Performing at the inaugural Field Day in Guilford will be Thus Love (top), Lady Lamb (above left), Sunflower Bean (above right), and Inner Wave (left).
Courtesy photos
Performing at the inaugural Field Day in Guilford will be Thus Love (top), Lady Lamb (above left), Sunflower Bean (above right), and Inner Wave (left).

New festival celebrates brilliant music

Field Day, this weekend in Guilford, will showcase a thriving, young indie rock scene from Northampton to Brattleboro to Burlington

GUILFORD — Southern Vermont's thriving music scene is getting a lot of attention these days.

Brattleboro has attracted a lot of media attention as a top small town in the United States, most recently as the winner of the 2023 Strongest Town Contest.

Strong Town, the nonprofit that runs the annual competition, cited Brattleboro as having “a strong community for the arts and culture” - a reputation that continues to build as the town attracts national, regional, and local bands that perform here regularly.

“Brattleboro very much feels at the epicenter of this flourishing and explosive rise in the music scene. Of course, Brattleboro has long been a really healthy incubator for eclectic and innovative music and musicians,” says Erin Scaggs, programming and outreach director at the Stone Church.

“Right now it feels as though we've reached a sort of critical mass in terms of momentum,” she continued. “These bands are out there, pounding the pavement and touring hard, creating brilliant music.”

Scaggs said that organizers thought a festival “would be the perfect way to showcase and celebrate all of that work and talent.”

That festival is Field Day, which she called “a uniquely Vermont made music festival,” co-presented by The Stone Church and Urgent Message Music. It will feature 14 bands on three stages this Saturday, June 3.

The organizers hope that it will become a celebration of the thriving young indie rock scene that they're helping cultivate from Northampton to Brattleboro to Burlington.

Peter Hamelin of Urgent Message Music and Signature Sounds Presents said that he got together with Robin Johnson, owner of The Stone Church, and Scaggs to talk about how they could attract a younger crowd to the beauty of live music and encourage them to learn an instrument.

The idea of a large-scale music festival made sense to Johnson.

“Last year, we hosted a show with The Devil Makes Three at the Guilford Fairgrounds, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that we immediately started brainstorming about other ways to use the Fairgrounds.”

Planning a Field Day

Hamelin and Johnson became co-producers of Field Day, whose name “captures some of the feelings that we want the festival to embody,” said Scaggs. “There's a little bit of nostalgia and this real sense of Vermont.”

“It's a respite from the day-to-day grind - like, 'Come on out to the fairgrounds, set up a lawn chair, bring your kids if you'd like, and it's going to be relaxing.' And there's going to be some sick music and some really awesome craft beer and games,” she added.

“The lineup features some of our favorite up-and-coming regional bands along with a few touring headliners. Brattleboro's own Thus Love, who have been playing at Stone Church since their formation in 2018 will be headlining the regional artists and closing the second stage,” Johnson said.

Bands performing on June 3 include:

• Inner Wave of Los Angelas, California

• Lady Lamb of Portland, Maine

• Sunflower Bean of New York City

• GIFT of New York City

• Tilden of New York City

• Native Sun of New York City

• Thus Love of Brattleboro

• Topsy and Prune of Northampton, Massachusetts

• Carinae of Northampton, Massachusetts

• Robber Robber, of Burlington, Vermont

• Dari Bay and Greg Freeman of Burlington, Vermont

• Lily Seabird of Burlington, Vermont

Community collaboration

“Another piece of this festival is really the embodiment of mutually supportive collaborations and partnerships,” Scaggs said.

One example, she noted, is Hamelin, whose “talents and knowledge he brings to the table perfectly complement our skills and backgrounds.”

“Many of the bands on this lineup know each other and collaborate on various projects,” Scaggs continued. “We have a few contingents based out of western Massachusetts, New York, and northern Vermont. Many of them know each other and are very close friends, so there's definitely a sense of the festival feeling like a chance to all come together at the same time, and really dig in and have the best time.”

“This is a great collaboration between Urgent Message Music and The Stone Church and their amazing crew,” said Hamelin. “We decided to shine a light on bands from Vermont and western Massachusetts that we work with and love.”

They also invited Inner Wave from Los Angeles, “a psych rock band who is really fun and multicultural,” he said, and “Lady Lamb, no stranger to the region, just sold out Gateway City Arts,” a venue in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Also making the journey is Brooklyn band Sunflower Bean, “an extremely entertaining band of great songwriters; they've played every festival from Coachella to Bonnarro,” Hamelin said.

The festival organizers hope to see 13-year-olds with their parents and say there will be something for every age. Craft vendors will join food trucks and craft brew offerings. Vegan Pizza Land is coming; the Easthampton, Massachusetts–based business operates from an Airstream trailer and uses local products.

“We'll have great barbecue and ice cream,” Hamelin promised.

Field Day will “also offer field games, like disc golf, three legged races, corn hole, slip n' slides, and Frisbee,” he added.

“If all goes well, we have dreams for more day long events focusing on different genres, but also tapping the rich artistic resources we are blessed with in Vermont and western Massachusetts,” Johnson said.

“Beyond Field Day we have some amazing summer shows planned geared towards young audiences and fresh original music, a number of them in partnership with Urgent Message Music,” the co-producer added.

Featured act: Thus Love

The featured act is Brattleboro band Thus Love, which has been called “post punk” but whose members say they are “definitely a rock 'n' roll band.” Founded in 2018, Thus Love is composed of three transgender multi-instrumentalists who call their music “super energetic, very dreary, and very emotional at times.”

The band members are Echo Mars (she/they) on guitar and vocals, Lu Racine (he/him) on drums, and Nathaniel van Osdol (they/them) on bass.

Racine, who will not be playing at Field Day, due to a recent shoulder injury, will be serving as stage manager for the event. Gabe Camarano (he/him) will be filling in on drums for Field Day.

“The band lived together in a one-bedroom apartment above downtown Brattleboro during the entire recording process of their debut album, Memorial,Racine told The Commons. He said that Mars “cordon[ed] off a room to build a studio from scratch.”

Other bands

Inner Wave: Los Angeles indie quintet Inner Wave plays an experimental mix of psych-pop and synthwave, which earned the group a major streaming presence and diehard regional following, thanks in part to songs “American Spirits” and “Eclipse.”

“The group's quirky but catchy songs and combined Filipino, Colombian, and Mexican heritage have helped make them underground stars in the area's Latinx indie rock community alongside acts like Chicano Batman and Cuco,” said Jose Cruz, who plays keys.

Inner Wave's 2017 album, Underwater Pipe Dreams, earned critical acclaim and increased the group's national presence. Apoptosis was released in 2021.

Band members include Pablo Sotelo (vocals/guitar), Jean Pierre Narvaez (backing vocals and bass), Elijah Trujillo (backing vocals, guitar, and keys), Jose Cruz (Keys) and Luis Portillo (Drums).

Field Day is the band's first foray performing in Vermont.

“We're looking forward to meeting new fans and friends and also introducing our music to festivalgoers who may have not heard us yet,” Cruz said.

Sunflower Bean: The three members of Sunflower Bean, a rock band from New York City, have been playing together since they were teenagers.

“Our Field Day set list will span our whole career and include new unreleased jams,” said Nick Kivlen, who plays guitar and does backing vocals.

He will be joined on stage by Julia Cumming, on bass and lead vocals, and Olive Faber, on drums.

“Our sound has always drawn from a wide range of influences so you might be surprised by our genre blending,” Kivlen said.

“One of our favorite shows was when we opened for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during his 2020 presidential campaign rallies, he added. “We're looking forward to seeing the beautiful summer Vermont has to offer, as well as catching the other bands in the lineup.”

Sunflower Bean's third album, Headful of Sugar, was just released and is about “outsiders disillusioned with the modern world; they search for freedom and meaning in a culture that runs on the 24-hour news cycle, soulless laptop jobs, and dozens of brands of hard seltzer,” Kivlen said.

“We wanted to write about the lived experience of late capitalism - how it feels every day, the mundanity of not knowing where every construct is supposed to ultimately lead you,” he added.

The message of the album, he said, is in its title.

“This is about fast pleasures, the sugar of life, the joy that comes with letting go of everything you thought mattered,” Kivlen said.

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