BY AMY Z. QUINN If the question at hand during the Popped! Festival’s headlining night was, “Where are you going crazy, in your mind or in every inch of your body?” the answer was YES. Here’s the kind of scene it was at the Starlight Ballroom on Friday night: By the time I arrived at the show, during the second act of the four-band bill, all but one of the stalls in the women’s bathroom were already clogged and the bass was heavy enough to make your pants vibrate. The whole place had a feeling of being packed with folks who were out to get their party on, dammit.
The trouser-stirring bass was Bardo Pond, who were followed by the Spinto Band, and who both had the younger end of the all-ages crowed packing in up front while the legals got loaded in the back bars. Nick Krill delivered “Oh Mandy,” aka that one Spinto Band song everybody knows, with that (mostly) endearing, pleading tone so popular among the indie boy singers right now. And while we’re talking about “Oh Mandy,” a message to the 40 people who whipped out their camera phones: You guys know there’s already a whole host of crappy cell videos of that song on YouTube, right? How about rather than always trying to capture a moment, you actually dig it instead?
Anyway, the Spinto Band issued a thoroughly danceable set, leading a crowd obviously peppered with many who had made the trip up I-95 from Delaware just for them. In fact, maybe it was only my imagination — or that last Captain Morgan & Diet Coke — but I could have sworn that the throng up near the stage was a bit thinner, if no less sweaty, for Dr. Dog’s set than it had been for the Spintos.
Then again, by that point in the evening, a lot of people were clustered around tables in the high-backed banquettes that encircle the dance floor — the kind of booths that speak of noir films and heads tilted in close in conversation, of whispered words and secret smiles. But I’m sure it was more the need of a place to sit and let that last Jager Bomb metabolize for a sec.
Whatever the reason, there was definitely a bit of elbow room out on the floor during Dr. Dog, which is cool because you know when the hippies start dancing to “Oh No,” it’s all flailing limbs and tassels bobbing atop the Sherpa hats — “Californiaaaaa!”
Not that Dr. Dog is a hippie band per se, unless you take that to mean songs like “Worst Trip,” which don’t float across genres so much as they swerve, delivering chord and tempo changes you usually see coming a mile away but don’t mind. And of course the added bonus of this band (aside from Dr. Teeth-flava hat and sunglasses look) is that the well-laid harmonies and arrangements of songs like “My Old Ways” turn much harder in a live setting. This is one of the most earnestly hardworking rock outfits happening right now and as homegirl as it sounds to say, they deserve the big fat success that lies just ahead.
On a personal note, I enjoy the company of 2007 hippies much more than their counterparts from, say, ’92. The stank of weed and b.o. seems much more authentic to me than grody patchouli oil and Camel Lights.
[Photos by JONATHAN VALANIA]