There were bigger names on the bill, but no one played a better show than Against Me! Sunday at the second and final day of this year’s B.O.M.B. Fest at Comcast Theatre in Hartford.
The Florida punk band dominated the main stage with an afternoon set of vibrant, earnest songs that made politics personal through sharp-edged lyrics and sweeping, sing-along melodies. The foursome, dressed all in black, churned through blistering riffs with fierce joy as singer Tom Gabel let fly full-throated vocals.
Gabel introduced “White Crosses” as “a pro-choice song,” steered through pounding rhythm on “Don’t Lose Touch” and mused about the realities of latter-day revolution on “I Was a Teenage Anarchist.” He and his bandmates played with relentless, infectious energy, treating the show as if they’d been told it was the last they could ever perform. (It wasn’t: Against Me! is back June 8 in New Haven and June 11 in Northampton.)
They were a particular highlight, though they weren’t the only one. Earlier in the day, New Jersey band River City Extension played lively, rootsy rock ’n’ roll on songs blending heart-on-sleeve lyrics with cello, horns and the standard guitar-bass-drums configuration.
Later in the afternoon, Canada’s New Pornographers got off to a slow start on the main stage, but the ensemble quickly recovered as it moved through a set of deliriously catchy power-pop songs. The band chose a near-perfect selection of tunes spanning its catalog, with a stop-start rhythm on “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism,” bounding synthesizers on “The Laws Have Changed” and a slow-building intensity, from a subdued start to soaring male-female vocal harmonies and a loose, propulsive rhythm, on closer “The Bleeding Heart Show.”
They overlapped just a bit with Man Man, a Philadelphia band that plays what sounds like the soundtrack to a vaudeville show that never existed. The band rushed gleefully through pell-mell cartoonish mayhem that included lurching piano, woozy horns and a lot of clattering percussion.
Sunday also featured densely packed rock songs balancing guitar and synthesizers from Alaska band Portugal. The Man, a hazy and mellow electronic rock sound known as “chillwave” from Small Black and blowsy hard rock from Coheed and Cambria.
British electronic artist Shpongle performed from a little booth atop a winged tower onto which were projected patterns and shapes, Brooklyn trio Dam-Funk played old-school loverman jams with a modern electronic twist and the cross-dressing New Orleans “bounce rapper” Big Freedia was booed off the stage when his set failed to win over the crowd. Maybe Connecticut just isn't ready for “Azz Everywhere.”
Headliner Snoop Dogg closed out Sunday’s show, taking the stage with his band 40 minutes after the scheduled start time and playing slightly less than an hour’s worth of music, including hits like “Gin and Juice,” a selection of classic rap songs and, of course, de rigueur shout-outs to slain rappers including Tupac Shakur.
Another highly touted performer, the Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, didn’t make his scheduled appearance Sunday, supposedly because he was stranded in Chicago by severe weather.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun