Looking Forward to Floralia

Floralia — is it that time of year again already? Many consider it one of the highlights of their year, if they can remember what happened that day. While a significant portion of the campus population spends this time in an altered state of mind, the music remains the original, and arguably the most important, aspect of Floralia. So I decided to look into the various bands and artists who will be performing this year, as well as take a step back and try to understand how these groups come together to form a cohesive and entertaining lineup.
At precisely 11 AM, DJ Chazz Higginbotham will grace the stage to open the show. After Higginbotham’s set comes Hanging Hills, whose website claims they are an “indie-pop/folk group” based in Willimantic, CT. They have an upbeat pop sound with soothing melodies and interesting lyrics. With songs like “Ode to Olympia, WA,” about leaving the one you love and finding yourself, and “Providence,” a  song dedicated to romantic differences, Hills seem like an excellent blend of pop and folk. For the first band of the morning, they will fit the mood nicely as students hang out in the numerous tents that will take over the library green. After the soothing sounds of Hanging Hills comes Mystic Jammers, a reggae band from Providence who will tie in nicely with the previous act.
Next we have MOBROC, the longstanding student-run club that supports bands of all genres. Look for a performance by senior Liz De Lise’s band, as well as from some other MOBROC favorites. At this point, the mood in performances will shift from the calming nature of earlier artists to the driving beats from different genres of rock ‘n’ roll.
After MOBROC is Easter Island, which has a similar sound to Hanging Hills. Soft melodies are intertwined with clean and rhythmic guitar patterns and soft drums. However, Easter Island has a more traditionally indie vibe than Hills—a contradictory phrase, I admit. Their lyrics are spaced between long instrumental breaks and often repeat a single chorus or idea.  On their website, the band identifies itself as part of the genre “dream pop.” I imagine that if I fell asleep, the music of Easter Island could accompany the wandering of my unconscious mind. Easter Island will take the audience back to complement the sound of Hills from earlier in the day.
After Easter Island, The Guru will provide a much needed change of genre. They combine jazz, funk and indie rock to create a unique and interesting sound. They also incorporate a saxophone into one of their compositions, a feature that has faded away from most rock groups. The Guru manages to avoid some of the stale and dried up nature of other “indie rock groups” and creates a refreshing sound that they can truly claim as their own.
After The Guru, the campus will once again welcome back the alumni group Shake the Baron. Because of their ties to the Conn College community, Shake the Baron always gathers a crowd at Floralia. Jon Markson ’12 even came back to campus earlier this year to play a show in Abbey House. Their music, like the bands that will perform before them, is most akin to indie rock. But their ties to the music scene at Conn, upbeat songs, hard rockin’ attitude and community ties give Shake the Baron “that special something” to stand out from the crowd.
Next we have Brother Tiger, a techno/electronica group. They avoid the classic bass and snare drum beat that a fair amount of techno artists adopt as the only way to make drums sound good.  When they do have lyrics, they do not overpower the ever-present synths and drumbeats. Brother Tiger, like The Guru, has a distinctive sound that breaks the mold of the previous indie bands.
After an hour break manned by DJ Doug Bogan, Big Black Delta brings us into the last stretch of performances. Big Black Delta has synth-based backing beats. Unlike Brother Tiger, this band falls victim to the monotonous repeated bass and snare beat that unfortunately has become a staple of modern electronic music. However, their overall sound is by no means ordinary. Their combination of the vocal melody with the synths creates an ethereal quality to their music, similar to Phoenix’s “1901.”
After Delta comes Viceroy. Viceroy continues the electronica theme of the later bands. Viceroy puts more focus on the lyrics and vocal melody than the previous bands. However, behind that melody the band develops an interesting and driving beat that completes its tone. I would classify Viceroy somewhere between early MGMT and ’80s synth-pop.
Now the one we’ve all been waiting for: Chiddy Bang. Barring a repreat performance of any “freak accidents” that land one of the members of last year’s headliner, New Boyz in the hospital, Chiddy Bang will work very well as a headliner. Chiddy Bang creates nice flowing beats with clever lyrics. “Opposite of Adults” is about reaching your dreams from when you were a kid, with a remix of MGMT’s “Kids” as the beat. The group will fit the mood of Floralia perfectly, as they project a fun-loving attitude and a carefree vibe. However, they do not really blend well with the earlier acts, as they are the only rap/pop group performing. DJ Gautam Sinha ’13 will finally close the show after a long day of music.
The saying goes: “Floralia is a marathon, not a race.” The day can feel incredibly long. Luckily, SAC has created a diverse and interesting lineup to keep us entertained. The sound of indie rock groups will blast out from the morning until the early afternoon, before transitioning into upbeat electronica with a rap group as the headliner. As you go about campus taking part in the festivities, remember to pay attention to as many of the bands as you can. The opportunity to engage in an experience like Floralia for free comes only once a year.