Photography by Campbell Parish
By Zoe O'Neil, Live Mix Coordinator
Festival: In Between Days
Venue: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Quincy
When: Saturday, August 20th
SETTING THE SCENE: THE VENUE AND ATMOSPHERE
The first ever In Between Days Festival took place this past weekend at Quincy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, and it was quite a memorable experience.
In addition to an impressive lineup of musical artists including Sidney Gish, Tennis, Hippocampus, and Manchester Orchestra, there were a number of vendors ranging from vintage clothing sellers to a refurbished VW van with a photobooth inside.
Plenty of beer was flowing from the multiple beer tents, and hungry guests could grab some typical festival food fare from the Lunch Box, the venue’s snack shack, or ice cream from the Chillwagon.
Guests could play lawn games and shop artist merch if they wanted to take a break from the music. The attendees mostly ranged between people in their late 20s to 50-something year olds, with a few families and college students sprinkled in the mix.
The venue itself was atypical: the stage was set on the end of a rugby field. Guests could stand at the barricade on the goal line or spread blankets and sit at the back of the field.
While the wide open space seemed ideal for a festival, the lack of shade during the hottest hours of the day drove guests to seek out shade, often on the hillside far outside the field, and also located directly behind the portable toilets.
The artists who played while the midday sun was shining were poorly attended, since many guests were struggling to cram into the small shaded patches around the exterior of the rugby field. Dedicated fans stayed in the general admission area but scrambled to sit in the small strips of shade cast by the barricade dividers between sets. Many concert goers ended up sitting or laying down on the turf as the day continued and the heat persisted.
A WALKTHROUGH OF THE OPENING SETS AND FESTIVAL SIGHTS SPOTTED “IN BETWEEN”
CATBITE KICK OFF THE FESTIVAL’S DIVERSE LINEUP
The music began at 11:45 a.m. with a set from Philadelphia ska band Catbite. Although the crowd of early concert-goers was sparse, there were a few dedicated fans who were wildly dancing right at the front of the general admission pit.
As they played, I had the chance to check out the concert merch, which was all refurbished vintage clothing decorated with an embroidered concert logo. The vintage twist for the merch was very cohesive with the retro 70s-inspired color palette of the festival’s branding.
Catbite brought great energy to the field and set the mood for the steady stream of guests trickling in during their set.
A PSYCHEDELIC ROCK SET FROM BLAC RABBIT
New York-based band Blac Rabbit was up next with some cool psychedelic rock, and their set was a nice breather after the electric energy of Catbite.
I continued to wander on the outside of the field and visited the AHA seltzer tent to get a free mocktail.
SIDNEY GISH FEELS REACHABLE DURING HER SET
Sidney Gish followed up after Blac Rabbit and more guests dared to brave the general admission area as intermittent clouds proved a respite from the intensely hot sun. The small size of the crowd provided a sense of intimacy. Plus, everyone got to have a good view as Gish played.
With the stakes a bit lowered due to the smaller crowd size, she comfortably tried out new material and reworked old favorites in real time.
She ended the set with some banter about watching the show Cash Cab before playing an in-progress song with the same name.
KEVIN DEVINE BRINGS HEARTFELT ROCK
Next up was Kevin Devine, who switched up Gish’s quaint indie pop vibes for some intense, heartfelt rock.
I grabbed a delicious vegetarian gyro during this time and sat on a blanket under the shady trees outside the field. I couldn’t help but notice how the massive field looked so empty in comparison to the small crowd.
It seemed that the festival was undersold, a hypothesis that was later confirmed by a photographer friend who overheard the festival organizers talking about the ticket sales. Although this may seem like a letdown, it allowed all of the attendees to get up close and personal with the artists. This intimacy of the crowd meant that technical bumps in the road between sets were quickly forgiven.
THE BLUE STONES'S R&B-TINGED, SULTRY ROCK SOUND
The Blue Stones were the fifth act of the night and I enjoyed their sultry rock with a tinge of an R&B sound.
The frontman sounded uncannily like Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and their music was reminiscent of the band as a whole.
The two-piece band poured their hearts into their performance and got the crowd ready and excited for the headlining acts.
THE HEADLINING ACTS BRING A HEIGHTENED SENSE OF ENERGY
TENNIS GETS THE CROWD TO LET LOOSE
Tennis was the first headliner to play. Lead singer Alaina explained that the band members had flown in from Portugal and Los Angeles to come together for the performance.
The audience was singing along as the band played their bubbly songs with perfect synchronicity and ease. This was impressive partly due to the fact that the band obviously couldn’t hear each other well— the lead guitarist kept leaning in to hear his bandmates, and the certain instruments would grow louder or softer at seemingly random intervals. The band proceeded with complete professionalism and Alaina emerged from behind the keyboard to saunter across stage, nodding to waving fans.
By this point in the night, fans were letting loose as they danced and sang along to the music.
HIPPOCAMPUS GETS EXPERIMENTAL
After Tennis, Hippocampus burst onto the stage with a ton of energy.
Much like Sidney Gish, Hippocampus took the opportunity to experiment in front of the small crowd. The lead singer tried out some interesting Autotune effects during some newer songs that left many fans scratching their heads.
He also didn’t shy away from airing his thoughts on the venue. He commented not only on the general absurdity of the rugby-field-turned-festival-grounds, but also on the unexplained choice to bisect the general admission pit with a large barricaded aisle that was rarely used by anyone but the odd stagehand. The commentary was met with laughs and nods of agreement.
And the cheeky quips were soon accompanied by equally goofy stage antics. The band played with a sense of raucous aggression that was a departure from their usual stage presence. I had never seen Hippocampus live before, but my friend Ryan had and she explained that this performance was definitely a deviation from their normal performance style.
The trumpet player was a standout performer and everyone went wild every time he stepped closer to his microphone. Throughout the set, fans matched the band’s energy as they headbanged and jumped up and down.
MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA BRING THE NIGHT HOME
Manchester Orchestra closed out the night and ended the festival by graciously acknowledging the other performers and the festival organizers.
Their intense, brooding music was accompanied by the backdrop of a darkening night sky contrasted with moody red stage lighting. The band wore all black and seemed almost somber as they played their set.
At this point in the night, all of the festival goers were either sitting or standing on the rugby field, and some artists could be seen interspersed in the crowd.
Members of Blac Rabbit wandered among the crowd, and the drummer and bassist of Tennis stood unassumingly next to a father with his daughter on his shoulders as the other two band members remained on the opposite side of the barrier between the artist quarters and the general admission area, forearms resting on the metal dividers.
Sidney Gish later joined the mix, tote bag slung over her shoulder, and nudged her way to the front of the crowd.
Artists and attendees alike were enthralled by the polished performance; with good reason. The band was lucky to go last, after most of the day’s sound issues had been remedied, and their performance went smoothly with no sound problems.
A FESTIVAL THAT LIVED UP TO ITS NAME
In sum, the festival lived up to its name. It fell somewhere in between a family-friendly and an adult-oriented experience, the music was split between intense rock acts and offbeat indie pop, and the concert goers often abandoned the music acts to bounce back and forth between the rugby field and the desperately-needed shade.
As with any inaugural festival experience, there were some hiccups, but I’m confident that the festival will only get better as the years pass.