Swamp Stomp 2014: Bright Light Social Hour, Roosevelt Collier, and the Tobacco Road Gang

Swamp Stomp Music Festival

With Bright Light Social Hour, Roosevelt Collier's Phunk Phactory, and others

Tobacco Road, Miami

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Better Than: The sound of alligators and mosquitos lurking in the dark.

As you look toward the sky from the Tobacco Road parking lot and see the multitude of industrial cranes further turning Miami into a cityscape out of Bladerunner, it is easy to forget this was all once swampland.

But the sixth annual Swamp Stomp Music Festival was aimed to remind attendees of our simpler, perhaps more dangerous past.

See also: Bright Light Social Hour on the Next Album and Writing a Song for Texas' Wendy Davis

On Saturday night, Swamp Stomp delivered its main show, a second night of programming that'd been billed as "American Roots and Rock 'n' Roll" after Friday's opening reggae night.

With the fest's two stages just a stone's throw apart, the main and patio stages were synchronized so tightly -- from Rachel Brooke's opening notes at 8 p.m. until the headlining Bright Light Social Hour finished an epic rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" at 1:30 a.m. -- that the Tobacco Road gang never had to wait more than a minute to hear live music.

See also: Swamp Stomp 2014 at Tobacco Road: Day One (Slideshow) and Day Two

Of particular note was Roosevelt Collier's Phunk Phactory.

Throughout his set, Collier playing his steel guitar moved and grooved more than anyone we'd ever seen in a seated position. And dubbing its sound "church on a Saturday night," the Phunk Phactory included a bassist, percussionist, drummer, keyboard player, and eventually even a guy on organs and harmonica.

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Most of the group's songs were strictly instrumental, a balanced mix of funk and jazz. But toward the end of the night, Collier and crew veered into bar-mitzvah-band territory with covers of Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You" and George Clinton's "We Want the Funk." Those were the songs, though, that had the crowd most involved. And entertainers gotta give the people what they want.

And giving the people what they wanted is most assuredly what the dudes of Austin, Texas's Bright Light Social Hour did too.

They are often described as psychedelic rockers. And while there are hints of interstellar travel to their music, much of that reputation is probably due to the band's appearance. Each of the four band members have locks that go beyond their shoulders and various forms of facial hair that would have cops profiling them for selling hits of acid at a laser light show. But their songs are as indebted to garage and Southern classic rock as tripped-out cosmic tuneage.

Through the Bright Light Social Hour guys' 14-song, 90-minute set, they mixed new songs from their still untitled, unreleased second album with old reliables from their 2010 self-titled debut.

The four years since that first full-length's release has made the band's sound more assured, tighter, and cohesive than even the original recorded versions. And the new stuff, including "Infinite Cities," seemed as indebted to My Morning Jacket as any other influence.

That song, as bassist/singer Jack O'Brien told Crossfade in our recent interview, is about the time warp of being on tour. And it just might have earned a new verse, as O'Brien told the Swamp Stomp crowd: "Last night, we blew out a tire and I had to sleep in the trailer on Alligator Alley, which was pretty fucking scary."

After finishing the main set and having the house DJ lead the crowd in a chant for an encore, O'Brien felt comfortable enough to share that anecdote, as well as asking the crowd, "Are there any haters out there? How about lovers?"

He then hollered, "I need your love," the opening line from "Detroit," which had the crowd jumping around with their fists raised. The Bright Light Social Hour dudes then went into "Young Man Blues" and an extended jam that touched on Zeppelin and Electric Ladyland-era Hendrix, before landing on the cover of a Marvin Gaye song that might also be a staple of a bar mitzvah band

But this version of "Let's Get It On" would make it the trippiest bar mitzvah ever.

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