Certainly the excellent weather did not hurt but, kudos to the staff at Launch for another wonderful music weekend. Year five of this conference based in Lancaster, PA featured 175 acts playing at 8 downtown venues within walking distance of each other.
My weekend started Thursday night at Lancaster Dispensing Co. where I caught a nice set by TriState Indie friend Canyon making her fourth appearance at Launch. Backed by her new band featuring Aaron Marcel Gagne’ on drums and Taylor Brandt on violin she put on an enjoyable set of original songs. Friday started of pretty chill with some time spent at the Launch lounge where Jason Mundok of Woodstove House hosted some informal jamming and taped interviews. I moseyed over to the convention center in the afternoon to check out the scene and chat with some vendors and check in on a panel discussion or two. That evening didn’t really heat up till I caught Corty Byron’s set at the Ware Center Lobby. His tunes and singing were as passionate as his beard was long and I look forward to hearing this Lancaster local again.
However it was at the Marion Court Room later that evening that things began to heat up. Ill Funk Ensemble, a five piece from Albany, NY had the folks on their feet with their original Funk/Hip-Hop tunes played tighter than the jeans on any upstanding emo rocker. Their version of the classic “No Diggety” was euphoric to say the least if only for getting to hear and dance to that song again. Ill Funk was followed by a typically great set by TriState Awarad winners Sweet Leda and then it was off to the “Heineken Stage” at the Lancaster Convention Center for a set by one of the Marquee artists Foxy Shazam. Though the volume and bombastic stage show was a bit much for this O.G. (old guy, original gangster… take your pick) the kids in the packed house certainly got the message.
I ended my night at Chameleon Club where I got to see my conference favorite find. I had met Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk at the trade show earlier in the day. Impressed by their friendliness and especially their temerity in coming all the way from Calgary B.C. I was simply enthralled by their live show. Featuring Lauren on vocal and keys and her husband Zoltan Szoges on keys and glockenspeil as well as the husband and wife team of Jay and Jessica Christman on drums and bass respectively this band simply excited and charmed the room. The sound was a blend of folk/rock/pop that brought to mind both Arcade Fire and Neko Case. Thier latest record Over Land And Sea’ is well worthy of a listen and I think you will being hearing of this band soon. The Shackeltons with a new rhythm section and newly signed to Chad Taylor’s (Live) Think Loud Entertainment brought my night to a close with a powerful set of psych/pop/punk let by their always inimitable frontman Mark Redding.
Saturday,whatever energy I had left was spent after an ill-advised jaunt to Philly in the afternoon was spent chatting with old Launch friends and grazing the Saturday night music landscape. I particularly like Deni Gauthier from Toronto who is a singer songwriter accompanying himself with a looping machine. Check out his lyric video for the tune “I Need You” below. It’s Awesome!
PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE REST OF THE FEST
Photos by: Tasha Funk
BANDS IN PHOTOS NOT MENTIONED: