Sunday was the third (and sadly) final day of The Newport Folk Festival. The weather wasn’t wonderful, but at least it wasn’t pouring like Friday. It was rainy in the morning, but the rain had stopped by the time we got to Fort Adams. Unfortunately once the clouds burned off it was hot as blazes with the sun beating down and the humidity quite high. I used my umbrella a lot just as a sun shade. It did cloud up again in the afternoon though, which made it cooler which was a welcome development.
Let’s get into the music though. The main stage started off with the Berklee Gospel Choir as it is a Sunday tradition to start off with gospel music on the Fort Stage. My husband said it was one of his favorite performances of the festival. I stayed through the first part of that set before heading over to the Quad Stage to check out Cold Specks. It was one of if not the most austere performance I have ever seen. It was just Al Spx up on the stage alone with her electric guitar, which she didn’t even play all that much. She just sang a lot of stuff a cappella. Despite the really toned down musical performance the audience was totally with her at one point clapping to provide some rhythm to a song and laughing forgivably when she started to play a song on her guitar, messed up, then said she forgot how to play it and was just going to sing instead.
I headed back over to the main stage for Tift Merritt. Most of the performances I saw on Sunday were a lot more low key than the ones I had seen the previous 2 days with a lot of the music being more chill and something that doesn’t necessarily inspire you to get all fired up and dancing around. Tift Merritt with her folk country songs fit that bill. Though she remarked more than once about how quiet the audience was. I really like her music, but it doesn’t compel me to move a lot or make a bunch of noise and I’m guessing the rest of the audience felt the same way. You can listen to her set courtesy of NPR Music.
Next up were Black Prairie on the Harbor Stage. As I mentioned in my post about Saturday, a couple of the members of this band also play in The Decemberists. Black Prairie has much more of a Romany influence as I tend to think of at least half of their music as gypsy music. They played some really interesting instruments, which was fun to watch. I couldn’t tell you the names of them though. The performance itself was pretty low key, but they stopped and talked and joked around with each other between songs which I loved. They all just seemed really happy to be up on that stage. You can listen to their performance courtesy of NPR Music.
After Black Prairie I headed back over to the Quad Stage to see Lord Huron. I hadn’t intended to stay for their whole set as I was going to go back and catch Michael Kiwanuka’s full set, but as I said on Twitter at the time Lord Huron was killing it and I couldn’t make myself leave. They had me hooked from the get go. It was a really wonderful live performance and you can listen to it here.
I made it back for about 3/4 of Michael Kiwanuka’s set. My husband said this was his favorite performance of the festival. I had a different opinion. I really do like Michael Kiwanuka’s music with it’s bluesy, smooth R&B feel, but it didn’t work for me in this context. His debut album, Home Again, served as the soundtrack for many of the relaxing baths I took in our wonderful claw foot tub over the winter. However, on a huge stage where I was far away, the performance didn’t put out much energy for me. I can see his music working really well in a small club though. You can listen to his set via NPR Music.
Though Beck was the headliner for Sunday night and the festival itself, I have never been much of a Beck fan and was just as happy to skip out on his set, which meant that The Lumineers were my final show of the festival and what a set to end it on. When I filled out the survey about last year’s festival one of the questions asked what bands I would like to see there in the future. The Lumineers were the only band I listed, so I was quite delighted when they were finally added to the line up. This of course was after much angst seeing a show announced at Merriweather Post Pavilion for the Friday of Newport and then on Saturday for WXPN’s Xponential Music festival, which I would have been at had it not been the same weekend as Newport. They were fantastic of course and had the whole crowd singing and dancing along the entire time. The best part though came when they came down into the crowd to play a couple of songs. I had actually anticipated this happening because I had seen on Twitter that they had done so both at Merriweather and at the Xponential Music Festival the previous 2 days. I figured that they would just get down off the stage and into the crowd right in front of it. I was completely wrong about that as they came way back to where we were sitting. We have staked out a spot that we have determined works the best for us in that it’s right next to one of the aisles staked off in the lawn and at the back so that our spot is easy to find and get in and out of when I’m running between stages or when we’re leaving at night. At the beginning of the set one of the festival staff members started to stop people from going up the aisle which I thought was kind of weird, but didn’t think much about. Then at one point a giant drum started getting carried down the aisle with mics and the a couple of police came out to block things off and keep the crowd under control, and I was like OMG they’re setting up right in front of us! It obviously was completely planned, unlike what seemed like a spontaneous venturing into the crowd by The Lone Bellow the day before, but it was still awesome especially since I was so close to where they were. You can see the video I recorded of the first song they played.
It was an absolutely wonderful three days and I can already hardly wait for next year.