Little Scream Main Stage, Field ON, July 21

Little Scream Main Stage, Field ON, July 21
Photo: Stephen McGill

Opening with a brief speech expressing her joy at playing a non-corporate music festival, Laurel Sprengelmeyer (better known as Little Scream) seemed like a perfect fit for River and Sky. A bold, idiosyncratic performer whose music and presence exude endless warmth, she felt at home at a music festival teeming with dogs, canoes and bikes — something different, yet instantly familiar.
Her twilight-hour set, too, came at the perfect time. The songs of Little Scream are delicately balanced between dreamy (twinkling synths, Sprengelmeyer's breathy, expressive vocals) and disturbing (blasts of deep bass, unsettling vocal effects). Manifest here as a quartet, the group's setlist was heavy on tracks from 2016's Cult Following, and offered plenty of moments both serene and stormy, often simultaneously.
As the set wound to a close, Little Scream brought out protest song B-side "People" (written before, but released after Donald Trump's presidency), now with a name-dropping spoken word monologue in the bridge that only energized the ecstatic crowd even more.

By the time the band got to dance-rocking lead single "Love Is a Weapon," with its infectious groove and hooks, the sun was fully gone, leaving a sky lit only by stars. And yet the track — the set's poppiest and most upbeat — felt right. Both the song and the set at-large focused on welcoming the weird and the dark. In contexts large and small — the impending nightfall, the disaster that is American politics today — it couldn't have come at a better time.