Sure, my head, neck, lower back, knees, and feet all hurt – that doesn’t mean I can’t be strong for one more day of great music (and Duke basketball).
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers (Main Stage)
As I mentioned in my Day IV review, I thoroughly enjoy Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. I dig her vibe, her voice, her songwriting, and her excellent band. This Main Stage set was a chance for several hundred people to get a taste, and they were treated to an hour of raw and real outlaw country/rock. I walked in right as they were wrapping up what I assume was their first song, “Parting Words”, from their excellent Years record. You can see (and listen to) the setlist below, but they got to all of my favorites and basically played what I would have asked them to.
There was no live letdown from the sound and quality of their records, and Eric Peterson is a hoot to watch and listen to on guitar as well. When people ask if I like country music, I typically say no because of the garbage most people consider country music today, but this band is added to a long list of “country” acts I listen to regularly: Dwight Yoakam, Drive-By Truckers, The Bottle Rockets, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Jonny Fritz, and so on.
After doing a scant amount of research, I see that I was led astray – the band technically comes from Garner, NC (if you can believe what you read on the internet), not Chapel Hill. Both are suburbs of Raleigh, so we are beyond splitting hairs here. I also learned that Sarah was raised by a deeply religious family and was not allowed to listen to popular music as a child, and is self-taught on piano. Well, she has found her way, thankfully, and clearly is doing what God, The Universe, or whatever you believe in put here to do.
One writer described her sound as the lovechild of Joan Jett and Hank Williams, and although the timeline doesn’t quite work, I dig it. Great set and lovely way to start one final day of tunes.
Nothin’ Feels Right But Doin’ Wrong
Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t
Devil May Care
The Bottle Never Lets Me Down
New Ways to Fail
Spotify setlist playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/1217400912/playlist/7DDO7ZnEQ6SHe6LeNyKkPe?si=SStS49RPQDC7dygrq14s0A
Guardians of Virginity (Prefunk)
Standing at main stage between Sarah Shook and Rubblebucket, one of my buddies mentioned this band that I had seen a couple weeks ago (see my review of The Hand’s 3-9-19 show where they opened). After I gave a brief description, we agreed to go spend a few minutes to take it in. Imagine a local band of funny and lighthearted metalheads who wear matching outfits and integrate polka, ska, and humor into their performances. Frankly, these dudes should be invited to open for the next Tenacious D tour.
Rubblebucket (Main Stage)
The horns were cool but after a few songs, it was clear this artsy pop was not our style, so it was off to Taphouse to catch the Duke/UCF game and get some food and drink. I would have liked to see “Came Out of a Lady”, a song I do really like, but we made the right call. The end of that Duke game was ridiculous and I’m glad I got to see it. Sadly, as I write this the Blue Devil season is over at the hand of Sparty…
Braided Waves (Olympic)
This is some wall of sound indie rock – that big boy on guitar can sure play it. Boise’s finest, Doug Martsch, was in attendance, enjoying the show and eyeing the room he would own later on. My buddy said this band reminded him of a poor man’s Built To Spill, which, I guess… Either way, they were fun to listen to and even made me put in my earplugs, which I sadly did very few times throughout the weekend.
The word was out on these Portland natives and their fresh take on the spaghetti western sound- Prefunk was packed to the gills for this show. Unfortunately, a mix of low-energy and poor sound led to more than half of the crowd dispersing before the show was over. However, this was a very unique sound in a weekend filled with a lot of music that can start to blend together if you aren’t careful.
We did get plenty of trumpet (which is always nice), acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, whistling, and several handheld percussion instruments that I can’t even name. This was the stuff of old John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movies and there were quite a few older folks in attendance thoroughly enjoying themselves – they didn’t care that the sound was way too low. We kept waiting for something fun like the Rawhide theme or something similar, but they played it straight.
As we settled in way early to ensure a spot for the 11:50 BTS show, we only caught the last three songs from these guys, but they were seriously rocking out. This was loud- very, very loud. I’ll be sure to catch them if they come back.
Black Belt Eagle Scout (Olympic)
No picture, we were in drinks and conversation mode at that point, basically biding our time for what we hoped would be the highlight of the day. This band played some mellow and slower rock songs, and dedicated one song to the Shoshone tribe, reminding us that the land we are standing on was once theirs.
Y La Bamba (Olympic)
This band have been darlings of the indie rock critics for some time, and their albums have never come close to converting me. The live show was fun, with grooves for days and Luz Elena Mendoza’s guitar playing and dancing was more than enough to entertain while they warmed up the crowd for my man Doug.
Oh, when Mendoza called out the loudmouths shouting over by the bar, I loved it. Sadly, they really didn’t get any quieter after that, but I appreciated her direct attempt to confront it. Only complaint is that their set took forever to start – not sure if the blame lands on the band or the venue’s sound team, but it was ridiculous and caused BTS to start late. Not cool, people – not cool.
Built To Spill (Olympic)
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Doug Martsch is no rock n roll prima donna. No, he lugs his own shit on stage and there is not a guitar tech to be found. Could he afford a roadie or two, and maybe a guitar person? Yes, no question, but that is just not who he is – and we love him for it.
A mere three days after playing a set with his new backing band from Brazil, those fellas were replaced on this night by a very young (and clearly excited to be playing) bassist and new drummer. Both of them were up to the task and carried Doug’s muse better than the previous ensemble had on Thursday. Doug also seemed more engaged in this show, although it is tough to say how which was the chicken and which the proverbial egg.
What a way to close out Treefort, standing about five feet from the man shredding his ass off (even breaking a string in the process). This is somewhere around BTS show #17 for me, and after being a little disappointed Thursday, this was a riot.
Temporary technical difficulties…
Sadly, this was cut short, thanks to a strict 1:30 imposed by The Olympic. A friend of mine works there and said she is there until well after 4am cleaning and getting everything back to some semblance of a functioning bar, so I don’t begrudge them for shutting it down – I just wish BTS had gotten their entire allotted time. Looking at the setlist written at Doug’s feet, I know we missed out on “Big Dipper”, “Liar”, or “Trimmed & Burning”, which is a damn shame.
However, we got some great songs, heavy to Keep It Like A Secret – again, they are touring behind that record to celebrate its 20th anniversary, so no surprise there. We also got “Goin’ Against Your Mind”, a live favorite, and two tasty jams from Perfect From Now On: “I Would Hurt A Fly” and “Randy Described Eternity”.
What a night, what a festival – only 51 more weeks until Treefort IX, and I have my ticket already.
You Were Right
Center of the Universe
Three Years Ago Today
I Would Hurt a Fly
Randy Described Eternity
Harborcoat (R.E.M. cover)
Wherever You Go
Goin’ Against Your Mind
Spotify setlist playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/1217400912/playlist/0q3hmd1JJHFmmeUIF7Vt6y?si=31dd5CwXR2CqVjEnIhzV8Q