Reflecting on Electric Forest 2014 brings back memories of mystical occurrences, mind blowing shows, and mass amounts of positive vibes. While many may be talking about The String Cheese Incident, or perhaps maybe even Flying Lotus, there is one lesser-known group that deserves to be talked about: Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. They performed, hands-down, one of the most powerful sets of the weekend.
Wiping up a flavorful mix of blues, rock, funk, jazz, and a hearty dose of soul. Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds command The Forest stage on Saturday afternoon June 28th, their set came with an in-your-face attitude and masterful musicianship. It was a quaint stage nestled beneath the pine trees in the northeast corner of the venue, decorated with an elegant blue curtain, gold candlestick chandelier, and a backdrop that looked like the hallway of a fancy palace.
Given the early evening set time, the crowd was lackluster, but the lack of enthusiasm did not prevent Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds from performing at 110% and rocking well past 11 (Spinal Tap reference). Their performance was straight from the heart and it was clear that they let nothing hold them back.
Beginning with an original song entitled “The Long Way” the group’s guitarist, Sasha Brown, started a twisting guitar lick. His tone was crisp with a hint of distortion. The guitar line was held under control, yet poised to peak at any moment. Eventually drummer Bram Kincheloe joined in with a steady bass drum build-up. The rest of the band accompanied the bass drum hits by clapping along.
“Please clap along with us,” Arleigh Kincheloe, The groups singer, addressed the crowd.
When everyone was clapping, the group propelled into the tune, unleashing their groovy spell upon the audience.
At one point the brass section – which consisted of Baritone saxophonist Brian Graham and trumpeter Phil Rodriquez – came in with a sound straight off the streets of New Orleans. Graham’s bari Sax produced a rich, velvety bass tone while Rodriquez used a plunger mute to produce the squawking wah-wahs associated with the dirty blues. Rodriquez eventually ditched the mute and began to serenade the crowd with a soulful vocal like trumpet solo. Graham also added tasteful high hat hits for a few measures before launching the band into the next piece. Launching is no understatement either; the band literally jumped into the piece.
Sparrow and the Dirty bird’s crowd was radiating positivity throughout the whole set. One individual placed a bubble-blowing contraption on the stage- a simple act that produced a mass amount of bubbles, but also produced a mass amount of smiles. Those smiles, along with the soothing grooves of Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds sent the crowd to another level of positivity.
Pulling out what would be the musical equivalent of a rabbit in a hat, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds performed a combination of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”. Arleigh’s vocals and harmonica player Jackson Kincheloe’s blazing harmonica solo gave Led Zeppelin a run for their money.
Sister Sparrows and the Dirty Bird’s set has left its mark. When the show ended singer Arleigh Kincheloe stayed on stage to speak with the crowd, shake hands, accept compliments, and thank those who stuck around. The gesture was one of a truly caring musician. Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds delivered a set full of mind-blowing musicianship and massive amounts of positive vibes.