FloydFest 8: Revival | 07.23-26 | VA

Friday, 07.24

Friday, in order of the significant memories...

Holy Ghost Tent Revival :: FloydFest 8
Is any band more qualified to pull off a cover of "White Rabbit" than Grace Potter and the Nocturnals? Potter's voice is simply unreal, much like the Grace that originally sang about that strange bunny. After an intensely rocking, tight set, during which Potter floated from the piano to the mic to a Flying V guitar, the "one more" encore stretched into five songs, including a goose-bump inducing solo rendition of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" and the aforementioned "White Rabbit."

Potter's set could not have been more perfectly placed, lighting up the festival with an over-the-top rock show that followed nearly two hours of festival-wide power outage. The lights and sound died at sunset, just as Toubab Krewe was kicking off their Hill Holler Stage show. Toubab compensated with a 30-minute drum session, and many late arriving folks were none the wiser about the power situation.

When the lights didn't come back up, however, the buzz passed around about whether we'd hear any more electric music that night. It likely wouldn't have mattered, as bands festival wide grabbed their gear and set up acoustic shows across the main field. Boulder Acoustic Society perhaps benefited most, turning their scheduled beer garden set into an intimate, sing-along affair lit by torches. Out in the field, crowds gathered around the Holy Ghost Tent Revival and The Smart Brothers as they busked in the grass.

Pransky & Smith - Toubab Krewe :: FloydFest 8
After leaving the stage to wait for the power to return, Toubab eventually reemerged in the dark. Flashlights from the crowd illuminated them as Jamaican legend Earl "Chinna" Smith joined them for a long medley of percussion and reggae standards including "Kaya."

If the power had never returned, festival-goers would have been hard-pressed to complain about the sheer magnitude of the music that preceded the outage during the daytime. Last year's emerging artist contest winners, William Walter & Co., absolutely raged on the Hill Holler Stage early in the afternoon, including a super-funky rendition of "Chameleon" by the relatively acoustic band.

Holy Ghost Tent Revival's 3 p.m. set at the beer garden had a crowd dancing like it was twelve hours later, banging their heads to banjo and trombone through one fast song and epic ending after another. Holy Ghost's keyboard player Mike O'Malley seems to have really found his place in the band, and it's hard to imagine them without him now.

Yard Dogs Road Show :: FloydFest 8 by Ryan Snyder
For those lucky enough to stumble upon it or already be in the know, Forro in the Dark's Workshop Porch set of flute-led Brazilian rumba was phenomenal. The band played seated in a line. Back on the main stage, The Duhks precisely delivered jig and fiddle songs, changing time signatures seamlessly. They are undoubtedly one of the smoothest, tightest acoustic bands playing today.

The early evening hosted a two-genre dance party as The Belleville Outfit entertained an enthusiastic swing-dancing crowd at the dance tent, while Grupo Fantasma's 11-piece (including three percussionists) Latin/mambo ensemble had a huge crowd doing the rumba. The grooving beats of "Arroz con Frijoles" segued well into the drum-show of Toubab, as the power died soon after Fantasma wrapped up their show.

If there was a regret on Friday, it was having put my camera away before the Yard Dogs Road Show at 11 p.m. The band (dance troupe? acting ensemble?) is a creative spectacle, complete with sword swallowing, burlesque ladies and Mexican standoffs. Our brains fried by the insanity of it all, we stopped by the Village Stage to shake it with Forro in the Dark once more before heading to camp.

Continue reading for Saturday's coverage of FloydFest...

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