes you feel alive again. It’s a physical experience. He is an artist in the purest sense of the word.
His reflection on the “one note” reminded me of a blog from two years ago. Sometimes it all starts with a bunt.
It Starts With a Bunthttp://www.gainline.com/2016/10/
Bonus material: The demo for my radio show on WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston last year:https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/schmidthappens20161030
You have to meet yourself where you are, you have to start somewhere. And that reminds me of my very first blog, A Dangerous Question.
A Dangerous Questionhttp://www.gainline.com/2014/09/i-was-atlunch-with-friend-few-weeks-ago.html
Ask yourself, if you dare. What does it take to rouse you from your slumber, to start something?
For Jack, it took one note.
And Jack knows Jack!
Bonus track: “Don’t Make No Roads.”https://youtu.be/laS4eG1u5J8
Acknowledgments:Photos were made possible thanks to a media pass from WERS – Thanks much!
Mark Your Calendar:
· August 25, 2018: Shadow of the City music fest, hosted by The Stone Pony, in Asbury Park, NJ. You can catch The Bleachers, and more great acts, such as Hayley Kiyoko, who just won her first VMA – congrats! Check it out! Road trip anyone?
· August 29: Jahriffe and the JAH-N-I Roots Movement play at the Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Way, MA, at 6 PM. Rasta on! Also playing September 8th in Laconia and September 15th in Portland, ME.
· HUBweek 2018: October 8-14. https://2018.hubweek.org/
© 2018 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS
Mission Statement: To Educate, Inform, Entertain, Inspire, and Open Minds. (E.I.E.I.O.M.)
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