The inaugural Daze Between New Orleans came to a close on Wednesday with a second straight day of sweet sounds and sunshine at Faubourg Brewery. With word rapidly spreading about the new party going on across town following a memorable opening day on Tuesday, fans came out in numbers on day two, filling the lush Faubourg lawn with new life while never sacrificing its free-flowing, easy-going ambiance.
The early hours of Wednesday afternoon provided a potent mix of quintessential New Orleans energy to set the tone for the day (and weekend) to come. First up was The Rumble ft. Chief Joseph Boudreaux, a recently formed project from the minds behind the Grammy-nominated Cha Wa. The colorful outfit expertly blended the Mardi Gras Indian funk tradition with a brass-forward approach and an ear toward contemporary music to serve up the kind of lunchtime performance that’s only served in the Crescent City.
Keeping the focus on the music of New Orleans, Rebirth Brass Band opened the main stage next with a blast of Big Easy brass as the temperature pushed toward 90 degrees. The revered, long-running NOLA collective was undeterred by the beating sun, matching the brutal heat with a red-hot performance of its own as fans took up spots along Faubourg’s tree-lined pond to watch or popped over to the Rex Foundation charity dunk tank to cool off.
Yet another local staple, the Honey Island Swamp Band, continued the afternoon’s musical tour of New Orleans on the second stage before the six funky explorers known as Lettuce took to the main stage for a rare day set. The band was in its element throughout the 75-minute dance party, taking every opportunity to experiment and extend its reach to new sonic planes. Saxophonist Ryan Zoidis shined early and often, dropping the anchor way out in deep waters with inventive solos and beckoning the band to swim out and meet him.
Midway through the set, Nigel Hall stepped to the mic to introduce Nick Daniels III for a run through “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, the collaborative reimagining of The Clark Sisters‘ 1979 track set to appear on Lettuce’s new LP, Unify. After showing love to Dr. Klaw, the Jazz Fest-born supergroup featuring Daniels and several Lettuce members, the Dumpstaphunk bassist/vocalist ceded the stage to the Lett sextet for yet another hip-hop-infused, jazz-funk journey highlighted by Adam Deitch‘s artful breakbeats and Zoidis’s vast palette of synthesized sax sounds. The guests couldn’t stay away for long, however, as Butcher Brown‘s DJ Harrison quietly made his way onstage to bolster Hall’s work on the organ.
The day’s penultimate act, NOLA quartet The Iceman Special, was quick to point out the joys of a mid-week festival (“It’s Wednesday,” they heckled knowingly. “Don’t you people have jobs?”) before towing the crowd back out into the swamp for a high-energy set of down-and-dirty rock and roll. While The Iceman Special has long maintained a fervent following in New Orleans, performances like this one—a fusion of NOLA grit and Widespread Panic-like, jam-rock intensity—are bound to expand this band’s reach across the rest of the country.
As the sun began to set, The String Cheese Incident took the stage for a two-set, headlining performance. The band wasted no time getting into the nitty-gritty, launching into an opening “Missin’ Me” that waded through a deep “Daze Jam”. A watery, organ-forward, heavily improvised “Black Clouds” provided a landing pad as well as an opportunity for the band to tip its hat to the Big Easy sound within its bluegrass foundation. The homages to the week’s locale continued later in the set as the band took a rendition of “Born On The Wrong Planet” on a detour through The Meters‘ “Cissy Strut”.
The band returned for its fourth and final set of the weekend with charismatic vocalist Lyle Divinsky in tow, continuing the string of unannounced guests that has highlighted this new event. After leading the band through “Get To You”, the collaborative cut with the vocalist culled from a 2018 session at the SCI Sound Lab, Divinsky ceded the spotlight to Bill Nershi who kick-started a barreling rendition of “I Know You Rider”. This uptempo reading found some space between choruses for a Bob Marley “Stir It Up” interlude, ensuring that the vibes remained high.
Excellent tellings of “World Gone Crazy” (with lyrical nods to New Orleans), Talking Heads‘ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”, and bluegrass classic “How Mountain Girls Can Love” cemented the remainder of the set was a well-earned victory lap after a festival that is sure to become a staple of the “daze between” Jazz Fest weekends for years to come.
A portion of all proceeds from the event benefitted the festival’s charitable partner, Rex Foundation, the Grateful Dead-founded organization that writes grants to small nonprofits doing great work in the arts, sciences, education, environment, indigenous culture, and social justice. In the spirit of the season, Rex Foundation is directing all charitable funds generated during the festival to New Orleans-based organizations. While the festival’s virtual auction has now ended, fans can still donate to the cause directly by texting DAZE to (202) 858-1233 or heading here.
Scroll down to check out the String Cheese Incident’s setlist and full-day photo galleries from Wednesday’s festivities at the inaugural Daze Between New Orleans festival via Dylan Langille (ontheDL), Angela Ricciotti (Wild Muse Media), Courtney Scout (Scout It Out Media), and Dave Vann.
Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | Daze Between New Orleans | Faubourg Brewery | New Orleans, LA | 5/4/22
Set One: Missin’ Me > Daze Jam > Black Clouds, Born On The Wrong Planet > Cissy Strut > Born On The Wrong Planet, Pygmy Pony, Rain, Into The Blue, Restless Wind
Set Two: Get To You*, I Know You Rider > Stir It Up > I Know You Rider, World Gone Crazy, Gone Crooked, Hi Ho No Show, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) > Just One Story
Encore: Barstool > How Mountain Girls Can Love
See below for a full list of Live For Live Music’s upcoming Fest by Nite New Orleans concerts and events. For more information and ticketing details, head here.