The Softer Side of FYF Fest: AA Bondy and Vetiver

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What’s great about music festivals like FYF Fest is that you can see a killer rock band’s set on one stage, then walk over a small hill and hear a quiet, pretty acoustic folk rock set like that of AA Bondy.  The prolific guitar player with the soulful voice has been touring extensively, with dates planned in the US and Canada through October. His trio’s musical conversation was soft-spoken, serious, and Southern-tinged, their haunting guitar and keyboard melodies floating on top of the drummer’s dreamy kick drum. AA Bondy reminds me of Elvis, but not in demeanor: onstage, he posesses a very thoughtful countenance even when playing the harder-edged ‘Killed Myself When I Was Young’. Unlike the much rowdier crowd at AA Bondy‘s Bonnaroo set last year, the audience observed the hushed folk band respectfully and rather quietly; the faces of the first few rows of people were turned up with rapt attention for the duration of the show. There was an almost reverent feeling in the air when they played the quiet title track off of their 2009 album When The Devil’s Loose.

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When researching FYF artists, I was completely caught off guard by the band Vetiver. They had listed their music genre as ‘Thrash/Black Metal/Christian Rap’ on their Myspace page, and when I selected a song to sample, my brow was furrowed in confusion over such a classification. What could that mix of genres possibly sound like?  I was surprised to hear the plaintive, sweet sound of gorgeous acoustic folk pop; I was then determined to see the group that had made me laugh out loud at my laptop, startling and eliciting confused looks from the other patrons at Starbucks sharing the free wi-fi. Luckily, I heard the last few songs of Vetiver‘s set at the Redwood Stage on Saturday,  the five-piece band formed by Southeast Coast transplant Andy Cabic sounding even better in person. He was very calm but affable onstage, exclaiming about the festival “I couldn’t believe the lineup or the price!” His voice reminded me a little bit of Thomas Mars’ of Phoenix voice set against a folksy blues backdrop on the catchy ‘Miles Apart’. On ‘Maureen’, he crooned and sighed like Cat Stevens. His voice and the band easily transitioned between styles and genres, and the Vetiverse that the group created onstage easily engulfed the audience in its warm, alt-country sound. Vetiver039;s latest album Tight Knit is now available on Sub Pop Records and they currently have several tour dates lined up in California.