Piano Burning VII: Meriden Coachella

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It’s been a few years since I’ve attended any local scene shows because as you can imagine, the scene at Bucknell is basically non-existent. However, this past Saturday I revisited my glory days while attending the opus of Connecticut’s local scene: Piano Burning VII (informally known as Meriden Coachella, credit to Dagwood) at Wild Bill’s Nostalgia in Middletown, CT. As for some background, this shindig is a totally free event, largely due to vigorous fundraising, that goes on every year where a bunch of local bands play all day on a makeshift stage in a giant field. People camp out all day and night and drink and smoke to their heart’s content. Then at night, they light a bunch of old, broken pianos on fire while the headliners jam out well into the night and people absolutely lose their minds. This event has been going on for seven years now, and as you’d expect, is the must-attend for anyone in tune with the local scene. Worth noting, this year’s event was informally dedicated to Harambe. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to partake in previous years but this year, I rounded up a group of my buddies and we all made the trek out to Wild Bill’s for the show.

To say the backdrop for this concert was anything but bizarre would be a complete lie. Just check out Wild Bill’s pad:

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My buddy and I arrived around 5:20 to catch the end of Queen Moo’s set. I wish we had made it earlier to catch the entire set but we were housing some cake at a grad party, so well worth the tradeoff. At this point, there were probably less than twenty people crowded around the ‘stage’ (using this term liberally) with a bunch of people wandering around the tent city that was developing in the back of the field. From what I heard, I would definitely recommend checking this band out if you’re into surf rock. It’s really hard to describe the bands at this event but I’ll go with the tag on their band camp page: rock and roll fusion. They capture the guitar riffs of rock and roll but layer their songs with a heavier surf-rock vibe that meshes really well with their singer’s tone and lyrics. They’re on Spotify, so check them out. Personal favorite is “Cactus Romantic”, found below.

https://queenmoo.bandcamp.com/track/cactus-romantic

The next two bands that played, Big Man and Thrust, weren’t really in my wheelhouse as far as listening pleasures are concerned; however, I can respect their dedication to and enthusiasm for entertaining, and then some. I was rocking along to their tunes the whole time while trying to avoid drunken people attempting to start a pit. Although I’m sure it was pure chance these two bands played right after one another, you’ve gotta wonder whether or not this was intentional. They were both hardcore bands where you could barely understand the singer but you know damn well that he was pissed off about something.

Both of the singers decided that the stage wasn’t for them and immersed themselves in the crowd as they gasped for air between verses and walked around causing havoc. I saw the singer of the second band earlier in the day and thought he was someone’s dad but before I knew it, he was screaming into the mic while spraying the crowd with a squirt gun full of warm beer, quite the turn of events. The vocals as a whole were hard to decipher, but the instrumentals for both bands were pretty solid. Both had really crunchy guitar riffs with heavy basslines and some killer drumming. In true hardcore spirit, the sets lasted approximately twenty minutes and the whole band looked like they may have died if they hadn’t crushed a few brews before they went on. At this point the crowd had grown to maybe fifty people but the best was yet to come.

The next act that came on was my personal favorite for the day, Dagwood. Dagwood is a punk band from Cheshire, Connecticut and were one of the more mellow and not utterly ridiculous acts of the day. This set brought me back to my high school days of binging pop punk and insisting that all the songs were basically written about my, what I perceived to be, unfortunate existence. Anyways, I had seen these guys a few times prior and they delivered once again. I’ll be the first to admit there’s nothing extremely unique about Dagwood’s sound when compared to other punk and pop punk bands; however, theses dudes have jammable progressions and catchy lyrics that make them an overall enjoyable act. They’re all personable and have witty stage banter that make them all the more entertaining and are clearly doing this because they love making music which is always admirable. Interestingly, this band was actually formed by past members of some of the other acts that played the event (a little bit of local scene history coming atchu). Overall, definitely give them a listen. Check out one of my personal favorite tunes here:

https://dagwoodct.bandcamp.com/track/lame-night

In addition to playing a killer set, Dagwood also aired an absolutely hilarious video about ‘The Circus’ that you should really check out. It’s actually ridiculous, to say the least. You can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edk_jJ72VhE

After Dagwood played their set and unveiled their cinematic masterpiece that if you haven’t watched at this point, please stop reading and do so for the love of all things music, it was time to ‘get lit’. A terrible joke I know, but now was when they decided to light up the pianos and give everyone what they had been waiting for. The pianos were stacked in the middle of a dirt lot and laced with fireworks that periodically went off and nearly injured the people that were drunkenly running around the fire. All things considered, no one got hurt and there wasn’t a single fire marshal in sight… hmmmm. Overall, the lighting was pretty rad and the music resumed as the fire continued to rage. I had to leave at this point because I’m basically a grandfather and had to hit the hay, but based on the drone footage in the link below everything seemed to be pretty awesome for the rest of the night.

https://www.facebook.com/johnkritzmanphotography/videos/vb.101554623621/10154328973388622/?type=2&theater

For a free event, this concert definitely blew me away. I can confidently say this isn’t for everyone because at times even I felt out of place, but all and all, well worth the experience. It’s basically CTs ripoff of Coachella and Burning Man, so if you can’t afford to go to either, this will suffice. I’m sure this will happen again next year, so if you’re in the area, come on out and find me so we can jam.

Images via themeparkreview.com and roadsideamerica.com.