Review by Ava Bourdeau, photos by Sophia Risin.
On Friday, January 21, the first night of the Homesick Festival took place at the UC Theatre. Boasting a lineup of six artists, attendees were able to enjoy everything from angsty hardcore to soft sadgirl indie.
The night kicked off at 5pm with a twenty minute set from Supercrush. Made up of a group of long-haired, flannel-wearing men, they delivered an expected indie-grunge sound that was optimal for warming up the crowd. Supercrush also wins the prize for the best merch — who doesn’t love a dinosaur t-shirt?
Following Supercrush was the duo Nuovo Testemento. While their set was also a short twenty minutes, they delivered an incredibly exciting performance. From the sudden attention to the stage lights, which changed color throughout the set, to the lead singer’s flawless interaction with the crowd, Nuovo Testamento managed to make themselves memorable in spite of their arguably unfavorable position in the lineup.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the band that followed, The Lilys. Initially, I had high hopes for this group- the lead singer’s deep voice in conjunction with the nineties rock vibes made for a Cure-meets-Foo-Fighters-energy. However, there was absolutely no interaction with the crowd, and any semblance of stage presence was nonexistent. This caused all the songs to bleed together, making the set a blob of grunge guitar and cymbal clashes. At this point, we were three bands in, and the static performance by The Lilys grew to serve as a reminder that there were another three groups left, each with a longer set than the last, yet my feet were already beginning to burn.
The lowered energy proved to be short lived as Sunami exploded onto the stage. A punk band local to the Bay Area, it was clear from the moment they walked out that there were more than a handful of fans in the crowd. The pit began buzzing with intensity, as a circle almost immediately formed around hardcore dancers and moshers. A couple of audience members even attempted to crowd surf. Sunami channeled this energy into their performance: as the intensity grew in the pit, so did the intensity on stage, until it felt as if the crowd was a volcano about to erupt.
After Sunami came Sheer Mag, a female fronted seventies-esq punk band. Sheer Mag was unlike anything I’ve heard before. The vocals were incredibly unique and electrifying, and the guitar lines were fantastic. Their set was exciting and high-energy without bringing about too much intensity after the hardcore Sunami performance. If one band were to blow up from the Homesick lineup, I would want it to be Sheer Mag. Highlights from their set included the songs “Turn it Up” and “Silver Line.”
Closing out the night was the artist many had come for: Snail Mail. The stage name for singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan, Snail Mail is the quintessential artist for lovers of melancholic indie pop. Out of everyone performing that night, Jordan seemed the most comfortable on stage, sprinkling casual banter throughout the set. Performing some of her best tracks such as “Mia” and “Pristine,” Snail Mail ended the night with a bang. In spite of this, I can’t help but criticize the crowd. It was clear that some of the moshers hadn’t quite had their fix, and were pushing and shoving to the soft indie music Snail Mail is known for. It was, at best, disgruntling, and at worst, stressful. It’s unlikely that those who came for Snail Mail intended to mosh to songs one would be more likely to cry to. Those trying to turn the pit into what it had been during Sunami were coming from a place of blatant ignorance. Sunami fans had their time, and it was frankly impolite of them to try to make Snail Mail’s set into something it wasn’t.
Festivals such as Homesick are a great way to discover new artists. At the same time, concert etiquette is especially important when attending a performance with such a varied lineup. Different types of fans come for different experiences depending on the artist they’re most looking forward to, and one must be considerate of the different energies across each performance.