Of Montreal. Rainer Maria. Kimya Dawson. Bennington College’s Sunfest has long been reputed for being ahead of the curve when it comes to featuring musical acts just before they explode into notoriety. The College’s annual music festival will begin at 12:00 pm on Saturday, May 17, 2008. This year’s highly-anticipated bill features nine bands and is headlined by the experimental rock-duo, The Fiery Furnaces. All bands will play in the Student Center, and the College streets will be lined with food, vendors, and games. Sunfest is open to the public, and admission is $15.
The Fiery Furnaces
Headlining this year’s Sunfest, sibling-duo The Fiery Furnaces are celebrated for their oscillating music that is “gloriously, kaleidoscopically shape-shifting” (New York Magazine). Famous for making fascinating and idiosyncratic music, the band’s innovative style has earned them a spot on NPR’s list of Best Albums of 2007 for their most recent album Widow City.
As addictive as they are playful (Rolling Stone), Bishop Allen plays music that is vivid and vibrant. Their songs strike a beautiful balance: optimistic pop with a bittersweet edge (“uplifting in their melodic and sweet construction and but wrapped in a contrasting unhappiness”) and appealing to everyone at every time (Michael Frauenhofer, PopMatters). The band is currently touring their new album, The Broken String—hailed as both prolific and polished by Spin Magazine (September, 2007).
Jason Friedman comes together with a shifting cast of musicians—from Enon’s Matt Schulz to Au Revoir Simone’s Heather D’Angelo—and constant, changing collaboration to make the music of The Boggs. With energy and emphasis on rhythm—“a combustible concoction of hand-claps, knee-slaps, Bo Diddley beats, shuffling feet, clinking cowbells, and chain-gang chants” (Pitchfork, 2007), The Boggs straddle the lines between blues, folk and rock ‘n roll, reflecting the roots of musical evolution.
The Postelles (Sunfest’s Band to Watch!)
The Postelles deliver powerful, contagious pop rock with a retro wash. Rapidly gathering attention across the country from outlets like BBC Radio and Spin Magazine, the band’s dangerously upbeat tunes are as tightly-constructed as they are captivating.
Baltimore-based Adventure takes as his source material familiar childhood melodies, turns them upside down, inserts beats, and makes them his own. Working with Baltimore arts-collective Wham City and friend Dan Deacon, Adventure is both fun and smart, raw, yet refined.
The Kiss Off
Fronted by Bennington alumnus Sam Tyndall ’04, The Kiss Off’s brand new EP Brace focuses on strong, dance-rock steeped in a post-punk sound. Driven by big vocals and heavy rhythms, the band lays distorted melodies over catchy drumming and synth drones, recalling the early sounds of Joy Division.
First-place winner of Battle of the Bands 2008, DJ Holva (Blake Shaw ’11) earned his spot on the Sunfest bill with powerful beats and intricate phrase-to-phrase mixing. With an interest in minimal tech-house, Shaw blends his studies in electronic music with dramatic and danceable DJ sets.
The Aretha Franklin Cover Band
Second-place winner of Battle of the Bands 2008, the Aretha Franklin Cover Band is fronted by Sophia Brunner ’08 whose compelling and powerful voice propels the band through re-invented Franklin hits like “Baby, I Love You” and “It’s In His Kiss.”