The charming pond-side outdoor stage of GMBG was enclosed by a clear, greenhouse-like temporary covering on Saturday, probably to protect from the heavy winds and hail earlier in the week. It made the space feel tiny, especially with the sectioned off VIP table section and separate VIP barricade near the front of the stage.
Adjy kicked off the evening before the sun had started to set, and quickly won the hearts of the audience with their unusual setup and endearing demeanors. With grins across all of their faces, the six-piece band danced around the stage playing rhythmically interesting music on several additional floor toms, a vibraphone, keyboards — one girl hit two little wrenches together for a pleasant high ringing during one song. The precision of each percussionist was impressive. They stayed together without needing to glance at each other, only listening. Each member looked so into the music: nice indie pop jams with interesting textures and fun gang vocal moments. The lead vocalist made silly banter about the VIP barricade being a caste system, which may or may not have had anything to do with the barricade being removed after they finished. Towards the end of their set, during a song, they all pulled out books and started reading off random pages. It was an interesting sight, though hard to hear the words since they didn’t all have microphones. Overall, Adjy’s uniqueness was charming and started off the night on a strong note.
Tancred was next, the solo project of Jess Abbott from Now, Now. She played with a full band, including Eric from Foxing for a handful of songs. Tancred was more simple than Adjy, as far as instrumentation and atmosphere go, and the music had a bit more weight, but they had a similar fun vibe. Abbott’s voice was dulcet and her melodies were catchy above driving guitar parts. The audience danced along while the band played songs mainly from Tancred’s upcoming album, Out of the Garden. Older material sprinkled in was greatly appreciated by Abbott’s fans in the crowd. Although Tancred’s music wasn’t as emotionally driven as the others on the bill (no emo vocals or post-rock crescendos), the band’s performance was tight and full of energy.
Seeing O’Brother live is like listening to one of their albums at maximum volume on an enormous speaker system. Vocalist Tanner Merritt has incredible vocal control and an impressive range, and the band as a whole sounds exactly like they do on record. By far the heaviest band of the night, O’Brother was crushingly loud with their gorgeous combination of sludgy low-end and hauntingly atmospheric melodies. They almost immediately had people headbanging along, but won the entire audience over when they played Ascension, a well-loved song from an early EP that filled the space with exquisite post-rock tension and dynamics, and lyrics that tug at your heartstrings. The audience roared with applause afterwards. Lights on the stage floor flashed like lightning, overwhelming the eyes as O’Brother overwhelmed the ears. Their set screamed power and majesty, and was arguably the most impressive of the night.
Finally, Foxing took their place in front of the white banner with their name printed on it that hung across the back of the stage the entire night. Soft white orb lights helped set the scene for the delicate aura that Foxing always delivers. It was clear that most of the crowd was here to see the headlining band, and they sang passionately along with Foxing as they opened their set with “The Medic.” Foxing has been touring with a violinist for their past few runs, and has also incorporated additional synths into their set to further develop their specific light atmosphere. They never struggled to give off that sound before adding these instruments, but for the most part they added a nice touch — certain noise textures, however, didn’t seem to add anything and were almost distracting. Nonetheless, people were very into what they were playing, sometimes moshing despite Foxing’s generally gentle nature. With a band as emotive as Foxing, it isn’t too surprising. A drunk older patron nearby me summed up their tone quite well: “That man is a tortured soul.” Jess from Tancred came on stage to do guest vocal for a song nearing the end of their set. Her voice fit beautifully with the voice of Foxing’s vocalist, Conor Murphy. Their performance together was intense and satisfying; definitely a treat. Foxing ended their set with the gripping “Rory,” which had the crowd screaming along to its mournful lyrics and soaking up the warmth of Murphy’s trumpet. One of their most popular songs, it was a great way to finish the night. It would’ve only been better if the tent wasn’t covering the stage so their sounds could fill out the night sky.