I'd like to think that everyone in the world of indie music is familiar with the extensive history of Daytrotter. In my travels, however, I've come to find that not nearly enough people are and I, often clad in my Daytrotter tee, am more than happy to spread the good word.
Daytrotter is a website created by a fella named Sean some years back because, well, he loved music. And he still does. So he brings bands in to the Daytrotter studios in his hometown of Rock Island to record live sessions of album cuts, previously unreleased material and the occasional cover song. Featuring a downloadable archive that includes everything from veteran indie acts to the latest buzz bands, Daytrotter has something for just about everyone.
This summer, Daytrotter did another remarkable thing by bringing the songs to the people live some very interesting venues. From July 25th through July 29th, Daytrotter played host to the Daytrotter Barnstormer Tour 2009, a six city tour featuring seven different Daytrotter alums that took place in different barns across Iowa and Wisconsin. A Daytrotter-sanctioned show in a barn was too interesting of an opportunity for me to pass up, so I made a road trip from Chicago to West Liberty, Iowa to see Snowblink, Mac Lethal, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Local Natives.
When I arrived at the barn in question, I was blown away by the fact that this amazing, octagonal barn (Built in 1883, apparently) was about to house an actual live concert. If this type of thing existed outside of ho downs and local bands in the rural south, I had never heard of it, but 4 legitimate national indie acts were about to play in this barn and it was sort of astounding. I wasn't the only one amazed - throughout the night, the barn itself was a topic of much conversation as it was quite the sight.
The crowd was basically the coolest you could imagine at a indie concert in a barn. Add the fact that this concert was sponsored by Daytrotter to the mix and you get the hippest kids in Iowa - and a few hip ones from Chicago as well. It was a laid back bonfire populated by the most awesome best friends I've never met before, a bunch of laid back kids who love music, all drinking beer and just hanging out until the music started.
Snowblink was the first band to play and while I'd heard them compared to Cat Power previously, I'd think an Azure Ray comparison would be more apt, or perhaps even a more organic, less produced, grown up version of Eisley. Snowblink's dreamy indie pop reminds me of something I'd listen to alone in my room while writing in my journal - granted, that's an activity I never really do. If I were, however, to find myself struck by the mood to write in my journal late at night in solitude, Snowblink would be my soundtrack of choice.
One of the main reasons I had chose the West Liberty, Iowa date to go to was not only because of the locale but also because of the fact that the darling Missouri based Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin was on the bill. Their set perfectly showcased why I have taken a liking to the band - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin plays cute, accessible indie pop perfectly. The short set relied just as much on old favorites like Pangea and Anne Elephant as it did on new material off their forthcoming release and all of it was perfect warm weather music, suited for sunlight and summer. Personally, I was just glad that they played House Fire, my personal favorite Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin tune.
I regrettably had to leave the barn before the night's finale of Mac Lethal so for me, the evening closed out with Local Natives, a band I had never heard either live or via recording. Before the set, I got the chance to chat about them with Sean who told me that I'd love their sound and he was right. Local Natives' songs are artfully crafted pieces of indie rock featuring full band harmonies and intricately played instruments. It makes me at once happy and sad that I hadn't heard of Local Natives before their Barnstormer date - I'm happy because thank goodness I discovered these guys! I think I might really like them! But I'm sad because this is the type of band that seems to sound just as good live as they do on recording (No small feat given how dazzlingly well crafted their recordings sound) and I would have loved to have been able to appreciate that more.
If there's one thing I dislike about going to concerts, it's being there with the people that seem like they don't really want to be there. You know the types - the ones who won't participate, who barely applaud, who just seem to be having an all around awful time no matter the caliber of the performance. At the July 28th Barnstromer show, there were none of those folks there. It was simply a gathering of people with a passion for the music and a great respect for the bands and the man that put it all together.
Fear not if you missed out on the Barnstromer this time around. Sean is organizing a 2nd Daytrotter Barnstormer, slated for October and he's already lining up the bands. Word is that the roster is going to be amazing. But until then, check out this summer's Daytrotter Barnstormer page for links to downloadable Daytrotter sessions from all the featured artists.