Brews, beautiful people and bow-wows.
We experienced our first Sycamore Brewery Spring Fest and between the excellent beer selection, to the food trucks, to the band line up this is a must return Fest for 768.
You should expect plenty of beer, food, the hang out of the beautiful people of Charlotte and lots and lots of dogs.
Sycamore’s location and set up is perfect for this kind of event. We Ubered there so no comment on parking, which did look problematic and made us thankful. Once inside though, this is a ready-made ‘fest’ venue.
There were three tap locations around the lot and food trucks along the back of the property. This was wise because even though the lines would back up for beer, they would not interfere with the food lines.
We had tacos, shrimp – mmmmhmmm – and ‘Dillas from TIN Kitchen. Both were fantastic. The shrimp tacos were especially tasty with a homemade topping.
Although it was VERY busy especially later in the day, the crowd management was effective and there were places to sit to eat, grab a water, etc.
We discovered the Sun Grown Lager and stayed with it – despite a healthy line up of Oats Sodas. This beer is delicious! We are not IPA-hoppy fans and this brew had zero hop. It was refreshing and tasty – almost too tasty. Perfect for the hot day in the sun. It left us searching local groceries for who carries it.
Let’s talk about the bands!
We stuck to the main stage, mainly because the garden beer area location of the second stage was always packed. So no slight to those bands.
Late Night Special
Let’s face it, anytime you are lead off on a main stage, you have to gear yourself for providing the background music for folks coming in and getting their first beer. No one is loosened up enough to start dancing and rushing the stage.
At the same time you also have the chance to be that sound that tells folks arriving – yep this is the right place.
Late Night Special filled the bill with their 5-piece high-energy full folk sound and concert-ready vocals. Natives of Mount Pleasant, NC, Fred Heintz has the classic-rocker rasp in his voice backed by members: Bradly Cannon on drums; Ben Robinson on bass; Derek Furr on guitar and Gillian Zambor on keyboard.
The juxtaposition of this group is Fred’s energy on vocals backed by clear musical power from each instrument against the relatively calm stage presence. It actually pulls you into the performance with Ben, bassist, sitting the entire time – there is always something cool about that – like “yeah I know something” and Gillian swaying behind the keys. All the while, Derek is shredding and Bradly is keeping the tempo tight smoking a cigarette from his lips.
After the set, we caught up with Fred to learn that they are hosting their own festival in Concord, NC, May 12 and 13 with a line up of close to 30 bands. Called the Shakedown Festival it features music, yoga, camping: www.shakedown.rocks (If we weren’t committed to Skaky Knees in ATL, we’d be there!)
Swim in the Wild
Shorted to “Swim Team” hail from Charlotte, NC took the stage second. Having the benefit of a growing crowd by mid-afternoon, Swim in the Wild continued to add to the energy level of the crowd. The Hall Brothers, Micheal and Steven with long-time friend “Gersh” (Cameron Godwin) form the nucleus of this 5-piece band with Jeff Small, guitar and Grant Gautreau, guitar flanking them on stage.
Playing lots of originals, the draw is the full glory Magnum PI stash and stage energy of Gersh. His kentic movement on stage is hard to stop watching, while Micheal’s vocals and the band’s full sound gave reason for Gersh to move and jump and stand on amps.
The Sycamore team selected bands for the main stage that were all in a similar lane and the Swim Team built nicely on to the sounds of LNS. Somewhere in between blues, rock, indie and folk, Micheal and team have a distinctive sound that is perfect for the out door jam fest.
Catch them next also at the Shakedown Fest in May.
Continuing the build of energy on stage Porch 40 delivered. Based in Sylvia, NC, this heavy funk alternative rock band features a diverse sound starting from the distinct vocals of lead singer Andrew Duncan. Almost “Adam Levine” like he pours himself into the mic and the songs.
His energy on stage is matched by every other band member: Scott Burr, saxophone, Mitchell Metz, violin – yes violin which is visous, Brett Wilson, drums
Carter McDevitt, bass.
Between Carter disappearing behind his hair like “Cousin Itt”; Brett whaling the drums to keeping time, Mitchell on sax and Scott on violin exchanging leads through songs, these guys deliver on a live show. They moved the crowd closer and provide no excuses to start moving to the beat.
The highlight of the set was Brandon Hucks of Of Good Nature joining on stage for a jazz, funk, reggae version of ‘Tequila!’
These guys are on the move throughout the summer around the southeast. Catch them next in Boone with the fest’s headliners Of Good Nature at the Local.
Of Good Nature
If you haven’t heard of Of Good Nature, you will soon. They are building momentum and a fan base. The headliners and co-host with Sycamore, they are the crowd pleasers calling Charlotte home.
Throw a trombone into your sound and it’s easily to expect jazz – to call these guys ‘reggae’ as categorized by their website and albums sells them short musically. They are all of it and rock, funk, folk in one very tight sound.
Formed in 2011, by lead vocals Cameron Brown and percussionist, Joey Vachon the band has 2 albums under their belt and plenty of line up for a live gig like this. And the crowd loves them – even without the day drinkers who had been there since noon! Brandon Hucks on Trombone and Jon Reed on bass pulled the estimated 1500 fans in close. David Hamilton on drums centers the band with intricate timing with Cameron and Jon.
These guys will be at Jazz Fest or Summer Fest in no time.
Sycamore has got to be feeling very good about their Spring Fest and hopefully this cements this event into the Charlotte music scene. If you missed it, set a reminder for next year and watch out for their anniversary Fest in the Fall.