QUINCY, Calif. — There’s something about the way the light hits Quincy’s festival grounds each evening. As soon as the sun begins to slip behind the trees it’s as if the park lets out a collective sigh, releasing the heat-induced lethargy of the day in preparation for the eccentric antics of the night. At the risk of sounding trite, there’s something magical about it.
The second day of the 25-year-old music festival saw it hosting a roster of significantly different bands with a similar mission: to give back to the crowd that makes this festival possible. Joy at High Sierra is palpable, people make eye contact and say hello to strangers in passing, they share water at crowded stage fronts, they join in on impromptu campsite jams howling “Take a load off, Fanny!!” and that attitude is contagious.
“They were just so present,” HoneyHoney singer Suzanne Santo said of the crowd during their set, “and when a crowd is like that, it becomes a group effort.”
“Everyone is just so happy and open.” Her band mate Benjamin Jaffe added.
The two continued, explaining how the festival harvests such genuine performances, “You can just instantly tell this is a grass-roots kinda thing,” Santo said. “It’s not like Coachella.”
The Los Angeles-based duo went on to explain that a rigorous touring schedule has had them on the road since mid-May and audiences like the ones at High Sierra Music Festival are all that’s keeping them going. HoneyHoney’s performance was intimate. Santo’s sultry, viscous voice was bolstered by Jaffe’s melodic, beautifully understated guitar playing.
The group’s third album “3” has been well-received by its fanbase and critics alike but HoneyHoney shows no signs of resting on their laurels. When asked what’s next, Santo declared triumphantly “We’re going to tour the shit out of this thing,” and when doubts about ever “really making it” arose, she was quick to add “we’re just gonna continue to rock, that’s all we know to do.”
As the sun began to set, I realized that the audience at High Sierra and groups like HoneyHoney were made for each other. The road-weary, yet determined performer and the excitedly genuine concertgoer is a combination that fuels itself, allowing the music to not just live, but thrive.