The finale of the four-day bender to celebrate the 7th anniversary of Loud As Folk ended in true Reno alcoholic fashion – Sunday brunch and mimosas. But don’t fret. You can still catch Spike McGuire with a new group of artists on the first Thursday of every month at Pignic.
“I don’t remember much about the last three days,” McGuire said. “Except for it was awesome.”
Most attendees were munching on Crepes By Carrie Lynn while listening to the four stellar acts: Spencer Kilpatrick, Johnny Bailey, Grace Hayes (all from Reno), and Travis Hayes from San Francisco. I will spare you the “no relation” joke.
You know the phrase, “he wasn’t messing around”? Well Johnny Bailey, who started the show, definitely was. He shouted to his musical partner Adam Landis in the audience that he can’t do it without him. He also pretended to start a song with a blues standard.
“I don’t know how to play the blues,” Bailey said though a chuckle. “I just live it.”
Despite the contagious laughter, song choice amendments and restarts, he sounded fantastic. He played an INXS tune with his guitar slung low and feet spread in a power stance. He played his band Rigorous Proof’s song “AK-47” and thanked Greg Gilmore and McGuire for their help in its success. They recorded it at LAF Studios in the Potentialist Workshop right here in Reno.
He also congratulated McGuire for his contribution in fostering such a beautiful scene (to those familiar with Spencer Kilpatrick’s music, that served as a little foreshadow.)
Travis Hayes is no stranger to touring and has played major festivals in the Bay Area such as Noise Pop, but he still makes time for our Biggest Little City.
“Reno is definitely one of the best places to come visit,” Hayes said.
He has the vocal timbre of songwriter David Gray, calm and inviting. He played a melancholy version of “Dancing in the Dark.” Finally, a version of the song that doesn’t make me think of Adam Sandler’s Saturday Night Live caricature of The Boss. Hayes called it the closest he gets to an obnoxious cover. He and McGuire joked about playing “Free Bird” three times instead.
Some guitarists learn songs, others learn music. Spencer Kilpatrick is a guitar encyclopedia. Ask him to play any ridiculous Stevie Ray Vaughan riff – he’ll nail it.
“I play in Failure Machine,” Kilpatrick said. “I don’t think we’ve ever played a show where the vocals are this audible. I wrote them… but I don’t know the lyrics.”
He started with his band’s anthemic “Beautiful Scene” and got the crowd singing.
His lip snarls and jaw shakes for vibrato when his voice gets loud. He is fueled by the Stax Records era of music, but he can even make songs like “All About That Bass” sound good.
Looking back on the set, Kilpatrick said he was so hammered that he started a song he hadn’t wrote a bridge or third verse for yet. He somehow brilliantly improvised, and turned it into a slow soulful version of Destiny Child’s “Say My Name.” The dude’s a magician.
He finished his set with a Stevie Wonder cover and by commending McGuire on his event planning effort, something he’s all too familiar with.
“It’s hard to put on a show that helps your scheme,” Kilpatrick said. “And Spike just did that for four days.”
Even when Grace Hayes fiddles on her keyboard singing “check” before a set, it’s striking. Once she gets going, it’s poetry.
“This song is called ‘He Sneezed In Threes.’ It’s about love and allergies,” Grace said.
Her music is like her outfit, colorful with changing patterns. She ventures into Regina Spektor-level quirkiness behind her piano, and her Boomtown fanny pack seals the deal. Her sound is prominent; her content is quirky and adorable. She sings about bubble baths, lovers with allergies, and apologizing for asking when the baby’s due to a person who isn’t pregnant.
She’s an example of success being measured by effort, not outcomes. The same girl whose piano stand is held in position by a broken mechanical pencil was recently featured on “American Idol,” the pinnacle of vocal talent-centric television.
Loud As Folk combed the Reno music scene and surrounding areas to cultivate a dynamic festival. After every band was heard and seen, all that’s left is your kinship with the beautiful scene.
– Tony Contini