This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining Doug Nunnally for an hour of his Sound Gaze show on WDCE. We had an awesome conversation — both while we were on the air and in between interview segments — covering everything from Fall Line Fest and Richmond music in general to the value of negative criticism and my Spotify stalking habit. I’d never been a guest on someone’s radio show like this (you’ll hear me exhaling before answers in an attempt to calm my nerves), but Doug asked really thoughtful questions and made the whole experience an incredibly positive one. Getting to talk to someone who loves music as much as Doug so clearly does is a rare treat, and I’m looking forward to the next time we can chat like this, be that on the radio or elsewhere.
[cracks knuckles] OK, it’s been a hot minute since I wrote one of these blog things, so let’s see if I can remember how to do this. Band I feel strongly about? Check? Experience with that band I can’t not share with the whole damn Internet? Check. Picture to put at the top/song to put at the bottom? Check and check.
Let’s do this thing.
Landlady! Remember them? I wrote glowingly of their 2014 album Upright Behavior just before going on baby break. My feelings have only grown since. We shared a Twitter exchange about Spotify’s inadequate payout system, I ordered and received a special Coke-bottle-green pressing of Upright Behaviorfrom Bandcamp, I got to see them perform last Friday night as part of the second-annual Fall Line Fest… it’s been a torrid affair — rewarding in ways I couldn’t have guessed it would be.
Mrs. YHT and I have been fairly bunkered-in lately, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of you who have kids and remember what that first month was like. In some ways, it’s felt like a month-long snow day — you huddle close, maybe start a new series on Netflix (we’ve knocked out more than three seasons of Friday Night Lights) and the most contact you have with the outside world some days is noticing the temperature of the air that rushes in when you open the back door to throw a can in the recycling. Much more of the outside world rushed in when I went back to work, but the snow day resumes every evening when I get home. It’s just as magical as an actual snow day, just replace the sense of spontaneous freedom with its polar opposite — a sense of responsibility you’ve spent months joynervously preparing to shoulder.
I love our little bunker, and I love that music has a physical presence in it. It’d be a stretch to lump my collecting vinyl for the last half dozen years into the nesting process, but those records are a non-minor part of the world Mrs. YHT and I prepared for our daughter, and that thought makes me very happy. I’ve gotten a huge kick out of choosing which records to play for Baby YHT. I waited until we got home from the hospital to open the copy of Lullaby Renditions of David Bowie I got last Record Store Day and made that the first record my daughter heard. She’s heard dozens since, and while I haven’t picked up on any nascent preferences, watching her facial reactions and knowing that every song she hears she’s hearing for the first time — I can’t even put it into words. I could do it all day every day and never get bored. (She might though — that kid’s attention span needs work.)
As amazing as the bunkered life has been, venturing out for Friday of Fall Line Fest was a real treat.
[Editor’s Note: Fall Line Fest took place nearly a month ago, but I have one last recap post to share. If you missed the first two, you can click here to check out the first, which is about Kopecky Family Band, and here to check out the second, which is about Positive No and an intrusive alley cat.]
After I finished my volunteer shift at Gallery 5 a little after 8 p.m. on Saturday of Fall Line Fest weekend, I made the short walk over to the Hippodrome for the festival’s big finale. There were three bands left to play: Photosynthesizers (their set was underway when I arrived), No BS! Brass Band and Big Freedia, who’d been billed as the weekend’s headliner. I hesitate to write about Photosynthesizers’ performance, because I only caught their last few songs, and I enjoyed what I saw way too much to give a half-baked impression of what they have to offer. I will say, though, that their presence was extremely powerful, and I’m looking forward to digging into their material.
I hesitate to write about Big Freedia for very different reasons.
Ever wonder what it looks like when an alley cat tries to gatecrash a music festival but is repeatedly denied entry by a volunteer who can’t resist adding insult to injury by taking pictures and speaking in Eric Cartman’s “No kitty, this is my pot pie” voice? Well, wonder no longer.
A stink eye for the ages, if you ask me.
When I reported for duty at Gallery 5 just before 4 p.m. on Saturday of Fall Line Fest weekend, my first task involved hovering around the door and making sure this little guy/gal didn’t sneak in. It was heartbreaking work, but the official doors-open time hadn’t arrived yet, and the cat didn’t have valid I.D., so there wasn’t much I could do. A short time later, I helped Positive No drummer Willis Thompson unload gear from his car, kicking off a cycle of load-in creation and tear-down destruction that, much to the delight of my ad-hoc bosses Tracy Wilson and Kenny Close (also members of Positive No), stayed on schedule all night long.
So as it turns out, trying to encapsulate my Fall Line Fest experience in a single post is preventing me from writing anything at all about it. That’s no fun. I want to share a bunch of pictures, I have a great video of No BS! Brass Band covering “Thriller,” there’s a cat story… it’s just too much to cram into a single serving. So I’m heeding the advice issued in The White Stripes’ “Little Acorns” and taking things one at a time.
My very first Fall Line Fest experience came via Kopecky Family Band, the Camel’s Friday night closer. I made it to the Camel just as the preceding act was tearing down — right on schedule, to everyone involved’s credit — which gave me the opportunity to watch the venue’s stage side clear, start to fill in again, and eventually become crowded with gold-wristband-wearing, excited, eager-to-sing-along supporters whose enthusiasm was rewarded handsomely.
While the highs of the show were certainly high (I’m speaking literally here — as you can see from the picture above, certain members of the band would climb things at particularly elevated moments), the quietest moments are the ones that have stuck with me most.
The music portion of Richmond’s brand spankin’ new Fall Line Fest kicks off later this evening, and with dozens of acts spread across two nights and four venues, fun times are sure to be had and new favorite bands are waiting to be discovered.
Coming up with a plan of attack for events like this is always an adventure within itself, and a few intrepid Richmond bloggers have posted handy previews that can help you navigate the weekend’s events: