Summer officially met fall for the second ever Festival Palomino. Hosted by Duluth’s Trampled By Turtles, the festival featured ten acts on two side-by-side stages at Canterbury Park. Festival goers could not have asked for a better day as the sun was warm on your face, but a gentle fall breeze never let you get too hot. Its relaxed atmosphere catered to all. While the younger crowd pressed up to the stage most of the families stayed further back and took the more relaxing route. Food and beverage offerings were a step above regular festival fare with a mix of food trucks, specialty vendors and old fashioned but well executed favorites. Lines for the bathrooms never got out of hand. Overall a well organized and relaxed yet fun event.
The Lowest Pair
The day kicked off with banjo duo The Lowest Pair. Their bluegrass and folk-inspired set was an easygoing wakeup and start to the day. While it was their own style, at many points I could hear similarities to artists like James Taylor, but the banjo added a unique twang. Its inviting tones made it a pleasant scene as you approached the stage.
Lydia Loveless followed with an interesting style of country that had the vocals of a dark Dolly Parton or Reba McIntyre. Even with a stand-up bass the rest of the band was undeniably alternative. With scattered moments of punk, the audience was almost always left guessing what was next. While this was a much louder and edgier show, it was still very contained and fit well for the mood of the day.
Calexico clearly has an established fan base, as the crowd was primed and ready for their set. Their Latin-inspired music began with an eerie but upbeat quality. They then dove further into their catalogue and played a varying mix of songs that let you drift off in different settings. The vocals had the cadence and sound of a storyteller. Trumpets highlighted the songs and willed you to dance with hip-swaying melodies.
The storytelling continued with a captivating set by Laura Marling. While still a musician, Marling offered a different type of performance. The vocals resembled a play or spoken word poetry. Its unique cadences resulted in a narrative. The dialogue was dark and haunting, but it didn’t feel threatening. This made the show stick out from the rest.
The Austin, TX singer began and ended their show with as a solo act. It was the first taste of blues at the festival. When the full band joined it was still bluesy, but an alternative aspect was thrown in. They also stepped up the energy level with an active stage presence. Shakey Graves engaged the crowd with clapping and song the needed help with a “whooshing” noise. Aside from that the band also explored the whole stage and even had a few jumps off of amps and stage equipment.
Benjamin Booker delivered a big helping of garage rock. Throaty vocals and a fast tempo were the main ingredients for Booker’s set. While it was mainly garage rock, it had elements of rockabilly and bluegrass. No matter what the band played the group had the audience on their feet.
Father John Misty
Father John Misty slowed it down with a set full of melancholy. A swaying tempo added to that emotion and it was topped off with a setting sun. The pace and attitude resembled modern R&B. Other moments showed the country roots in Misty’s music. It was a thoughtful and mature show that seemed perfect for the families that resided in the back of the crowd.
Fan favorites Dr. Dog took the stage and showed their experience. They had a refined sound that was still cohesive and full. Their style of Americana seamlessly drifted into dreamy stretches of plinky guitar and echoes. Its calming tone paired with a picturesque watercolor sunset. Much of Dr. Dog’s set reminds one of island music, but inspired by the Midwest. It is hard to compare them to any other band because their style is eclectic, but it is always still Dr. Dog.
Trampled By Turtles
Festival hosts Trampled By Turtles finished the night by furiously strumming their stringed instruments. They opened the set with the help of a few extra violins. Smoke filled the stage and long notes gave a haunting effect, but that was quickly over. The rest of the set was pure bluegrass with a whining violin accent. The sextet was able to uphold a surprisingly fun and full sound without any percussion. The music had a chugging quality that was optimistic and happy. They put together a great festival and capped the night with great set.
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