Friday, September 7, 2012

I AM Fest Returns! (and so do we)

Oh hai, Merry Picnic! It's been a while... sorry.

But since one comeback deserves another, we're just in time to preview the triumphant return of New London's I Am Festival.

I Am Fest developed a steady following over it's first five years, drawing in such acts as Jay Reatard and Girl Talk in earlier incarnations, but consistently improving lineups year to year saw headliners such as Deerhoof, Mates of State, and We Are Scientists.  This is not to mention a veritable stable of up and coming local and national acts such as M.T. Bearington, The Hempsteadys, EULA, The Drums, Free Energy, and more who have appeared onstage.  After taking a hiatus in 2011, this year will be no different and better than ever.

Making the move from the pier to the heart of New London, the festival broadens signifcantly this year, with more music, more venues, more vendors, more restaurants, more parking.  Vendors will be set up at Parade Plaza and beer and wine will be for sale at Hygienic Art Park.  Smaller venues include The Telegraph and The Oasis Pub, both a stone's throw from the main stages.  Full information on parking, et al, is available at

But on the reason we're all going, the music!  The headliners are no strangers to CT, having headlined at BAR New Haven and opened up for Wild Flag at Toad's within the past year.  Hospitality brings their dichotomous twee pop with a distinct harder edge to the main stage at Parade Plaza.  I've always described the band as 'Belle & Sebastian with a killer guitarist', and these tracks prove my point.  Check out our previous post on key tune "The Right Profession", and dig the lead-off track ("Eight Avenue") from their self-titled debut.

Here's the full schedule from the I Am Fest page, including stages and addresses.  Our itinerary is in bold; we'll at least check out a couple songs from these bands.  Also, if M.T. Bearington is playing too late for you (it's way too late for us), you can catch them tonight at The Outer Space in Hamden.  The show is only $5 and features openers Great Elk and Goodnight Blue Moon (my new favorite local band). Stage at PARADE PLAZA
1:00 - 2:00 Frank Lo & The Fly Ones present The Nu Lo Order
2:30 - 3:15 Sidewalk Dave
4:00 - 4:45 The Hempsteadys
5:30 - 6:15 Sean Bones
7:00 - 7:45 Bearstronaut
8:30 - 9:15 Dom
10:00 - 11:00 Hospitality

3:15 - 4:00 Modern Merchant
4:45 - 5:30 Math The Band
6:15 - 7:00 Shake The Baron
7:45 - 8:30 Suicide Dolls
9:15 - 10:00 Bear Hands

OASIS PUB (16 Bank)
6:15p - 7:00p Ferocious Fucking Teeth
7:45p - 8:30p Fake Babies
11:00p - 11:45p Graverobbers
12:00a - 1:00a MT Bearington

1pm Haunt the House
2pm Sister Mary
3pm The Sea The Sea
4pm Sam Perduta of Elison Jackson
5pm Jesse Stanford of Heirlooms
6pm Street People

Friday, April 27, 2012

One of the Best Parts of the Daffodil Festival - The Music!

Mates of State at All Points West in 2008 (one of the first times we saw them).
Other than the food, what I look forward to most at the Daffodil Festival is the music. We've seen the likes of Mark Mulcahy and the Animals, and we've also seen tons of great local acts. This year, one of Merry Picnic's favorite bands, Mates of State, is taking the Jeff Crooms Welcome Stage right before the fireworks on Saturday night and playing into the fireworks. Before that, we're getting M.T. Bearington and The Guru, two local bands we've seen play often in the area. Throughout the weekend, we'll also see some Daffodil Festival regulars like Frank Critelli and The Bird 'n Boys with Ellen Sackman. 

It's actually no coincidence that we've seen a lot of the bands playing this weekend before. I spoke with Robbie DeRosa, who has been the music coordinator for the Daffodil Festival for the past 13 years, and he said that when he's scouting out bands to play the festival, he looks at what bands play around a lot because they're sure to have a local following and bring in a crowd. Also the host of a local music show, DeRosa listens to a lot of local music and chooses local bands that put out great records. He starts with a list of over 100 bands and has to narrow it down. 

This year, there are 37 bands playing the festival - more than ever before. The music used to start at 11 a.m. each day, but because the gate opens at 10 a.m., there will be bands playing at the very start of the festival to get people going as soon as they step off the shuttle bus. 

"I'm really thrilled," DeRosa said about the lineup. "Last year at the end of Sunday, I said I should quit. I didn't think I could do better." (And yet, this year, he did.) 

DeRosa said that when he plans the lineup each year, he starts with the fireworks show. This year, there will be two bands playing - Barefoot Truth in the Bandshell, and Mates of State, as mentioned before. 

"This year they have two fabulous acts to choose from," DeRosa said, adding that the bands will start before the fireworks and play at least a few songs into the fireworks. "It's going to be very dynamic."

When we at Merry Picnic heard that Mates of State were playing during the fireworks, we couldn't think of a better fit because of their high-energy synth-infused, fireworks-perfect music. DeRosa said that he's wanted Mates of State to play the festival for a few years, but it never worked out because of scheduling conflicts until now. He said the Daffodil Festival is "a perfect in-state festival for them" because they live in state and can bring their kids. 

Here's the lineup for each day: 

Don't forget one of the other best parts of the festival (as the above poster mentions) - there's free parking, free shuttle to the festival, and free admission!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Guru (Daffodil Festival)

For the second time in as many weeks we'll be seeing eclectic CT rockers The Guru at a local festival.  Coming off a fantastic performance last weekend at Quinnipiac's Festapalooza, the boys bring their high octane genre-bucking rock to Meriden's Daffodil Festival.  Owing as much to Captain Beefheart as they do to Isaac Brock, their debut LP Native Sun is equal parts carnival, psychedelia, fevered guitar work, shouting, and exuberant fun that's nearly irresistible.  The frenetic energy of their live performance is unmatched, leaving me wondering if an unsuspecting Daffodil Festival crowd will be ready for them.  Ready or not, The Guru plays the Jeff Crooms Welcome Stage at 5:15 Saturday, and should be quite the experience for the uninitiated.  Here's a clip of the band at a recent performance at The Space to hold you over until then.  See you Saturday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Daffodil Festival - This Weekend!

Daffodils at Hubbard Park last month, which sadly won't be in bloom because it was warm so early.
The daffodils are no longer in bloom at Hubbard Park because of the unseasonably warm weather last month, but their spirit will live on.  The Daffodil Festival (one of my favorite parts of being a Meriden native!) is happening this weekend - Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29 at Hubbard Park in Meriden. Food, music, a craft fair, games, and rides - and free admission? Even without daffodils (which on most years are in bloom in the hundreds of thousands this time of year at the park), how could you ask for more?

Gates, food tent, arts & crafts, and children's rides start at 10 a.m., and music starts at 11 a.m. each day. On Saturday, the annual Daffodil Festival parade starts at 11:30 a.m., and there will be fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Free parking (park at one of the designated spots and take the shuttle bus in), and again, free admission.

That fact that admission is free is one of the best things about this festival. A lot of area fairs charge a lot for admission and parking, and even though I understand the costs of exhibits and music, I usually only want to go to fairs for the delicious fair food, and it all adds up. At the Daffodil Festival, I get all that yummy fair food right in my hometown without having to pay an upfront admission - and without having to pay for parking. And by "fair food," I'm talking about fried oreos, fried dough, waffles, corn dogs, steamed cheeseburgers, ribbon fries, and some more cultural foods by local churches like pierogies and kielbasa and pernil and arroz con gandules, and I'm getting hungry just typing about it.

And with the free admission, you get free live music. We've seen lots of local and bigger acts, and this year might be one of the best in terms of music. Merry Picnic have more previews about some of the bands we're looking forward to this week (The Guru, M.T. Bearington, Mates of State), but for now, I'll just say that I'm most excited to see Mates of State playing during the fireworks. I can't think of a more perfect combination with their high-energy, synth-and-drum-driven music.

Here's a link to the Daffodil Festival website for more information:

And here's an interactive Google map of all the 2012 Daffodil Festival that I found on the Record-Journal website:,-72.832425&spn=0.003212,0.006641&z=17&source=embed

Monday, April 23, 2012

Record Store Day 2012 Round-Up

As Garrett pointed out this morning, we Success Kid'd RSD12.
As promised in the last post, here's a round-up of our Record Store Day 2012 experience. We got most of what we wanted - only missing one thing total - and we got more than we expected in free swag from Redscroll.

My dining room table was covered in cool stuff we bought plus free swag.
Friday night going into Saturday morning was a whirlwind of emotion and Record Store Day fun. We left Festapalooza at Quinnipiac and drove down the street to Replay Records in Hamden. The line was already wrapping around their tiny parking lot, and we were hoping to be in the first 50 to get a bag. We were in the first 50 and got some yellow tote bags with the Replay Records logo on it, though nothing else inside other than a booklet advertising mail-order record supplies. At the stroke of midnight, we made our way in and packed the aisles. It was a little confusing finding the Record Store Day releases because they were all laid out on top of the other records in the store, but it worked out, and we were in and out of there in less than a half hour or so. Garrett picked up a copy of the Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends - color-swirl double LP and found side 2 signed by Wayne Coyne!  Garrett tweeted about this wonderful discovery, and Wayne Coyne himself retweeted us! 
^That's our tweet!
Saturday morning, it was a little difficult for me to wake up, but we got to Redscroll Records in Wallingford around 8:30 a.m. - a half hour before they opened. The line was already through most of the parking lot, and it just got longer as we stood there. Even though we were way farther back in line than we were the night before at Replay Records, Redscroll had more than enough bags to give away - and all the bags were full of wonderful free stuff. On top of that, they had a ton of Record Store Day releases, so we got most of what we wanted. Thank you for making all our Record Store Day dreams come true, Redscroll Records. It was worth the hour and a half wait outside your store. And back to Replay Records - thank you for opening your store at midnight, giving us an extra chance at getting the releases we wanted, and happening to get one of the signed copies of The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. You also helped make all our Record Store Day dreams come true.

Here's a list of the stuff we bought, plus some of the swag we got:

RSD Releases:
Preteen Zenith - Rubble Guts & BB Eye - color-swirl LP
Starfucker - Heaven's Youth (Reptilian Demos) - white LP
Futurebirds - Seney-Stovall - live 12' EP
Beach House - Lazuli - marble blue 7"
The Flaming Lips/Mastodon - A Spoonful Weighs A Ton - pink 7"
The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends - color-swirl double LP, side 2 SIGNED by Wayne Coyne!

Free Swag:
Samplers from Sub Pop and Safety Meeting Records
Jerkagram CDs
All We Have Is Now, Vol 1 (photographs by Michelle Martin Coyne documenting The Flaming Lips)
Lots of stickers, magnets, and a RSD fan.

Other Stuff We bought:
The Louvin Brothers - Satan Is Real (Light in the Attic reissue, to be featured in an upcoming Vintage Vinyl)
Silly Used Records (including some still wrapped, never opened):
Knee Deep in the Hoopla, Back in the HIgh Life, We Are The World, Smothers Brothers, Liberace, 1812 Overture, Britney Spears "Baby One More Time" single with remixes, and my favorite - Hall & Oates, Rock & Soul Part I - still wrapped, and still containing a free 1984 calendar!

That is one sweet 1984 Hall & Oates calendar from a still-wrapped used record.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Record Store Day 2012 - Starting tonight!

This Record Store Day is already shaping up to be better than all the other Record Store Days we’ve ever celebrated. Record Store Day 2012 is tomorrow – April 21 – and as traditional holds for this very special holiday, record stores across the country will be selling special releases, doing special things, and some will even be hosting some great live music.

I posted the above Gogol Bordello video for Record Store Day 2010 on my old blog, and this song still gets in my head every year around this time.

Here in south central Connecticut, we’ve been going to Redscroll Records in Wallingford. For the past few years, they’ve given a storewide discount, and this year, everything is 15% off, including turntables. Store is open for special hours – 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. We’ll be there shortly before 9, and the last few years, there’s been a line. Here’s their event website:

Tonight, we’re headed to Replay Records in Hamden, which is opening at midnight for record store – until 1 a.m. Then regular store hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here’s the website with more information:

Here’s the list of Record Store Day releases if you haven’t checked it yet. Be excited. And get ready for a round-up with lots of pictures of us smiling with lots of shiny new records.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preteen Zenith - Breathe (Record Store Day '012)

Saturday rapidly approaches, and with it comes the best invented holiday since Kwanzaa - Record Store Day!  Featuring limited releases from everyone from The Flaming Lips to Michael Buble, this is a can't miss event for music lovers, not to mention the raffles, in-store shows, and goody bags of free swag .  We'll have a full post tomorrow detailing the events and stores we're most excited to attend, but for now here's a preview of one of our most anticipated releases.

A 2000 LP limited-run marks the debut for Preteen Zenith, the new outfit from former-Tripping Daisy and current Polyphonic Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter.  I'm not sure what has me more convinced, my trust in Mr. DeLaughter's involvement or the 180 gram custom color swirl vinyl, but if the released tracks are any indication, it will be an impressive debut.  Check out "Breathe" which blends elements of the Spree at their most ambient and Tripping Daisy at their most lo-fi to a satisfying end, and come back tomorrow for more Record Store Day coverage.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Festapalooza at Quinnipiac - This Friday - 4/20!

Quinnipiac’s hosting its first music festival this Friday, April 20, and 98.1 WQAQ - the school radio station who’s sponsoring the event - has put together an epic inaugural lineup: Titus Andronicus, Bomb The Music Industry!, The Front Bottoms, The Guru, Great Caesar, and The Midnighters.

This night of high-energy indie rock and punk is happening in the Burt Kahn Court (the gym inside the Mount Carmel campus rec center), and it’s free for students, $5 for everyone else. According to a comment on the Facebook event page, doors are at 5:30 and the first band goes on at 6:15.

The fact that this festival is free for students, including grad students, is one of the pros of going to a law school attached to an undergrad campus - almost making up for the obvious cons of limited parking and unlikelihood of class cancellation when it snows. $5 for everyone else is a total steal.

Titus Andronicus puts on a great show as demonstrated in the above video from last year’s BOMB Fest. (Not taken by us, but we are there in that crowd!) I haven’t gotten into Bomb The Music Industry!, but in high school, I was really into ska and loved the Arrogant Sons of Bitches, who broke up, but the lead singer and some other members joined BtMI!. ASOB is reuniting in May and playing shows here in CT and Brooklyn. It might be a stretch, but here’s hoping we get an ASOB song for 2004 Freesia.

The Front Bottoms recently opened for the Say Anything/Kevin Devine show in Hartford this month. The Guru is a great local band we’ve seen at other local festivals, including the upcoming Daffodil Festival in Meriden.

Here’s the facebook event page with more info:

And here’s the site where you can buy tickets. (If you’re a student, make sure to go to the WQAQ office in SC203 to pick up your free ticket!)


4/19/12 Update: Set times are up on the Facebook page (and posted below)! Plus, from scrolling through Twitter, both Griff's Chicken Shack and Peachy Keen have confirmed that they're some of the local vendors that will be at the event. 

Titus Andronicus - 10:10 p.m. 
Bomb The Music Industry! - 9:10 p.m. 
The Front Bottoms - 8:10 p.m. 
The Guru - 7:25 p.m. 
Great Caesar - 6:45 p.m. 
The Midnighters - 6:15 p.m.