The UW's first Revelry Music & Arts Festival was a tame success, proving to be a welcome addition to the Madison music scene. Off to a questionable beginning with rainy weather, the energy and audience grew as the sun came out mid-day. The festival's music ranged from hip-hop by Chance the Rapper and peppy pop-rock by The Mowgli's to indie folk from locals PHOX, who proved they could hold their own among national touring artists.
Headlining rapper Hoodie Allen ended the fest with the largest crowd, leading Revelers in a sunny dance party. With plenty of Mifflin-themed shirts present in the crowd during festival closer Hoodie Allen, it was clear that Revelry didn't replace the infamous block party, but it was a nice compliment. Maybe next year, with a stronger lineup, Revelry will truly outshine the Mifflin Street Block Party.
Here are thoughts on three of yesterday's most impressive acts.
Nanna Fabricius and her crew were the only act that got stuck performing in the rain. The dismal weather and small audience didn't deter the Danish singer-songwriter, who gave an impressive, committed performance. Fabricius enlisted eight UW music students to perform with her, taking the group from a three-piece to a full 10-piece, complete with strings and brass. Although the orchestral backing provided a fuller sound, Oh Land sounded best during simple ballads like "Cherry on Top," in which Fabricius could showcase her raw vocal talent and keyboard skills.
Oh Land's set paired ballads with computer-driven dance numbers like "Sun of a Gun." Fabricius no doubt has the vocal talent, personality and stage presence to become a successful mainstream artist. Her biggest challenge will be finding a balance between the Regina Spektor-esque piano ballads and the Lady Gaga-style electropop dance songs.
Delta Spirit proved to be a very worthy Revelry act, one that likely warranted a later timeslot. No stranger to the festival circuit (they're playing another music fest, Shaky Knees, in Atlanta, today), these rockers knew how to work the crowd. They injected a much-needed burst of energy into the festival with a loud, rowdy set, opening with "Money Saves." Lead singer Matt Vasquez read the audience well, frequently engaging the crowd with clapping and sing-alongs.
The band exuded California cool, and they seemed to bring the sun with them; the skies cleared as they started to perform. They kept their set fast and fun with mostly upbeat songs from past and present albums, including "Idaho" and "Tear It Up" from their newest album, and popular older songs "Bushwick Blues" and "People C'mon." They only dipped into ballad territory once with "Ransom Man," and of course ended the set with catchy hit "California."
Likely the most intriguing band on the bill, Toro Y Moi brought their chillwave to Wisconsin for the first time via Revelry. Lead singer Chaz's songs like "Still Sound" translated well live as easy summer grooves. With a mellow dance vibe, this was the set that brought out those summer festival kids. The only thing missing was the hula hoops. Blending funk, electro and R&B on jams like "New Beat," they created a dance-friendly set that had students grooving in the Union South plaza.