Well I’m nearing the end of my posts about the 2013 Savannah Stopover.
I recapped the entire event in my glowing Unplugged column last week in Do in the Savannah Morning News, so here I’m just going to make some random observations and attach an album of the photos that I’d say are my favorites from the weekend.
But first, a taste of Paste’s writeup:
Canadian Mac DeMarco was one of [the highlights], posturing like a crazed frontman and mixing 80s metal covers into his original material, inciting moshing, screaming and stagediving from a packed crowd at The Jinx. Brooklyn’s Christopher Paul Stelling had a more intimate show, arriving just seconds before his set but still managing to beguile those in attendance. His awe-inspiring guitar fingering and arresting voice, which was simultaneously smooth and guttural, was worth the trip alone. But the crown jewel of the festival for me, and likely for most, was seeing of Montreal play beneath a makeshift band shell in Forsyth Park on a warm, star-filled spring night.
Of Montreal is from Athens, Ga. just a few hours away, but this was their first time playing a set in Savannah. Based on the enthusiastic—borderline chaotic—response from the crowd, I think they’ll be back. A heavily danceable set had everyone, from diehard fans and local families to curious passersby, moving with the music.
For the record, here are the acts that I saw — anywhere from a single song to the entire set:
The Last Bison, Ben Sollee, William Tyler, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Chelsea Light Moving featuring Thurston Moore, Delicate Steve, Naomi Punk, Mac DeMarco
Sam Sniper, Filligar, Heyrocco, this mountain, PUJOL, of Montreal, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, The Suzan, Country Mice, BRAIDS
Saturday: this mountain, Field Report, Blessed Feathers, The Wild Feathers, Autumn Owls, Little Tybee, Bear Fight!, Royal Canoe, Fine Peduncle, Filligar, Dent May, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Jonathan Toubin’s Soul Clap & Dance Off
Sunday at the VIP and band brunch: Jamison Murphy, Lovely Locks
And there are so many more I wish I had seen.The venues this year were well chosen for their proximity, but I still couldn’t be as many places at once as I would have liked.
I took pictures — at least one or two — of each of the bands I saw, but a few of the venues were really not suitable for quality photography unless you’re sporting some super pricy equipment (and maybe not even then). I’m in love with the fact that Hang Fire has music again, but there no lights on the band. None. B&D Burgers’ stages — both inside and out — are poorly lit, and the stages at Congress Street Social Club are only a little better. Taco Abajo has enough light, but the cartoonish backdrop and structural pillars are problematic. I hope the lighting is something the venues themselves might address sooner rather than later — they certainly won’t see many appealing shots of bands at their venues if they don’t address the lighting problems. More importantly, I think the average music lover prefers venues that have more light on the band than on the audience . . .
Of course, the Savannah Stopover is all about the music, not the lighting, and one of my few complaints would be that we need even more music. Few folks turned out for early Saturday afternoon shows a year ago, so it made sense to wait and start the music this year at 4 p.m.. But I think crowds will eventually support sets from noon or 1 p.m. onward. And I hope that next year we’ll see Friday and Saturday night sets that run right up till last call. With all the venues seeming to run more or less on schedule — a rare feat in Savannah — I sort of ran out of music before I ran out of energy on the last two nights.
I also haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that so many young Savannahians in the Stopover’s target demographic don’t seem to quite know what the festival is yet. The Savannah Music Festival has had some similar issues. But it’s hard to blame the festivals. Both the Savannah Morning News and Connect Savannah had extensive coverage in advance of the Stopover; the Stopover has a robust social media game; people like me with literally thousands of social media contacts were routinely posting about it. But on the Friday afternoon that of Montreal was scheduled to play in Forsyth, a Facebook friend of mine — a young, intelligent, gay college student who would obviously be interested in that performance — updated his status with shock and surprise about the show. How did he miss that crucial news for so many weeks? How can people like him be reached? Will it just take a few more years to get the festival ingrained in the local culture?
By the way, rather than rely on my press connection, I bought a VIP pass for the event — just $120 — which included a significant number of free drinks, plus access to the Stopover recording sessions at Dollhouse Productions, to the artists’ lounge above The Sparetime, and to the final brunch on Sunday afternoon at one of the best party houses in town.
What. A. Bargain.
If the Stopover is ever forced to restrict photography as some festivals have been, I might need to go for the press credentials, but I’m happy to support such an amazing event and I prefer the freedom that comes with paying my own way.
I’ve already done separate posts about some of the acts that I caught: Mac DeMarco, The Suzan, Chelsea Light Moving, Filligar, Little Tybee, and The Last Bison. But there were plenty of others that excited me.
Among the standouts that I was seeing for the first time were Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Field Report, William Tyler, Filligar, and The Suzan.
I’ve seen both this mountain and Heyrocco multiple times, but they never cease to impress.
I’m going to post a much larger collection of photos to the Savannah Unplugged Facebook page in a day or two, so please like that page if you want to see that update and others.
So here are some of my favorite shots from the 2013 Savannah Stopover. Click for larger versions or open using Cooliris. If you hover over a pic, you can see the act and the location.
For these and more pics — many of dubious quality — click here for a Facebook album.