Through the pounding heat and pounding rain, Deja Fest pulled through and provided for an awesome free event in downtown Raleigh that got me sufficiently stoked for Hopscotch in September. The festival was put on by Deja Mi, a mobile media sharing app that allows users to share their concert footage and the like on their iPhones or Droids so you can check out what's going on all over town. It's a pretty nifty app once all of the kinks get worked out and you get over the fact that you're looking at a bunch of people's camera quality pictures, but either way it's provided for a pretty awesome outlet in terms of a great free event for Raleigh. Bands like Wye Oak, Free Energy, and Surfer Blood stuck out throughout the day but there were quite a few surprises throughout the lineup.
Jack The Radio kicked the show off with an exciting set in the blistering heat, but you wouldn't have been able to tell judging by the energy they put out. The guys in Jack The Radio joined me after their set for our latest Bottom String Session throughout the streets of downtown Raleigh. Jack The Radio put out their album Pretty Money back in August and have since had their music featured on The Golf Channel, FuelTV, and on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Jack The Radio's firm grasp on their perfect blues/country/rock blend is topped off by their knack for catchy hooks and refrains, much like the one found in "Read My Eyes", the song that the band performed for their Bottom String Session.
After Jack The Radio's set I was blown away by The Urban Sophisticates. A hip-hop group based out of Greensboro, The Urban Sophisticates have shared the stage with hip-hop greats like KRS-1, Talib Kweli, and Arrested Development and there's no questioning why when you see them perform or hear their tunes. The group put massive amounts of energy and dedication into their performance, their horn section in particular is what stuck out the most to me. Emphatically blasting out jazzy tunes from their brass, Sal Mascali and Jeremy Denman dance and bop along as the perfect compliment to Aaron and Benton James. A group I'll definitely be catching more of in the future.
Free Energy went on after a rain delay of around an hour or so, but as much as anyone wanted to complain about having to wait for more music the rain really did an excellent job of cooling the whole place down. The cooling was definitely a necessity as the crowd started to begin to pack in for Free Energy and begin to get excited for the rest of the lineup. Free Energy trucked through a set full of frenetic yet melodic pop songs that the crowd jumped, swayed, sang, and danced along to throughout it's entirety. After Free Energy came Wye Oak, a set that definitely sits right along with Surfer Blood in contention for set of the night. The crowd continued to grow in numbers, as was the story for the rest of the night, and Wye Oak certainly didn't disappoint the masses. Pitch perfect vocals, blasting guitar and synth, and perfect chemistry on stage between Andy and Jenn. Check out the video of "Hot As Day" I shot from the crowd:
Following Wye Oak was Active Child, and for my first experience with the band it was an overwhelmingly positive one. Sitting off to the side of the parking garage and letting the celestial sound of Active Child enter my ears was a soothing experience as the night began to set in, it was the perfect ambiance for my introduction to this wonderful band. Begin introduced to a bands live show before hearing their studio work is by far one of the more enjoyable things of attending shows as I became enthralled with how this band's studio work sounded if their harp-wielding vocalist could sound so incredible live. Definitely became a fan!
Surfer Blood headlined the weekend's festivities and certainly lived up to all expectations I had of the bands live set. Their fuzzed out indie/surf-rock sound was conveyed perfectly live, the band dug out a few new tunes that the crowd was loving and some album favorites that got the crowd jumping, singing, and even dancing along on stage for "Swim". Surfer Blood did an excellent job of pulling the crowd into their set...and of putting themselves into the crowd. JP Pitts got all rock-star on Deja Fest as he jumped off the stage with his mic and sprawled himself on the barrier for one of the highlights of the show as he sang along with the crowd. The band's energy permeated throughout the audience and left the crowd with the perfect taste in their mouth for the rest of the evening's festivities inside of The Lincoln Theatre. Check out our video of Surfer Blood playing their song "Harmonix" below: