Published Sep 19, 2016Talk about a rhythm section. Sitting effortlessly in the pocket, Fruit Bats' set breezed over the mid-afternoon sunny lawns of Rifflandia from their Sunday (September 18) main stage perch. At first a little unsure, the crowd really warmed to their set as they dug progressively deeper into their sprawling back catalogue, and as each member of the group began easing up and contributing more personal touches.
Fruit Bats called it quits for a while a few years back, after lead singer Eric Johnson suffered a traumatic period in his life, only to be reborn this year in style. The newer songs were more humble and gentle in their energy, the group navigating seemingly fresh emotional and musical material. Johnson also played simply, casually, as if playing in his living room. It felt honest.
In a way, it was easy to see their veteran status at the festival — no tech glitches, good sound, no weird jokes or gimmicks, everything in key. That in itself was refreshing. And the songs, while straightforward 4/4 rock, were toe-tappers. It would have been nice to hear more risks being taken, more variation, more melodic interludes or guitar solos, but the few instances of them in the set really delivered.
For a strange festival Sunday, Fruit Bats were the act with whom we could all finally just breathe a sigh of relief and relax.