Sunday, March 29, 2015
The Savannah Stopover Festival is an annual event in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in America. Amongst the Spanish moss, ghost tours, stately homes and Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil is the heartbeat of southern indie rock. The annual festival brings to this sleepy Southern city a bit of hipster swagger or should I say more hipster swagger as SCAD's populace is already there and the hipster quotient is already high. Anyway, like many of the smaller festivals that pop up this time of the year many of the bands are on the bleeding edge of cool and quite developed the level of hype many of their peers have.
That's what makes Stopover so fun. The idea here is to find bands that you've never heard of and be blown away by them. My goal was/is to try to find at least one band that achieved that. I This year I found not just one but four bands that blew me away in the one day I was actually able to get to the Stopover.
So here folks are four bands that you need to find and follow like a cult.
First up were Parlour Tricks. Now it's one thing to see a band in a grotty club but to see them in a church is a whole different matter. It approaches Hail Mary territory when said church is in the deep south and said band oozes sexuality. Anyway, I digress. Parlour Tricks are a fantastic band that embraces the multi-part harmonies of 60's girl groups and modern day R&B rhythms and runs them both through an effects pedal of indie rock. The results are something that comes off like a re-interpretation of The Pipettes from an American standpoint. They're sensual and synched and their stage presence is simply amazing as the three front-women harmonize the heck out of every song they have. It's gorgeous lush stuff would have caused a priest to call the police had one been there. They quite simply blew the doors off the place during their unfortunately short set. The worst part of it all was that Parlour Tricks had absolutely NO music for sale!!! This was painful as they had the crowd eating out the palms of their hand and could have sold a gazliion dollars worth of records. I'm not too religious but experiencing Parlour Tricks was as close to a religious experience as I'll probably ever get. Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/PARLOURTRICKSMUSIC
Post Parlour Tricks the POP! Stereo team headed over to catch Sales. Having worked in a sales department how could I not go see a band named after what I used to do? Ok, that's a horrible segue but bear with me because Sales were anything but horrible. Sales were full of surprises as they were from Orlando of all places! Who knew!? This dynamic duo sounded something like Stina Nordenstam trapped in a basement with only a four track recorder to occupy her time. With sweet melodies and simple hooks they mesmerized us with adorableness and spring-like lo-fi indie. The Hang Fire was a great venue to see them at simply because it held like 100 people and they connected with the audience almost immediately. They're an intimate band and their fragility wouldn't have worked say...in a church. Anyway, Sales are the kind of band you want to give a hug to and thank them for existing. The fact that they've been doing this sort of thing down in Orlando just blows me away. Why have they never visited Jacksonville? You can pick up their EP here: http://wearenotsales.com/
Perhaps the greatest discovery of the Stopover was synthpop boffin Terror Pigeon. With a name like Terror Pigeon I was totally expecting some sort of spazz core noise band that was more like An Albatross than what they actually turned out to be. Terror Pigeon can best be summed up by saying they (actually he...its a one man operation) are fueled by ADHD and at least five to six cases of Five Hour Energy. The guy is a fury of uncontrolled chaos that comes complete with slide shows, synthtastic beats, audience participation, and songs that have so much energy that they could barely be contained within the multi-story Club One. Terror Pigeon were mind blowing. How he kept his energy up the entire set is a miracle of modern chemistry but he did and everyone in the audience was roped in to participate. You weren't going to escape this guy. There was yelling, there were parachutes, there were dance parties spinning off of the dance party. It was something to behold. This was the most fun I've had at a show in a very, very long time. As I told everyone I knew, buy everything you can possibly find from Terror Pigeon and embrace the madness. Visit the best website ever: http://terrorpigeon.us/
I wasn't sure if anyone could actually live up to or match the performance that Terror Pigeon gave, but synth pop goddess Computer Magic came pretty darn close. Straddling the line between proper indie pop, Figurine, and Little Boots, Computer Magic play sugary sweet synth pop that's like the best candy you've ever eaten. Rich and lush synths washed over us as Danz's (aka Danielle Johnson) voice quietly whispers in your ear...or in the case of this live thingy kind of does it a bit louder. Computer Magic were arguably the least appreciated but most highly valued band that we witnessed. Playing to a tiny crowd late, Danz still worked her magic and her songs left me warm and fuzzy and closed out Stopover in the best way possible...with a hook in my head and desire to dance. When you think of Big In Japan...think of Computer Magic where's she's apparently released more records than The Fall! Find out more here: http://thecomputermagic.com/
In the span of a few short exhaustive hours in what truly was a stopover between cross continental journeys, my hopes of finding one new band to rave about was exceeded three times over. Stopover is a brilliant festival because of that. It doesn't have huge names but it has bands that should be huge. It's an exceptionally well run festival and it was easy to navigate Savannah and have fun dodging the pre-St. Patty's day revelers at the same time. Stopover is definitely the sort of festival that's worth coming down or up for because as I said the bands are great, it's in a historically cool city, and the crowds are very manageable. While I was only able to stopover for one day this year, my goal next year is to stay over all three days!