As I’ve been getting my bearings since returning from Savannah Stopover I just scrolled down my timeline to see Caroline Rose Live on Facebook performing at Waterloo Records in Austin, NPR doing a session with Becca Mancari, along with pictures and posts from the other bands we just saw at Stopover on tour. Most attending Stopover at this point realize what’s happening, that these bands are about to go into a buzz machine in Austin, Texas, or gather more and more press on their tour there. Stopover plays a huge part in getting that buzz kickstarted.
Savannah Stopover was a huge success again this year. Even more than the past couple of years it seemed like the clubs were packed for the bands they should be packed for. We caught a ton of bands this year, but several really stood above the rest. When you’re seeing that much music back- to-back the stuff that should stand out really does stand out. At the same time, we missed a lot, and overhearing people rave about Liz Cooper and The Stampede’s afternoon set at the Jinx made me bummed that I missed it. But hey, that’s part of going to a music festival.
So who were some of our top acts?
When the front five to ten rows are packed full of people while the band is setting up, that’s usually a good sign that the band coming up has something special. This was the case for Gus Dapperton and Vundabar, who both drew youthful energetic crowds. Dapperton and company offered a more dancy laid back vibe, while Vundabar had the crowd bouncing off each other and beers being spill all around. Ratboys, who opened for Vundabar, are sometimes described as having some alt country influences, and while they do that stays mostly with their recordings. Live they pretty straight forward indie rock that really stands out because of their superb songwriting and guitar work that channels some early 90’s rock.
Caroline Rose has been on our radar for years, but it wasn’t until last year at High Water Festival in Charleston that she started to stand out above the rest. Seeing her live then, and then her music videos over the last year, and now seeing her again at Stopover after her new record is out, helped me get it. Rose has always had the voice, musical chops and all that, but now she has this really fun image that really reflects her music and is show during her live show. I’m not sure I really understood that before, or maybe I wasn’t supposed to yet. Rose and Ratboys came from a sort of country background in some ways, but seeing Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, who really embrace their country roots, made other acts described as country seem like none of the such. They were everything you’d hope a country band from North Carolina would be like without a whiff of that fake country bull shit that other acts have stuck to the bottom of their freshly purchased cowboy boots.
Also noteworthy were Becca Mancari who we caught at the lunch party at the Grey on Saturday afternoon. Mancari is a talented songwriter who is starting to get the attention she deserves with the “birth” of her new album. Wilder Maker were a surprise act that we found by chance. One who came to play in Columbia the next night and really impressed here as well. Again, it’s songwriting and vocal phrasing that made this band stand out. Something special you have to have with a standard lineup of instruments. One of the highlights of our first night was Shopping whose energy bled over into the crowd at El Rocko Lounge. A venue where you perform on the floor, if the band has energy the first couple of rows are going to have it as well.