The Frendly Gathering 2014
08 Aug 2014

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But the Best Ships are Frendships and May They Always Be

A Review of the Frendly Gathering 2014

Timber Ridge, VT

Written by Britton Beal

Photos taken by Andrew Sergeant

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Well another Frendly Gathering has come and gone and with immense success may I add. So let us cheer: to sunrises and instant coffee; to good weather, better music, and the best [Frends] crew; and to all of you, with your goofy garments, drastic dance moves and contagious smiles for making it all possible.

The Frendly Gathering is, and will continue to be, one of my favorite festivals in the Northeast. For a while I accredited it to the aesthetic beauty associated with a festival nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I also thought it might be the stellar but centralized lineup that aligned so perfectly with my personal musical preference. Or maybe the ease of travel, entrance to the festival, and comfortable camping that won me over. But at the end this and last year’s festival, it was clear to me that it is the frends, both old and new, at The Frendly Gathering that bring the festival to that next level year after year.

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Although non-car camping festivals tend to get a lot of slack in the scene, if executed effectively, the absence of cars at a festival attribute perfectly to the serenity. I like to think it gives festivalgoers the chance to really remove themselves from an outside world and enter into festival life for the weekend. Believe me when I say obtaining a meditative state at sunrise is not easy to come by with the constant wompy drone of distant dubstep blasting from the nearest SUV. Humans by nature are thigmotropic: _MG_6726organisms which respond immediately to touch. Sure our stimuli can be aesthetically overloaded or phonetically floored at a show, but ultimately it’s the tangibility of the situation; the ability of a situation to be perceptible by touch and feeling. Life is tangible when strolling down Shakedown, in a way that will never be obtained walking down Main Street.

Thursday night at the Frendly Gathering hosted a smaller crowd of ambitious frends willing to pay a little extra on their ticket price for an extra night of music. I like to think it was well worth the cost for first choice camping and some rocking main stage sets. The Frends Crew bluegrass favorite, Gold Town, kicked us off at sunset for their fourth consecutive year at The Frendly Gathering.  It was followed promptly by a rocking Twiddle set that included a cover of “Karma Police” (Radiohead), “Too Many Puppies” (Primus), and an exceptional “Best Feeling” (Keller Williams) encore.

 Music kicked off Friday morning with a mountain top acoustic Twiddle set. This could be a biased statement being a farmer, but seeing Twiddle play “Daydream Farmer” acoustically on top of Timber Ridge looking over the Green Mountains was pretty damn cool.

“Keep our earth in your soul and your soul to the ground.”

As the sun began to settle behind the mountains and the heat of the day had come and gone, Spirit Family Reunion took the main _MG_6712stage upon what seemed to be bated breath. I had never heard the band, let alone seen ‘em live, but people seemed anxious and excited and I couldn’t help but absorb the anxious aura. I later found out this small-town, homegrown band started playing together on street corners, farmers markets, and subway stations in New York City. Now their amplified accordions, flailing fiddles, and scratchy acoustic guitars have moved on from Main Street to Main Stage.

The Devesh Duo band was scheduled to play a number of sets throughout the weekend, including the very opening spot for the festival. Veena Chandra is an internationally renowned sitarist accompanied by her son, Devesh Chandra, who has been learning the Tabla since the age of 3.  Needless to say, this unorthodox sound pushed the parameters for the weekend and captivated the audience in attendance.

The London Souls provided a fresh dose of alternative rock for the weekend, playing a mixture of improvised rock that was still accessible to the audience. Fun fact: The London Souls met for their first time on stage. Prior to that first show, described by the band as “very comfortable”, they had only rehearsed their music via cell phones.

The set I was anxiously awaiting for that night, and perhaps the weekend, was funk fusion band, Kung Fu out of New Haven, CT. It seems rather arbitrary to classify Kung Fu as funk or even funk fusion because this fast-paced sound transcends the boundaries IMG_6785between several genres. Guitarist, Tim Palmieri managed to blow a speaker clean out during the first song of the set. I like to think that paints an accurate picture for how the rest of the set was carried out.

Friday night in the Martin Jam Dome was a unique activity entitled “Behind the Lyrics; music meets storytelling”. The activity was put on by three solo female acts of the weekend: Terra Naomi, Jaymay, and Lynx. The three performers played several songs and described the process of writing lyrics in the form of narratives.

Delta Spirit played the main stage just past 11 to get the night started off right.  The set was awesome and carried all the necessary energy, but the sound coming from main stage wasn’t quite right. This seemed to be a common theme for the weekend. For one reason or another the sound during the Delta Spirit set was hard on the ears at times and many in attendance shared the same belief.

Twiddle closed out the Wood Stage Friday night with a short but sweet set followed by Lynx in the DJ nest. The DJ nest seemed to_MG_6727 create quite the buzz over the weekend. Contrary to last year, there were four wooden platforms suspended in the trees, rather than just one. People knew Twiddle was closing out the weekend in the DJ Nest with special guests so the rumors of an accompanying act were flying.

Saturday morning started bittersweet, the same as every other festival. I tend to wake up with the same Christmas-morning excitement every Saturday morning. I can’t wait for some of the more notable acts of the weekend but god forbid I open that last present and realize I have to wait another year for the next Frendly Gathering.

In proper Frendly fashion, Saturday morning kicked off with a pond-side Twiddle set. The sunny Saturday set had half the audience wading in the water and the other half doing their best tiptoe two-step around the edge of the pond. Continuing the fast-paced folk rock into the afternoon were acts like Jaymay, Tallgrass Getdown and Chuck Ragan.

Frends Crew favorite, Lake Street Dive, took the stage right around sundown.  I know I am not alone when I say I grew weak in the knees when lead vocalist Rachael Price first broke the silence. Needless to say, girls got pipes.

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The next few hours of the festival were guaranteed to leave me floored, or as I like to say, cross-eyed and paralyzed from the pants down. Embarrassingly enough, I had yet to see Dopapod live…but hot damn did I know I was in for a treat. Dopapod is one of those acts that make you consider selling your prized possessions for gas money to hop on tour. I guess I was hooked from the first song (Donkey Kong Theme Song?!), but then again, I cant think of a jam-band sucker raised in the 90’s who wouldn’t have been.

Being a one-man-band and the proceeding act for a high energy set like Dopapod is no easy feat. Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his stage name Shakey Graves, is one of few acts capable of such an accomplishment. Shakey Graves seems to have come out of the woodwork and gone from 0 to 60 in one year’s time. His music sounds familiar to the ears, yet stands alone in the scene as a jaunty and raw country/folk sound.  (If your eyes remain virgin to the sound of Rose-Garcia… listen here…and try wiping that ear-to-ear doofy grin of your face.)

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Sparkleberry favorite, Lotus, took main stage and carried the festival through a manic midnight. The band seemed to find themselves at a good pace and amongst good company gracing us with ambient but present jams. Lotus was preceded by the _MG_6759festivals only “Cave Music” genre of the weekend. Moon Hooch considers their sound to be “like House, but it’s more wild, more jagged more free, more natural to live it”. This funky, fast-paced music is full of boisterous horns that quickly turned the crowd into a breathing and pulsing organism.

But alas, it was time for Twiddle + Frends. The “+ Frends” aspect of the set, had continued to remain a mystery throughout the weekend. The Twiddle set started out on the right foot with an “Apples” > “MJ Teases” > “Apples.” As the band began to play “Frankenfoote,” the lights kept going off periodically. And I mean completely blacking out. So much so that all four wooden platforms suspended in the trees became completely invisible. As the jam picked up and the lights went out more and more, each one of the Twiddle band members was replaced by a Dopapod member. Before the audience knew what was going on, the funky “Frankenfoote” outro quickly hybridized into “8 Years Ended” by Dopapod. An extended and energetic jam that was a surprise to all in attendance. The members of Twiddle simultaneously swapped out during the next portion of the set, deeming the jumbled-up jam “Dopadiddle” for the night.

The whole set ended just before 4 in the morning and left everybody all too excited for the _MG_6728early hours of the morning. Up next for
the weekend closer was Gubbidilis; an act consisting of Twiddle members Zdenek Gubb and Mihali Savoulidis, hence the name Gubbidilis. This acoustic set took place just as the sun was rising on Sunday morning and allowed the large number of festival attendees a chance to unwind from the previous few days.

The Frendly Gathering, like many other music festivals, has continued to grow year after year. However, the Frends Crew never lost sight of the ultimate goal of each gathering. The Frends crew believes “in cultivating lasting frendships that in turn foster collaborative success and stand to rid the future generations of exclusivity.” So while the acts may become bigger and better, and the number of festivalgoers may continue to grow, The Frendly Gathering will never lose its grass-fed, grassroots festival feel. I like to believe any festival built upon kindness, generosity, and respect nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont will never lose its humble hometown energy.

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“There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.”  – Irish Proverb

Stay Frendly folks, and remember spread the sparkle! See ya next year y’all.

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