High Water Festival - Saturday Recap
Written By Abby Duran
Saturday’s spring breeze was the perfect addition to this year’s outdoor entertainment. A thread of food trucks, vendors, and masseuses lined the waterside. An assemblage of neighbors, friends, and family reunited at Riverfront Park for one of the few events where even artists can mingle and enjoy Charleston’s southern hospitality.
Nashville’s Lilly Hiatt kicked off with a soulful serenade of upbeat rock; with a power-packed vocal chord to match. Sporting blue jeans and boots, Hiatt's stage personae took me back to the early ’90s of former female rockers before her. Her modern words flowed with ease while the flow of her hair stretched to the bay. Butch Walker kept the rock rhythm rising with his Rockabilly/Americana roots. A little rough, a little rowdy, but full of fun.
If red is the color of love, it was well represented. The colors of Michael and Tanya Trotter, aka The War & Treaty, splashed the crowd with themes of togetherness. A dip into roots, rhythm, soul and a touch of jazz, proved this duo has major class. They sang of depression and separation as if feeling their audience’s pain. Yet, their lyrics brought with them a sense of hope. They spoke to the audience as individuals, “We are right here with you”; spreading words of encouragement no matter the situation. The verses were caught by the wind and received by our eardrums as we came to life with cadence.
Although High Water is an all-audience festival, many women waited in obsession for multi-talented artist, Mitski. Newcomers were in for a taste of theatre as the stage played host to a single chair and table centering the band. Warming up, Mitski wore knee pads and stretched her legs; leaving us to wonder what was to come. Would she jump? Would she do a handstand? Or even a backflip? The possibilities seemed limitless. Her petite feature was perfect for sliding around the table, holding poses upside down, and turning into a mannequin on queue. She refrained from speaking to the audience beyond thanking us for attending, not deterred from her live art. Her songs told the stories of women dealing with various emotions and they were met flawlessly by the masses of women around me.
The haunting voice of Matthew Houck, better known as Phosphorescent, came to capture the sunset perfectly. His soft soulful voice set the tone for the evening; performing tracks from his latest album C'est La Vie.
L.A. based group, Lord Huron, left the most impression. Members were professionally dressed in jeans and sports jackets, much like most of their appearances. Lead singer, Ben Schneider, sported his signature hat just for the cameras before letting it loose for the crowd. Their albums do no justice to their physical performance. In fact, the lyrics gave a more profound resonation live. All the more appreciating their talent and simply not giving them enough credit.
Since her Rilo Kiley credits, Jenny Lewis has become one of the most the listened to female artists of our time. You might not recognize her name but between the various projects and songs produced, you'll surely recognize her voice. She came out dazzling underneath pinkish stage lights, dressed from shoulders to ankle in sparkles. She stunned a packed crowd which was received with a roar of approval.
As the audience shimmied over to the main stage, the anticipation grew over the most unique R&B singers of our era, Leon Bridges. As his name suggests, he has an impeccable gift for blending traditional sounds within a modern world. Well dressed to impress and well mannered, Bridges brought the sass of jazz, upbeat funk, and his majestic voice. In essence, he didn't disappoint.
High Water Festival is a must for any low key festival attendee, who is invited to bring the whole family, to hear some of the influential names in the music industry. In addition, one can savor the tastes of Charleston as much as the waterfront view. It's a beautiful way for hosts Shovels & Rope to give back to what Charleston brought to them.