Baltimore bands unite for festival at Pier Six

September 3, 2015
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COURTESY OF SCANNERFM VIA FLICKR Baltimore artist Dan Deacon headlined this year’s Windjammer festival.

By MIA CAPOBIANCO Your Weekend Editor

Dan Deacon, Future Islands and Beach House — established indie artists who have risen past their Baltimore roots to international prominence — came together Saturday at Pier Six Pavilion to create Windjammer, a sold-out festival benefitting music programs in Baltimore schools through the Living Classrooms Foundation’s Believe in Music Campaign.

The festival also featured an eclectic mix of Baltimore-based artists including four DJs, the lo-fi minimalist rockers Romantic States, hip-hop duo Bond Street District and the two-piece rock group Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. The proceeds will benefit the Living Classrooms Foundation’s Believe in Music Campaign.

Dan Deacon is celebrated both in Baltimore and abroad not only for his music — an absurd assemblage of electronic, indie and psychedelic influences — but also because of his live shows. Deacon typically opts to play on the floor rather than the stage. He engages the audience surrounding him by facilitating dance parties and giving dance instructions between his songs.

In the Baltimore music scene, Deacon has taken on a role as a ringleader of Baltimore DIY music, a curator of unconventional shows and an advocate for other artists.

At Windjammer, Deacon began with songs off his newest album, Gliss Riffer. They were heard far outside the venue; people in the neighboring apartment complexes hung out their windows to hear and others listened from across the street.

Deacon paused between songs to laud the Living Music Foundation, emphasizing that music in the classroom helps children realize their potential.

Before moving on to some of his older favorites, Deacon paused again, asking audience members to raise their hands and join one another. He requested that audience members think of someone they love, then think of someone they miss.

He then asked the audience to consider people they might not often think about, the homeless or those brutalized by people of authority. He was met with applause, and the audience danced like hell as he closed out his set.

Beach House played next, their dream pop-y goodness filling the venue as the sun set. Couples swayed to old favorites like ‘Norway’ and ‘Gila’, and the audience listened intently to songs off their new release Depression Cherry.

Beach House’s soothing and melancholic sound was timed perfectly, nestled between the explosive synth-y sounds of Deacon and the feel-good tunes of Future Islands.

Between sets various DJs took the stage, playing Baltimore club music and remixes of old favorites and pop songs. Their presence was far less appreciated by the crowd perhaps because the audience members were there to see the big names or perhaps because the DJ sets were more suited for a smaller venue.

Future Islands’ live shows gained a national reputation after they performed ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2014. Front man Sam Herring commanded attention with his deep, dramatic vocals and outlandish dance moves.

When Future Islands took the stage the whole audience was engaged and on their feet. The band played songs spanning their discography, including older favorites like “Little Dreamer” as well as tracks from their latest release Singles.

Herring’s dancing was in full force — he was absolutely drenched in sweat by the end of the set — as was the heart he brings to his shows. He briefly paused several times during the set to sing Deacon’s praises, giving his love to Baltimore and touching on the mission of the Living Classrooms Foundation.

Their set was as heartening, and they played a one-song encore during which Herring dropped to his knees and began to tear up. It was a moving way to close out a day-long festival which spotlighted the uniquely collaborative nature of Baltimore’s music scene.

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