Whither Festivus: Macrock 2016 Recap

A little while ago, your humble blogstress ventured out to Harrisonburg once more to indulge in a weekend of music and mountains, better known as Macrock. I adore this little festival, because it's reliably full of solid local bands, and I never fail to stumble upon some great music that was previously unbeknownst to my ears. This year was no different, happily.

Arriving in Harrisonburg felt like leaving a weight behind. The friendly confines of the mountain city instantly put me in a good mood. After picking up my press badge from some of the incredibly friendly staffers, I took up a perch at the Artful Dodger, where I soaked in some rad tunes. Up first was Bless, purveyors of a sassy, jittery little jangle with just a hint of raunch. I was impressed, both with the sounds and the expert hair-tossing. The rambunctious grit with the occasional exaggerated vocal really grew on me, I must say. A solid beginning indeed. Next up was Plattenbau (pictured), who definitely ended up being my favorite discovery of the weekend. I was instantly on board with the trio's mighty fine, angular post pinkishness, with a whole lot of shredding and snarling.

After taking it easy on Friday, I pulled a longer shift on day 2. My day started with the late afternoon, melodic jangling sweetness of Charlottesville's Borrowed Beams of Light (pictured). Adam Brock, formerly of Invisible Hand, has a winner with this power poppy, easily digestible good times. "All of our songs are about the Apocalypse," says Brock, so let's call them pre-Apocalypse pop. Music to while away the End of Days to. I next took in locals Flyying Colors, who ask the question "What is life if not a continuous experiment in drone pop?" Indeed. Their sound was rather dreamy, rather mesmeric. Music to lose all track of time to.

I inadvertently caught several DC bands I wasn't yet familiar with, the first of which was fresh-faced duo Dove Lady. The twosome was a little all over the place (in a good way), causing quite a racket with their irreverent, exuberant punk outbursts. I next popped over to the Dodger once more to see Pete Curry (dreamy Richmond bedroom chill songsmithing) and Go Cozy (DC's dreamy heart-palpitating prettily fuzzy noise). Zooming back to Court Square Theatre, I caught Crown Larks and their very rambling, very organized chaos. Dissonance was peppered into their tumultuous thrum, occasionally feeling almost tribal. One Chicago band was followed by another, as ONO took the stage and took the cake. Theirs is true performance art, with a singer whose voice could melt mountains (and who is adept at quick changes from hazmat suit to wedding gown). Political, historical, and fantastical, I hadn't ever experienced a band like ONO before.

The expression about saving the best for last actually applied to my Macrock weekend, as my final band of the weekend was the divine Shana Falana (pictured). The lovely Miss Falana and her beau Mike (banging the drums so well) created such a beautiful, dynamic sound together. Shana's vocals can easily transition from floaty and gossamer-like ethereality to throaty and powerful. The Artful Dodger was packed to the gills, and the crowd was captivated by the show-stealing Falana. "That was rad!" someone proclaimed enthusiastically at the end of the set, which both perfectly sums things up and can't even begin to express how great the two were. It was a splendid way to end the weekend. Talk about going out on a high note.

If you've never been to Macrock, especially if you're not at all familiar with it, I strongly encourage you to give it a spin. The little festival that could, it's a long-running, small but mighty festival that truly celebrates independent music and is well-supported by a dynamic little city. Oh, and the setting ain't too shabby. Hope to see you there next year. 

[posted 6.23.16]

[all photos copyright Megan Petty]


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