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MUSIC: Fear + Loathing at Foo Fest

Monday, August 13, 2012

 

In town from New Orleans, Big Freedia brought bounce to downtown Providence's Foo Fest. Photo: Big Freedia.

On a Saturday where the sun battled the dark clouds that refused to rain, Foo Fest invaded Empire Street in downtown Providence for a showcase of innovation, creativity, art & music that promised to be unlike any other festival in the world. And Foo Fest had everything: food trucks, an Anarchist Bookfair with Fifth Estate and The Industrial Workers of The World Union, and Rhode Island Mini Maker Fair, chock full of the hottest and newest technology that was simply mind-blowing to check out. On top of all the visual treats that encompassed the festival, the main course was the mind-blowing live music that graced indoor and outdoor stages.

The Famous Winters + Ravi Shavi

One of the best performances of the night came from The Famous Winters on the indoor stage, who were working on a bunch of new material following the departure of former lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Sean Kennedy. With Nick "Schlick Dosin" Dawson on the keys, Matt Decosta switching from bass to guitar, Alex Garzone being a total beast on the drums and Dusty T. Rooney from The Universes filling in on percussion as well as making out with a pole by the end of the set, the performance was a psych-rock jam lovefest that had Wilson Keithline from Ravi Shavi and T from Product of Waste joining in on stage for a memorable experience.

Right after, Ravi Shavi played a loud, furious garage doo-wop post-everything set that included the songs "Accidental Mental", "Company", "Bobby's Hobbies" and "InDecision". From the first note on the crowd got into it, with people groovin' and movin' their feet from all ends of the room. Foo Fest wasn't even at the halfway point and it was already a very memorable experience—the best was only yet to come.

Thrillhouse + Boo City

On the outdoor stage, Umberto Crenca, the founder and director of AS220, awarded the biannual Free Culture Award to local artist Joan Wyand and legendary performance artist Guillermo Gomez Pena for their outstanding work in the arts and their contributions to culture as a whole. Afterwards local instrumental heavy metal band Thrillhouse wowed the audience with their epic sound that made me think that it would serve as an excellent score for a medieval film consisting of dragons setting the countryside a blaze with noble knights battling the creatures to stop the madness. The only thing being set a blaze on this night was the proverbial minds of rabid fans who were mesmerized by Thrillhouse's metal riffs.

Local funk, reggae, soul and R&B band Boo City then went on the outdoor stage and had a epic performance featuring "Go And Tell Yo Mama", "Speak Up", "Closer" and "Take It Easy On Me". The smooth grooves and rhythms courtesy of the angelic voice of Tai Awolaju and the guitar skills of the American flag adorned Andrew Moon Bain set the tone for what was going to be a great night of awesome tunes.

Songs, Hard Nips + Dirty Durdie

Back at the indoor stage was Songs, a two piece drum & bass band that is so powerful I swear that there are earthquakes going on in remote parts of the world every time these guys play, a noisy sound I can only describe as "Olneyville Jazz". Local hip-hop band Symmetry then arrived on the outdoor stage, great beats and rhymes from songs like "Awkward Dance" and "Breathe In" filled the air and the night just kept on getting better and better. Hard Nips, a band featuring 3 Asian girls that sounded like a heavier version of Japanese pop-punk band Shonen Knife played in front of a humongous audience on indoor that nearly had people hanging out the door while local hip-hoppers Dirty Durdie were on the outdoor stage getting the frenized folks ready for the headliner, The Big Easy's Big Freedia & The Divas.

Big Freedia & The Divas

After a short intermission, Big Freedia and his brand of Bounce music graced the stage with two booty shakin' dancers and everyone else going absolutely insane. Earlier that day, people had the chance to perfect their booty shakin' abilities at a workshop on AS220's 2nd Floor to prepare for the craziness that a Big Freedia & The Divas show possesses. Within seconds, Big Freedia and his Vincent Vega-esque haircut had around 20 people shakin' their booties on stage for a great set including "Excuse", "It's A Shame", "Look At Her", "Let It Go Nah" and "Almost Famous" that capped off a mind-blowing day and night. Out of all of the things to do during the summer in Rhode Island, one thing you should highlight on your calendar is AS220's Foo Fest. It's an experience that you'll never forget and have you coming back next year.

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