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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

MtTomPhoto photo

Concerts in Zen. Pt II
Rustic Overtones
at the Maine Lobster Festival

Many thanks in advance to the following Flickr photographers for the use of their great Rustic pix:
William Thibault
Justin Russell
Kimberly Nicol Natural Focus

Perhaps this ought to be listed with some kind of an asterisk … or three. I provide it mostly because:
1. I was able to walk to and fro the event,
2. it was the first outdoor music venue I've attended that was within view of the shoreline,
3. it represented a serious break from the typical musical act booked to play the CrustaceanFest, and
4. Canada Mike was good enough to capture a good chunk of the show on video.

Without further ado …

Rustic Overtones – Rockland, Maine – Maine Lobster Festival – August 1, 2007

Try to let that one sink in a bit. Fresh off a reportedly explosive first swing of reunion shows in and around Portland, the funky-fresh, four-man horn-sectioned, and biggest pop cultural phenomenon thing, like … ever to come out of Portland either since
Henry W. Longfeller or Judd Nelson braved the Wiscasset bridge in August in order to bear their musical souls for the people of Knox County.

Don't get me wrong.
The Lobster Festival is surely a big draw, as the Knox Co Village Soup reports. But, as this story notes, the headliner of the festival was some country singer named Terri Clark, while this one is a bit more representative of what is considered news at Bug A Go-Go.

Well, lightning didn't impede the Rustic septet from getting ridiculous before a pretty inspired crowd assembled in Rockland's Harbor Park. The band played through a set that seems to have primarily focused on newer songs, excluding the act's most familiar tracks "Simple Song" and "Check" in favor of others apparently designed to highlight the newly-added strings section … err … violinist. So, while I registered some measure of disappointment over not being able to play sing-along with the "… you ain't got funk …" business, there was little with which anyone attending had any legitimate right to be disappointed. Quite simply – they are a great band to see live, wherever and whenever.

I've had a hard time finding review-type press of the event, but I'll refer you to a "my so-called life …" type blog entry by "Entity" here. She notes
:… Afterward when Maggie and I were trying to find Leila and Issac, (I was very wound up, hot, a little tipsy, and very very dehydrated) I was yelling "I can't believe it was Rustic and none of the fucktards were dancing! No one even knows who they are! No one appreciates awesomeness of this night! All these fucking idiots think they're soooo cool, but they weren't even dancing!"
Well, Entity, I hear you knocking, and I hopefully you kept right on a-dancin' anyway, fucktards-be-damned.

Thankfully, Canada Mike was good enough to play cameraman for the show, which I present to you here. Thanks Mickey: from Mike and Vimeo. from Mike and Vimeo.

If the video above doesn't open, here's a direct link to Canada Mike's fine filmography. The shots that include the ferris wheel in the background are wild ... like, mad wild. But I'll have to talk with your soundman ... "Kris" ... tell her she's fired.

For those of you who have never lived within the 207 area code, Rustic Overtones were pretty much the biggest act to come out of Portland during the grunge and post-grunge eras. They were reportedly "this close" to following through with a big label record deal before circumstances supposedly converged to prevent things from fully materializing. The band's wikipedia page notes:
After the release of their 1998 album Rooms by the Hour, major record label Arista expressed interest in signing the group, much to the excitement of fans and the band members. Arista produced a one-million dollar record deal with the band, opening the door for the one chance at the big times the band had always been waiting for. However, after hearing the new, heavier, grittier material that the band had been working on, Arista was not pleased and eventually pulled out of the deal, leaving the Rustic Overtones without a record label. According to the band, the label sent back a demo tape of Rustic Overtones material dubbed over with keyboard bass parts and fake drums, and notifying the band that they would release the album only if it included the changes made. They were shortly afterwards picked up by Tommy Boy, and released Viva Nueva! in 2001. However, Tommy Boy dissolved shortly after the release of the album, once again leaving the Overtones without a record label. The disappointment of two major record deals falling through proved too much for the band members, and they went their separate ways in 2002. Their "final" preformance was a three-hour show at the State Theater on May 11th, 2002. … The Rustic Overtones remain arguably the most successful band to come out of Portland, Maine.

More pointedly,
BDN artsblogger Emily Burnham observes that:
Unless you lived under a rock in the late ’90s and early part of this century, if you’re from Maine, you knew about Rustic. Quite possibly, you saw the band live, since it played all over the state. At one point, it was arguably the biggest band in the 207.
The 2002 State Theatre show is available for free and fully sanctioned download at Archive dot org. I must express some hesitation about posting the songs that follow, as I recall that the pages for this show used to feature requests by the poster not to share MP3s converted from the shorten files he posted. However, that warning no longer appears to be in effect, and the band now seems to encourage such sharing. To all who might be affected, please alert me if I have this wrong and I will immediately take the MP3s off this page with all appropriate apologies, etc.

That said …

I highly recommend what one bandmate dubbed "the anthem,"
Simple Song, as well as Check, which received a fair bit of WCYY airplay back in the band's heyday, and the extended jam of Smoke featuring some great farewell shout-out raps from several pals from a handful of other Portland acts.

Also, check this this fansite Rock Like War and this one too for more current band info. Rock Like War has all kinds of goodies at its media thread if you're a serious fan or a budding fan, so check it out. Finally, linkage-wise, here's a link to the band's Myspace page, which provides a few tracks from throughout the career.

If you're up to the downloading, also check out
this show from 1999 at Stonecoast Brewing Co - a sadly defunct Portland venue that burned out before it faded away or something. I could link to some Press Herald story describing it's implosion but really, what's the point. The version of Huey Lewis & Das Zeit's '80s hit I Want a New Drug is a fine cover that warrants some listening. Do it.

So … what's all this about the Rustic Overtones playing at the Lobster Festival? Well, I'll tell ya. In the interests of full disclosure, I wasn't really on the Rustic bandwagon when they first ruled Portland. I sorta maintained a healthy distance from the G Love & Special Sauce-styled funk/rap with horns, occasionally careening into the ska-core world representing a kinder and gentler Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Plus, I was in the full throes of indie rock snobbery and couldn't yield any hint of interest in something as obviously fun as what Rustic was putting out. Yet, I couldn't help but get into their act when I was finally prodded into seeing them live.

The dumbest thing is that I can't tell you exactly when it was that I finally saw them. I'm pretty sure it was at Stonecoast in, probably, 1996, but who knows? I know it was fun and that when I returned to Maine from a spell away from my beloved home state, they were no mas.

While I'll not likely hold my breathe for a return visit to the Greater Rockland region in the near future, I do hope this find local band makes an honest go of it this second time around. Based on the impression left with the local 15-25 year olds who were smart enough to be down front while the Rustic Overtones blasted their guitars and horns across the harborfront, I think the waters might be right for the ride.

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Anonymous mike said...

Yeah, I now know the sound seems to fade in and out a bit when one zooms. So it goes.
More posts like this! I have more vids I may get around to posting. Thanks for the tracks, too.
I would love to seem them again.

9:52 AM

Anonymous Justin said...

Great summary of the night; I was there for the Lobster Festival concert, too, and that pretty much sums it up. I got into Rustic around 2004, so I didn't really have a chance to ever see them live before last month. I'm glad I had the opportunity to see them - twice - and hopefully it won't be my last time.

I take my camera with me everywhere I go. With that said, here are a few pics from the night:

Rustic at the Lobster Festival

Thanks for including my photo (even though it seems to have gone missing!).

9:16 PM

Blogger Emily said...

hey! thanks for the link!
- emily burnham

12:24 PM


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