Homegrown Day 6-8: The finale

Nate Holte (left) and Mike Billig of The People Say Fox perform at Amazing Grace Bakery & Café on Friday evening as part of the annual Homegrown Music Festival. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

On Friday night I tried to cram in as much Homegrown as possible before deadline and only managed to see, actually see-see, four bands. I felt in order to make it count I had to be there for at least three songs. And the last band I planned to catch either ended early or didn’t play so I was skunked at my last stop. Curses.

But here is what I saw. (As reported in Saturday’s News Tribune):

FRIDAY

THEFT BY SWINDLE
A well-behaved rock show erupted at Beaner’s Central. While Theft By Swindle, a band from the “Headbangers Ball” generation, worked its growly vocals, some of the audience hinted at an interest in aggressive metal behavior. There were animated nods, shy of actual headbanging, but from a seated position. Things were yelled, but those things sounded like encouragement and also were done from a seated position. No one flipped a single bird.

The band features Bret Walczynski and Butch Greene splitting time on vocals. Jason Szumowski on guitar and Thomas Anderson on drums. They’ve got garage band grit to them.

“This song is called ‘Red, White and Blue,’ — named after the beer” Walczynski said.

He sounded dangerously close to a full Axl-ian yelp.

Greene, dressed in a Ramones T-shirt, took the lead on “I Can’t Take It Anymore.”

THE PEOPLE SAY FOX
The award for most radio-ready goes to The People Say Fox, a young alt-rock band fronted by Nate Holte. He’s got a pretty voice and a celebrity level of dishevel between his grey cardigan and wash ’n’ wear hair.

Holte sang with an eyes-closed earnestness, like his soul was being squeezed, and in between pushed merchandise: free stickers, the album they released at the end of 2012 and limited edition 7-inch records.

He charmingly bumbled the introduction to a song:

“This is a song that we kind of — it’s a song,” he said, singing lyrics about how you’re the queen of hearts, I’m the king of the aces.

The band, which has been around since 2008, includes Mike Billig on bass, Nate Adelson on guitar and drummer Rio Daugherty. A version of this group opened for Cloud Cult. Friday’s slot was an all-ages show at Amazing Grace Bakery & Café, but this band seems tuned in to the U-21 crowd anyway.

MANHEAT
Jay Whitcomb had worked himself into a sweaty T-shirt early in rock band Manheat’s set at Legacy Glassworks, a small store with a mix of glass art, T-shirts, tobacco and paintings.

It was fast, it was frantic, it was scream-y — on stage.

In between songs the packed crowd was silent.

“Man, it’s quiet out there,” Whitcomb said.

When technical difficulties ended one song early, fan Ryan Nelson, who would play later that night with Bradical Boombox, quipped from the crowd:

“I’ve always wanted to see Manheat do an acoustic set anyway,”

Whatever broke was fixed and Manheat, which includes Jake Larson on bass and Brennan Atchison on drums, ramped it up again — hard enough to knock a piece of art off the wall.

JACK CAMPBELL & THE SKELETON KEYS
Jack Campbell, 18, is seemingly cultivating his eccentric rock ’n’ roll look.

The young, albeit veteran-ish, musician played an all-ages show at Teatro Zuccone, barefoot, while wearing black sunglasses and long plaid shorts. He was backed by Nate Rendulich on drums and Jimmy Arroyo-Roppo on bass, according to the Homegrown Field Guide.

Campbell, who is playing his third or fourth festival, took a swig of a lemon-flavored soda and said: “This song is super overly dramatic in a hilarious way.”

Campbell told the full house that he had recently worked on a single with a member of The Fray and Dark Dark Dark.

SATURDAY

FEVER DREAM
If there is an opposite of banjo band, Marc Gartman has found it with his latest project Fever Dream. We’re talking nobs, keyboards, eccentric clothing, sweat bands. And Gartman has this smooth sounds of the 1970s voice. This is the soundtrack to your next key party. Eric Pollard added percussion for the set that included his now-familiar tunes. In the weeks before Homegrown (and the album release) Gartman was sharing music videos made by Nick Sunsdahl and, in turn, everyone else was re-sharing them.

SUNDAY

Here is a shorty I wrote about young music heirs who performed at Sacred Heart Music Center on Sunday.

 

 

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