Every year Columbia’s (rather under-appreciated) alt. weekly puts on a locals-centered music festival designed to illustrate just how much music gets made around these parts. This year, the crawl spans 2 days, features 41 bands, and takes place across 6 stages—all of which means any reasonably interested music fan is gonna have a hard time not finding some local music to blow their socks off. With so many options though, how does one choose where to be and when? Well, this week’s Free Times has provided extensive coverage to give you a feel for the bands here, but we thought we’d also tell you what Jasper recommends…
Friday Night: Arts & Draughts at the Columbia Museum of Art
This is the easy night, since none of the bands overlap. However, Jasper would like to HIGHLY recommend coming out tonight for the following reasons: 1) Arts & Draughts is always a good time—good beer on tap, the Bone-In BBQ food truck will be there, and you are supporting our thoroughly awesome art museum, 2) Jasper’s editor-in-chief is giving a unique perspectives tour of the museum’s permanent collection tour (see previous blog here), and 3) these bands are just awesome. The night kicks off at 7 pm with a great buzz band out of Denver, CO, The Lumineers, who remind us of The Head and the Heart mixed with Mumford & Sons.
Following them up are Columbia’s own Say Brother, who play amped-up blues and country tunes with punk rock fervor.
Mac Leaphart and his Ragged Company take the stage at 9 pm, and Leaphart’s songs are written with the poignancy and humor of John Prine, but this a band that takes it cues from Gram Parsons and The Rolling Stones.
And, most, importantly, South Carolina’s most badass musical duo closes the show, Charleston’s Shovels & Rope. I could go on for pages about Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, the husband-and-wife team who power through their amazing songs with minimal accompaniment in a way that is simply breathtaking. Seriously, you only need to hear Ms. Hearst’s voice once live to be forever taken with the band’s music.
Saturday Night: Free Times Music Crawl, the Main Event
Alright, where to begin? First off, it is worth noting that the stages are set up roughly to accommodate a music fan’s particular interests. Wet Willie’s features R&B and Hip-Hop acts (including joke rappers Sweet Vans, who might actually appeal more to the indie rock crowd), Flying Saucer has mainly bluegrass/alt. country bands (with Myrtle Beach’s new wave-ish Octopus Jones being the odd man out), and Art Bar, Kelly’s, and the Tin Roof are the primary rock stages, with each venue having a pretty thorough mix of acts. Jasper always has a difficult time getting down to Wet Willie’s at these events despite best intentions, largely because the distance between that stage and the rest of the venues eats up valuable time. Anyway, let’s get down to the schedule:
7:10-7:40pm – Pinna (Kelly’s)
Even if you are the kind of person who hates jam bands, this is still an act worth checking out. Lead guitarist and singer George Fetner (who has a degree in music composition from USC) is one of the town’s most gifted guitar players, and he and his band mates, more than most jam bands, actually engage and surprise their listeners with their adventurous improvisational forays.
7:30-8:00pm – Those Lavender Whales (Art Bar-indoors)
A quirky indie pop act who don’t quite sound like anyone else, this is a group also worth checking out because they run Fork & Spoon records, one of the most admirable record label/collectives in town.
8:10-8:40pm – Ye Mighty! (Kelly’s)
Although it might seem silly to call a band “buzz worthy” within the confines of a local scene, it’s easy to call Ye Mighty! just that. Featuring the wonderful vocals of Beth Dickerson and a cast of well-known scene members backing her up, the group plays swirling post-punk that threatens to burst into full-blown anthems.
8:40-9:10pm – Marshall Brown (Tin Roof)
Brown is a singer/songwriter whose music is absolutely drenched in 60s and 70s psychedelia, mixed with a bit of the bedroom pop eclecticism that sprouted up in the 90s. Even in a town with a music scene as diverse and quirky as Columbia’s, Brown stands out for forging his own, singular path.
9:20-9:50pm – Fayth Hope (Wet Willie’s)
Hope makes music in the neo-soul tradition, which means an earthy mix of soul and R&B with a decidedly retro feel. She has a gorgeous voice, and the advance tracks from her forthcoming LP are positively tantalizing.
9:30-10:00pm – Death Becomes Even the Maiden (Art Bar – indoors)
This overlaps a bit with Hope, and could not be more different, but Jasper is also equally excited to see the heavy, complex post-rock of DBETM again as well—although, full disclosure, guitarist Heyward Sims is our design editor. Even if he wasn’t, though, it would be hard not to champion dark, propulsive tunes and formidable chops.
10:10-10:40pm – Elonzo (Kelly’s)
A Rock Hill family band with a definite Southern vibe, these guys make dreamy, grandiose indie folk-pop with a hint of Americana. This is the kind of music that tends to disarm even the most cynical of us with its buoyant, cathartic musical releases into the stratosphere.
10:50-11:20pm – The Unawares (Flying Saucer)
Jasper has previously reviewed the band’s new record here, and we are psyched to see some of these new songs played in action.
11:00-Midnight – Magnetic Flowers (Art Bar outdoors)
Kinetic, literary indie folk/rock at its finest. Built around three songwriters, four singers, and the dizzying keyboard parts of Adam Cullum, the band’s well-layered sound and penchant for capturing the unvarnished truth about their generation (for better or worse) in their lyrics makes them one of the scene’s most powerful acts.
12:10-12:40am – Junior Astronomers (Kelly’s)
Built upon the ferocity and dynamics of emo, Charlotte’s Junior Astronomers can credit their success to incorporating classic rock arrangements and energetic, prog-like guitar parts. That, and the unfettered passion of lead singer Terrrence Richard’s vocals and on-stage charisma.
1:00-1:45am – The Restoration (Art Bar – indoors)
This is where we are closing out the night (unless John Wesley Satterfield is still playing over at Kelly’s). The Restoration are one of our favorite bands in the city. Their 19th century concept is heartfelt and authentic, the stories are told with complexity and death, and Daniel Machado and Adam Corbett just write great songs. This ambitious, chamber pop-meets-old-time folk band deserves to be a national name—and we here in the Capitol City should just count ourselves lucky that they happen to sprout up here, and are willing to share with us their tunes in the wee hours of Sunday morning…
-- Kyle Petersen is the Music Editor of Jasper -- The Word on Columbia Arts