Summer music festivals are all the rage, but one big downside is the hole they inevitably leave in your wallet. Bonnaroo tickets range between $230-$1,500, not to mention the gas money to drive there and the cash you’ll spend once inside festival gates. The big draw to music fests however are the sheer number of groups that perform and the atmosphere created. You’re getting your money’s worth by seeing these bands all together instead of at separate shows, and the hype is definitely a part of the experience!
Though I would have loved to go to a higher-scale fest like Bonnaroo this summer, I was ecstatic to get a little taste of that multi-act satisfaction in the form of a local record label showcase. Charleston-based label Hearts & Plugs revealed their talents at King Dusko for a much more laid-back but still high energy Summer Shindig with the ticket price of only $10. That included over 6 hours of music from 9 different bands along with free sweet treats from Jeni’s ice cream and personalized flower crowns. If I could make a list of the things I love in this world, it would include ice cream, flowers, and indie rock… so this event was pretty spot on. Plus, if money is speaking correctly, then I had the choice to either go big or go home, and the local showcase ended up satisfying for a much cheaper ticket price.
Though I missed the opening performances from Mr. Jenkins, Ashley Hopkins, and The Lovely Few (who I was especially bummed about not seeing because I totally dig their latest disc The Geminids), I did catch the very end of Asheville post-punk number Gold Light. I was graced with their last track of the set that crooned a spacey melody over the assembling audience.
The first snapshot I captured, right after snagging a free sweet corn and black raspberries scoop from Jeni’s on-the-go cart, was of feel-good alt-rockers Run Dan Run. Lead man Dan McCurry graced the stage with a flower in his hair from the on-site flower crown creator, and he kept the nature theme rolling with the occasional bird call amidst a set of grunge rock and power anthems. “Lovesick Animal” hyped up the atmosphere for the rest of the acts to follow.
As the sun disappeared behind King Dusko’s dinosaur fence, Grace Joyner took the stage in a “graph”ic two-piece top and skirt that made my fashion follicles tingle. Her voice, however, won me over even more so than her oufit or clever forearm tattoo that declared boldly, “Grace is what matters.” The flower crown took flower power to a whole new level. This girl can rock. Joyner produced tight harmonies with bandmate Camille Rhoden and sweet echoes from the keys. She was used to harmonizing with later acts of the night, Elim Bolt and Brave Baby, but being a lead vocalist was obviously in her destiny as proven on Sat.
Aforementioned Elim Bolt based right here in Chas., SC. brought “nostalgic, slacker rock” to the outdoor stage. As the fireflies (jk, mosquitos) began to appear amidst the darkening air, vibrato slides, falsetto trills, and something I could only describe as noise vocals escaped the throat of vintage rock meets ho hey frontman Johnnie Matthews while Jessica Oliver brought a heavy rhythm. They turned things up a notch in regards to the headiness and heaviness, though the vocals kept things light. If The Black Keys and Cage the Elephant had a baby, it might be Elim Bolt.
Michael Flynn appeared in the form of a three-piece electronic crew which happened to be my self-declared favorite group of the night. Flynn debuted album Face in the Cloud, which can only be described as a transcendental echo that slowly builds into a sound implosion. The lyrics come across as honest and vulnerable, while the synth is insanely intricate and in sync as well as impressively unique. “Holy Ghost” brought something mellow but passionate, what I would deem as the soundtrack to an epic version of your daily routine.
Closing act Brave Baby started off their set a little after 10:00 after what seemed like a lengthy intermission of sorts. “Fuck it. We gotta boogie. We gotta be done at 10:58!” lead vocalist and guitarist Keon Masters insisted. After a troublesome soundcheck, the group started off with a little bit of static, but overcame the technical difficulties for a set that sent a danceable groove through the now expansive sea of listeners. Dreamy guitar turned rock n’ roll from track to track, leading into the highest powered and highest energy performance of the evening.
I’m glad I chose to go home instead of go big, because this Summer Shindig was the music highlight of my summer vacation. Local music, free ice cream, and flower crowns. It really can’t get much better than that. Keep it coming, Hearts & Plugs.
Flower crown lovin’
Gallery Photos by Chandler Roberts
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