Upon crossing the threshold at Strange Matter for day two of Fall Line Fest last Saturday, I could feel the sense of urgency in the air. The bands were busy unloading their gear and getting equipment set up ahead of time so things would run smoothly throughout the evening, but there was another urgency prevalent as well.
Upon crossing the threshold at Strange Matter for day two of Fall Line Fest last Saturday, I could feel the sense of urgency in the air. The bands were busy unloading their gear and getting equipment set up ahead of time so things would run smoothly throughout the evening, but there was another urgency prevalent as well. The urgency to play some serious and exciting music; the urgency to rock; the urgency to forget that the last days of summers are upon us; the urgency to have a good time.
Indeed, a good time was had by all. The first band wasn’t to go on until 7:55, so before then the pace at Strange Matter was slower, as the bands intermingled with each other and caught up with new and old friends alike. It was an authentic camaraderie, a kind one struggles to find outside the music world. Around 7:35ish, however, the pace began to move a bit quicker. Sound checks were underway, and a crowd began to form around the bar and in front of the stage. Voices collided with music blaring from the speakers on the stage.
Photo by Michael Andrade
At 7:55, Lilac Daze took the stage. An indie-punk trio from Frederick, Maryland, Lilac Daze brought forth a pleasant mix of garage punk with attainable pop structure and melodies. All of the members provided lead vocals during different songs, with guitarist Evan Braswell and bassist Patti Ann combining storytelling with cryptic undertones while drummer Matt Henry brought an angsty fervor. Their stage presence was confident yet laid-back, enjoying every minute on stage. For a scene overflowing with the garage-punk bands, Lilac Daze provided a breath of fresh air with their charm and energy rarely seen elsewhere.
Photo by @oldflings
Teen Death followed suit and kept the intensity going. The local punk-rockers gave the audience a relentless performance that bordered on clarity and insanity. They were everything you could want from a punk band. The riffs were of the head-banging variety, and the choruses latched onto your brain for the remainder of the night. For those of us in the audience who barely remembered the 90’s and all of the great punk and hardcore bands said era gave birth to [you’re killing me, Smalls -ed.], Teen Death allowed us to bask in a moment of pure, unadulterated punk rock bliss we never experienced firsthand. This is not to say, however, that Teen Death is a revival band. The sound may be familiar, but the emotion and honesty they brought to the stage fit perfectly in the realm of 21st century life.
Photo by @jnester33
Asheville, NC trio Old Flings made their way to the stage following Teen Death, picking up the punk rock torch. The trio, if one were to based their sound on looks alone, could have been mistaken for a thrash metal band. Although it was apparent that they shared a love for all things metal, Old Flings played a heart-on-the-sleeve set of punk combined with the emotional onslaught of power-pop. In a way their sound hearkened back to the likes of Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music, but I would argue that these guys were, and are, better than those bands. Each song was saturated with dark power chords and moving, melodic bass lines. Guitarist and lead singer Matt Evan showcased his melancholy baritone, which offered a nice contrast to the band’s heaviness. Between songs, the bands chatted with friends in the crowd and spoke of their love for Richmond, a home away from home. Based on their performance, it was clear to see that Old Flings is comfortable in their Richmond skin, and there is no doubt that they will make their way back up here again in the near future.
Photo by @meeeeghin
When Old Flings had finished their set, Minnesota math-rockers Tiny Moving Parts got set up and took the stage. They invited everyone to come a little closer to the stage and many obliged. The closeness only added to the trio’s presence (notice the common thread of trios here), as they ripped through time-signature changes with ease over a pop-punk framework. There was very little downtime to be had, save for the occasional guitar switch and tuning when needed. The band played some old songs as well as new ones from their recently released album Pleasant Living. At one point guitarist and singer Dylan Matthesien raised his glass and made a toast to Fall Line Fest, a gesture that many would write off as a cliché. But when you could see the joy on Matthesien’s face, all doubts were swept away, leaving nothing but pure sincerity. As the band closed out their set with the raw number “Dakota,” I felt the arm of a stranger around my shoulder. Initially I felt a bit apprehensive, unsure if I should partake in a slow-dance-shoulder-slung-sing along. But eventually I gave in and joined the unknown faces in a newly inspired sway.
The moment lasted maybe all of forty-five seconds, but it reminded me of the power of music and the effect it has on people, regardless of whether said people are drunk or sober. And as I rode my bike home against one the of last summer breezes, I longed for another round of Fall Line Fest. [Andrew apparently skipped Fairweather‘s set. Kids today, I swear. -ed]