Written by Jessica Klausing
Day 1: Who Wouldn’t Want to Be an Outlaw?
October may be the season of crisp air and colored leaves but to a music fan it means Outlaw Roadshow in New York City! What’s so special about this festival besides that entry is free? The Outlaw Roadshow is a three day celebration of indie artists for music fans that are eager to discover something new. To many of the Outlaw veterans this event has become a big family reunion. This festival has spawned lifelong friendships that have resulted in many creative collaborations. A few of these collaborations have included stunning artwork by Frank Germano (Man On Fire) and artist Felipe Molina, along with official Outlaw Roadshow wine from Standing Sun Winery.
Founded in 2011 by Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz and Boston music blogger Ryan Spaulding of Ryan’s Smashing Life, The Outlaw Roadshow has showcased a lineup of over thirty bands in Austin, Nashville, NYC, Tel Aviv and now Toronto!
This year Outlaw Roadshow has partnered with crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic, which offered free music, t-shirts, stickers and other cool band swag for fans to enjoy.
This was my first Outlaw Roadshow and I am very excited to share my experience watching every one of the amazing bands that performed at The Bowery Electric.
I will be breaking this review up into three parts. Each part will cover the bands that performed on that particular night.
Brick Briscoe had my full attention as soon as he took stage in the Map Room. His vocals reminded me of a whiskeyed-up Michael Stipe. What I liked best was that his clever blend of jazz and punk sets him apart from the progressive rock genre. Briscoe performed a tongue-in-cheek set backed by Cracker’s Frank Funaro (drummer) and Sal Maida (bass).
Be warned: Briscoe is not afraid to tell it like it is! With exclamations such as “I got your ‘kiss my ass’ right here!” in “You Scare Me” and “You can be a dumbass anywhere,” in “Heading to Kanorado,” his music offers bold, thought-provoking messages intertwined with melancholic guitar parts.
Travel & Leisure: “60 Seconds with Colleen,” “Don’t Let Her Back into the House,” “Lullaby,” “Running to Main Street,” and “Stenographer.”
Lovers & Amateurs: “The Dig,” “ShamRock, TX,” and “You Scare Me.”
What Happened to Me (2000-2014): “Heading to Kanorado,” “She Let the Balloons Go,” “Pittsburgh-Hampton Inn,” “Go Away a GoGo,” “Running to Main Street,” “Burn Much Brighter,” “Stenographer,” “60 Seconds with Colleen,” and “JacktheRipper.”
I like to refer to this artist as the beautiful pin up girl of Honky Tonk. Kim Logan's stage presence is mesmerizing--that of an Old Southern Rock soul with shimmering eyes, a playful innocence, and a vocal range that belts out the devilish woes of the past.
Her sultry, bluesy voice pulls you deeper into a bayou of power, sin and love with no chance of ever coming back. Logan delivered a heartfelt set with sympathetic lyrics that portrayed a wealth of experience. “Devil Makes Three” tells the rebellious tale of living with a troubled boyfriend while “Donnie” relives the moment of heartbreak from a failed relationship. Even if you’re not much of a country fan, her music is too intelligent to ignore.
Kim Logan: “Devil Makes Three,” “Gentleman,” “Voodoo Man,” and “Donnie.”
Alan Wuorinen took stage with his acoustic guitar and delved right into folklore that inspired an instant audience sing-along with hand clapping. He entertained us with stories of exes, arcades and zombie survival tips. Very important.
After his set, it was recommended that I check out Wuorinen’s band, The LongWalls. I did and found them to be quite comely on the ears—a fitting vibe for a long afternoon drive in the countryside.
Field Guide for the Zombie Survivalist: “Zombies!,” “Marmalade” and “Coal Miner.”
Keep Boston Safe 2016: “Too Many Prayers.”
Dark Academy: “Playwrights,” “Saturday” and “Brave Arms.”
Brothers in Yarn
The wind was knocked out of me as soon as frontman Shawn Fogel took the mic. Don’t be fooled by all of the electronic gadgets on stage, this group understands the importance of sound without auto-tuning it to death.
Each song on the EP is based off of a different book that Fogel read in attempt to rid his writer’s block. My absolute favorite was “The Mind’s Editorial,” which is based on City of Thieves by David Benioff. The euphoric harmonies made this song pure magic to me. Long after the show, I am still listening to it on repeat.
Volume 1 EP: “Simple Math and its Consequences” and “The Mind’s Editorial.”
I found the Workman Song’s set to be as endearing as a cup of hot chicken soup on a cold day. This indie folk rock sound will enlighten the soul and question the human existence. Sean McMahon tells a tale of personal struggles with religious undertones.
His vivid storytelling, early Bob Dylan-esque chords and hypnotic vocal arrangements make up the perfect recipe of a folk album worthy of a listen.
Lamb: “Jesse Winters” and “Patient like a Lamb.”
Watch out for this one: She’s fierce. She’s impressionable. She’s a total badass on guitar.
Brandy Zdan brought the house down with her soulful voice’s call to the broken hearted. Her songs are the anthem for those experiencing losses and looking for redemption.
Brandy Zdan: “Back On You,” “Cut N Run,” “Love to a Ghost,” “People Like Us,” “Courtship Of Wild Horses,” and “More Of A Man.”
Alan Semerdjian played a beautiful set that touched on the themes of coming of age. His poetic lyrics resonate with one’s inner dialogue such that it almost feels you’re watching a biographical movie.
The musical fluidity of the stringed instruments easily compliments Semerdjian’s smooth vocals.
Quiet Songs for Loud Times: “For Blackbirds,” “You Can’t Teach Trouble to Sing,” and “Your Enemy.”
Skunkmello is a complete mind trip. The music weaves between the blues, country and the raggae-tinged electric rock that will keep the listener guessing where the song will end up.
That’s all part of the fun with this band. At first listen you may think you are listening to 1920s saloon music but, then an electric guitar rips through alongside some R & B vocals, taking the song in an unexpected direction.
Lowlife Dreams: “The Way Down,” “Two Dudes on a Moped,” and “Bukowski Blues.”
Stars & Stripes: “Stars & Stripes,” “Easy Come, Easy Go,” “Disco Cruiser,” “Gravity,” “Chocolate Milk,” “Mad Dog,” and “Bad Morning Blues.”
Today’s mainstream pop groups could learn a lesson from this band. Making good music can be as simple as going back to your roots. Andrew Weiss and his band rely on 70s style guitars, carefree lyrics and rich melodies reminiscent of late 60s psychedelic pop to drive the point across.
Their sound is very chill, much like Oasis. In fact, “Miss Valentine” sounds similar to Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova.”
The Optimist: “Paper Walls,” “Birthday Girl,” “Miss Valentine,” “Time Will Tell,” and “How The West Was Won.”
The Morningsiders sound as though Foster The People abandoned their hipster vibe to play alternative folk music. Their music offers an honest voice to those awkward years of trying to fit in.
The line “I’m telling lies to get out socializing,” in “Dots” paints the simple picture of social anxiety. Morningsiders open doors into a world of acoustic guitars and vibrant percussions.
Unfocus: “Dots” and “Lucianne.”
The Life Electric
The Life Electric closed out night one on a high. The lower level of the Bowery Electric turned into a huge underground dance party. There were arms flailing, booties shaking, and feet stompin’ in delight to these indie rock fused disco beats. Yes, disco.
These guys are breaking down barriers by bringing the two genres together. The end results are lush harmonies, plenty of clashing guitars and dynamic synthesizers that keep the energy high and the music quite catchy.
The Real You: “Gone Gone Gone,” “The Real You,” “Ladders,” “Heartbeat,” “Perfect Soul,” and “A Ghost.”
To be continued for part two...