Review: St. Paul in St. Charles
Confession time: I've been dying to see St. Paul & The Broken Bones for about a year. When the lineup for Hinterland was announced, it was the one act I was most excited for. My expectations were high, which means the opportunity for the band to disappoint was just as high.
Luckily, they exceeded all expectations.
If you look at the Birmingham, AL, band, frontman Paul Janeway stands out as looking more like a high school teacher than a soul singer. Then he opens his mouth and blasts out a combination of Al Green and Joe Cocker.
After a long build up by his band, Janeway took the stage to sing "Don't Mean a Thing." It was in the high 80's, but things got even hotter when Janeway started writhing and doing pelvic thrusts. It would look a little ridiculous if Janeway didn't own his persona so completely.
"St. Paul in St. Charles, I like it," Janeway told the crowd before launching into "Half the City."
"If you ain't sweating, you ain't working, and if you ain't sweating, you ain't having a good time," Janeway told the crowd. Everyone seemed to be sweating and having a good time.
"I feel like jumping in a river right now," Janeway said before singing "Like a Mighty River."
Janeway basked in the crowd's love, and the audience poured it on to the band. After "Make it Rain" he serenaded the crowd with the Broken Bones' final song, a cover of Otis Redding's "I Been Loving You Too Long."
Janeway ended the show on his knees, begging the crowd like an unrequited lover (though the crowd as all too willing to embrace him). The only way it could have ended better is if someone had draped a cape over his shoulders, James Brown style, and helped him off the stage.
Drawing a crowd: Kinderland
There are a number of families at Hinterland and many with younger kids are spending time in Kinderland, a kids' area created by Ramona Muse Lambert.
Lambert said festival organizer Sam Summers told her he wanted her to put together a kids' area and let her run wild with it. She painted an animal band on a mural and has had kids creating an audience for the band. She also created a Hinterland activity book that lets you color bands like The Envy Corps and TV on the Radio, do Brandi Carlile Sodoku and match the instruments with Old Crow Medicine Show members.
"Kinderland has kind of become an oasis for families," Muse Lambert said the space, which is filled with fans blasting cold air. "All the kids have been nice, chill kids."
Kinderland is also set up with a TV that will let kids make their own music videos on Saturday evening.
Feeding the masses: Lo Yo Diner at Hinterland
It's been a good festival summer for Local Yocals, a stand focused on locally-sourced food. Local Yokel was at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Waverly (where they ran out of burgers), 80/35 and this weekend owners Jeremy Jessen and Josh Hake are running the Lo Yo Diner at Hinterland. It's located in the VIP camping area, but any festival-goer can enter for food.
Jessen said the idea of a diner at Hinterland came from festival organizer Sam Summers.
"Sam said 'Can you do a diner for campers?,'" Jessen said. "I thought it was the most awesome, beautiful idea. Diner food just works so well with local stuff."
The menu features The Indie, a hashbrowns and eggs plate and the Pop Star Stack, three blueberry pancakes (Jessen picked the blueberries during a lightning storm) topped with local maple syrup and local butter. Lo Yo is also serving patty melts, BLTs, grilled cheese sandwiches and locally-sourced burgers, brats and hot dogs.
"This is a great time of year for a local diner, so much is in season right now," Hake said.
The Yo Lo Diner served until after 2 a.m. and started up again at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, making for a short night for Jessen and Hake. They plan to serve breakfast again Sunday morning, with wrapped up egg sandwiches for departing campers.
'"We've learned a lot this summer," Jessen said. "It's always been my dream to go on the road serving at festivals."
Sam Summers' thoughts on Hinterland day 1
At 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, I tracked down organizer Sam Summers to see what he thought about the first day of his first festival.
"It was good. My highlight was when the music started," Summers said. "It felt like we packed an entire month into the last three days."
"Edward Sharpe was awesome," Summers said. "I had him at the M-Shop years ago for 130 people, so seeing him play for 6,900 people was big."
Day one attendance
Hinterland organizers estimated 6,900 attendees for the first day of the festival. Sam Summers said around 400 people asked for refunds when the location changed. More than 1,500 of those were campers.
Review: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Despite flooding forcing things to relocate half an hour south of Des Moines, the first day of the Hinterland Music Festival seemed to go off largely without a hitch. There were some delays for people utilizing the free shuttles from Water Works Park, with long lines and construction on I-35 slowing the travel to St. Charles.
Friday night was headlined by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, a band that has grown from playing local clubs, to a support act at 80/35 to the top of the bill at Hinterland. The Los Angeles band is just the right mix of hipster and hippie to hit the sweet spot for indie and jam fans.
The Magnetic Zeros kicked off the show with "Up From Below," the title track off the band's 2009 debut. Singer Alex Ebert danced around the stage, shaking like he was performing in a revival tent, facing away from the crowd at times.
"Calm down, we just showed up in the same field at the same time," Ebert told the crowd before starting "I Don't Wanna Pray."
"40 Day Dream," which owes a heavy debt to The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour," got the crowd swaying and singing along. Ebert's Edward Sharpe is a messianic figure, and Friday night he knew how to lead his followers.
In short order came "Janglin'," then "If I Were Free." Ebert took a request from the crowd for "Milton" and let piano player Aaron Embry lead a song, then came "Truth" and "Man on Fire." During the latter song Ebert jumped into the crowd to dance and sing with fans.
"Desert Song," "Mayla" and "Better Days" followed, along with "Let's Get High.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros face a problem when it comes to the performance of the band's biggest hit, "Home." It was a duet between Ebert and Jade Castrinos, who left the band last year. Ebert relied on the crowd to sing her parts, setting them up with the first few words of each verse. It worked well, and is a better attempt to fill her role than just slotting in another singer.
Ebert also returned to the crowd to hand the mic over to a fan to tell a little story (which didn't hold a candle to the "nearly broke your ass" version of the original song, but you've got to take what you get. Ebert also did a little reprise of "If I Were Free" and the band played a bit of "Hail to the Chief."
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros closed out the night with "Om Nashi Me," with the crowd dancing energetically. After the band left the stage, the fans started to file toward campsites or shuttle busses to take them back to Des Moines.
The inaugural Hinterland Music Festival is happening this weekend in St. Charles (moved from Water Works Park due to flooding). Check back over the course of the weekend for updates about what's happening at Hinterland.
Related Hinterland stories
- Flooding moves Hinterland Music Festival
- Hinterland adds free shuttle to St. Charles
- Meet Sam Summers, the man who made Hinterland happen
- All you need to know about the Hinterland festival
- 3 can't miss Hinterland acts
- Meet Hinterland's headliners
- River runs through music festival
- Hinterland after parties with TV on the Radio, Dead Larry
- Check out the Hinterland schedule