Editor’s note: please welcome Justin Guinn, one of our Dayton Campus Connect interns.
The 7th annual Dayton Music Festival this past weekend allotted a surprisingly vast, wholesome and weird introduction into the Gem City’s live music scene.
Sad Cadillac kicked-off the noise Saturday night at the Oregon Express. Their sound was an excellent balance of crunchy rhythm and stellar lead guitar mixed with hard, smooth vocals. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club knotted with a faint ‘90s grunge vibe. The three piece(two guitars and drums) laid it down right and left me yearning for a full length set sometime soon.
After Sad Cadillac, I made my way up 5th Street to catch Oxymoronatron at the Tumbleweed Connection. Little did I know of the strangeness that awaited. Oxymoronatron was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. They come on like a traumatic dose of amphetamine and leave you confused and exhausted. These four performers bring an intensity that could, under the roof of a more appropriate venue, be instantaneously fun and contagious. But in the Tumbleweed, the band seemed cramped and reserved. The weirdness of Oxymoronatron came out of nowhere and moved in leaps and bounds. After their set, my auditory pallet was significantly over-saturated.
To distract my mind from the craziness of Oxymoronatron, I traced my steps back to the Oregon Express to check out Moon High. I was afraid I’d be stuck in an Oxymoronatronic daze, but immediately the beach-folk-Americana of Moon High calmed my nerves. Their sound was firmly driven, but in a smooth, natural way. They had this indie folk, SoCal beachy quality like a raw, modern CSNY that made me want to take a road trip to the coast, any coast. Their set was a perfect blend of peaceful serenity and harmonious musical talent. They definitely earned a top spot on my list of bands to watch.
I could have easily floated downstream on Moon High’s beautiful sound all night, but they followed suit with a half-hour set and, of course, I had a job to do. I was still looking for a deep, driving, in-your-face rock band. My wish was granted at back the Tumbleweed. After meeting up with an old friend and ordering a Moe-garita, we made our way to the balcony to observe The Fervor. What a sight they were. I knew I was in for a good time when their lead girl, Natalie Felker threw a verbal right hook at a heckling, over-served patron. She is reminiscent of a Grace Slick/Zooey Deschanel mix with stellar piano skills. Add to that the impressive sound and energy of their guitarist, her husband, Ben Felker, and the result is pretty damn soulful. It was no surprise when I read on their MySpace that they teamed up with My Morning Jacket frontman Yim Yames to release their latest album, Arise, Great Warrior.
Each of these bands were entirely unique from the others, except that they all had this very apparent organic, “we do this because we love it” quality. I was blown away by the sounds they put out, and honestly, I didn’t think I would be. They all laid it down hard, leaving me wishing they had been slotted for full sets. The music was on point, but what really stood out to me was the Oregon District itself.
That .2 mile stretch between Patterson and Wayne is timelessly hip. Not in the sense of wayfarers, flannel and tight jeans, but in a freak power/destined for the edge way. It’s hospitable, but the air carries this slightly unstable energy capable of break at any moment. Come as you are, stay as long as you like, return soon or never, it doesn’t matter. It’s something every town/city ought to have, but something not all towns/cities could handle. I’m ashamed that I’m in my fourth year at UD and have just now discovered this magical place. Saddening, but at least I realize it. I got my first real dose of the Oregon District last Saturday and now I yearn for another.