Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Stanley Johnson
Yeah, the annual Tulip Festival is typically the kick-off of Nippertown’s outdoor festival season, but the weather made it feel more like mid-summer than May. No complaints here. Or seemingly anywhere else around the festive Washington Park.
Launching the Saturday festivities at the Lakehouse Amphitheater stage, the LateShift grabbed the tropical heat vibe, opening with Bob Marley’s reggae classic “Three Little Birds” with Mike Davies strumming a ukulele. Davies soon switched to guitar as the band whipped through a 40-minute batch of original tunes. Some were culled from their debut CD, “Feet On the Street, including the bouncy jam band-pop of “Streetlight Hero,” which featured some nimble scat-singing from vocalist Scott Somerville. Even more impressive were the band’s new tunes, ranging from the more mellow, slightly jazzy “Just Be (The Kendra Song)” to the dynamic swell ‘n’ crash of “Objects in the Mirror,” all aided and abetted by guest keyboardist Steven Clyde Davies – yes, Mike’s dad – making it a father-and-son nod to Mother’s Day.
Over at the Kids’ Zone, Seth & the Moody Melix had the younger crowd mesmerized. The trio – guitarist-vocalist Seth Warden, fiddler Doug Moody and percussion powerhouse Brian Melick – have all done their time with various Nippertown bands (including the McKrells), but they seemed to be enjoying the response of the kinder-set a whole lot more than that of the usual bar-room patrons. They opened their second set of the day with an instrumental romp through the “Sesame Street Theme” complete with a cajon solo from Melick, and followed it up with a bunch of kid-friendly gems from their debut album, “Hi, Hello, How Do You Do?,” most notably the very tasty “Pickle Pie.”
On the main stage at the park’s parade grounds, Walk the Moon were less successful. The Cincinnati-based quartet seemed to be an odd-ball amalgam of contemporary electro-pop, vintage new wave synth-pop and sorta/kinda creepy boy band harmonies. Lead vocalist Nicholas Petricca not only played keyboards, but also banged away on a paint-splattered tom-tom, as the band pumped their way through tunes such as “Tightrope,” “Next in Line,” “Blue Dress” and their closing “Anna Sun.” It didn’t quite gel for me, although I’ve got to admit that they sounded better from the beer garden. Or maybe it was just the Blue Moon…
Kirsten Ferguson’s review and photographs of Saturday’s Tulip Festival headliners Fountains of Wayne at Nippertown