Wow! Where do we begin? Mittenfest is ALWAYS one of our favorite weekends of the year, and in part for what was illustrated this past weekend: it continually surprises us. For example, judging by the numbers, over eight hundred bodies traveled through the Elbow Room over the last three days to see one or more of the twenty-seven bands that played. Yes, that’s eight hundred people and twenty-seven bands, so blogging about it, without taking up half of your afternoon, is almost impossible. Best bands? Impossible. Honestly, I did not see one band that did not impress me in one way or another. Highlights? Again, too many to count. People to thank? Holy cow, we will get to that.
Fred Thomas photo by Laura Goins.
Okay, bear with me. Friday night’s show sold out. People stood in line in the rain to wait to get in. Patrick Elkins and his crew rocked out in beach gear. Lightning Love treated the crowd to their infectious and unique pop songs. The Pop Project made the crowd tear off Elbow Room owner Andy Garris’s shirt. Best band? In my opinion, Fred Thomas. It was good to have this Ypsi-born Brooklynite back for a night. And it was amazing and wonderful to hear him play all Saturday Looks Good to Me and solo stuff. Highlight of the evening: I have oft seen Carol Gray lip synching to Springsteen at the end of a long night at the Elbow Room. The first night of Mittenfest, however, we were treated to Carol and Matt Jones rocking out to Springsteen…with microphones. Awe-inspiring.
Saturday night’s show sold out. People stood in line, still in the rain, to get in. Champions of Breakfast rocked the house with their Dungeons & Dragons’ inspired glam rock and cardboard instruments. The Mighty Narwhale made us wish we had a huge boat and no where to be for a month. Best band? In my opinion, Matt Jones and the Reconstruction reiterated a point that we should all know: Matt Jones is the next big thing. His album comes out this February, and all I can say is: be prepared. As an added bonus, Collette Alexander, a truly amazing cellist, was in town, and so she made his set sound that much sweeter. Highlight of the evening: the crowd during Great Lakes Myth Society. Listen, this band is AWESOME, and the crowd was so into it that their set (and the dance party that ensued afterward) was the best part of the evening.
Sunday night’s show sold out. People stood in line in dry, sixty-degree weather. My friends, here is where my path strays from Mittenfest. Dinner Saturday night (at an undisclosed locale) gave me food poisoning. I was indisposed for much of Saturday night and all day Sunday. I made it to the Elbow Room in time to see Tim Monger, who played beautifully and teased the crowd about having Mittenfaces, which I understood (albeit in a way different than many of the Mittenfaces in the crowd). I also managed to stick around for a stellar solo set by Joe Scott, of Canada. My state was especially disappointing because Sunday night had the line-up I was most looking forward to. At any rate, best band? I’m going to give it a tie. I heard it was Drunken Barn Dance’s best set ever, and I’ve seen them many times, and they are always great, so I can only imagine how good last night was. (DBD also donated their merch money to 826! Thanks, Scott Sellwood & co!) Frontier Ruckus has one of the best first albums I have EVER heard, so…I’ll go ahead and give them the honor as well. Highlight of the evening: Chris Bathgate announcing that, despite the fact we had already made a thousand dollars more than we had hoped for, that Andy Garris and the Elbow Room were donating another five hundred on top of it. WOW.
Okay: thank yous. Thanks for reading this far. Sorry if I got carried away. I just ate my first meal in two days, and my head is swimming. Thank you to all the musicians in all of the twenty-seven bands who played! You guys are the best. Honestly. I’m sorry I couldn’t give detailed accounts of each performance, but alas, this blog is already waaaay to long. BRANDON ZWAGERMAN: You do this for us every year, and every year you amaze us. Thank you so much for the countless hours you spent putting this together and promoting it! Can’t wait to do it again next year! ANDY GARRIS: Thank you for hosting Mittenfest, thank you for being awesome, thank you for donating extra money to us, thank you, thank you, thank you! Can’t wait to do it all again next year!