Smile Politely

Barnstormer 5: A floor breaking good time

It looked like it might happen when Delta Spirit played last September. Then in April, Keegan Dewitt and his band came close. But no matter how hard the barn was rockin’, the floor of the Kalyx Center never broke.

Then, Friday night in Monticello, as Princeton grooved, the Barnstormer crowds finally beat the floor of the Kalyx Center. As the crowd wandered outside for fresh air after Princeton’s fantastic set, the floor literally frowned. It sagged deeply in the area in front of the makeshift stage and had to be roped off for the rest of the evening.

The forced closure of dance area did not bring down the concert, however, and once again the Daytrotter Barnstormer tour proved to be more than just a concert.

Austin, Texas based Hundred Visions kicked off the evening with a guitar-heavy set perfectly suited for the bands that followed. What followed, however, was an incredible display of musicianship and high-energy fun.

Canadian rockers Wildlife crammed their six-piece band in the performance space of the barn and promptly awed the crowd. Their music always had a foot in the post-rock arena, building textural riffs into otherworldly sounds, while always keeping themselves grounded within non-instrumental music, in particular with choruses. Their energy invigorated the crowd and, truly, got the party started at the Kalyx Center.

Perhaps benefitting from Wildlife’s set, or maybe just because their bass lines are that good, Princeton really kept the energy up despite droning synths and a few short instrumental songs. In their next-to-last song the crowd began moving like wild, and with them went the floor of the barn. Everyone not dancing had their eyes transfixed on the trampoline-like wood in the middle of the room. The wood that would finally give underneath, but not so much as to fall through.

The next band, Hacienda, suffered a bit from the energy lost in the middle of the room after ropes were set up, but their funky Chicano rock was impressive nonetheless.

As headliners go, White Rabbits is not a huge name. But their performance on stage Friday night could easily have justified a headlining role at a venue three times as large as the Kalyx Center. The precision and skill displayed by the Brooklyn band was amazing, and they truly sounded fantastic. With the parents and sister of singer Stephen Patterson in the audience, the intimacy of the whole event increased exponentially.

As they closed with their hit “Percussion Gun” and “Rudie Fails,” they had the undivided attention of the room. After their last note, the room gave them a resounding cheer and seemed to follow them out the door, sending with them all of the energy that had built up.

This energy vacuum did Psychic Twin no favors. As they began their set most fans stayed outside, and soon I felt as though I may as well join them. On stage, Erin Fein and Brett Sanderson were utterly boring, simply punching keys to start drum loops or pounding out a few chords on their synthesizers. Though I thought the music was rather good, their lack of energy or visual interest compounded my desire to leave and I did not stay for their whole set.

Even without a dynamic performance from Psychic Twin, Barnstormer 5 was another home run from Daytrotter. Hopefully the floor at the Kalyx Center can be repaired (and cheaply) so they can bring the tour back next year.

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