Review: All Things Go Fall Classic Music Festival overcomes inclement weather
The D.C.-based record label All Things Go hosted its inaugural Fall Classic music festival on Sept. 13, packing hundreds of people into Union Market’s Dock 5 despite questionable weather for an energetic and crowd-pleasing event.
The repurposed warehouse provided plenty of space for the pleasantly diverse festival crowd, adjacent to Union Market’s multitude of millennial-friendly food and drink options. The integration of local arts and businesses is definitely in, and All Things Go hit the nail on the head in that respect, from booking local acts like Baltimore’s Future Islands to showcasing the very best in local food, including Takorean, DC’s first Korean taco food truck-turned-restaurant.
Neither early morning rain nor persistent clouds and chills kept the earliest of festival-goers from flocking to Union Market. On-and-off showers plagued early sets by Young Summer, Sun Club and Panama Wedding, but each band performed admirably given the circumstances. Panama Wedding not only pleased long-time fans but also surely won over dozens of new ones with its sunny blend of indie-pop. Unhindered by clouds and rain, Panama Wedding’s popular single “All of the People” marked a definitive high point in the overcast early afternoon.
Rain subsided by the time D.C.’s own U.S. Royalty took the stage. With a balanced mix of new and old material, U.S. Royalty’s performance highlighted its talent as individual musicians as well as its evolution as a band. The unsigned indie-rock quartet seems to have reined in its raw, bluesy sound in favor of a more controlled, mature sound. Fans of that raw, mesmerizing energy need not worry, though. U.S. Royalty’s new, more measured songs were still performed with festival-veteran intensity well beyond its years as a band.
As the clouds broke and let the September sun through, Brooklyn based post-punk rockers Bear Hands delivered one of the best sets of the day. Songs like “Bone Digger” and “Agora” moved the steadily growing crowd and completely blew away the last of the bad-weather vibes. Playing effortlessly off each other’s energy as well as the crowd’s, Bear Hands delivered song after song at the top of its game and with the attitude of a far more seasoned band. Its performance spanned a variety of hits and under-appreciated tracks, but its wildly popular single “Giants” truly proved better in person than on the radio and was an undisputable set highlight.
Following the incredible energy of Bear Hands, and after some technical delays, another Brooklyn based outfit, Haerts, took over the evening. Its cool, breezy pop sound was perfectly enjoyable, but admittedly lacked the double-take inducing charisma of other Fall Classic acts. Lead vocalist Nini Fabi showcased her impressive vocals, and the band performed well, after recovering from a broken keyboard mid-set. Maybe it was the strength of other acts, or maybe it had to do with the current monotony of the female-led electro-pop scene (see: CHVRCHES, MS MR, Banks, HAIM etc.), but Haerts felt more like filler than main-event material.
Continuing and improving on the Fall Classic’s pop streak, rising Swedish star Tove Lo reinvigorated the crowd with hook-driven songs like “Habits (Stay High)” and “Over.” Her more dance-friendly brand of electro-pop breathed new life into the crowd, who formed several dance circles and happily kept hands in the air throughout the Swedish singer’s performance.
Finally, Baltimore based synthpop success story Future Islands took over the stage for the last performance of the evening. The now tightly packed crowd was an eclectic one, which speaks to the range of Future Islands’ appeal. Fronted by Sam Herring’s unmistakable vocals and underscored by William Cashion’s punchy basslines, Future Islands achieved the rare feat of delivering both a concert and a performance – and the band made it look easy. Herring’s ability to connect with a crowd was astounding, and his wildly theatrical stage presence was unlike anything seen all day. Ranging from gritty growls to Morrissey-level crooning, Herring’s performance filled every minute of the nearly two-hour set without ever missing a beat. Singles like “Seasons (Waiting On You)” and “Balance” were mixed with equally impressive performances of lesser-known songs like “Inch of Dust” and “Song for Our Grandfathers”.
Overall, the striking musical performance, combined with Herring’s stellar showmanship, brought a long day of great music to an incredibly satisfying end.