When I first approached the list for Volume: Inlander Music Festival it was daunting. 100 bands? How could I possibly choose? Thankfully, as I emailed and got to know some of the bands through Behind the Setlist’s preview articles, I felt I could make some choices.
I didn’t get to see everyone on my list, due to scheduling conflicts and pure exhaustion, but I did get to see some incredible performances along the way. By the end, I saw around fifteen bands, all for the first time. Some shows were packed, others were barely attended. Some bands I caught partial sets of, others I got to be there early to relax and take a break from the sun. For this intern, the experience was a music-journalism boot camp, as I rushed from venue to venue with a pen in my hand.
The shows below are my personal top five from Volume Festival.
Windoe @ Terrain
When we talked to Windoe about what makes a great setlist, singer-songwriter Karli Ingersoll responded, “Taking people through a wide range of emotions is usually what I like to try to do.”
That’s exactly what the performance was, an emotional rollercoaster that had you completely mesmerized by the vocal harmonies and musical storytelling, filling Terrain’s concert hall with the quartet’s energies and melodies. The stand out “Seat at Your Table” is a love/hate song to Spokane, and the Northwest crowd was singing along. Windoe closed out their set with the upbeat title track from their newest EP, Shake It Out, released earlier this year.
Folkinception @ Terrain
After pulling a “double header” (performing at Art Fest earlier on Friday and Volume Festival later on that same day), Folkinception put on an energetic, magnetic performance to a rowdy crowd that sang and danced along. The jumble of six musicians effectively layered textures of the fiddle with a cello, traditional bass, guitar and drums to create a folksy, upbeat sound.
Several couples were dancing, many were singing or clapping along. There was no denying the connection the crowd had to their music, yet the band never took themselves too seriously, laughing and singing along to the songs, talking to one another on stage, not showing their exhaustion from the day. The band even called out few longtime fans in the crowd and thanked them for being there. The show ended with “Weed and Whiskey,” a song with only four lines, sung by the drummer, Kent Ueland with an assist from Street Tang’s Tyler Aker.
— VisitSpokane (@VisitSpokane) June 3, 2017
Super Sparkle @ the Steam Plant
The sun was out when Super Sparkle took the stage at the Steam Plant’s outdoor stage. With trains rolling behind them, the Spokane natives seamlessly blended blues, rock, soul, and jazz into summery fun music that was perfect for the day’s weather. Despite being a newly formed band, the performers themselves have been in other projects (members of Cathedral Pearls, Water Monster, Mama Doll, and Windoe) and their experience shows. The songs had the black-top crowd moving through the whole set and included the crowd pleaser, “Kid’s Not Giving Up,” which the band jokingly called “jock rock.” Despite the heat and early time slot, Super Sparkle won over the crowd with a dazzling performance.
— Young Kwak (@youngkwak) June 3, 2017
Unwed Sailor @ Terrain
A breath of fresh air was just what the day needed, and it came from the crisp, refreshing sounds of Unwed Sailor. The instrumental trio’s performance felt somehow both straightforward and complex, and their atmospheric, melodic interludes were a musical highlight of the weekend. The songs in the set seemed to flow into one another and the vocal element didn’t seem to be lacking in the performance. The set was sadly under attended, as no more than 35 people slowly trickled in.
Built to Spill @ Steam Plant
As the biggest name on the bill, I’ll admit I had high expectations going in to Built to Spill. With a set that spanned their twenty-four year career, the indie-rock legends definitely delivered. Vocalist and guitarist Doug Martsch is the only original founding member of Built to Spill (the current rhythm section joined in 2013), but the group sounded as if they had been playing together for decades.
The crowd embraced newer songs “Living Zoo” and “Some Other Song” from 2015’s Untethered Moon as well as “Liar” from You in Reverse, though the audience went wild for older hits like “Distopian Dream Girl” from There’s Nothing Wrong With Love. Built to Spill left the Spokane crowd singing, swaying, and dancing, hoping for one more song after over an hour and a half of indie rock hits, but the city’s early cut-off time required a hard stop at the outdoor stage at the Steam Plant. Regardless, the performance still satisfied.
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