When it came to the second day of the inaugural music happening called the Landmark Music Festival in Washington DC, it felt quite literally like a whole new day. The weather had cleared, and while still cloudy, seemed far less likely to rain. Also, this would be a different kind of day for myself in that I was in for less full sets from some the bands as there were a few playing at separate stages at the same times. Still, despite more running around and incurring some seriously weary feet, this was sure to be a really fun day as the whole scene and crowd was set to a much more alternative and electro-dance crowd, which meant more bands I wanted to dance around to personally, as opposed to what the first day had to offer in general.
Sunday’s madness for me started with ‘Nawlins jazz-rock legend Dr. John and his new-ish backing band The Nite Trippers. He’s been a fixture of the whole zydeco fusion scene since the 1960’s, and he did break out many of his hits such as “Jockamo” and “Right Place, Wrong Time” in between some more obscure deep cuts and covers. I must say though he didn’t really engage the audience much, but at his age and with his holy stature none can (or would dare) really fault him for that.
Next up was Houndmouth, a band of four very attractive musicians from Indiana that all pitch in with fronting and directing the music in turn, and they all seem to stretch musically anywhere from Fleet Foxes to the Band, which is rather impressive in its downhome swing and swagger.
Speaking of expansive and dominating downhome artists, there was Rhiannon Giddens, who proved herself as a stirring musician of the most classic of fashions. She covered everything from Dolly Parton to Patsy Cline as well as a few thought-provoking originals, all performed with a wistful and siren-like power with as much ease and skill as an angel.
Then it was time for the big bands to start up, and how could one get bigger than Brooklyn’s own bombastic TV On The Radio? There has always been an ominous and spiritual feel to their dense soundscapes, although I think this may be the first time I had seen them play in daylight without the heavyweight lightshow to go with the set.
I dove out of there just when TVOTR started ramping up some of their more popular favorites, as I did also want to catch one of my favorite UK treats The Joy Formidable. This trio’s dreamy compositions are certainly fun to get lost in while lead singer and guitarists Ritzy Bryan’s enchanting voice makes it feel more like a wet dream.
Speaking of nocturnal emissions, next was the Montreal duo that defines sexy, the funkalicious pick up line known as Chromeo. These two make cheesy sound sexy and pop sound smooth as silk, and I forgot how much of their catalogue I still had memorized. Some heavy dancing ensued, and even saw some heavy petting going on all over the crowd, which should be testament enough to their seductive power.
Once again, I had to leave about half way through, as I wanted to catch another of my favorite artists by the name of Dan Deacon, a man who remains one of the most dominantly unique voices in the whole music world. It is great coming into one of his sets late, as the fire has already been set and the animal set loose, and from which point you just get to see the crazed anarchy at its peak pitch. He always manages to get a whole crowd, no matter how big, to participate in his insane group exercises, and it is always a sight to behold. His unique synth board and sample heavy compositions were definitely made even denser with the aid of an incredible drummer and other guests line a horn section.
My feet were already numb from bopping about like a Tigger on crack, but nonetheless I embraced English synth art-poppers Alt-J, with legs ready to dance. They have often been compared to Radiohead, but I find them far more fluid and upbeat despite their pension for weighty cerebral songs. I found their whole set to be authentically enthralling and it left me wanting more.
Then it was time for my heart to skip a beat and witness one of my favorite present artists by the name of Chvrches to take the stage. They thrill with a complex and commanding synth-heavy beat supplied sublimely by Iain Cook and Martin Dohertyas as the voice of Lauren Mayberry brings a wonderfully dark canvas to a bewitching girl-like voice. I must say they have all really improved as a stage band since touring their debut earth-shattering album a couple years ago. Mayberry was once a pensive, withdrawn, and generally shy performer, but now she really has a much more upfront and engaging persona, and the new album Every Open Eye.
During the Chvrches set the luminous super moon began to eclipse, and as headliner The Strokes came on it began to turn into the ultra-rare blood moon, which set a very ghostly tone. It has been a few years since we have been treated to a tour by these kings of NYC rock who all but defined the late 90’s-early 2000’s scene of mixing 80’s new wave with aggressive yet often synthy and heavy guitar-riffin’ punk, so I wasn’t sure what to expect this time around. They did indeed kill it, even though singer Julian Casablancas would often forget lyrics and would get into some really inane banter between songs. Yet, the songs still gelled quite well, and they played so many of their early hits within a heavy setlist including playing “You’re So Right” for first time since 2011. Just as the band wrapped the whole festival with “Take It or Leave It” the glowing red moon poked out of the heavy cloud cover. It was the perfect end to an wonderfully exhausting weekend.
Article: Dean Keim