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This alt-rock power trio kicked off its set with the “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade” from the band’s debut album, 2011’s “The Big Roar.” This upbeat catchy rocker seemed like the perfect soundtrack for what guitarist/vocalist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan described as a lovely evening, one she admitted was not a common occurrence in the band’s birthplace of Northern Wales. For that matter, the petite blonde’s accent is so lilting, just her talking could have been musical enough.
But the other songs Ritzy sang into her microphone adorned with a mass of light-bulb strings were just as appealing. Standouts include the percussive rocker “The Last Thing on My Mind” and the introspective ballad “Liana”, both from the group’s latest release, the 2016 album “Hitch.” The short set also featured material from older albums, such as “Little Blimp” from 2013’s “Wolf’s Law.”
Drummer Matt Thomas
Drummer Matthew James Thomas was set up in an unusual position: on the right side of stage, so that he faced his band-mates instead of the audience while he bashed away at a drum kit that included a very large gong. Also going against the norm was bassist Rhydian Dafydd, who seemed considerably more animated than the typical player of that instrument, occasionally running over to one or the other of his band-mates during the show.Despite getting noisier as it went along, this power trio’s set was surprisingly melodic overall, and definitely worth seeing.
Ben Gibbard, guitarist-vocalist for this veteran alt-rock band, felt compelled to say the name of his group both at the beginning and the end of the group’s set, a good strategy for bar bands starting out but not one usually employed by festival headliners. Perhaps Gibbard had his own transformation in mind, though. Music fans familiar with the early years of the group’s existence might wonder what happened to its slightly pudgy, bespectacled frontman. But thanks to taking up running and losing the glasses, Gibbard now looks more like a matinee idol than the introspective songwriter that he still is.
Ben’s makeover might be for the best, though, given how energetic the band’s stage show is. When not singing, Gibbard would run around the stage engaging in guitar duets with his band-mates. Songs like “Crooked Teeth” and “The New Year” are filled with guitars, so both touring members Dave Depper and Zac Rae play guitar in addition to keyboards.
Touring Guitarist Zac Rae
Touring Guitarist Dave Depepr
Bassist Nick Harmer & Drummer Jason McGer
The set featured several tracks from the group’s latest album, 2015’s Kintsugi: the low-key “Black Sun”, the energetic “Ghosts of Beverly Drive”, and “Little Wanderer”, an introspective ballad with atmospheric guitar arpeggios. Older material performed included “No Sunlight” and “I Will Possess You” (from 2008’s Narrow Stairs ), and “President of What? ” (from the group’s 1997 debut You Can Play These Songs With Chords ).
Gibbard, Rae, Depper
Bassist Nick Harmer
The band closed the regular set with one of its best-known songs, the breezy acoustic-guitar rocker “Soul Meets Body”, but thankfully omitted its biggest hit, the hopelessly morbid “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.”
The two-song encore consisted of “Marching Band from Manhattan” from its popular 2005 release Plans, and “Transatlanticism” , the title track of the group’s 2003 release. This was played solo by Gibbard, who abandoned his guitars to sit behind the piano to perform this ballad.
As the band name suggests, there is indeed a duck figure in the band and on guitar at that. Based in Atlanta, GA, Watch the Duck (WTD) features lead vocalist Jesse Rankins, Dj Eddie Smith III, and guitarist Oscar White aka The Duck. While the WTD trio has only been around since 2012, they have already made a big impact in the EDM / Trapstep world with powerful collaborations featuring the likes of TI, Dj E Feezy, Pharrell and Steve Aoki.
Dj Eddie Smith III
Vocalist Jesse Rankins
The Duck and Jesse Rankins
WTD brought a party like atmosphere to Sunfest and had the EDM crowd groovin to their Soul / Funk meets Dubstep unique style of sound. Jesse Rankins and The Duck took full advantage of the main stage catwalk or should I say duckwalk to keep the party vibes ‘Poppin Off’ as they performed numerous selections from their two EP releases: 2012 debut “Anatiadaephobia“ (the title referring to a fictional phobia made up by Gary Larson of Farside fame that describes the irrational yet humorous fear that somehow, somewhere you are being watched by a duck), and 2015 “Trojan Horse” ( Epic & Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records Release.)
“Everyone sees the Duck traveling smoothly on top of the water, but no one sees how hard he’s kicking under it to stay afloat.” Watch the Duck, describing how the band was named.
There’s much more to come from WTD including their recent song “Stretch 2-3-4” in a current Propel Electrolyte drink commercial, as they gear up to release their first full length album. There’s no word on the name yet, however I am sure it will be another fun and clever title.