Over the Weekend: July 11-13, 2008

The summer outdoor festival season is in full gear. Let's start from the end of the weekend and work our way to the beginning.

Bastille Day Barbette, July 13

Sunday's main event was the Bastille Day celebration at Barbette Cafe in Uptown, and every hipster in the city made their way out to this French-tinged festival to celebrate--well, it's unclear what exactly was being celebrated, besides short beer lines and a hot day in the sun, but theoretically we were celebrating the French Revolution. Black Blondie was the highlight of the day, with lead singer Samahra Linton commanding the audience with her disarmingly overconfident stage presence and soulful vocal melodies. The group proved that they haven't lost their stride since the departure of vocalist Sarah White, who moved to New York last year, and the band won the crowd over with their unique mixture of R&B, jazz, funk, hip-hop, and soul.

Other highlights of the Bastille Day festival were Faux Jean, a local favorite whose '60s psych-inspired rock got the crowd bouncing, and Romantica, a favorite of this particular music journalist, who happened to see them three times this week.

Yes, three times, though it may be due to the band's tendency for playing every outdoor and indoor festival this summer more than my own inclination to see the band at every turn. Maybe.

Over the Weekend: July 11-13, 2008

KaiserCartel at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, by Stacy Schwartz. See more photos of KaiserCartel and Romantica in Stacy's slideshow.

The Bastille Day celebrations wrapped up with an after party at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, where Brooklyn-based folkies KaiserCartel finished off the night with a CD release for their stellar debut full-length, March Forth. I had heard of KaiserCartel previously and was enamored by the music I had heard on their MySpace page, but seeing them live really sealed the deal. KaiserCartel play romantic music, to an extreme. The boyfriend-girlfriend duo seep love out of every pore, glancing at each other with an adoration that is at once admirable, heartwarming, and soul crushing. Courtney Kaiser had all the charisma of Zooey Deschanel and JoAnna James and Joan Baez combined, taking time to gaze out into the cozy confines of the BLB theater and fondly lock eyes with each patron in the room. Kaiser and her partner Benjamin Cartel closed out the night by descending into the audience and singing their final song unamplified, pausing in front of each row to serenade each and every person at the show and smile lovingly into the audience.

Action vs. Action Triple Rock, July 12

I've written at length about Action vs. Action's live show already, and their CD release show did not disappoint. Though it took the band a couple of songs to fall into a good rhythm (there was an issue with the sound), they had locked together by the middle of their set and had the audience screaming in appreciation. In addition to their usual antics (lead singer Ben Krueger's air guitar stick, bassist Bairnt Dittner's helmet, and crazy white flood lights that lit up the stage like a theater set), the band had built a full set of small skyscrapers and a backdrop of a skyline, in honor of their album Sentimental City. It was a spectacular show, and a treat for the band's devoted crowd of Action Heroes.

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