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Posted Jun 25th, 2009 (5:25 pm) by Christian Tompkins

For high school seniors across the nation, the infamous “senior project” is a daunting experience that many dread, but for Lyme-Old Lyme High School Student Frank Bombaci Jr. it was seen as the perfect way to bring music back to Connecticut’s southeastern shore. For those of you not in the know, from 1984 till 2004,, Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Connecticut hosted its own “Summer Concert Series.” Such famed acts as Willie Nelson and BB King, played blowout shows during the event’s twenty year run. Understandably, many were disappointed when these concerts ceased to run. Taking this into account, Bombaci decided end the summer concert series’ hiatus. Frank, along with his father Frank Bombaci Sr., teamed up with the Sound Music Organization, which held the proper permits for Harkness Park, and began gathering acts for the upcoming festival. Following in the tradition of previous years, the event’s organizers managed to sign national acts such as the Cool Kids, Say Anything, Horse Feathers and Clarias. In addition to the big guys, the Bring Our Music Back Festival played host to a number of local acts including the likes of Select Singers and Vivacity, who hail from Stamford, Connecticut. It should be noted that the proceeds from the event were split with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Sound Music. The festival itself was executed perfectly and though the weather was a bit rainy, the crowd’s energy never died.

The day started with the gates opening at 2:30 and the show kicking off with local high band Doctor Rocktopus and the Nunks at 4 o’clock. The first major act to take the stage was Oregon folk group Horse Feathers. The band consists of Justin Ringle and a revolving cast of string players that tour with him, as he told me, “It’s been kinda evolving, people coming in and out; I’m the only one who’s played at every show.” The follow-up to their 2008 debut will be released in the spring of 2010. Ringle and his band plan on “going back to Oregon to write and record [although admittedly, they are] are still in the planning stages.” When Horse Feathers took the stage, people were still filing in the gates, but those who were seated on the lawn at the main stage were quickly mesmerized by Ringle’s soft croon, a phenomenon only furthered by the stunning work of his string accompaniment. Their sound was beautiful and perfectly matched by the serene setting of the Long Island Sound. Horse Feathers opened their set with “Curs in the Weeds,” quiet and soft, but essentially perfect. Justin’s voice was absolutely spot-on, (so much so that many were in sort of a stunned disbelief that they were actually watching him sing live) clear, crisp, soft and beautiful. It’s important to mention the quality of his string accompaniment as well; they played flawlessly and added a different, quieter element to B.O.M.B., a contradiction of what was in store for later in the day.

The next band to play the main stage (there were 2 stages, one for the national acts and a slightly smaller adjacent one for the local groups), named Clarias, actually hailed from Old Lyme, Connecticut early on in their career, but have since moved to Boston. According to drummer and vocalist, Jordan Lipp, “we are a power-pop band… the definition of power-pop.” Clarias has opened for such world renowned artists as Kanye West and Jon Bon Jovi, but they seemed just as comfortable at B.O.M.B. as they would at Gillette Stadium. To put it simply, these guys knocked one out of the park. They were energetic, played excellently, and involved with the crowd the entire time, leaving no doubt that these Boston-based rockers are going to hit it big one of these days. As a matter of fact, Clarias chose that day to release their newest album, The Days of the Getaway (produced by Matthew Ellard (Weezer, Wilco, Eliot Smith)), and actually manned their own tent to sell copies themselves, greeting fans and newcomers alike.

As daylight started to wane, the rain came; it never poured, and most everyone there seemed quite indifferent to it. The first group that really concentrated people at the front stage to get the party going were Chicago-based hip-hop duo, The Cool Kids. They put on a great show complete with all the crowd favorites. The Cool Kids really set the bar high for crowd participation that night, even getting down with the beach ball-batting antics of the music-crazed crowd at one point during their set.

After The Cool Kids ended their show, a local 15 year old singer-songwriter named Raina Mullen took the small stage in front of a crowd of well over a thousand. She not only sang excellently, but provided for herself the only instrumental accompaniment with her guitar. Directly after, Vivacity stepped up to shred the Local Act Stage, a task, which I would like to note, they accomplished quite well. Vivacity is a unique group, with both a male and female lead vocalists/guitarists (Garrett Hickey and Maria Battinelli respectively) who play their own version of pop with audible indie, hardcore and prog rock influences. For them, B.O.M.B. was a particularly interesting experience; when I asked the band who their influences were, they named such groups as Forever The Sickest Kids, Spill Canvas and Underoath but Maria also stated “Say Anything is a band that we all like, I mean it’s amazing that we’ve been able to talk them and actually hang out with them.”

Like I mentioned earlier, Say Anything lent their musical talents to B.O.M.B. as the closing act set of the night.. And what a set it was!. For many this was the show of the evening. The crowd was packed, crowdsurfers abounded and there was quite literally, never a dull moment. The set had barely gotten underway with the bass kick from “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too”, when the crowd went positively wild. As you’d expect, almost everyone in the crowd knew the song. Max Bemis barely had to do his job. as the sound from beyond the stage nearly overshadowed that of the main speakers. Granted, Say Anything never quite got as comfortable with the crowd as The Cool Kids did, but that’s really just due to stylistic difference between the two acts. On the other hand, the crowd was certainly more friendly with Say Anything, as the folks on security actually had to push back against the divider barrier for fear of being overwhelmed by super enthusiastic fans wanting to rush the stage. As usual, Max’s voice was on point and the rest of the band played it tight and fast, a characteristic I’d like to see them display with more regularity.

As many a B.O.M.B. Festival attendee would agree, The Bombacis did an excellent job in organizing this year’s event. The festival was a great success for everyone that attended, not only did the general audience enjoy the show, but every artist that I spoke with had a wonderful time at the as well. Quite simply, everyone was taken aback by the sheer size of this senior project, as Say Anything drummer Coby Linder said “for my senior project I think I made a cardboard castle or something. This is something that I never would have even considered putting together in high school.”

In case you are interested:
B.O.M.B. Festival
Horse Feathers
Say Anything
The Cool Kids
Vivacity

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