Norfolk's ETC Indie Music and Arts Festival didn't attract an enormous crowd to Town Point Park on Saturday, but hundreds of music fans got to enjoy tuneful, passionate underground music on a sparkling fall afternoon.
Good Old War, a Philadelphia trio that plays indie music with a refreshing lack of pretentiousness, romanced the crowd with three-part vocal harmonies, quirky tunes and a friendly, folky attitude.
The ballad "Amazing Eyes" radiated warmth. "Better Weather" delivered a message of optimism wrapped up in a happy, jangly package. An unexpected (and surprisingly credible) version of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat" spread smiles and when by the time group played a Crosby, Stills and Nash cover toward the end of its set, it seemed to make total sense.
In today's alternative world, punky jaggedness has been replaced by acoustic softness. In the case of Good Old War, that's not a bad thing.
It did make it more surprising that the night's headliner Delta Spirit didn't go near an acoustic guitar during its entire performance.
The Brooklyn-by-way-of-California band played high-energy, amped up versions of the songs from its three independent albums. Inhabiting a zone somewhere between Neil Young and U2, the group built strong grooves and topped them with thick layers of ringing, effects-laden electric guitars.
I've admired the band's records, but I wasn't prepared for the celebratory mood Deltal Spirit created on stage. "That was fun!" singer Matt Vasquez shouted after the band finished a raucous version of its catchy tune "Trashcan."
It was a blast for the crowd, too.