I have never seen so many neon Wayfarer sunglasses in my life. Ever. It was like I walked into 1982 the second I walked onto Broadway -- the hot sun blistered people's skin but their eyes were blocked by their first-rate, second-hand sunglasses. Or maybe they were actually Ray-Bans -- I don't know, I couldn't catch a close enough glimpse to glean any name-brand off of them.
Thankfully for me and my Wayfarer-less eyes, my first stop of the evening, the hi-dive, remained dank as usual in the afternoon light. I caught the tail-end of Astrophagus. By tail-end, I mean literally the last note of their set.
Disgruntled and a little bereaved I held out for the next in line, the Overcasters, which turned out to be a throwback to the earlier days of rock and roll -- or rather, my earlier days -- hello 1992. The swirling guitars and penchant for Slowdive threw me for a bit of loop and while technically solid, I was in the mood for something a little bit more uplifting for my first (albeit rather late) UMS band.
I made my over to Ian Cooke's stage -- which happened to be inside a outdoor square box straight out of a traveling circus. Cooke and company played a few overtly pop tracks, which is what they do best, while a collection of girls awkwardly hula-hooped on the right of the stage.
Admittedly my gaze kept falling over to the hula-hoopers, but not for any reason other than the fact they were making more movement than the band. The whole thing was a bit of a vaudevillian spectacle -- I half-expected Tom Waits to pop out of a manhole with a megaphone at any moment.
Everyone's Wayfarer's put away and the sun down, I made my way over to the Skylark for Oblio's Arrow, but not without incident. Rather, it wasn't an incident involving me in any way, but one involving an actual wayfarer, a woman and a bottle of rum. I passed by a homeless man having a conversation with a woman who seemed strangely willing to talk, when the man asked her "would you like to come to back to my place?" she politely declined before moving on.
Where exactly, I wondered, is your place? He couldn't have meant right there could he? Or maybe he could -- as she walked away he told me, "I'd hit that." I nodded for some reason -- I guess I felt a social obligation to agree with this stranger for some reason.
Oblio's Arrow was solid -- their rumpus mesh of a stoic waltz with a country twinge was solid, and their crowd seemed to agree. Strangely and completely unrelated, the Skylark was home at the time to not one, but three mullets -- serious as they may have been to their owners, they seemed oddly out of place -- at least the two of those mullets that didn't have a pair of Wayfarer's resting on their crown.
Walking between the Skylark and my next destination I passed by Illiterate, which was showing some of Ravi Zupa's excellent music videos. I happened upon it at the moment his video for Genghis Tron popped on -- a weird mesh between shaky cam footage of the band and multi-layered pop-ups. I didn't stick around for the whole running -- but what I saw, was one of the best parts of the evening.
Next up I managed my way through the crowds and up to 3 Kings Tavern for Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, which I'd heard enough about to finally make the effort to see -- or rather, I was already there so why not? As was to be expected 3 Kings was packed and ridiculously hot -- after catching two of their songs, I realized they weren't my thing.
They were incredibly tight ,and the audience was amazingly into their Depeche Mode/The Rapture stylings, but I'd had enough. After fighting my way out of the bar, I popped back out on Broadway -- bright eyed and bushy tailed -- and pointed my eyes and ears for Club 404.
By the time I made my way up there, the Jim Jims were on their second to last song. It was oddly fitting to leave Snake Rattle Rattle Snake to catch them -- the Jim Jims seemed like a bit of the poor man's dance band -- filled with more Mission of Burma style punk rock angst than dance beats.
The crowd was small but far more energetic than you would have thought possible for a Sunday night. The front row was lined with girls doing that weird white-girl dance that looks like a sped up version of the dance scene in X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes, their arms shook wildly while their head bobbed thoughtfully. I saw at least one fist pump.
The 404 was filled with its share of young men with glazed-over beer eyes and a half-dazed looks too, so I got out of there as quickly as possible and made my way back to my starting point, the hi-dive to catch Jeff Suthers new (to me anyway) band, Treeverb.
I'm sorry, but Treeverb is one of the most ridiculous names of the entire festival -- even so, the music was fitting. Which is to say, it's what you would expect from Suthers. The whole night wrapped together a little too nicely actually -- the first band I caught of the night sounded a bit like Slowdive -- the last band of the night I caught sounded a bit like Slowdive.
Treeverb was solid, loud and smooth -- a great closer for my night. But by 11 p.m. the hottest spot at the hi-dive wasn't in front of the band or at the bar, it was at the water coolers. As twenty people or so came by to fill up their water cups and try to sober up enough to make it to work the next day, I made my exit back onto Broadway and on my home.