Less well-known acts have the chance to shine at this year’s Nelsonville Music Festival, which seems to be more focused on the lineup as a whole than one or two superstars.
The second day of the annual music festival went off without a hitch, with acts at the No-Fi Cabin and Porch Stage stealing the crowd away from the usually more populated main stage throughout the day.
Despite temperatures in the mid-80s, fans and artists alike braved the stifling heat of the No-Fi cabin for unplugged sets from Time and Temperature, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Hope for Agoldensummer and more.
“We had to practice in our trailer earlier, and it was just so hot,” Time and Temperature’s Val Glenn said. “It was just like, endless suffering … for art.”
Glenn went on to win over the crowd with cutesy banter, encouraging fans to buy the band’s album on Bandcamp.
“You can name your own price,” she said, “and I’d like that price to be zero. I just want to play music for you; that’s all I really care about. I know it sounds cute, but it’s true.”
Jessica Lea Mayfield, coming off a set on the main stage, also commented on the heat in the cabin, saying she thought her “brain was melting.”
Nearby the cabin, the Porch Stage also saw a handful of solid artists throughout the day. This year, the stage was actually a set-up stage, rather than the porch of one of the cabins, which supplied artists with more room during their performances.
As the sun went down, the temperature dropped, giving fest-goers a welcome respite from the heat. Even so, the heat seemed to hardly affect Mucco Pazza, a self-proclaimed “punk marching band,” who were making their second appearance at the festival. After they debuted at the fest last year, fest organizer Tim Peacock promised they’d return.
The band, complete with four cheerleaders, marched throughout the festival grounds at Robbins Crossing, before taking the stage for its set. As the band played and cheerleaders climbed up the stage supports, audience members — particularly children and hula-hoopers — couldn’t stop moving.
The legendary Roky Erickson then took to the main stage and managed to draw one of the festival’s largest crowds, even without witty banter or audience interaction.
As with Iron & Wine’s set the night before, headliner Andrew Bird played a strong show, complete with multiple instrument changes, twirling spiral cones and a pair of spinning gramophones. The performance dragged on, though, only really picking up towards the end.
“I’m going to play two more songs for you, and I’ve got a surprise for you,” Bird said. “So just, patience … be patient.”
That surprise turned out to be the return of fan favorites Mucco Pazza, who joined Bird on stage for a song and a half. At times, it almost seemed like Bird and the band were dueling, as Bird and a violinist from Mucco Pazza, and then Bird and a xylophone player, played in sync.
Bird’s performance was followed by the rather bizarre yet legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry, who walked on stage donning a hat with a flaming candle on it.
Other notable happenings included:
—As expected, the crowd as a whole picked up today, in terms of size. Everybody seemed particularly intent on seeing Andrew Bird, as the audience was the densest its been all weekend for that show.
—Multiple Post reporters agreed that the highlight of the day was Sallie Ford’s Porch Stage performance.
—Sallie Ford was fantastic during her No-Fi Cabin set, although she seemed a bit unprepared. Ford forgot to bring a guitar pick with her and then began to write her set list on her iPhone right before she began it. The audience, though, was thrilled with a set filled out with audience requests, a John Prine cover, and a cover of “Long John Blues.”
—Witty banter and funny stories seemed to be a theme in the No-Fi Cabin, with Sallie Ford, Time and Temperature, and Jessica Lea Mayfield all drawing giggles from the crowd. Our favorite line? Mayfield telling the audience, “Don’t eat a bunch of mushrooms and then try to crawl into a didgeridoo.”
—The plus side of the No-Fi Cabin’s extreme heat? It made stepping out into 80-degree weather feel pleasantly cool.
—Roky Erickson’s set was absolutely incredible. Sometimes, when you see an older legend, you want to know why they’re still touring. With Erickson, it’s very clear that he (and his spectacular band) belong on the road, and that they should try to play more than the five shows they have scheduled this year.
—Erickson’s band seemed determined to make sure that he did as little as possible, going as far as putting his guitar on him and not letting him set his own Gatorade down. It was especially strange when the band members were saying “Give it up for Rocky Erickson” as if they hadn’t just put on a show, too.
—One of the members of Dark Dark Dark exhibited some of the strongest multitasking (with the obvious exception of Andrew Bird) by playing the trumpet and accordion at the same time.
— Andrew Bird complimented the festival, saying, “Now this is a festival done right. … Better than Coachella, that’s for sure.”
—To truly appreciate what Bird was doing musically, you had to be up near the front to be able to see him play with the loop pedals at his feet and keep track of what was happening with all of his instruments.
—Post reporters agreed that hour-and-a-half long sets might be too much, even for stars as big as Iron & Wine and Andrew Bird. With the crowd on its feet in the sweltering sun all day, standing for that long is exhausting and draws audience members’ attention away from the stage and to their own aching backs.
—At one point, Bird started looking around for his guitar only to discover that a stagehand was tuning it at that very moment. Bird just kind of pointed and looked at the guy, who looked back in shock and hurried over to give it to Bird and hook it up, all within about an eight-second span while the feedback loops continued to play Bird whistling.
—One Andrew Bird fan in the crowd said she went to see Bird two weeks ago in Detroit with her boyfriend’s 82-year old grandmother. Not only was Bird excited to meet “his oldest fan,” the fan said he took it in stride when the girl teased him about his New Balance orthopedic shoes — the same shoes he was sporting on stage today.
—Although pricey, the food at Nelsonville continues to be some of the best festival food out there. From stir fry to steak burgers to cherry limeade slushies, it’s all delicious.
—Lee “Scratch” Perry’s performance remained one of the most bizarre things any of the Post reporters had ever seen. From the candle wax dripping down his back to the animal sounds to the shoe brush he used to comb his beard, it all seemed very surreal. That being said, he’s a legend.
—Nicolien Buholzer, Ian Ording and Adam Wagner contributed to this story.