Whole lotta Foo Fest going on!

The best plan: get there early, stay late
By JIM MACNIE  |  August 13, 2010


There's a little bit of everything in the music segment of AS220's annual Foo Fest — inventive folk, arty hip-hop, girl grooves, brass bands. Here are some of the acts that should be on your must-see list.

READ: "AS220 at 25," by Greg Cook
Perhaps the biggest deal is the arrival of ESG (9:30 pm), the now-you-see-'em, now-you-don't soul-funk soundscapists from the Bronx who made their first music in the early '80s. Since then, the Scroggins sisters have been sampled by hip-hop artists and dance-punks alike. A line like "I went to a party and wanted to dance all night" is all you need to know about this bunch. They're concerned with head-nodding and booty bouncing. Speaking of lyrics, what about "I try to stroke you/you play me like Sudoku" — that's the kind of off-the-cuff rhyming that decorates the beats of JAVELIN (6:30 pm) on the perfect summertime dalliance No Mas (Luaka Bop). The fact that they rap some lines using a helium voice should probably be mentioned, too. Former Rhode Island boys Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford have made a dent in New York's indie culture by applying a novel approach to delivery (their music sometimes comes from a stack of boomboxes piled high around a club) to a mishmashed sampling aesthetic that's as playful as it is insightful. That, plus plenty of smarts, is how they land gigs at places like the Whitney Museum. WARPAINT (7:45 pm) has been touring with the Javelin boys of late, and the LA foursome brings a hazy beauty to the rather soft, rather shimmering blend of guitars and voices. Several pieces from their Rough Trade EP are able to easily generate chills. Eerie can be effective, and the siren song that is their "Billie Holiday" shows off its knowledge of history when it glides into Mary Wells's "My Guy" for a few moments.

Speaking of fetching female singers, the wise pixie with the poetic wit that is ERIN MCKEOWN (2:45 pm) has lots of options when she performs. Sometimes she seems formal; last year's Hundreds of Lions was arranged and gorgeous. Prior to that she made folky field recordings in her backyard. Whatever approach she takes, there's some philosophy in her work. I keep recalling a line from one of her recent tunes: "to a hammer, everything is a nail." Dollars to donuts says you can coax her into a spin through "Rhode Island Is Famous For You." JOE'S BACKYARD BAND (1:45 pm) is an outfit that knows how kids listen to tunes. They swing easily, strum infectiously, and connect with their audiences convivially. Check their "Cities with Seagulls" to see how much they dig their New England stomping grounds.

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  Topics: New England Music News , Erin McKeown, Erin McKeown, Bill Harley,  More more >
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