Fielded/Idiot Glee/Dent May/Bleached @ Al's Bar
(Saturday September 21, 2013)
Though not as established as South By Southwest or Coachella, Lexington, Kentucky's Boomslang Fest, put together by the University of Kentucky's radio station WRFLm is able to attract some of my favorite bands, but it's still small enough to provide intimate shows for an eclectic crowd of music fans. Yesterday I attended the free portion of the festival hosted by Al's Bar, excited to get the chance to see Los Angeles-based girl punk band Bleached as well as Dent May, a Beach Boys-influenced artist from Jackson, Mississippi. Though forecasts predicted rain, the weather on Saturday was the best I've seen in weeks, and all signs pointed to a fun afternoon of live music.
I arrived at Al's Bar during the tail end of a short outdoor set by Fielded, the electronic solo project of Brooklyn's Lindsay Powell. I only got to catch a couple of songs, but what I heard wasn't bad. Her sound was a bit of a cross between Grimes' hyperactive electronica and Beach House's hazy dream-pop vibe. Through the speakers, you could really get a feel for the many layers of each track, and Powell's vocals were no less powerful than they are on her new LP Ninety Thirty Thirty. The crowd moved indoors for the next show, featuring Idiot Glee.
Idiot Glee was the only local band in the lineup, but certainly had the chops to compete with the visiting acts. They delivered a very unique sound, putting a shoegazey spin on old school rock n' roll. Their merch table had the biggest spread, including two LPs and a smattering of Street Gnar tapes. Though the first half of the set was predominantly guitar-driven, frontman James Friley took to the keyboard halfway in, giving the band a looser, more spaced-out sound. The bass player broke a string during the closing track and powered through as if nothing had happened. Though I hadn't previously heard much from Idiot Glee, the Mac Demarco/Chris Cohen fan inside me couldn't resist their nostalgic, yet all-too-fresh songcraft.
Next came my favorite show of the night, Dent May's outdoor set. Just a few weeks after the release of his Sophomore album, May and his backing trio seemed to have a lot of energy going into the set and it showed. His music live actually sounded more lush and complex than the baroque, Pet Sounds vibe of his album material, mainly due to swirling effects that saturate May's guitar chords. The funky bass guitar and retro keys seemed to be a hit among neighbors of Al's Bar, and a few unsuspecting locals who happened to be walking down the street at the time broke out into dance. May relieved himself of rhythm guitar duties on the closing track, wading into the small crowd to sing. He hopped up onto a fence, making for a prime photo opportunity and then climbed up on top of the amplifiers stacked on stage right. I got a chance to introduce myself to Dent and make small talk. Though always a little hesitant to approach bands after a show, I found him to be quite approachable and kind.
Bleached was the last band to perform and arguably the crowd favorite. Hailing all the way from LA, the Burger Records quartet adds elements of riot-grrrl to early 80s hardcore punk. Singer Jennifer Clavin, wearing a Germs t-shirt, had great vocals for garage-punk, sounding a bit similar to the Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone. Much of the crowd jumped and thrashed about to the upbeat and bouncy set, which included a couple of Ramones covers. Bleached was a great choice to close out the lineup, leaving the festival attendees pleased, and with a boost of punk energy.