While we tried to make it to see as many of the bands as we could each day of the festival, it was impossible to see them all. Here is a review of the bands we were able to see on Day #1.
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Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Yes, you read that correctly. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is the name of the band that opened up the 2017 Levitate Music Festival in Marshfield, MA.
A reggae jam band, they formed in 2001 and are based out of Rochester, NY. The band is made up of James Searl (bass, vocals), Chris O’Brian (drums, vocals), Dylan Savage (guitar, vocals), Dan Keller (guitar, vocals), and Tony Gallicchio (keys). They are most well-known for their live shows, which are taped and shared by fans on-line.
The band was perfect to open up the festival and set the tone for the weekend of music. They jammed out, but the music had a cool reggae vibe to it. Even though the crowd was a little light since they were the first band of the day, everyone was having a great time.
The band released their sixth studio album in September of 2016 entitled “Make It Better”. They have a few live shows and festivals lined up this summer in the northeast, and I would recommend checking them out if they are coming to a town near you. You can find more information on their website at www.livepanda.com.
You can download Make It Better here.
Rebirth Brass Band
Rebirth Brass Band is a New Orleans based band formed in 1983. The band was formed by Philip Frazier (tuba/sousaphone) and his brother Keith Frazier (bass drummer), along with Kermit Ruffins (trumpeter). Formed from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, their first album was recorded in a Tremé neighborhood bar.
Since then, they’ve recorded a total of 16 albums and released a DVD. Their 2011 album – “Rebirth of New Orleans” – won the 2012 Grammy award for Best Regional Roots Record Album. They have also made several television and movie appearances, including several appearances on the HBO television series “Tremé”, where they also serve as consultants to the show.
The band was the first to appear on the secondary stage for the weekend. They brought their New Orleans sound to the Massachusetts crowd, and had everyone dancing on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon. The music they make is amazing! It’s truly the New Orleans sound. I have seen Harry Connick, Jr. live several times, and they reminded me of his band. The same sound and the same amazing talent.
Download their album the Ultimate Rebirth Brass Band here.
The band appears regularly at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans. You can also find them touring nationally at clubs throughout the U.S. Check out their website for upcoming tour dates at www.rebirthbrassband.com.
Rubblebucket is a quirky little indie band based out of Brooklyn, NY. The band is made up of Annakalmia (Kalmia) Traver (lead vocals, tenor and baritone saxophone), Alex Toth (backing vocals, trumpet, bandleader), Adam Dotson (backing vocals, trombone, keyboard), and Ian Hersey (backing vocals, guitar). The band was formed when Alex and Kalmia met as music majors at the University of Vermont. They released their debut album in March of 2008, and began touring.
In 2014, they signed with Communion Records and released the album “Survival Sounds”. The song “Came Out of a Lady” was featured in the movie “Drinking Buddies”.
Download Came Out of a Lady here.
This marked the third time I’ve seen Rubblebucket live. I first saw them last year when they opened for Lake Street Dive, and then saw them headline their own show in Philadelphia this past winter. They have quickly become one of my favorite bands, so we decided to get right up front on the rail during their set. As usual, they put on an amazing show and played a much longer set than I expected them to play. Kalmia’s vocals are always strong, and while she is a bit quirky, she really knows how to interact with the crowd.
After running through a few of their songs, Rubblebucket played “If U C My Enemies”, which is currently getting a lot of radio play on alternative radio stations. That got the crowd dancing and singing along. However, the highlight of every Rubblebucket show for me, is when they play “Come Out of a Lady”. Towards the end of the song, Alex always comes out into the crowd and jumps on someone’s back, who proceeds to walk him through the crowd while he’s playing his trumpet. Kalmia follows behind, and they create a little Mardi Gras parade in the crowd. They finished their set with my personal favorite “Carousel”.
Rubblebucket is currently recording a new album. Due to that, they are very limited in their touring this summer. We are lucky enough to see them for the two shows – Levitate and the 104.5 Block Party in Philadelphia on July 23rd. To keep up with Rubblebucket, follow them on social media and find information on their website at www.rubblebucket.com.
The Revivalists are a New Orleans based rock band formed in 2007. The band is made up of David Shaw (lead vocals), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar, guitar), Zack Feinberg (guitar), Rob Ingraham (saxophone), George Gekas (bass guitar), Andrew Campenelli (drums, percussion), and Michael Girardot (keyboards, trumpet).
The band has three studio albums, with the latest – “Men Amongst Mountains” – being released in July of 2015. They have a very devoted live following known as “Revheads”. Their single “Wish I Knew You” has recently taken the airwaves by storm. They are also gaining national attention by appearing on The Today Show and Jimmy Kimmel. Download Wish I Knew You here.
I had not seen The Revivalists live before this, and was really looking forward to them. I have a lot of friends that are Revheads and have followed the band around for a long time. While I thought they were good, I didn’t feel like their set was anything special. They are definitely talented musicians, and David Shaw has a fantastic voice. I think I found them to be a bit mellow compared to a lot of the other acts from the weekend, so maybe that affected my opinion. I would definitely give them another chance at a smaller indoor venue.
The band wrapped up their set with their current hit “Wish I Knew You”, which the crowd loved. The Revheads seemed happy with the performance, including a friend of ours who had brought her young daughter to see them and got to be right up on the rail for their performance.
The band is touring throughout the U.S. this summer, including appearances at Austin City Limits. You can find their tour dates on their website at www.therevivalists.com.
Umphrey’s McGee is one of the biggest “jam bands” around. Formed in South Bend, IN in 1997, the band is made up of Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), Joel Cummins (keyboards, vocals), Ryan Stasik (bass guitar), Andy Farag (percussion), Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals), and Kris Myers (drums, vocals).
The band is known for playing live shows that feature two sets that change every night, with lots of improvisation. They have released 10 studio albums, including their latest – “Zonkey” – in 2016. They’ve also released a number of live albums and several DVD’s of some of their biggest shows. You can download Zonkey here.
Umphrey’s McGee is another band I had never seen live, so I was looking forward to seeing what they were all about. They played two sets on Saturday, and we were only able to catch the first set. They are definitely a jam band. They are one of those bands, that if you aren’t familiar with their songs, you aren’t really sure where one song starts and another finishes! I was impressed with them musically, and inspired to go check out their music so that the next time I see them, I will have a better appreciation of the show. While we missed their second set at the stage they were playing, we could hear them from the main stage. They closed their second set with a cover of The Who’s “Teenage Wasteland”, which sounded like a classic, even from a distance.
The band is constantly touring. They recently wrapped up a three night stand at Red Rocks, and will be touring throughout the U.S. this summer and into the fall. You can keep up on their tour dates by checking out their website at www.umphreys.com.
Stick Figure is a reggae/dub band based out of southern California. It was founded in 2005 as a one-man band by musician, songwriter and producer Scott Woodruff, who is from Duxbury, MA (just outside of Boston).
The band is currently made up of Scott Woodruff (vocals, guitar), Kevin Bong (keyboards), Kevin Offitzer (drums), Tommy Suliman (bass), Johnny Cosmic (keyboards, backup vocals and guitar) and Cocoa (official tour dog!).
The band has released seven studio albums including “Set in Stone” in 2015, followed by “Set in Stone: Instrumental” in 2016.
Stick Figure was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me. I had never heard them, and immediately fell in love. Their sound is unique – a mix of rock with a reggae beat.
As a local band, they had a big following in the crowd. They are staples at Levitate, having performed at the festival all five years of its existence, and kept telling the crowd how appreciative they were of them and the people who run the festival. On top of the great music, Cocoa (the official tour dog) hangs out on the stage throughout the set. Cocoa was having a great time following the beach balls in the crowd, and even managed to snag a few. As a dog lover, it’s a fun addition to the show.
Download Stick Figure’s Set In Stone here.
Stick Figure is a band I will seek out the next time they come to Philly, and I recommend you check them out too. The band is playing a few festivals in the U.S. in July and August, before heading to Europe for a few dates in mid-August. They will be back in the U.S. for a couple of additional festivals in late summer/early fall. You can keep up with the band and see upcoming tour dates on their website at www.stickfiguremusic.com.
Dispatch is a Boston based band first formed in 1996. The band is made up of Brad Corrigan (vocals, drums, guitar, percussion and harmonica), Pete Francis Heimbold (vocals, bass, guitar), and Chad Urmston (vocals, guitar, bass, and percussion). The band was active from 1996 to 2002, and then announced that they were going on hiatus. Despite a handful of “reunion shows”, the band remained on hiatus until 2011, when they released a new EP and announced a national tour. One of their first set of shows after getting back together were a few of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan shows. They released their first new studio album in over a decade in 2012, and supported that release with another national tour.
Download Dispatch’s latest album America, Location 12 here.
Dispatch was another band I had heard a lot about, but never had a chance to see live. They definitely converted me to be a fan! They came out full of energy and rocking! About midway through the show, the band all came to the front of the stage to do a few songs acoustically, starting with “Rice Water”.
They also performed their new single “Only the Wild Ones” acoustically. After the acoustic songs, they went back to full band for “Outloud” into a cover of “Time” by Pink Floyd, and then back into a reprise of “Outloud”. The finished up their set with “Bats in the Belfry” which really showed off their harmonies. They came out for one encore song – “Elias” – where the guys all came back to the front of the stage together for one last song to close out Day #1 of the festival.
Dispatch just released a new album – “Location 12”, and is currently on a national tour with Guster in support of the album. Their newly released single “Only the Wild Ones” is currently hitting radio. They have a few more dates in the U.S., and then will be hitting Europe in September and October. Check out their website at www.dispatchmusic.com to stay up on tour dates and news about the band.
Dispatch Set List: Be Gone, Open Up, Windylike, Bang Bang, Beto, Curse + Crush, Passerby, Flying Horses, Rice Water, Only the Wild Ones, Outloud, Time (Pink Floyd cover), Midnight Lorry, Th General, Skin the Rabbit, Bats in the Belfry, Elias.
Have questions or comments about any of these bands? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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