A couple of music fans cool down on Willow Island.
The saying goes that the best things in life are free. Anyone who made their way to Willow Island on Saturday afternoon for the SoCo Music Experience can certainly attest to that notion. Nearly a dozen bands held court on two stages from 2 p.m. to well into the night for a beautiful festival of music, booze and magic.
The three kings of the main stage through the evening were Cowboy Mouth, Cold War Kids and the Flaming Lips, a trifecta of energy each fitting a specific niche: the fun, the furious and the phantasmagoric.
Cowboy Mouth drew the crowd with their New Orleans-tinged flavor, like a spicy pot of jambalaya. Frontman Fred LeBlanc commanded the audience like a sweaty hypnotist; his drum kit was perched center stage as he sang with theatrical gusto. Conducting from the stage, the crowd jumped and shimmied under his control. Bassist Regina Zernay also stole looks from boys in the crowd with cowgirl dreams in their eyes.
Their Southern pop was a perfect way to amp up a crowd. Songs like "Everybody Loves Jill," "Love of My Life" and "Jenny Says" got people bouncing and ready for the sweaty thump of the penultimate act.
The Cold War Kids brewed a storm of intensity shortly after taking the stage. This phenomenal band blew the audience away with stompy rhythms and seething lyrics. Matt Maust and Jonnie Russell did a war dance of bass and guitar, sweating and spitting out choruses as Nathan Willett dripped and purred at the keyboard. Russell was particularly mesmerizing; he cured over his guitar as if he were wrestling with the tones drawn from his fingers.
The mix of blues and dance punk worked well in the sweltering weather, driving a sexy, sweaty grind amidst the crowd as it warmed up for the Flaming Lips.