Rock 'N' Roll takes over day five of Common Ground

Saturday’s Common Ground lineup drew from an eclectic lineup to congregate around a classic standby — good old rock 'n' roll.

Opening the afternoon was the psych-rock outfit Chappo, a band that encapsulated the day’s lineup with a set that alternated between airy and uptempo but whose sounds always remained expansive.

Chappo was followed on the festival’s main stage by New York City-based group Jukebox the Ghost, crafting almost gratingly pleasant tunes a mother would approve of, to the audience’s pleasure.

Jessalyn Tamez / The State News

Things took a drastic turn toward the strange when The Orwells took the GM Pavilion Stage. The young quintet from outside Chicago ripped through through a raw, hard-charging set of songs from the young quintet’s first two albums, eliciting perhaps the most authentic and enigmatic performance of the evening.

Guitarist Matt O’Keefe said the band's oddball performances are part of the group's identity.

“We’ve subscribed to the theory that on record you’re musicians and then on stage you’re performers,” O’Keefe said.

Vocalist Mario Cuomo stepped on stage in a persona entirely beyond definition to deliver a performance that was at turns charismatic and disturbing, yet never stopped being entertaining.

“I hate when bands are just like ‘How are you doing tonight?’ I’d almost rather f*** with them and change it up. I’m just trying to do what feels good to me,” Cuomo said. “That’s definitely not how I am when I chill with people.”

While The Orwells walked on stage almost 20 minutes late for their set, Dr. Dog had taken the main stage and brought out a figurative ray of sunshine on the otherwise overcast day with their uplifting repertoire. 

Until that point, the clouds had also been accompanied with intermittent rain, but Dr. Dog’s positive vibes managed to bring festival-goers out of the woodwork as the first substantial crowd of the day coalesced.

Shortly afterward, attendance appeared to finally reach a significant number for sets by Detroit-area natives Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and X Ambassadors both exist in the hazy space between rock and a plethora of other genres. 

Suffice to say both performances employed saxophones and synthesizers, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s performance brought a healthy crown to the GM pavilion stage with their accessible pop melodies.

The evening’s headliner Fitz and The Tantrums took accessibility to the extreme delving head-first into cross-genre territory with the day’s most radio-friendly set, much to the pleasure of the large audience.

The People’s Temple, based in Lansing, closed the evening on the Sparrow stage. Despite having a drum disabled by a faulty pedal, the quintet moved fast through a set that brought many different styles of rock together.

“We’re always changing how we sounds, I’m not sure if it’s intentional or unintentional,” Bassist and Lansing resident Spencer Young said. “It just kind of happens.”

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