Trinumeral 9 = Battle of the Genres

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Trinumeral Festival 9
Deerfields Music Park
Asheville, North Carolina
September 9-13, 2009

So much can be said about the evolution of music as we near the decade mark of the new millennium. While it is only natural to change with the times and development of technology, it’s even more neccessary to stay true to your roots.

This year’s lineup for Trinumeral 9 Music & Arts Festival at Deerfields Music Park outside of Asheville, NC boasted a largely electronic, yet amazingly diverse lineup. Unknown to impending festival-goers was the ensuing clash of genres that would occur.

The actual 9/9/09 celebration occurred on a Wednesday and had to be held at the historic Orange Peel in Asheville, and turned out to be a somewhat lackluster start to the weekend with exception of Lipp Service‘s performance.

Thursday morning came, and it was off to incredibly beautiful Deerfields, the type of venue that really makes you appreciate being away from the typically day-to-day drags that our lives can be. From camping amongst apple trees to swimming in the ponds between the stages, this venue has it all.

jg-1.jpgStarting things off were Asheville natives Silver Machine, with some groove and delay-heavy jams, not to mention one of their guitar players adding some crazy effects on the theremin. Following was the ever-funky Asheville Horns, then back to the main stage for the start of Pnuma Trio. This particular band is one that never seems to dissappoint. Much more appreciated are electronic bands that still pivot and function on real instruments, as was made quite apparent throughout this weekend. Next were quick sets from jazzers Jar-E and M80 Dubstation (Jon Gutwillig of The Disco Biscuits simply standing at his computer and picking out songs for the audience to listen to……..weak).

conspir.jpgWith Conspirator (Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuits and Lane Shaw on drums from Pnuma Trio) immediately following, there was much talk of a possible 3/4 Biscuits show, but it never managed to materialize. Conspirator did however put on by far, the best show of Thursday night. Touching on Biscuits tune "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." and a magnificently trancy version of Pink Floyd’s "Another Brick In The Wall," the crowd was bumping from front to back for the entire set.

Round out the night with an excellent DJ set from Welder (literally a guy wearing a welding mask), and Thursday almost went off without a hitch. There were however, tales of an inebriated fan jumping onstage following the Conspirator show, and another fed up fan beating him so bad that he had to be rushed out in an ambulance. These are the kind of things that we could all do without at festivals.

Friday’s music was kickstarted by a somewhat unfitting electronic sampling duo from Living Rooms, followed by the wonderfully diverse and earthy Ga-Na-Si-Ta. Next up was an always spectacular and smile-filled set from Asheville locals Josh Phillips Folk Festival. Following their act were The Enemy Lovers, a somewhat whiny, Indie brotherly duo.

sun-ra.jpgAfter a lyrically masterful set from The Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious), came the one-man party in Zach Deputy. If you don’t already know about Big Zach, then you had better find out. A true musician in every sense of the word, he brings a love and energy to the stage matched by few other artists. Imagine a grizzly bear with the personality of Santa Claus, and that is Zach Deputy. Combining world rhythms, masterful guitar, and a generally calypso feel, his music makes your butt shake and your mouth grin.

Following a quirky set from the Sun Ra Arkestra, came the unique duo known as Boombox. After starting out strong, their material wore thin, and their guitar player (Zion Godcheaux) practically fell flat with his lack of guitar chops.

bela.jpgThe next act stole the weekend by far – the trio of Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer. By far the most unique addition to the electro-heavy Trinumeral lineup, this trio basically showcased the most skilled musicians – possibly in the world – on their respective instruments. Words can’t even describe how incredible it was to witness these amazing and polished artists blow people away, and the audience’s applause reflected their approval. By far the most love given from a crowd throughout the weekend was for these gentlemen, and not for some DJ or DJs, or whatever.

After an excellent set by Lettuce drumming machine Adam Deitch and his side project Break Science, was the egotistical DJ trio known as The Glitch Mob. Their set consisted of mixes and mash-ups of "gansta" rap songs, and flailing their arms around and throwing up "West Coast" and "L.A." signs. Not sure if they forgot where they were, but they didn’t really get much love considering it was a festival in the mountains of North Carolina. The last thing they said before exiting the stage was, "Please don’t smush the girls." The night was rounded out by a couple more DJ sets from Orchard Lounge and Medisin, and an excellent showing from English jamtronica troop The Egg.

Saturday was probably the most "band-heavy" day for this particular Trinumeral. Florida jam/reggae outfit The Burnin’ Smyrnans starting things off early –  the only A.M. set of the weekend – as people had just emerged from their tents and made their way to the pond behind the stage for an invigorating morning dip. After nice showings by Invisible Circus and Incognito Mosquito, came a rousing set from local favorites The Mantras. Following their act was a beautifully funky set from Granola Funk Express, who had their kids on stage to assist with percussion.

nms.jpgNext were three bands that have been on the rise over the past year or two. Good time rockers The Heavy Pets delivered an always impressive set, followed by a smooth set from South Carolina electro three-piece The Malah. Next were the funkiest four guys from Leeds, England that have become wildly popular in the states – The New Mastersounds. These guys throw down funk on all four corners, with a striking similarity to funk legends The Meters. Their set showcased guitarist Eddie Roberts’ unbelievable chops on tunes like "Carrot Juice" and "Land of Nod," while "Vandy" and "Six Underground" gave keyboardist Joe Tatton more room to tickle the ivories. Anchored by the rhythm section of Simon Allen (drums) and Pete Shand (bass), they create a dirrrrrty pocket that somehow forces your legs to wobble and your butt to shake.

toubab.jpgWith Asheville’s sons Toubab Krewe coming up, it would be interesting to see how the "Bisco-Kid" crowd would respond to the most eye-opening set of the weekend. Incorporating musical styles from all over the world, their sound is something extremely organic like you’ve never heard before. About halfway through their set, they broke off into a percussion jam in which they declared, "For the first time ever, playing five laptops at once!" The band had literally begun beating on laptops with drumsticks at an incredible pace, at the end of which they picked up the laptops and smashed them all over the stage (hopefully to stick it to groups like The Glitch Mob)! An incredible statement that shook the festival, it truly felt like a "one-up" for real music on this weekend.

Following a so-so performance from RJD2, came rising house sensation Pretty Lights. By far the most love and energy of any DJ set of the weekend was given to and from Pretty Lights. He creates completely original mixes, to which the crowd was getting down as hard as ever on this Saturday. Close out the festival with dual computer/drummer trio Two Fresh, and Trinumeral did a fine job of making the festival attendees happy.

Looking back, it was actually made quite obvious that the most love and applause throughout the weekend was reserved for real bands playing real music. Similar to the Toubab show, the weekend felt like a "score one" for the true tunes. If people are paying to come see your show, it should only be fitting that you’re incorporating some sort of musical or creative talent into your act. Heck, anybody can sit at home and make a playlist, so why should they pay to see you do it. Come on………dazzle us!

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