Holy City Pop Festival
Fri. March 30 / Sat. March 31
$10 each night ($17 weekend pass)
301 King St.
"This event is great exposure for the bands who want to play for a new audience," says Charleston vocalist and songwriter Cary Ann Hearst, speaking by phone from a Georgia highway en route to a gig in Athens. She inherited the organizational reins for the second annual Holy City Pop Fest just a few weeks ago. "It's great for bands to book and plan to trade shows and network and help each other. God knows, it's like every band for themselves out here in a lot of ways and you've got to, like, team up."
The Holy City Pop Festival, scheduled for Fri. March 30 and Sat. March 31 at Cumberland's, has come together in the last week with an impressive variety of local and regional guitar-pop bands, experimental rockers, and songwriters dedicated to hooks, melodies, and cool dance beats.
Last year, guitarist/singer Jason Brewer (of Charleston pop/rock combo Explorers Club) booked nearly two dozen local and regional acts for the inaugural two-day festival, which included performances from local artists The Specs, Bill Carson,, April Invention, Cary Ann Hearst, and The Chimney Sweeps. Visiting acts included Hartwell James (formerly of Aamerican Tenants and The Ex-Lovers), Schooner, Band Marino, Kill Gordon, and The Fabulous Bird.
"I think the main thing was to put together a music festival for Charleston that involves a lot of independent artists in the area," Brewer said during the event. "I wanted to have something going on in Charleston and the Southeast without it being like one of those conferences or showcases."
This year, the busybody was sidetracked by other rock 'n' roll obligations. "Jason went out on a sexy tour with the Explorers Club, opening for Apples in Stereo. I opened up my big mouth and said I'd help organize things [laughs]. I got to pick a couple of the bands and put the final lineup together. Everyone seems really excited to come, even though there's never much money to be made."
Hearst plans on acting as emcee and opening the Saturday night event night at the early kick-off time of 8:30 p.m.
The Friday night lineup includes (in order of appearance) Run Dan Run, Pleasant Intervals (from Atlanta), The Wagoneers (formerly known as The April Invention), A Decent Animal (with Hearst and Lindsay Holler as special guests), Athens pop-rock band King of Prussia, and three Atlanta acts: Y-O-U, Sovus Radio, and Second Shift.
Saturday's event kicks off with a solo set from Hearst followed by performances by Atlanta's Florez/Gomez, The Never (Chapel Hill), The Judies (Atlanta), Chattanooga's Good Players, Murfreesboro band How I Became the Bomb, the Orlando-based Band Marino, and two Nashville acts: De Novo Dahl and The Features (pictured), who last played Charleston in 2004 with Jump in support of their debut album, Exhibit A (their latest is an indie EP titled Contrast).
"There's something about all pop music that's memorable and has a hook," says Hearst. "It's not simply commercial 'popular' music made for the masses -- a lot of that is based on traditional pop music format and they've taken the rules and song structure so it has a hook and a dumb chorus that you can't get out of your head. But the essence of pop is great songwriting, harmonies, intentionally memorable things that grab you. All of the bands in this lineup have these things in common. Some are more experimental and strange, but they aren't simply dance music. Others are just great rock 'n' roll bands with great songs."
Holy City Pop Festival 2007
Fri. March 30
9 p.m. Run Dan Run
9:30 p.m. Pleasant Intervals
10 p.m. The Wagoneers
10:30 p.m. A Decent Animal w/ Cary
Ann Hearst & Lindsay Holler
11 p.m. Kings of Prussia
11:30 p.m. Y-O-U Midnight Sovus Radio
12:30 a.m. Second Shift
Sat. March 31
8:30 p.m. Cary Ann Hearst
9 p.m. Florez/Gomez
9:30 p.m. The Never
10 p.m. The Judies
10:30 p.m. The Good Players
11 p.m. How I Became the Bomb
11:30 p.m. Band Marino
Midnight De Novo Dahl
12:30 a.m. The Features