August 31, 2015
Not one for trite banter between songs, Beach House singer and keyboardist Victoria Legrand captured the overarching feeling of Saturday’s first-ever Windjammer music festival with a question.
“Are you feeling the Maryland love?” Legrand asked the sold-out Pier Six Pavilion crowd about halfway through the band’s set. “You’re in Baltimore now.”
If anyone in the crowd failed to feel the positivity pulsating throughout the outdoor venue, we should pity their numbness. They failed to grasp the magnitude of the evening.
Chances are those types described above were few and far between, because the entire day felt like a joyous celebration of artists who have been increasingly championed across the world, but needed a hometown show that properly reflected how far they have come. Dan Deacon, Beach House and Future Islands – the night’s headliners – have toured relentlessly and released high-quality records since establishing Baltimore as their homebase in the past dozen years.
A culmination of sorts, Windjammer finally quantified the sum of the acts- years of determination and hard work on a local level. Everyone at Pier Six Pavilion was aware and proud of where the foundations were laid.
Musically, the night felt special, too, with each artist showcasing the reasons they’ve been able to turn their niche art into full-fledged careers.
Future Islands closed the night with a triumphant, hour-long set that inspired let-it-all-hang-out dancing in the seats and lawn. After the synthpop act blossomed last year, driven largely by the breakthrough single ‘Seasons (Waiting on You),’ to see Future Islands in Baltimore remains a privilege. One of music’s most charismatic performers today, singer Sam Herring deployed his arsenal of meme-able dance moves – the full-body roll, the alternating kick-outs, the ‘Letterman’ two-step.
Future Islands have conquered some of the world’s biggest festival stages recently, including England’s Glastonbury, but the singer made it clear none of the recent success would have been possible without Baltimore. Herring also took the time to thank Deacon for inspiring the group to move from North Carolina to Baltimore years ago.
“Without Dan Deacon, I don’t know where we’d be,’ Herring said.
Noting it was his first performance with seats in a long time, Deacon focused on songs from his last album, February’s ‘Gliss Riffer.’His set of electronically contorted, blissed-out pop songs felt like the clearest distillation yet of Deacon’s appeal, especially when he brought out a lively horns section for ‘Feel the Lightning’ and ‘When I was Done Dying.’
Other Baltimore acts played earlier in the day, including recent Beach House tourmates Romantic States, Bond St. District (the hip-hop duo of DDm and producer Paul Hutson) and post-punk duo Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. There were also DJ sets from Jason Willett, Matmos’ M.C. Schmidt, Book of Morrin, Big Party and James Nasty.
Windjammer was practically flawless, and one of the most beautiful nights for the city’s arts scene in recent memory. If the festival happens again, the only way to improve it would be to include even more local artists of color and varying genres to better reflect the eclecticism of Baltimore’s continuously thriving music scene.
The crowd on Saturday night already seemed ready for it, passionately dancing to James Nasty’s set of Baltimore Club classics before Future Islands took the stage. On so many levels, the night was Baltimore through and through – resourceful, charmingly loose, impressively artful and the type of fun that makes a smile impossible to suppress. For many reasons, we should hope it happens again soon.