AURA Music & Arts Festival Saturday | Spirit of Suwannee Music Park 03.07.15

If you need an example of how to go from 0 to 90 in five seconds, listen to Consider the Source. This superb trio is not for easy listening. It was refreshing to see so many people crowding the amphitheatre to hear their blend of fusion, searing psychedelia, middle-Eastern intonations and metal jazz — for the afternoon’s opening set! Gabriel Marin gets amazing effects from his unique double-neck guitar, making it sound like a trumpet, a saxophone, a synthesizer — and a guitar.

It is impossible to overstate the incredible power of the rhythm section of John Ferrara and Jeff Mann. The band got great response when the song “Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong” was announced and more when it was played. This is a power trio on steroids.

A very different set was going down in the Vibe tent, as Ketchy Shuby put on a mesmerizing show. All five men were well dressed, as in a review. The music was a blast, and then they got to some interesting songs. “She’s White as Cocaine” was a stitch. Then the vocalist of the Miami band announced the next tune, “Black Areola,” which led to an awesome space jam. In the process, I missed Ghost Owl on another stage.

It was time for Round Two with the Motet. After Thursday night’s romp, everybody seemed pumped up. Everybody got lot of solo space, which was most excellent. Gabe Mervine had another great night on trumpet. There was a long jam with solos which found its way into those instantly recognizable guitar chords for “Love Rollercoaster,” and everybody was singing. They hit another one of those older jazzy tunes (maybe from Dig), with tons of Joey Porter synthesizer.

Two delightful covers were next: “Cut the Cake” and “Fight the Power” (Isleys, not Public Enemy). Jans Ingber asked, “We’re talking about funky music, right?” With that, they delivered a wonderful “Rich in People” from their eponymous release from last year. They played another tune from 2004’s Music for Life, a jazzy Afropop song, with Benny Bloom from Lettuce joining in on trumpet.

Somehow, in the middle of that set, I managed to get to the Music Hall to hear part of Lucky Costello‘s excellent set. I had seen them recently at Gov-Fest and recommended them as a band you needed to see. The extended jam I heard was over-the-top awesome. Catch this Jacksonville quartet ASAP. Also, the go-go dancer was deluxe!

The Main Squeeze was up on the Porch stage. I enjoyed them twice at Bear Creek, and I knew I would catch their Michael Jackson tribute the next day, so this was a short visit. The band looks like a soul review, but don’t let appearances fool you. They can funk you with R’n’B one moment and rock you with Zep chords the next.

Back in the Vibe Tent, Spontaneous Underground was taking the stage. This trio featured the Heavy Pets’ rhythm section (D’Amato and Newitt) and James Dunstan on keyboards. This was similar in approach to Lather Up! (D’Amato, Newitt and Jim Wuest). They call it “jazz for the dancefloor.” Exactly right. Positively infectious. One jam led to a really spacy “Tomorrow Never Knows” that segued into the Star Wars theme before returning to TNK. Then they were joined by Roosevelt for a bluesy collaboration.

I was blown out at Bear Creek by the Fritz, so i jetted back to the Music Hall to catch their set. This is where the schedule got really complicated. I ended up missing Papadosio — again. There is only so much you can do. The Fritz were blowing it up inside. The rhythm section was impossibly tight, and Jamie Hendrickson was killing it on guitar.

I got a brief glimpse of Stinky Pockets, a solid quintet with Jim Wuest on keys and a lady singing and playing trumpet. They played funky rock ‘n’ roll that was very jazzy. But in my head I was singing “How can I be in three places at once when…”

RAQ was on the Porch stage, and they threw out a great set; many festival-goers were RAQ first-timers who became believers. And it was a blast when drummer Adrian Tramontano and guitarist Chris Michetti switched places so that Tramontano could blister “Helter Skelter.” And Todd Stoops was superb on his bank of keyboards. But now I had to run, because…

The Mike Dillon Band, or a new variation, was in the Music Hall. Dillon is a manic genius on percussion, especially vibes and marimbas (as he demonstrated the previous night with moe.). His band is self-described as “Dillon and some bad ass mofos.” Which is absolutely accurate. He was joined for this set by a drummer and bassist who managed to keep up with Dillon’s raging. When I arrived, Dillon had coerced Roosevelt into playing some punk, and it was deluxe. One highlight occurred later when he spotted two percussionist pals in the audience and motioned for them to join him on stage. THREE percussionists in perfect time on vibes and marimba. WOW.

And back quickly to the amphitheatre for the evening’s headliners, the Disco Biscuits. It had been at least six years since my last Bisco event, and I thought I was prepared. But I wasn’t. The Biscuits were in the zone or in outer space or… Wherever they were, they took all of us with them, deep, deep in the trance. Brownie was more impressive than I have ever heard him on bass, Allan Aucoin was brilliant on drums, and Barber was Barber. The first set was mind-blowing.

But… TAUK was about to take the stage in the Music Hall. I saw them for the first time last March and caught them six times. Their rocket-fueled fusion puts me in orbit. And there was something different about them. A friend noticed exactly the same thing. They weren’t louder, but the sound was somehow fuller, richer, wider. Whatever it was, it was dynamite. They closed their set with “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” with the Shady Horns sending it through the roof.

And quickly back to the Disco Biscuits. I got maybe the last half hour or so of the second set, maybe 40 minutes. It was from another galaxy altogether. There really are no words to describe the brilliance of this set. Two nights in a row, two of the premier bands on the scene performed legendary sets.

There was one more decision to make, and this one is open for debate. Let me tell you what I missed first. I opted not to go to the Music Hall to see the late-night set by American Babies. Everyone says they were having a great set that got ridiculous when Brownstein, Magner and Barber of the Biscuits rushed the stage.

That’s what I missed. I headed to the Silent Disco, thinking former Florida-based DJ Craig Heneveld was on at 2. Turns out he was on at 3, and he was great, as usual. But the 2 AM set from Bedside was very special. The DJ was joined for most of the set by Jim Wuest (this man was all over) on keyboards and a trumpet player and tenor saxophone player (Shady Horns?), and the blend of recorded music and live playing was deluxe. I’m good with my decision.

Three days down. One to go. Whew.


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