ArtsQuest Outdoes Themselves on Day 2 of Nowadays Festival
Day one of NOWADAYs was pretty great. So after a few hours of rest late Friday night, it was time to party hard again on Saturday with another night filled with indie goodness. A band I was really looking forward to hearing live for the first time and they actually kicked off the MusikFest Cafe stage was Philly band, Strand Of Oaks. The band is fronted by Timothy Showalter, who is very endearing and humble on stage. Tim and his band started off their set to a rather quiet crowd, who was recovering from day one of Nowadays, but as Tim talked about his home town of Wilkes Barre, PA and being a Pennsylvania nomad, the room lighten up and filled up rather quickly.
Strand of Oaks was right up my alley musically because they play rock with a hint of folk and they play it well. Down to earth material that was solid and story telling. Tim’s songs are relate-able lyrically and instantly likable. He has a great signing voice and his guitar player joined him to blend some really nice harmonies. I’m looking forward to seeing Stand Of Oak again in a venue near.
In the theater venue, Bethlehem natives, XVSK opened the night. This duo is always a pleasure for the ears. We saw them last year at MusikFest and we’re happy to see them again. Trevor Exter plays cello and sings and John Morgan Kimock plays drums and percussion and together they create a unique sound and entertaining listening experience. Trevor’s unconventional cello playing, that suited for rock, is interesting to watch. With John adding technical percussion elements it’s fun, bluesy, and folky at the same time. Our video interview from this duo coming soon!
The Musikfest Cafe stage for me Saturday night felt like a blast from my past. I remember hearing and seeing bands like We Are Scientist almost 10 years ago, and Maps and Atlases back in 2005. And sad to say, I don’t think I have seen either of these bands live since then. But seeing them at Nowadays reminded me why I fell in love with both of them in the first place. Maps and Atlases have a new album coming out and you could actually buy it at the fest, pre sale. Reminiscing over some of my old favorites of theirs, I was really into their new material. The crowd was too. Actually the crowd was super rowdy and the band had some of the most diehard fans in the front row that I’ve seen at a show in a while. It was really fun set and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Maps & Atlases on my turntable since TSI got a signed vinyl copy of the new record while sitting down for a video interview with the guys. Keep your eyes peeled for that too!
We are scientist have been doing this music thing for a long time and they certainly have not lost any of their energy or talent. I also had a deja vu moment from years past as they played tracks like “The Great Escape” This crowd was also really super rowdy. Fans we’re singing along to every song, dancing and shaking there tail feathers to the tunes. The band even had fans that brought them beers from the bar and placing them on stage and encouraging them to all get smashed with them. Toward the end of the set, We Are Scientists lead frontman, Keith Murray, jumped in the crowd with microphone in hand and sang along with fans choruses and verses in this sorta hipster formed mash pit. Once Keith had enough he jumped back on stage to join his band mates and finish out the set.
Headlining the main stage was seasoned, now Philly based DJ, RJD2. RJ made his signature entrance to the stage wearing his crazy getup with welders mask with a effects machine attached to a spinning plate on his waist. Posting up at the edge of the stage to reaching hands from the crowd, he blindly laid down a seamless electro beat to amaze the crowd from the start. Next switching over to his lengthy setup of 4 turntables, controllers and more, the mix of Psychedelic, Electronica, Hip Hop, and Rock sounds produced live on stage made his performance a truly jaw dropping experience. The most amazing thing about RJD2 is his attention to detail while still holding on to the roots of electronic dj styles. With the ongoing rise in technology, today’s DJ can simply show up with a laptop and a MPC sampler to produce their entire show. Instead RJD2 travels with his full rack and crates of records that he even uses for a quick sample or effect, instead of simply programming it to a button on a sampler. The fans at Nowadays were lucky to catch such a huge veteran DJ at the incredible venue for a intimate show.
Photo Gallery from Day 2 – In no particular order: