Another fantastic day of international music discoveries. Although the majority of acts seemed to consist of bands overly employing the use of artificial noise; a synthesizer, a drum pad and some something that emanated sounds unnatural to bolster the music. But through that insanity we found some real gems:
If the Replacements had an Australian accent, they would absolutely be called Bad//Dreems. The elegantly named venue, the Champagne Room, became the scene of youth pounding percussion, ripping guitars and choruses. As aggressive as the rock came across live, there was just enough melody and song craft built within and hooks aplenty. And a hell of a show these four feisty and primal Aussies put on: raucous and the stuff of a college frat party yet tight and sloppiness-free as each one of them looked to be truly enjoying the art of performing. It should be noted that they had their fair share of fans hogging the front row singing along while spilling their beers, mosh pit style.
If you only could only say one thing about the Seattle four-piece, Beat Connection, it should be that they can sure get the pretty girls dancing (along with that one guy who was so consistently off the beat that it was beautiful). It’s electro pop with a helping hand of influence from and undercurrents of funk and soul. Singing songs of love and lovey dovey-type stuff, frontman Tom Eddy’s vocals and presence are both heavy on groove and romantic styling backed up cleanly and efficiently by his band mates. With a solid falsetto and – frankly – solid good looks, songs like “Another Go Round” make Beat Connection an easy band to connect with.
There’s something to be said for the bliss of a straight up punk assault. Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings took to the World Stage and it was a beautiful thing. Simplicity at its finest, loudest, fuzziest and garage punk-filled, Dylan Baldi, TJ Duke and Jason Gerycz were armed with only the basic weapons of rock combustion (guitar, bass and drums respectively) and it didn’t take long for the fog to lift. Punching out songs old and new (like the gem “I’m Not Part Of Me” from their latest album, Here and Nowhere Else), the trio got the heads banging and the slam circle started. And damned if it wasn’t a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Another winner from Swedish Happy Hour was folk pop band Solander. Their soothing, highly palatable tunes were augmented by the charming band members who would occasionally bow or curtsey after a song as a gesture of appreciation. It’s hard to say what was more enjoyable, the beautiful tones of the electric cello or the anecdotes about the songs. For example, one song got an introduction about the two things that inspired it. The first, an incident that occurred when singer, Fredrik Karlsson, was 10 and had a friend fall off a bike after getting hit by a bird and the second, Tom Petty. The band was so endearing, it was impossible not to be won over.
If there was one word to describe Taymir, it would be fun. This young band was so full of energy and passion that it seeped into the audience who became a jumble of dancing fools. This band from The Netherlands does British rock better than any of the UK acts on the Culture Collide bill. For all of the beats and synths and strange noises coming from many of the stages, it was refreshing to see such a solid, more traditional rock band whose craziest instrument was a tambourine. More please!
We Met Tomorrow
Two sets from Sweden’s We Met Tomorrow were simply not enough. This rock band with a penchant for the blues stood out with their raw talent and unique stage set-up involving a drum kit deconstructed and played by two different guys using foot pedals. At the center of the trio of musicians sits Rickard Lindgren, the band’s vocalist, guitarist, and percussionist (all at the same time!). We Met Tomorrow played a brief but impactful set for the Swedish Happy Hour, but really let loose later in the evening at Lot 1 Cafe. Such promising young talent!
The Young Wild
Last year San Diego’s Family Wagon took the main stage at Culture Collide. This year they are back with a couple new members, a new sound and a new name. Now called The Young Wild, the band can still rock, but it has taken on more pop and electronic flavors. They were the first band to take the World Stage (which oddly showcased only US bands Friday night) and were more than ready to show off their fun, polished and radio-ready material. It was impossible not to get absorbed, especially to the more anthemic numbers like “Out In The Wild” and catchy first single, “Moment Goes.”