On Saturday, Feb. 25, over 250 fans braved 52-degree weather to support local talent. They came in beanies and were swallowed in pea coats, with tightly laced boots and scarves cozily woven around their necks.
The Backyard between Boca Fiesta and Palomino was decorated to house four bands, with Hundred Waters headlining for the release of their album. The decorations were something I had never seen before, and I had only one thought as I entered: Gypsy Jungle.
The elaborate ornamentation was set up by The Church of Holy Colors, a working gallery space located on South Main street. They’ve got some awesome pictures on tumblr. I was serious when I said their set decorations left me speechless.
Vishal Agarwala, owner of Garage Mahal Presents, helped organize the show. He was very proud of the turn out for the album release. “Not only does this showcase the bands, but it showcases the town.” Founder of Pitchfork Media, Ryan Schreiber, was also in attendance.
Four sets were planned for the evening, in order of appearance:
I entered to the celestial sounds of Maximino, Gerald Perez. The music was lovely, but not very loud. Midway through his set I heard the recognizable booming sound of a tuba being played but there was not one to be found. My neighbor informed me that Perez had made the noise with his mouth and then put it on a loop. Perez was did this multiple times during his set. He would sample one noise and then make it part of the song.
JP Wright, a.k.a. Ghost Fields, took the stage next. Most of Ghost Fields’ tracks began with haunting intros. As another one-man show, he relied on playing ambient notes, sounds and instruments, and then looping them. I found his vocals to be undecipherable, almost Radiohead-esque. I started to notice more and more crowd members paying attention to the instrumental musicians, bobbing their heads, and swaying to the sounds. The volume was louder for this segment of the show, and Wright seemed to be a master at holding the audience at a climax and then dropping the beat completely.
As Levek took the stage, JP Wright hung back, and played a range of instruments, as well as all of the members of the group. The six people on stage didn’t stay put for long. The lone female in the group played a Melodica — a small keyboard with 37 keys and a tube for blowing into. It sounds like a harmonica and an accordion, and the breathing tube helps change the tone of the notes being played.
She then moved to the drums, while the original drummer moved to the keyboard. Now, as much as I love to see talented musicians showcase their gifts, it became a little difficult to follow. Although, the changing was distracting visually, it didn’t take away from the music being made. I can only describe the sound as ethereal. Every note had soul and funk, reminiscent of reggae but with transitions to jazz-fusion. Front man, Lavek, played a wooden flute that added more to a song than I could have ever imagined. His voice sounded similar to John Butler, and the group harmonized wonderfully.
The camaraderie among these bands was amazing, and difficult to ignore. One member of Hundred Waters was running the lights for Ghost Fields, methodically anticipating each note played to enhance his friend’s show. Vocalist of Hundred Waters, Nicole Miglis, and drummer, Zach Tetreault, also contributed to Laveks set.
Around 12:38 a.m. Hundred Waters began their sound check. At 12:45, the five members began playing, quietly commanding the attention of a bar that was at capacity. By 12:50, 25 people were standing on tables and benches to get a better glimpse of the magic that was penetrating their ears. Miglis’ voice is that of an earth angel. I tried to pinpoint it so I could compare it to other artists, but it was constantly changing. Behind me a woman said, “She sounds like a mix between Bjork and Joanna Newsom.” I thought that to fit perfectly. For nearly forty-five minutes, all eyes were on Hundred Waters. The passion on the musician’s faces was sensational. The tones were tribal and beautiful, like something from a hallucination (you know, the good kind).
Their set drew to a close and the crowd was thanked for their attendance and support. A preview of the new Hundred Waters album can be found online. On March 1, they begin a monthlong tour from Florida up to New York. They return to Gainesville on March 11, where I expect they’ll play something akin to a revival at The Church of Holy Colors.