Last year, when the second official Foburg Music Festival descended on the city of New Orleans, it presented a noticeable shift from the year past – namely with respect to the geographic footprint of the event which, though beginning as exclusively a Frenchman Street affair, expanded to include parts of the French Quarter as well as the St. Claude area. Additionally, the presence of big-ticket out-of-town acts was a sign that the New Orleans Indie Rock Collective is serious about raising the national profile of Foburg. It’s certainly a worthwhile concept: as the entrance-point for practically every touring act east of the Mississippi attending South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, New Orleans offers a short delay as well as a warm up in the week before the tireless, endless and sleepless performing schedule of SXSW hits you right in the face.
On its surface, the story appears to be no different this year. Having expanded even further beyond the French Quarter/Frenchman/Marigny area (now reaching as far out as the Saint!), Foburg is going to be vast. To boot, the lineup once again features a handful of high profile touring acts. However, with the event’s ever-widening footprint making it damn near impossible to witness everything going on this weekend, Foburg may crack up to be a fantastic, though frustrating, festival. In fact, thinking of it as a festival at all may not do it or yourself any justice. Rather, you’re given a slew of incredible concerts, all on the same nights, all at different venues, few of which are within walking distance from one another. That’s the bad news. The good news: no choice is a bad one. Literally, every piece of scheduled musical programming is top-notch and, in addition to the must-see touring bands, all the highest profile local acts will be there.
On the non-musical side of things, the additions of comedy and film to the festival are huge developments that will expose two generally underrepresented sects of artists to an independent, forward-minded audience and vice versa. With the New Movement – essentially an Austin-imported improvisational comedy training troupe – having recently opened a brand new facility in Bywater, the comedy scene in New Orleans is primed for a reemergence, and Foburg might as well be the coming out party. Additionally, Timecode:nola has tasked themselves with holding down the film programming for the weekend, including a very relevant showing of Jody Smith’s Unheard Of, a 2006 documentary that uses archival footage and interviews to reconstruct the unique underground rock and punk scene of New Orleans in the 1990s.
All that said, here is a short list of Barryfest’s nightly Foburg Festival live picks:
Friday, 03.09: Japanther + The Pharmacy + Jean-Eric – Hi-Ho Lounge
When a Foburg programming partner sets out to make his showcase the highlight of the entire festival, it’s safe to imagine that his process involves (a) making a list of bands, (b) starting with his favorite band at the top in comically unrealistic fashion, and (c) quickly moving down the list to a band much more reasonable, much less thrilling and probably not even in the programmer’s wheelhouse. That is, unless you are Chinquapin Records, who managed to land an act that is both near the top of their collective influences and idols list and currently one of the coolest bands in the country making music.
Chicago-based Maps & Atlases has been on a tear since releasing Perch Patchwork nearly two years ago. With ceaseless touring in support of that record and with another full-length on the way next month, this four-piece math/folk hodgepodge seems to be in the midst of a manic creative spurt, not just the result of the band being in its infancy but also of being so at precisely the right time. While an adherence to backwoods Americana vibes is surely in synch with the times, their strange fascination with the progressive leanings of acts like Don Caballero, Polvo and Hella makes for a chaotic filter that tends to often yield unpredictable results, from absurdly heady instrumental cacophonies to Paul Simon-esque revelry and carousal.
Obviously composed of musicians so disparately influenced it’s a miracle that they can even weave together a coherent suite, Maps & Atlases’ four members are involved in a slew of solo and side projects, mirroring that of the musicians in Chinquapin Records that brought them here. Sun Hotel and Caddywhompus, in addition to being two of the most popular and respected acts in the entire city, seem to have become unique breeding grounds for creative cross-pollination between different musicians, different scenes, and even different cities.
Sunday, 03.11: The Men + Glish + Native America + Heat Dust – Siberia
You can find the full Foburg Festival schedule here