Founders Fest jammed part of downtown Grand Rapids, but compelling shows also were on tap with Needtobreathe at Meijer Gardens, May Erlewine at Wealthy Theatre and more.
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Summer has arrived in West Michigan with a melodic bang.
The official start of the season came Saturday with a blitz of live music:
• Alt-rock/Christian rock band Needtobreathe’s sold-out concert at at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (read Local Spins’ exclusive review of that show below);
• Founders Fest, with eight bands playing two outdoor stages in an all-day party that drew more than 6,000 people on an overcast day;
• Mid-Michigan Americana artist May Erlewine’s poignantly compelling CD-release show — a laid back but fully engrossing affair that stood in stark contrast to the revelry of Founders Fest — with an all-star band at Grand Rapids’ Wealthy Theatre.
(Get full Local Spins coverage of Founders Fest here, including story, photo gallery and videos.)
There was more, of course: Holland pop/R&B singer Kanisha K played her first full-band show at Park Theatre in Holland, and Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up hosted concerts by young singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson and punk-hued Swedish alt-folk trio Baskery (three sisters), who “kicked the crap out of the crowd,” according to photographer Kevin Reedy.
Local Spins’ David Specht was on hand for Needtobreathe’s dynamic debut at the Meijer Gardens amphitheater on Saturday. Here’s his review:
NEEDTOBREATHE BUILDS MOMENTUM IN MEIJER GARDENS SHOW
Christian rock trio Needtobreathe has certainly been gaining momentum lately.
After experiencing success with its 2011 album, “The Reckoning,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the crew is now touring in support of its fifth studio album, “Rivers in the Wasteland.” On Saturday, the group made a tour stop at Meijer Gardens to share its signature blend of Southern and alternative rock.
With the rain just barely holding off, Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance opened the evening with an uplifting and heartfelt acoustic guitar set. Between the tracks off of his latest album, “Joy of Nothing,” and his humorous personality, Vance managed to keep the audience on its feet and their minds off of the potential downpour.
As the rain began to trickle down, members of Needtobreathe worked their way to the stage. The group opened with “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” which leans more toward the Southern rock side of the band’s sound, driven by powerful drumming and distorted vocals.
The evening was filled with a mix of pieces from the band’s latest album as well as their 2011 release, plus an interesting fusion of an original tune “Wanted Man” and “Float On” by indie-rock’s Modest Mouse.
As the set came to a close with a performance of “Keep Your Eyes Open,” the clouds kicked it up a notch and let out a bit more rain than the earlier sprinklings. But rain or shine, these fans were sticking around to belt out the final verses – something that surprised lead singer Bear Rinehart.
“We want to thank you guys for singing along so much tonight,” Rinehart said with a chuckle. “That really doesn’t always happen, so it’s great.”
THE LOCAL SPINS WEEKEND PHOTO GALLERY (6/22/14): Click on photo to enlarge gallery
Needtobreathe/Foy Vance photos by Anthony Norkus, May Erlewine photos by Anna Sink, Jillette Johnson photos by Kevin Reedy, Kanisha K photos courtesy of Rick Kasten, Founders Fest photos by Tori Thomas, Anna Sink and Anthony Norkus, Baskery photos by Kevin Reedy.
Email John Sinkevics at email@example.com.
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