TWO BROTHERS SUMMER FESTIVAL 2016
River Valley Rangers: Time TBD
What began as a few friends playing songs on the banks of the Fox River has formed to become the bluegrass/newgrass band that is River Valley Rangers. They have developed a high-energy string band sound that will keep you stompin’ your boots all night long! The Rangers have shared the bill with acts including the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, The Larry Keel Experience, Pert Near Sandstone, Hot Buttered Rum, Horseshoes and Handgrenades, Henhouse Prowlers, and many more. Burning like a Midwestern prairie fire, the Rangers aren’t slowing down any time soon!
Miles Nielsen & the Rusted Hearts: Time TBD
Rockford, IL-based Miles Nielsen has spent nearly a decade enthralling audiences with music that draws force from the prime years of Western-influenced rock music and classic ‘60s soul. Claiming influences as diverse as Otis Redding’s classic soul and Jellyfish’s cult power pop recordings, Nielsen has thus far released two albums – his debut in 2009 as a solo artist, and then his sophomore album in 2012 as Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts – to critical acclaim and an ever-growing fanbase. The Rusted Hearts’ hot streak will continue this year with their upcoming third LP, Heavy Metal.
Heavy Metal blends the country-esque drawl and growling guitars of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with the subtly sensual undercurrent of Ray Charles. Vocal harmonies present throughout the album recall Fleetwood Mac as strongly as they bring to mind the very first doo wop groups. But despite The Rusted Hearts’ readily apparent influences, the result of these combined roots is a singular sound that readily distinguishes the band from its peers.
Phox: 7 p.m.
PHOX is a bunch of friends from the Midwestern circus hamlet, Baraboo, WI, a place where kids often drink poisoned groundwater and become endowed mutants. They make music that straddles Feist and Monty Python. It was in Baraboo that the six unlikely musicians attended high school together, some playing on the soccer field, others on video production sets. But in a town with a drive-your-tractor-to-school day, they didn’t last. They did the thing that most people do when they are 18: they fled the coop, each going their separate ways (to film school, cosmetology school, a job with Homeland Security…). But promises were made that couldn’t be kept, and as they fell in unrequited love and lost their respective jobs, in spite of themselves, each simultaneously pulled the ripcord and came home. The sextet promptly (-ish) got a house together in the Portland of the heartland, Madison, WI. As prolifically documented in their online video series, PHOX rekindled their onetime A/V production house while discovering how to live as a family (i.e. how not to berate each other about the hair in the sink). After two years of cohabiting, PHOX beheld a demo reel of bedroom-recorded music (and home movies) that made Bon Iver and The Fray recording engineer Brian Joseph blush. Donning his producer’s cape (and occasional lab coat), Joseph cheer-led the band through its debut album at April Base Studios in Eau Claire, WI. Joseph’s enthusiasm propelled the band through the production of more than a dozen songs that have been swimming in the think tank for two years. Mixed by Michael Brauer at Electric Lady in NYC, their debut album is a school of simple folk-pop songs swimming amidst a chaotic eddy of rock, psychedelia, and soul. If the goal here is friendship, PHOX is doing quite well. If the chosen path is blue collar pixel-pushing and church camp trust falls, they’re on the way. And if their only coping mechanism is to lay down their arms and, for 30 or 45 minutes a day, shut up and listen to each other, you can’t be too upset.
Cold War Kids: 9 p.m.
Ten years have come and gone since Cold War Kids first took to the stage in their homegrown Southern California scene. Time is typically unkind to indie rock bands. So how is that Cold War Kids are still here in 2014, selling out tours and releasing their fifth album in a decade amidst these 40 seasons of torrential fate winds, while so many of their peers have vanished?
“We worked really hard, that’s the answer,” says Nathan Willett. “We worked really hard and we were successful, which is freakishly impossible, and we should embrace it. That’s our story.”
From his post at the front, Willett—along with the band’s bassist and visual director Matt Maust—has led Cold War Kids through the tricky 21st century rock and roll landscape, soaring over the peaks and facing the valleys head-on while carving out a place of the band’s own. Reaping sky-high praise from a mid-2000s blogosphere then growing wings as a live show juggernaut, they stand now with their fifth studio album Hold My Home as both a different animal and an unaltered beast all at once.