Monday, April 7, 2014

Westport brimmed with music on Saturday night for Middle of the Map Festival

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM

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click to enlarge Stik Figa - APRIL FLEMING
  • April Fleming
  • Stik Figa

I left shortly before Of Montreal's set concluded so not to miss Topeka's Stik Figa, back over at the Riot Room patio. Stik Figa has several years in the local game, but his performances manage to feel fresh every time. His skill level is still growing, too: You can hear in the way that he cuts up his words, almost syncopating them, to work with the beats delivered by his DJ, who rapped behind him through an American flag draped over his microphone (I regret not having caught his name). Stik Figa's set included a fair amount of new material, but in the spirit of the festival, he closed his set with an old favorite, "Absotively Posilutely." 

click to enlarge Spirit Is the Spirit - APRIL FLEMING
  • April Fleming
  • Spirit Is the Spirit

After a much-needed sustenance stop at a food truck for a comically large fried hot dog (nutrition first), it was back to RecordBar for the conclusion of Spirit Is the Spirit's set and to close out the night with Why?. Spirit Is the Spirit's lush harmonies and tight percussion had the crowd bouncing and dancing. The band's name is a bit misleading and could throw you off, but fans of Fleet Foxes or Local Natives would find plenty to like here. 

click to enlarge Why? - APRIL FLEMING
  • April Fleming
  • Why?

After a rather long delay in setup, Why? at last began to play a to a one-in, one-out crowd that was intimately and intensely familiar with the band's material and Yoni Wolf's self-effacing and self-immolating lyrics. And while Wolf is clearly the star of the show, those behind the instruments are equally impressive: Sharp, clattering percussion interplays well with xylophone, keyboards and guitars. The crowd responded with an extra wave of enthusiasm for "The Hollows," during which the venue's overhead lights came on.

click to enlarge Why? - APRIL FLEMING
  • April Fleming
  • Why?

Wolf, sensing the audience's disappointment, soldiered on, saying, "We'll do one more, forget it. If they shut us off, we'll go outside." The band played "The Vowels, Pt 2," and it's bright call of "Cheerie-ee, Cheerie-ay" carried the audience to the end of the song, and then out the door. Back down the street at Westport Saloon and the Riot Room, the festival continued for another hour, but several hours of standing and walking around did me and my old back in. Yet back pain and all, this year's festival hit all the right notes. Cheers to the Record Machine for another successful Middle of the Map. 


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