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LIVE REVIEW: First City Festival

First City Festival LineupThe second annual First City Festival in Monterey, California, was the perfect way to close the summer.  The festival gets its name from Monterey’s claim of being the first capital of the Golden State.  In its second year, the festival added a day and became a full on two-day carnival extravaganza.

Yet, even though the festival featured an extensive line-up, there was plenty of room in the crowd. Even those of us who usually watch the show from the sidelines were able to find room merely feet away from center stage, even when it came time to watch the headliners Passion Pit and Modest Mouse.

On the first day of the festival,  one of the acts that really got the party started were the Hold Steady, who greeted the crowd at the Redwood Stage with a sweet Memphis sound and ended their performance with a ballad that had the crowd singing along, “sometimes the girls will wanna blow you away but you know they’ll stay.”

At the peak of the heat, Civil Twilight, our friends from South Africa, lulled the crowd into a daze at the Cypress Stage with wild shouts, pumping bass and sedating vines of rhythm. As the crowd was baking in the sun and soaking up the last bit of summer fun, Civil Twilight reminded us that adventure was only beginning with “Trouble.”

Judging by the roar and fervent energy, by the time Beach House made their way to the Redwood Stage, the crowd was in full festival mode and ready to get down. Victoria Legrand, the lead singer, sang wistfully as the sun began to set. Mid-set the drummer decided that some of his equipment was unnecessary and swiftly knocked it off stage without missing a beat, causing an uproar from the fans.

Next in line was MGMT, who was the true-headliner  judging by  the colossal amount of energy coming from the crowd. With non-stop dancing and trippy background visuals, the crowd was hypnotized into an avid trance.  “Electric Feel”, “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” were explosive and brought euphoric joy to the faces of festival goers.

By the time Passion Pit came on stage to headline the first day, latent energy left after MGMT’s performance was ready to explode in a fury of dance and shouts, clearly reflecting a passion that the band has for rocking out and setting souls on fire.

On the second day of the festival Capital Cities introduced some trumpet fun to the festival and got the crowd’s attention with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time”.  As well as a fun dance routine aka “The Capitol City Shake”.

Aaron Axelsen, the music director of Bay Area’s top alternative radio stations Live 105,  was one of the attendees making his way from stage to stage, scoping out the festivities for some new impressive music.

Toro Y Moi had people bobbing their heads and sinking into the sand as his smooth electronic sound mixed with bad ass beats really got the mood started.

Unfortunately, the long awaited performance by Modest Mouse seemed to lack the energy and ardor in comparison to the bands earlier in the line-up.

Overall the festival was very much a success and the set the bar high for First City Festival 2014.

You can purchase a CD of each band’s work at individual websites, and keep an eye out for your chance to buy concert tickets for the 2014 festival here.

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