In the spirit of helping out those in need, I have compiled a handy little guide to each performer so you don't have to take the time to sift through countless myspace.com pages trying to figure out where you'll put your dinner break.
If you live in Minnesota and haven't seen the Heiruspecs, you haven't really lived. The hip-hop group from St. Paul formed in 1997 and are local music royalty. Heiruspecs are notorious for their amazing energy and absolutely ballistic live shows. Heiruspecs' social consiousness, which is supremely obvious in their lyrics and likeable stage presence have endeared them to critics and fans alike.
The group, whose last studio album was released in 2004, are prepping for the release of a new album later this year. New songs have been cropping up in recent live sets, and the prospect of new tunes is very exciting.
Verdict: Heiruspecs are a must-see for Lutefest. This is an exciting time for the group, and it should translate into an exciting live show for the audience.
This year's headliner hails from Philadelphia, Penn. Unlike the Bravery (the headliners for the 2005 Fall Concert), Amos Lee is actually a good choice for a St. Olaf school festival. Lee has released two albums, both of which have earned critical acclaim, and has toured with folk legend Bob Dylan and Grammy-winner Nora Jones.
Lee's music is sure to reach a wide audience. His voice and chill vibe will surely appeal to those who enjoy the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer. However, he doesn't dig himself so far into that groove that the rest of us can't relate to him. Fans of more orthodox blues sounds will likely find that his slower, piano-based songs fill a niche often ignored at St. Olaf.
Verdict: Lee's set will provide a mellow but enthusiastic way to cap off a day of fun with friends.
Martha Berner striaght from Chicago, Ill. is another great choice for Lutefest. For those who loved Haley Bonar in the Pause earlier this year, Berner is a definite hit. Berner fuses straight-up folk with a punch of indie-rock. I think the best part about her is that she has the attitude and persona to really set herself apart from the massive indie-folk influx of the past year or so.
While at times Berner's songwriting can sound a little contrived or over-produced, she is sonically suited to the outdoor festival environment.
Verdict: If you're looking for a powerful female act at Lutefest, Berner will not disappoint.
Senior Brett Bullion has a massive amount of talent. I was able to catch Bullion's solo act, Tarlton, earlier this year in the Lion's Lair, and I was totally blown away by how well he was able to hold my attention as a lone performer up on stage. Brett Bullion has also played with fellow Lutefesters Heiruspecs on drums.
Bullion will not be performing as Tarlton at Lutefest, but he will be playingwith Chris Smalley. The set will be improvised on drums and guitar. Bullion promises that the set "will be pretty loud."
Verdict: If you really want to be impressed with one artist's musical abilities at Lutefest this year, I would see Bullion.
Masses with Masses
Another representative of the St. Olaf music scene is Masses with Masses. They have exhibited massive growth over the last year. Made up of Juniors Matt Germscheid, Eric Graluum, Ben Manning and Eric Tvedt, the group brings a rocking element to Lutefest that is otherwise lacking this year. Masses could probably best be compared to Built to Spill, Modest Mouse or even fellow Oles the Plagiarists.
Verdict: While they're still gaining their footing as a band, Masses have already shown their mettle this year, and they will undoubtedly prove a big draw for Olaf indie rock lovers.
There are few performers who have played on the Hill as much as Joey Kantor, and this is your last chance to see him at his alma mater before he graduates. On top of that, Lutefest will actually be the release show for his much-anticipated E.P.
Those of you who saw Chris Koza in the Pause last week will probably remember Kantor as the piano player who popped up on stage briefly. If you enjoyed the vibe of that show, but wished for a more diverse repertoire of songs, Joey Kantor's solo set is sure to please.
Verdict: Definitely go see Kantor while you still can. Also, bring a date and some blankets because Kantor's piano-based ballads are conducive to snuggling.
Bright Lights and Heroes
If there's one band I would skip at Lutefest, it would be Lakeville-based Bright Lights and Heroes. Sonically, they pull in spacey riffs and mix them with a lot of nasal whining. Imagine Modern English -- you know, that "Melt With You" song ubiquitous to "romantic" teen mix tapes -- with some dude whining over it.
The band is very focused on a dark, flowing rock, but they just don't have the singer to really make them competitive with other acts in the same genre. To top it off, their niche has already been filled in the lineup by Masses with Masses, who have a pretty good following on campus.
Verdict: If you want to rock out at Lutefest, go see Masses with Masses. They have better chops, a better singer and they put on a great live show.
The Last Known Whereabouts
The Last Known Whereabouts is a Carleton/Olaf cooperative band. Made up of Jake Stroup (Carleton '06), Aaron Hagenson (Olaf '05), Carl Haskins (Olaf '09) and Aaron Cross (Carleton), the band plays folk music for folk lovers. Even though their influences, such as Old Crow Medicine Show, are not everyone's cup of tea, The Last Known Whereabouts will be well received by a more general audience.
The group originally formed in 2003 as Pigs in a Pen, but changed their name after lineup shake-ups and sonic shifts. Fortunately, this new lineup serves them well, and their recorded songs sound great. While I haven't seen them live, if they're anything like their recordings, it should be a great show.
Verdict: If you like Jayber Crow or are at all interested in folk music, I can't imagine why you wouldn't like The Last Known Whereabouts.
Eden's Empire, comprised of Oles Mike Tecku '07, Chuck Mylrea '08, Paul Sauey '10 and Riley Sattler '10 plays rock music that Tecku describes as a mix of Jimi Hendrix and Dave Matthews Band. They have just finished recording and mixing their first album, so I was unable to form an opinion on them, but Eden's Empire will provide a worthy soundtrack for the Frisbee games and end-of-the-year fun Lutefest fosters.
This year's Lutefest boasts a much stronger lineup across the board than last year's did. While the bands center around folk, there's a little something for everyone else. So, break out the hacky sacks and Frisbees and get ready to celebrate the last Saturday before finals.