Live Review: Bluesfest 2016 – Day 2
As the dust settled and punters got over the shock of seeing children in a Kendrick Lamar mosh pit, Bluesfest Day 2 began with unfaultable blue skies. Although there were no sightings of the Easter Bunny on this Good Friday there were treats left all over the festival site in the form of tasty musical morsels.
“Swathed in a disco ball skirt that most eight year old’s would dream of, Ford took us through most of her stunning recent album ‘Indian Ocean’.”
The first piece of deliciousness on Day 2 was Los Angeles indie folk quintet Lord Huron. Sounding like a cross between George Ezra and Boy & Bear, lead singer Ben Schnider impressed not only with his darling vocals but also his ability to wear a suede jacket in almost 30-degree weather.
Our thirst for musical excellence was indulged again as we made our way to the Delta tent to catch Canadian export Frazey Ford. Swathed in a disco ball skirt that most eight year old’s would dream of, Ford took us through most of her stunning recent album ‘Indian Ocean’ (2014). Her distinct vocals combined well with her home grown backing band and talented Brisbanite horn section. It was a refreshing retreat from the hot afternoon sun for those who bothered to stick around.
Galloping over to catch the second half of Elle King’s set proved worthwhile, as the daughter of comedian Rob Schnider and model London King proved that she has pipes that can more than live up to her famous family. A commanding presence on stage and truly a punters musician, King had the enormous crowd wrapped around her little finger as she swore like a sailor and blessed the crowd with originals and a delightful mashup of Nick Jonas’ Jealous and The Weeknd’s Can’t Feel My Face.
As the sun began to fade, the Mojo tent began filling with people and the air was thick with excitement over the two complimentary headliners for the evening. While there is no doubt that City and Colour’s Dallas Green is an indie heartthrob and very talented musician, his 90-minute set dragged on a bit. This could be because I’m not familiar with a lot of City and Colour’s back catalogue but it seemed as though no amount of fancy lights and harmonica solos could save this set from sounding like one very, very long song. My own perceptions aside, Green’s stage banter was adorable as he gushed about the privilege of playing the same stage that D’angelo had played 24 hours before. The crowd seemed very responsive as a rapturous applause played Green off the stage.
This is when the real magic started, as extra lights and a telltale set of stairs were added to the stage. Not as expansive as the Kendrick crowd but just as adoring, the excitement manifested into deafening cheers once the unassuming five piece took to the stage. A set almost identical to their 2014 ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ tour, yet there were absolutely no complaints as we were treated to most of the aforementioned album and a boatload of classics.
“In contrast to the City and Colour set, The National’s performance felt like it didn’t go on for long enough.”
In contrast to the City and Colour set, The National’s performance felt like it didn’t go on for long enough. Stunning visuals that combined choppy effects and stage shots accompanied the perfect music. Nothing could have been improved; the sparse horns cut through the chaotic guitars during the first half of the set. As lead singer Matt Berninger paced pensively across the stage you could almost feel the audience trying to will him into blessing us with his signature wit. We would have to wait a while though, about 50 minutes in Berninger made a wry comment about the limpness of his mic stand. This injection of humour came at the exact right time as straight after the band launched into the emotional assault of Pink Rabbits.
Tears started to flow thick and fast with only a brief reprieve by Berninger’s as he regaled us with an anecdote about an ibis eating his Thai beef salad (a story in which he hinted at the band being in Australia to write a new album). The crying didn’t stop until the finishing track Vanderlye Crybaby in which all pretence was dropped in favour of a good ol’ fashioned sing along. It’s a powerful feeling connecting with thousands of people through music and the smiles on the faces of the band reflected how special that moment was.
A fantastic day capped off with one of the best sets this reviewer has ever seen. The rest of the festival had a lot to live up to.
See our Photo Gallery from Day 2 of Bluesfest HERE