And here we are again, recapping our Newport Folk Fest weekend. This is our 11th year covering the folk fest (tenth for Music Ravings!) and we need to thank y’all for stopping by. We hope you find our blog useful to you whether it be in finding new music; knowing which albums to avoid; or just generally having fun with our rather randomly constructed interviews. So every year at the folk fest we make a promise to ourselves to smell the flowers, hear the folk and not run ourselves wild from stage to stage. And this year, we’ve finally made good on that promise. It was an experience.
Spoiler alert: the Newport Folk Fest was amazing. But definitely come back to check out our Saturday and Sunday recaps.
Overall, we felt that this year was more about the big names than the big discoveries. In years past, we’d discovered The Oh Hellos, Typhoon, Jalen N’Gonda, and a slew of other small, small acts that put on a big, big show. Some of these smaller acts we didn’t connect to this year. A couple of these new acts we’re pegging as catches we don’t want you to miss. So stay tuned for those.
But there were more than a handful of acts that made us so very excited for this July weekend. Friday was just that, and delivered those acts we knew and loved. But let us start ourselves off here, with the first act to start off the Fest ’18, with all photos (c) Matthew Keefer:
Boston quartet Darlingside takes a page from Fleet Foxes’ book with four-part harmonies that make you feel like you’re cozy at home by the fire. They have a warm, gorgeous sound and a second LP out this past February. We were entranced for a moment by sheer force of relaxation, with our main point of critique that Darlingside doesn’t quite weave their songs as entrancingly as they unfold their sound. But we like their sound, we dug what they were doing, and we might head back in their direction soon.
Which takes us to the funk.
Fantastic Negrito arrived at Cloud Rock via a pit stop in Funksville for “Bad Guy Necessity,” asserting that, yes, everybody needs a bad guy. We caught a bit of their TV set on CBS This Morning the day after, so these gents are certainly up-and-comers. But a couple sets later, also on the main stage, was this lady we’d wanted to catch in earnest for a while:
The anticipation of catching Margo Price this year was a bit much for us, and when she came on to the stage, we parked ourselves right there for the whole set. The woman is a total rock-hog, and set off down the long, meandering road of extended jams that would certainly disappoint parents and encourage their children to sex, drug, and/or rock and roll. But yes, Price’s performance was what we’d thirsted for, and where we really got our rocks off of (of where we got our rocks off?). She was rock. The rock was good.
In start contrast stood pop duo Lucius, and… you’ll see how different.
We adore Lucius‘ fun sound; fun, which is not to say that their vocals are any less talented, certainly not. But Lucius is… different. They had a handful (har har) of interpretive dancers on stage, swaying and adding fury to the sound. We caught the bulk of Lucius’ set, and regretfully still have yet to catch up on their March-released “Nudes,” an exciting acoustic album that we want the download to! But speaking of vocals, and talent, and someone we’d been dying to catch, Lucius brought out on stage Brandi Carlile, who’d made many an appearance all weekend long. That woman… she got dem pipes, alright. Come back to our later posts for more on Mrs. Carlile.
And dem pipes. We’ll finish up Friday with a woman known for her shredding, angular song construction, outside-the-norms-of-reality lyrics, and, now, her barebones vocals paired with a grand piano:
Though we haven’t kept up with St. Vincent in a couple releases, we are humongous fans of her output. Before the set, we’d been warned a bit of her latest tour: a grand departure from her bizarre electro-pop tendencies. This… this was unexpected. This set we listened to songs throughout her career in a more bare, naked setting. Her lyrics stood out especially, without other electro-buzzerings to fill in those voids. Hearing a song like “The Bed” and being exposed directly to those lyrics was something surreal, as if we found a lost tape of Hendrix strumming a folk version of “Purple Haze” on acoustic. (Check our Ebay listing for said tape.) Thomas Bartlett supported on piano (off to the left), and this set was a real treat.
This was Friday. Those big names we’d wanted, they delivered. Come back in a few for our Saturday review, and absolutely come back for Sunday after that, for the highlight of the whole ‘Fest. (Several highlights, we’d say.) Folk on, y’all,