7:15 p.m.: It's the first night of the much anticipated Savannah Stopover Music Festival and I'm already running late to catch the opening act of the night - indie folk-pop duo Good Graeff - because I've misplaced my VIP wristband. Did I drop it when I put my badge on while walking to the Knights of Columbus on West Liberty? Did I leave it at home? I hurriedly jump back into my car and drive home and scour my apartment - and it's nowhere to be found. Great. This is no way to start the night. I rush back to find my parking spot. It has to be here somewhere. I retrace my steps. There it is plain as day laying smack in the middle of the sidewalk. I promise myself to do better than this.
7:45 p.m.: Knights of Columbus is already packed just as twin sisters Brooke and Brit Graeff are leaving the stage. By all accounts they played a phenomenal set. Everyone who's anyone seems to be here. The crowd is pumped and primed for a great night. Kayne Lanahan, the mastermind behind Stopover, takes the stage to announce the winners of the juried band poster exhibition and everyone gives the winners an enthusiastic round of applause. I find DO editor Heather Henley posted up at a table near the back of the room hovered over her iPad, smartphone in hand, furiously tweeting and posting events of the night. Festival sponsors Lagunitas Brewing Company (a personal favorite) has a selection of beers offered at the bar nearby. I grab a beer. Now we're good. I'm ready for St. Paul & The Broken Bones, the band everyone here seems to have come to see.
8:10 p.m.: St. Paul & The Broken Bones take the stage to much rejoicing. The seven smartly dressed young men from Birmingham, Ala., are quickly becoming the darlings of the music press, for good reason. Their old-school brand of soul brings comparisons to the likes of Otis Redding and Al Green and as soon as singer Paul Janeway starts belting out his deeply heartfelt lyrics with the intensity and conviction of a charismatic preacher trying to save souls on Sunday, you realize the comparisons aren't hyperbole. These guys are the real deal. Janeway explains that he grew up in the church, which is where some of his intensity comes from, and he and his band play with such an overwhelmingly deep vintage soul sound -- drums rumbling and horn section blasting -- that they nearly blow the roof off the Knights of Columbus auditorium. No one in the crowd is left unmoved.
9 p.m.: Everyone is being shooed out of the building so they can re-boot the venue for the 21+ crowd. L.A.-based band Incan Abraham is scheduled to perform next. Their sound is somewhere in the vein of Animal Collective, but I want to mix it up a little so I find Stopover talent director Peter Robaudo and see if he'll divulge who's playing the "secret show" over at the Artist Lounge in the former Sparetime building. No dice. He gives me a tantalizing hint, but won't tell me the band. Fair enough. I'll have to find out for myself. But not before another beer.
9:30 p.m.: I enter the former Sparetime space that's now acting as the Stopover Artist Lounge and VIP hub. The band playing is comprised simply of one guy beating a floor tom illuminated by a bright light inside it and one guy thrashing it out mightily on a feedback-heavy guitar. I didn't catch their name, but it wasn't quite my style. No worries though. That's the beauty of the festival. If something doesn't catch your fancy, you can always move on to something else. I go up to the second floor and grab a free Lagunitas IPA from the open bar, mill around a bit, then go up to the third floor to yet another lounge. One of the owners explains to me their plans after Stopover, which includes using the sprawling three floors to hold various events and exhibitions in the coming months. Just last week, they hosted Seersucker Live, the excellent local reading series, and they have much more planned. Exciting stuff. But I'm here for music, so I have to move on. Maybe just one more Lagunitas.
10 p.m.: Decisions, decisions. People are already buzzing about both the Wye Oak and Future Islands shows later in the evening, so I'm trying to plan my attack. I consider walking over to Hang Fire to catch a bit of Team Spirit, a glam/garage rock outfit from Brooklyn, but end up heading to Club One to check out Philly-based psych-pop rockers Weekender. Unfortunately, my plans are thwarted by some band delays, so I decide to cut my losses after waiting for probably too long and end up going back over to Knights of Columbus to hear another Brooklyn-based act, the post-punk, somewhat whimsical Bear Hands.
10:50 p.m.: The romping gusto of Bear Hands is in full effect and they're bouncing along to their single "Crime Pays" while the hipster infused audience of SCAD alumni rocks along with them. The crowd is admittedly a bit thinner than before, but the music is cranked and the extra decibels fill in the empty space. I step a little farther away from the speakers for the good of my hearing and grab another beer while waiting on the next act, Wye Oak.
11:30 p.m.: People have been filtering in constantly in anticipation of the shoegaze/new-folk duo Wye Oak and as the band takes the stage, the energy in the room ratchets up considerably. Wye Oak tears through their set of beautifully hazy, noisy dream-pop with abandon and the crowd is right there with them. Their show is definitely one of the highlights of the evening so far. I try not to think of the bands I wanted to see, but missed due to some hard choices (Weekend, J. Roddy Walston & The Business). After the rhythmic dust settles, I head over to the last show of the night, the one people are buzzing about just as much as Wye Oak: Future Islands at Club One.
12:15 a.m.: The audience is amassing, but the entire crowd hasn't quite arrived, so I go over to find a place close to the stage. I unexpectedly catch Future Islands' lead singer Samuel Harring at the bar and tell him how much I'm looking forward to the show. I compliment his buzz-worthy performance on David Letterman just a few days earlier and he's as kind and gracious as one might expect (their lyrics are deeply sincere poetic odes to personal change and heartbreak in many cases). I meet up with Savannahnow.com web producer Janay Kingsberry and photographer Adriana Iris Boatwright and we post up on a riser next to the stage for a good vantage point. We're joined by First Friday Art March manager Steven Miller and his significant other, Max, and we proceed to hoot and stomp when Future Islands finally take the stage.
12:40 a.m.: The room is packed to the rafters and people are crowded around the small stage and engulfing the bar at Club One. The energy is electric. Harring careens across the tiny stage, bringing a largeness to the space that makes it feel much bigger than it is. His voice is commanding and soothing at the same time. Future Islands quite nearly brings the house down with their performance and the crowd eats it up. It's easy to get carried away in this atmosphere. The exchange between audience and performers is so intimate and sincere, you almost feel like you'll be carried away by it all. It's a blissful feeling. Harring reaches out to the audience and gets the full weight of his energies returned in spades. Who wants another drink? I'm buying. I don't really have the money to be buying everyone drinks, but who cares. I want this moment to last forever. But of course, it never does. After a blistering and profoundly moving performance, Future Islands leaves the stage, only to come back and play an encore due to the deafening pleas of the crowd. Maybe the moment won't last forever, but at least it'll last a little bit longer. Later in the night, Adriana will helpfully give me a ride home because I imbibed entirely too much Lagunitas, and tomorrow, I'll haplessly try to figure out where I parked my car, but right now it doesn't matter. The moment is perfect. Thank you, Future Islands, and thank you, Stopover, for a great beginning to a great festival!