Savannah Stopover, often thought of as a springboard or a pit stop for artists on their way south for spring festivals such as SXSW or Okeechobee, is revving up for another fantastic year of music. With over 100 concerts taking place within a three day span in downtown Savannah, Ga., it promises to be an impressively diverse and packed festival. With a lineup this dense, it’ll be difficult to decide which concerts to see. Here are a few suggestions of must-see acts in Savannah this March from CisternYard Radio’s own Geoffrey Gill and Phillip Greene, co-hosts of weekly radio show, Beside the Point.
Geoffrey’s Top Picks
1. Lucy Dacus
Fresh off of her much-lauded debut full length “No Burden,” Lucy Dacus is a hometown favorite of mine. With a driving, bluesy style, Dacus is sure to give a lively show, showcasing her musicality as much as her lyrical witticism. Her career is certainly on the up-and-up, so if you’re in Savannah (or anywhere else on the tour), be sure not to miss this show.
Come to the show if you like: Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten
2.No BS! Brass Band
Another Richmond favorite (I never said I was totally unbiased), this 11 piece brass ensemble brings one of the highest energy live shows I’ve ever seen, bringing a blend of hip-hop, blues, and jazz in tightly performed ensemble style. Their last major festival appearance, at the 2015 Eaux Claires Festival, earned them an MVP award, and you can expect nothing less from the group in Savannah.
Come to the show if you like: To dance. The music will cover all sorts of genres; just be sure to bring your dancing shoes so you can keep up with the high intensity brass arrangements. In all seriousness, though, their music is a lot like the Roots.
3. Your Friend
Taryn Blake Miller takes her spacey, guitar-driven music into dream-pop territory, with complex and shifting indie tunes. Her latest release, “Gumption,” brings to the table a focused version of her droning musical style and promises an entrancing show with rumbling synths and crooning harmonies crawling under otherwise simple songs. Your Friend’s music is enticing, mysterious, and expansive; I just wish this was one of the concerts at the festival taking place in a church.
Come to the show if you like: Sylvan Esso, Beach House
4. Christopher Paul Stelling
There are very few bands out right now that have honed their live show as much as Christopher Paul Stelling. Known for his prolific touring schedule almost as much as his precision fingerpicking on an incredibly beat-up guitar, Stelling’s latest release is a relentless folk record with plucky melodies augmenting lyrically complex and narrative vocals.
Come to the show if you like: The Tallest Man on Earth, Bob Dylan
5. Daniel Bachman
Self described as “psychedelic Appalachia”, Bachman brings what I think is the most original musical concept to the table out of any of the bands at the festival. Bachman puts a builds textural landscapes from acoustic bluegrass instrumentation, combining an ear for the avant-garde with classically trained bluegrass capability. The complexity of his music promises a creative and intriguing live show in Savannah.
Come to the show if you like: Punch Brothers, José González
Phillip’s Top Picks
In Latin America, the word “susto” means to “have a panic attack that stems from emotional trauma.” This may mislead you to believe that SUSTO (the band) would invoke the same reaction with their music. While Charlestonians are drawn to SUSTO for their specific anecdotes about their time in the city, their music transcends solely local appeal. These focused stories of their time in Charleston are used as a medium to openly discuss what it means to be a modern day “southerner.”
Justin Osbourne’s lead vocals are inflected with just enough southern twang to make you question if you are listening to country or indie rock, while preserving the integrity of SUSTO’s heartfelt sound. Johnny Delaware (Charleston’s favorite Avett Brothers doppleganger) supplies colorful guitar riffs and vocal harmonies which are augmented by his effervescent stage presence and fashion sense. SUSTO’s music will complement the aesthetic of Savannah. You can catch them at “Ships Of The Sea – North Garden” at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 12th.
2. PWR BTTM
PWR BTTM brings some polarity and potentially controversial music to Stopover. Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins are the badasses (no pun intended) that make up the self proclaimed “queer punk” duo. PWR chords and PWR-fully unapologetic lyrics about gender and sexuality will immediately captivate the audience. Bruce and Hopkins’ vocals are characterized by a quintessential “punk-rock” delivery. They trade off vocals in a way that sometimes feels colloquial, while seeming to bring up showering more than most bands do. The duo has nothing to hide. Their music is thematically and lyrically straightforward, despite the stigmatized content. PWR BTTM is a fitting name. By definition, a “power bottom” is one who seizes control of a (sexual) situation, even though they are in a submissive position. PWR BTTM does the same with their music. They will perform at Ampersand on Friday, March 10th at midnight.
Porches’ frontman Aaron Maine has broken out of his shell with the band’s most recent release, “Pool”. Prior to “Pool”, it seemed as though Maine was stuck somewhere between a moody “stomp and holler” sound and dream pop. With this new release, however, Maine has cleared up his musical vision by putting his folkier influences behind him. This has proven to be the right choice for Porches. Pitchfork Media recently awarded “Pool” with “best new music.” The album is one of only six records to make the cut so far this year, putting Porches among the likes of Kanye West and David Bowie. Maine’s emotionally driven vocals are complemented by his skillfully used falsetto, characteristic of his older releases. The difference is Maine’s masterful use of hypnotically melodious synth riffs paired with a crisper percussion sound, that echoes influences from chillwave (Washed Out immediately comes to mind). Porches will be playing at Trinity United Church, which will be a live space that will accommodate Porches’ sound- the natural reverb of a church should let the sound bloom. They will be playing on Saturday, March 11th at 10 p.m.
4. Hiss Golden Messenger
When you look at photographs of Hiss Golden Messenger, a.k.a. Michael Taylor, you can tell that he will deliver quality folk music because of his rugged countenance. It is apparent that Taylor has perfected his craft of storytelling through years of study and experience. Hiss Golden Messenger’s albums craft an intimate experience because of Taylor’s unique ability to sincerely deliver his story in a colloquial, yet musical, manner. Because of this, he has often been compared to folk legend Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Taylor relies on simplistic instrumentation to create his desired atmosphere. He delicately strums chords from his acoustic guitar, presumably giving a nod to his traditional folk influences. Taylor has the ability to captivate each individual of the audience, regardless of their walk in life, because he has the capacity to articulate his story. Hiss Golden Messenger will play at The Jinx on Friday, March 10th at 6:00 p.m.
5. Family and Friends
This seven piece folk-pop ensemble from Athens, Ga. brings infectiously positive energy to Stopover. After you have seen the group live, it is clear that their energetic performance is an effect of the camaraderie shared amongst the band, hence the name Family and Friends. This becomes obvious when you watch the drummers (yes, they have two percussionists) during a live performance. They face their drum kits towards one another and are in constant communication throughout the set, whether it be to make faces at each other, or toss drum sticks back and forth. Their positive energy and chamber-pop harmonies make them the perfect band to provide the soundtrack to usher in spring in Savannah. They will be playing at Trinity United Church at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10th.
Listen to Geoffrey and Phillip’s show Beside the Point every Monday from 7-8 p.m., only on CisternYard Radio.
Geoffrey and Phillip will be reporting live from Savannah Stopover March 10-12! Follow CisternYard Radio on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram (@cy_radio) for live reports from the festival!