Skip to content Skip to footer

Live Review: Out & About Festival @ Wolf Trap — 6/22/24

On the hottest day of the year (so far), dedicated music fans recently headed to Wolf Trap to celebrate Pride at the Out & About Festival. The music started at 3pm with Be Steadwell at the Meadow Stage, followed by NOVA guitar virtuoso Yasmin Williams and the Cuban-Canadian duo Okan. Things moved to the Woods Stage for a set by Tiny Desk Contest winner Quinn Christopher, then returned to the Meadow Stage for a high-energy set by the band Lawrence. 

At Wolf Trap on June 22, the evening’s performances took place at the main stage of the Filene Center, beginning with a 40-minute set by Kim Gordon, who was the bassist in the no-wave band Sonic Youth from their founding in 1981 until their dissolution 30 years later. Interestingly, when Gordon joined Sonic Youth, at the age of 27, she had never played an instrument; she came to music by way of the New York City visual art scene. Her own music incorporates some of the elements used by that band, like distortion and dissonance, with a heavier emphasis on beats borrowed from hip-hop. By virtue of their composition, it can be difficult to recognize her songs, but she definitely played “I’m A Man,” “It’s Dark Inside,” and “Shelf Warmer.”

Watch the official music video for “I’m a Man” by Kim Gordon on YouTube:

The heat during this set was still punishing; the National Weather Service’s heat advisory was in effect until 8pm. When Gordon finished playing, ushers made their way through the audience, passing out cold packs, which were very welcome. The heat depressed attendance; the person next to me mentioned how several of her friends had turned down her intivation to attend because of it. Even in the covered pavilion, it was still quite uncomfortable.

Fortunately, during Jenny Lewis’s set, the sun went down, and it finally began to cool off a bit. Lewis is a former actress, and her theatrical bent was clear. She flexed her biceps while she sang her first number, “The Big Guns.” During one of her songs, she stood on a riser that blowed into her dress, causing it to billow like Marilyn Monroe’s skirt in the famous scene from Some Like It Hot. Later, the phone on the stage rang, and she answered a call from her beloved dog, Bobby Rhubarb. The two had a conversation, and Bobby Rhubarb told Jenny to tell one of the best dad jokes I’ve heard in a while: “Why was it so hot at the Grateful Dead show? Because their fans don’t work.” As her set was coming to an end, balloons were released into the audience. Jenny clearly enjoyed herself: “We’re having a blast,” she said.

While her set had fun and silliness, it also packed a real emotional punch, especially on the closing number, “Acid Tongue,” for which her band gathered around a single mic to sing tender harmony vocals. Introducing “Rise Up (With Fists),” she mentioned how she was in a band called Rilo Kiley when, in 2006, one of her friends, Conner Oberst, approached her to make a solo album. She said she wasn’t sure how to write an album as a solo singer-songwriter as opposed to a member of a band, but Oberst told her to just write and cut 10 songs and he’d make into an album. Made with the duo The Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat was released that year. Two years later, Lewis released Acid Tongue, followed by The Voyager, dealt with the death of her father, in 2014, On The Line in 2018, and her most recent album, Joy’All, which was written during the pandemic and came out last year. “Little White Dove,” from On The Line, was an obvious nod to the late Prince.

Watch the official music video for “Rise Up (With Fists!!)” by Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins on YouTube:

Jenny’s set also included “She’s Not Me,” “Psychos,” “Do Si Do,” “Joy’All,” “Heads Gonna Roll,” “Cherry Baby,” “Slipper Slopes,” “Aloha & The 3 Johns,” “Puppy & A Truck,” “Late Bloomer,” “Red Bull & Hennessy,” and “Just One of the Guys.”

Brittany Howard played the last set of the night. Though she’s been playing music since her teens, Howard first achieved prominence as the lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, who fused southern soul with garage rock. Their 2012 debut, Boys & Girls, was certified platinum, they were nominated for the Grammy Awards for Best Artist and Best Rock Performance at the following year’s ceremony. The Shakes’ second album, Sound & Color, debuted at No. 1 when it was released in 2015. On the strength of the album, they earned four more Grammy nominations, winning Best Alternative Album, and taking home Best Rock song and performance for “Don’t Wanna Fight.”

For all the success of the Alabama Shakes, Howard was creatively restless, and pursued the side projects Thunderbitch and Bermuda Triangle, which explored rockabilly and alt-country, respectively. In 2019, she released her solo debut, Jaime, named for the older sister who passed away when Brittany was in her early teens. The album leaned even harder into the funk influences that had already been present with the Shakes. The lead-off track, “What Now,” won a Grammy for Best Rock Song. Howard’s set included a number of pieces from the record: “History Repeats,” “Presence,” “Baby,” “Goat Head,” “13th Century Metal,” and “Stay High.”

Watch the official music video for “Stay High” by Brittany Howard on YouTube:

Earlier this year, Howard released her latest album, What Now. Her set kicked off with the album’s first track, “Earth Sign,”  followed the next song on the record, “I Don’t.” Howard’s performance included several more numbers from the album: “Red Flags,” “Samson,” “Prove It To You,” “Every Color In Blue,” “To Be Still,” “Patience,” and closed with “Power To Undo.”

Howard has a powerful, dynamic voice, and it was front and center during her set. It was a fitting, powerful end to a long, hot day of great music, which was thoroughly enjoyed by those who dared to come out.

Here are some photos of the Out and About Festival 2024 at Wolf Trap! All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.

Be Steadwell


DSC_1460-2

 

Brittany Howard

BRITTANY HOWARD
DSC_3406-2
DSC_4047-2
DSC_4120-3

 

Scenes around the festival

DSC_1664-2
DSC_1894-2

 

Kim Gordon

DSC_2031-2
DSC_2392-2
DSC_2495-2
KIM GORDON

 

Jenny Lewis

DSC_2627
DSC_2646-2
DSC_3177-2
JENNY LEWIS

 

Yasmin Williams

DSC_3812-2
YASMIN WILLIAMS

 

Other artists!

DSC_3942-2
DSC_4462-2
Lawrence Band
LAWRENCE
OKAN
Quinn Christopherson (2)
Quinn Christopherson