Foburg, Day 3: 03.13.2011

If on Friday and Saturday there was a youthful urge to run around Frenchman Street from bar to bar, seeing every band in sight without any regard for breaking sweats or spilling beers, that urge was comfortably behind us by Sunday. Nevertheless, in the darkly lit barrooms of St. Claude Avenue, Sunday evening held a holy grail of sorts: the Hi-Ho Lounge was hosting, among other things, a hiatus-ending return for local legends A Living Soundtrack, and Saturn Bar was home to a massive showcase of emerging national electronic and indie rock acts.

Unfortunately for me, there would be no venue jumping tonight. Only after laying on my couch with a debilitating sore throat, nursing my wounds while The Toothfairy (starring The Rock) played through twice, was I able to make my way over to Saturn Bar.

In spite of not being able to see A Living Soundtrack, which is my one genuine regret of Foburg 2011, I was thoroughly surprised by the acts to which I was treated at Saturn Bar. Philadelphia’s Sun Airway, a band that has been compared overwhelmingly – some might say unfairly – to Merriweather-era Animal Collective, put on a stellar performance led by drummer Patrick Marsceill’s entrancing use of extemporaneously fired off drum samples. If that’s what “Merriweather-era Animal Collective” means, maybe I need to rethink my ambivalence towards that band.

Sun Airway was followed by Cloud Nothings, a Cleveland band known for its noise pop and nineties emo leanings, that completely laid waste to every face in the room. Though this is probably textbook overstatement, to my strep-throated, Cheratussin-soaked head, Cloud Nothings felt like  a band formed when veterans like Superdrag’s John Davis, Promise Ring’s Davey Von Bohlen, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, and the Kinsella brothers of Cap’n Jazz all got together to craft some complex, unpretentiously accessible and extremely fuzzed out power pop tunes.

The biggest surprise of the night was New York indie pop band Cults, whose small handful of recorded songs left me somewhat skeptical of their live prowess. However, the five-piece led by core members and offstage couple Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, captivated the entire room with a sound that flawlessly melded that of other fellow New Yorkers like the 60s Motown-influenced Frankie Rose & the Outs and ominous, gritty surf rockers Obits.

It was a fitting under card for Sunday’s – and possibly the whole weekend’s – main event.  As they did on their previous two trips to the Big Easy, Brooklyn’s Small Black annihilated their set, working the noticeably fatigued but undeniably enthusiastic crowd into a throbbing frenzy.  It was an epic end to an epic weekend, one that was as satisfying as it was exhausting; just as any 3-day music extravaganza should be.

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