Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Multi-venue Recess Fest kicks off fifth year today

A Sunny Day in Glasgow kicks off Plaza-Midwood's four-day, multi-venue Recess Fest Thursday at Snug Harbor with Spirit System, Lentils, and Fat Creeps.

Recess Fest, which began as a sort of return to the spirit of carefree adolescence through activities and music, hosts over 30 bands at Plaza-Midwood venues Paper Cut Gallery, Twenty-Two, Snug Harbor, Tommy's Pub, Thomas Street Tavern, and Common Market. Acts range from the avant-pop of A Sunny Day in Glasgow to the beat-driven Erasure-esque dance music of Atlanta's Breathers to dream-psych New Yorkers Heaven to New Jersey's fuzzy indie rockers Sink Tapes. There's also the homegrown punk of HU/LK and Couches, quirky synth-pop of Human Pippi Armstrong, and the indie rock of Serfs.

That's just scratching the surface. There are shades of different styles from singer-songwriters to DJs, but aside for heavier, noisier punk, most of it falls in that elastic indie rock bubble.

Clicking through Bandcamp and Spotify samples from the list of bands on Recess Fest's site , there's a lot to like. And you can do so on the cheap. Weekend festival passes that include admission to all events are $20 here. Admission to individual events range from free to $5.

The experimental shoegazers of A Sunny Day in Glasgow are a fitting act to kick off the eclectic, independent-minded, underground music festival - now in its fifth year.

The first two tracks on its new album "Sea When Absent" sound like two disparate songs syncing up. You know how you stumble on a website that automatically starts playing music while you're already streaming another song? But somehow those two tracks that have never met before sound like they may be meant to be? (Does this only happen to me?) It's kind of like that.

Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson provide lovely, playful female vocals against truly inventive arrangements. It's arty, but not so heady that it perplexes the listener. At times it reminds me of a Haim track playing over a John Hughes soundtrack (thanks to that guitar reverb that pensively hangs in the air) as Rainer Maria's Caithlin De Marrias emotes in the background.

Pitchfork's Lindsay Soladz described it at times as "a psych record made not by the kids smoking up behind the bleachers but the most devoted members of the glee club." That's spot-on.

There's an 8:15 p.m. show with A Sunny Day and Spirit System and an 11 p.m. show featuring Lentils and Fat Creeps that coincides with Thursday night's annual Shiprocked! dance party. Then Friday the festival grows legs with events within walking distance of Central Avenue's retail heart. The same goes for Sunday, which kicks off at 2 p.m. with a day party at Snug. Set times do overlap, but organizers have tried to stagger them so showgoers can take in as much music as possible. The party concludes early Sunday with an after party starting at 6 p.m. at Snug.

Check out for a full schedule, list of acts, and tickets.

(Photo by Zoe Jet Ellis).