Singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon
It’s that time of the year when every weekend brings with it another festival.
Over the weekend of June 2 and 3, the Agora Theatre and Ballroom
will host the fifth incarnation of its annual Spring Fling.
The Front Bottoms will headline Saturday night and indie rockers Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness will headline Sunday night.
Here’s a rundown of some of the noteworthy acts slated to perform. Check the Agora website for more information.
Phoebe Bridgers makes simple music. The tracks on her most recent album, Stranger in the Alps
, share DNA with the classic folk songs of America’s past. The album features bare bones songwriting, sparse, plucky guitar work and an alone-in-a-large-room singing style. Like musical tessellations, each of the Los Angeles-based musician’s songs can hold their own as a self-contained story, but a full album run-through is necessary to fully appreciate the artist. On Stranger in the Alps, songs like “Smoke Signals” and “Georgia” work in tandem to highlight Bridgers’ musical strategy. She invites her listener in with an uncanny ability to deconstruct the magic and devastation of a relationship at every stage, from new love to old love to somewhere-in-between love. (Michael Wu)
With only three songs released to date, Cherry Pools offers listeners the unique satisfaction of discovering a band right before they blow up. The four-piece band possesses an eclectic crew of influences, from Phil Collins to MGMT. This convergence of the old and the new embeds itself in the Toronto-based group’s sound, with a catchy electro-pop energy and booming vocals fused with atmospheric, feel-it-in-the-air-tonight synths. Cherry Pools' debut EP is set for release this fall, but in the meantime, the band has had their fair share of performing experience, touring the country alongside pop/rock groups PVRIS and I Don’t Know How but They Found Me. (Wu)
“No Why,” the rollicking opening number from singer-songwriter Kevin Devine’s 2016 album, Instigator, shows off the guy’s power-pop sensibilities. The song makes Devine sound like a juiced-up version of indie rockers Built to Spill. Last year’s We Are Who’ve Always Been takes the songs from Instigator and strips them to the core. The acoustic versions lack the power-pop punch of their predecessors but have an undeniable beautify nonetheless. Devine’s tender vocals in the acoustic renditions of tunes such as “Instigator” and “Magic Magnet” show off his more sensitive side. With its political subtext, folk-y ballad “Both Ways” has a Bright Eyes vibe to it. (Niesel)
The Front Bottoms
Shortly after forming in 2006, the indie-rock duo the Front Bottoms caught on with fans of folky acoustic music quickly. Their 2013 latest release, Talon of the Hawk, debuted on seven different Billboard charts and ranked third in the Top New Artist category. Lead singer Brian Sella’s voice isn’t conventionally great by any means, but the raw quality of his singing in songs like “Au Revoir” and “Twin Size Mattress” give the lyrics a neat conversational quality and help the band stand out in today’s popular music scene, which is often obsessed with pitch perfection. Earlier this year, the band dropped its latest release, the EP Ann
. (Jacob DeSmit)
Brianna Hunt’s project, the ethereal Many Rooms, is hard to nail down. On Many Room’s debut album, There is a Presence Here
, released earlier this year, Hunt’s voice rarely climbs above a haunting whisper. This brand of just-above-a-murmur singing is an appropriate vessel for the bracing intimacy of the big ideas Hunt concerns herself within her songwriting. She writes about death and love, God and loneliness. On tracks like “Which is to Say, Everything” and “Hollow Body,” Hunt creates a sonic landscape that infuses her lyrics with an eerie power accompanied by an unpredictable instrumentation that boomerangs between a shimmering near silence and sweeping, percussive grandeur. (Wu)
Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness with Allen Stone
Andrew McMahon is hardly the first indie rocker to write a song called “Ohio.” It seems dozens of musicians over the decades, even if they’re not from this state, have penned some sort of ode to this area. And McMahon, of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate, released his new “Ohio” single earlier this month, just in time to headline the Agora’s Spring Fling music festival. The song depicts his family’s cross country move from Bexley, Ohio, to California as a boy. We can only imagine his upcoming set will include this song, complete with the line “in Ohioooooo” repeated over and over, but we’re also thrilled to see that Washington State soul singer Allen Stone is accompanying McMahon on stage. The pair have recently toured together, and we can only hope for a killer collaboration on stage. (Laura Morrison)
An L.A.-based indie rock act that plays a mix of West Coast pop, garage rock and Laurel Canyon folk, the Mowgli’s have slowly acquired traction since forming back in 2010. “Freakin’ Me Out,” the single from 2016's Where’d Your Weekend Go, features call-and-response vocals and a vigorous mid-song guitar solo. It's a snappy tune that sits well with the other snappy tunes in the band's ever-growing catalog. (Niesel)
First formed in 2012, Seafair expanded to a four-piece when singer-keyboardist Chayla Hope and bassist Joshua Riehl recruited drummer Ryan Kelly and a cellist to join them. The group then became even bigger when it added guitarist Mike Flaherty and violinist Andrea Belding to the fold. The band, which also now includes violinist Megan Sullivan, creates lush soundscapes that have rightly drawn comparisons to Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. (Niesel)
If millions of Spotify listens are any indication of what the people want, Tigers Jaw’s 2008 eponymous emo opus, which made the act famous, has fared just as well as Spin
, the band’s decidedly more grownup indie rock album from 2017. That means fans have been more than happy to follow the crew through multiple musical incarnations as well as lineup changes. Born out of Scranton, PA, in the mid-aughts, the group has seen much growth under frontman Ben Walsh’s leadership. Keyboardist and singer Brianna Collins, who’s the only other official band member as of now, enhances the band’s current shimmery indie vibes. We can only hope those old emo vibes are strong with this performance. (Morrison)
The Wonder Years
When the Wonder Years played the Agora three years ago, the band kicked off the show with “Brothers &” and “Cardinals,” and we wrote that “the slow instrumental buildup of ‘Brothers &’ was a perfect way to start the show as it built tension and riled the crowd up.” Expect something similar this time around as the veteran pop-punk band returns to town for the umpteenth time. The band’s latest album, Sister Cities, opens with the hard-driving “Raining in Kyoto” and doesn’t let up. Even mid-tempo tunes such as "Pyramids of Salt" and "It Must Get Lonely" simmer with intensity thanks to Dan "Soupy" Campbell's raspy vocals. (Niesel)
Spring Fling V, 3 p.m. Saturday, June 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday, June 3, Agora Ballroom and Theatre, 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221. Tickets: $42.50, agoracleveland.com.