Sunday night at Phuzz Phest this year was definitely one for the books. Kicking off the night at Krankies Coffee with the Tender Fruit, the crowd was treated with an unplugged performance that left chills down the spine and hearts full of emotion. After this great start to the night, I knew the rain and storms outside would not put a damper on all of the great musicians that were still to be seen. After leaving Krankies, I trekked through the rain to see Family Bike at the Garage. With their first full album on the way, many (all) of the songs consisted of what is to be expected with the anticipated release with songs that are dedicated to bands like TOOL and people like Carson Daly.
After Family Bike finished their thirty minute set, I rushed next door to the Millennium Center to see one of my favorite local groups, River Whyless, who is out of Asheville, NC. All in all, River Whyless had the most breathtaking vocals of the entire festival. Together Ryan O’Keefe (guitars, vocals), Halli Anderson (violin, vocals), Alex McWalters (drums, percussion) and Daniel Shearin (bass, vocals, harmonium, cello, banjo) all come together to harmonize folk songs that illustrate rustic settings of woodsheds and the making maple syrup. From the Millennium Center, I walked back across town in the pouring down rain and secured my spot indoors at the cozy Reanimator Records where Lowland Hum played to a packed house that overflowed to a crowd that stood in the rain just to hear the beautiful music of Daniel and Lauren Goans who are originally from the neighboring Triad city of Greensboro, NC. With lyric books in tow, everyone hung on to every word that was sung from their new self-titled album that released earlier in the month.
With every performance up to this point absolutely breathtaking, I expected nothing less from the last performer of the night- Hamilton Leithauser (of The Walkmen, and The Recoys). My expectations of Hamilton were met above and beyond as himself and his band performed a perfect mixture of fast and slow paced rock songs that pulled at the heart strings every single time. Growing up a huge fan of The Walkmen, Hamilton’s solo act confirmed all of my preconceived notions about what it means to be a rock band based out of New York- professional with the perfect amount of madness to go along.