Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Live Shows: In Between Days Festival, Veteran's Memorial Stadium, Quincy, MA 8/19/23

Towards the end of Modest Mouse's headlining set on Saturday night, Isaac Brock commented that he can normally ignore about half of the bands during a festival, but In Between Days just kept making him want to watch every band from the very start of the day. I ended up having the same experience. When I looked at the schedule, there were some bands I wasn't that familiar with or hadn't been able to get into previously, so I figured I'd have some downtime to casually eat some food from the food trucks, or play some free classic arcade games at the pop-up arcade, but instead for ten hours (ok, at one point I did stop to shove a quesadilla in my face for five minutes) I was just blown away watching band after band after band!

I got there a couple of minutes late, and Quincy's own Gypsy Moths were already rocking the Arbella Insurance stage. Their classic Boston garage rock set the stage for the festival perfectly without sounding anything like any of the other bands on the bill. We also got fantastic sets from other Boston area bands Paper Tigers (who opened up the main stage with a mind blowing set of mainstream alt-rock), Carissa Johnson, Dutch Tulips, and Shallow Pools. Carissa Johnson was great as always, and a crowd seemed to materialize out of nowhere once she started.

I planned to eat and play some arcade games during Fantastic Cat and Shallow Pools. I had never heard of Fantastic Cat, and from what I had heard, Shallow Pools have always been a bit too pop for me. But Fantastic Cat ended up sucking me in with their Americana tinged alt-rock. I kept thinking I'd walk away during the next song, and I just kept staying. I decided to watch a bit of Shallow Pools out of obligation to at least see everyone. As soon as they started playing, I was hooked. The band played a completely infectious set of dance songs that was completely irresistible live. This may very well end up becoming a Shallow Pools fan page if we're not careful.

Slothrust have always been a band I've liked but not loved. After Saturday, that has completely changed. The band was joined by Annie Hoffman from Weakened Friends on bass, and live they were just a force of nature. They seemed to be the first band of the day people came for, and I understand why. They played a set of noisy indie rock that bordered on pop, with Leah Wellbaum secretly being one of the most magnetic frontpeople in indie rock today. Plus, busting out an indie rock "Baby One More Time" is always welcome.

I've seen Weakened Friends more times than I can count, starting off when they were pretty much Boston's house band for 90's reunions coming through town. They have grown exponentially since then, and even though I typically prefer small club shows to festivals, it was great seeing them shine in a larger venue. They played a brand new song for the first time that could very well end up being their finest song to date. It was an intense and joyous set that felt like it accidentally ended a few minutes too early.

Somehow I had never seen Sunny Day Real Estate despite being a fan for decades. Turns out I waited too long. The emo legends were unbelievably tight, and just rocked out in front of a field of die hards. Every song in their playlist was a classic, but I forgot just how great "In Circles" was in particular. I had walked away before they finished to secure a space for The Beths (who were enjoying their space on stage to watch Sunny Day finish out) and had instant regret once that song came on.

The Beths were the first band on the Arbella Insurance stage that had a crowd well before they started. This was somehow my third time seeing the New Zealand indie rockers play in the last fifty-three weeks, and I'm certainly not sick of them yet. It was a shortened version of their set at The Sinclair earlier this year, but it was no less entertaining. The Beths have this great rapport in their stage banter which is just as much fun as their live set, and they are a great live band. Isaac Brock in particular became a fan of theirs, even if he couldn't remember their name.

Modest Mouse were another band I got to check off my bucket list despite decades of fandom. I expected them to be great, but it turned out to be one of the greatest shows I've seen in my nearly three decades of regularly seeing live music. Their nearly two hour set kept the entire crowd in a state of bliss. Typically festivals are mostly filled with casual fans and a sprinkling of die hards, but Modest Mouse played to a field of die hards. "Cowboy Dan" got a much bigger reaction from the crowd than the giant hits "Fire It Up" and "Float On" received. Usually two hours would be enough, but a sizable portion of the crowd kept waiting and hoping for more even after the house lights came on and recorded music started playing.

In Between Days might just be the perfect festival. It boasted a perfect line up of great acts. There were no overlapping sets, and you could see both stages from the other one. Between four thousand and five thousand fans attended both days, which is just big enough to feel like a big show but not too big to get overwhelmed. It was easy to get up close if you wanted, or you could lounge under the shade tent or hang out in the stadium's seats. You would assume that after ten hours of music, I would have been exhausted, but I was completely wired. I took a longer way home, and had trouble falling asleep because I was still on a musical high. Usually I listen to artists before I see them, but I've spent the past few days almost exclusively binging Modest Mouse, Sunny Day Real Estate, etc. to bask in my memories. In a festival world where bigger is supposedly better, In Between Days offered a perfect alternative with a well curated line up and the perfect day of the summer.


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