Monday, July 13, 2009

Rothbury Festival Day 2: Reverence

by Dave "Scout" Tafoya

I woke up early the next morning in time for a mostly useless press orientation (I wasn't intent on taking pictures of Bob Dylan, after all), and then it was onto the bands. Man Man went on at 2:15 and wowed their admittedly small crowd. Playing antique keyboards and hopping like madmen, Man Man were most definitely the oddballs at the festival. Ryan Kattner, alias Honus Honus, put on his vampy stage act, looking like a man who's just found his cabaret-star grandmother's costume closet and dove in head first. The abrasiveness of their sound is a bit off putting but they're so engaging I couldn't take my eyes off them.

Honus Honus flaunts his wardrobe

Man Man are from Philadelphia (as am I) so I got to talk to them about the city for a bit. It felt normal for a moment, like I wasn't overwhelmed and they hadn't just walked off the second biggest stage in Michigan.

Man Man, Philadelphia's finest

Femi Kuti was next and it was an honor just watching him. On top of being the tallest performer all weekend, he was charismatic and a hell of a trumpet player.

Femi Kuti

Bright colors and elaborate stage moves on Kuti's backing band

Broken Social Scene are one of my all-time favorite bands. I've seen them three times now, each time with a different line-up. The core five members were there - Kevin Drew, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff, Brendan Canning - and rounding out the line-up this time were Evan Cranley and the lovely Amy Milan from Stars, Jo-Ann Goldsmith on trumpet and spontaneous backing vocals, and a trumpet player I didn't recognize (but would learn more about shortly). 

Brendan Canning and Andrew Whiteman from Broken Social Scene tear it up.

After the show, I got to meet everyone thanks to Aaron Brody, their sprinting guitar tech and Apostle of Hustle tour manager. I also met Robin, their current tour manager, who was awesome and really one of the nicest people I met the whole time. She's also an incredibly talented photographer who manages a band called All Leather - a Jill of all trades, you could say.

Facial hair a requirement to be in Broken Social Scene

Kevin Drew

Chromeo weren't much. They play electronic music with a sort of playful edge, name checking Bobby Brown and that sort of thing. They were tight and the one fellow was a pretty excellent guitar player. But that kind of music, with 80s Casio keyboards and faux-hip hop delivery, just doesn't do it for me.

Chromeo's Dave 1

I met up for drinks with Broken Social Scene later, I got into quite a discussion with Canning, and he told me stories about the many bands he'd played with-It was amazing. How often do your heroes sit back on windy nights and tell you about their careers? He's lived an amazing life and that he was willing to tell me about it...it was so surreal. It was even harder to leave that night knowing what I was leaving behind.

I also got to talk to their trumpet player, the one I didn't recognize. His name was Brendan Benham and it turns out he's not from Canada or even in the band! Benham met the band at a previous show, and when he heard they would be coming to Rothbury, he got in touch with Drew and asked if they needed another horn player. They obliged and they taught Benham the songs the night before the show. How cool is that?

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