One day in early February, two strangers at Foxy Loxy were talking about Stopover within earshot.
Both of them (I assume locals) were equally excited about the festival, but both proudly claimed they had no idea who was playing. They chatted about buying tickets, making sure they were each getting a full three-day pass. One even remarked that most of the bands aren’t even in his “wheelhouse.” He prefers brass bands like the Rebirth Brass Band, which was playing a Savannah Music Festival event that weekend.
But he also remarked that despite not knowing the bands, or even caring for most of the genres, he still finds something every year that he likes, while he follows his “nerdy” friend around the festival.
Here is what’s great about Stopover. For those really into music, this is a great festival to see, live in concert, indie or underground bands they love or have been following. For both the nerds and the neophytes (people who perhaps aren’t as interested in following the music industry on a daily basis), Stopover provides a chance at discovering a new favorite band.
For those who follow indie labels like Kanine Records or Merge, there are a number of acts from those labels this year. Surfer Blood was an incredible late addition. There are punk bands, rappers, folks singers, indie-pop bands, and on and on, as it is every year.
It’s all very fresh. Even industry stalwarts like headliners Deerhunter have a brand-new, highly acclaimed album. As Mugato would say, "Lucy Dacus is so hot right now." A number of the acts have been featured in major media outlets like NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The New York Times. Many are, as Stopover’s mantra has also always been, on the verge of breaking out.
The Beths are an incredible band from New Zealand that are not to be missed. Mike Krol is bringing girlfriend and bassist Alison Crutchfield with him. Crutchfield played solo at Stopover in 2017, and along with her twin sister Katie, form the great Waxahatchee.
Stopover is awash with new music, of what musicians are doing now — not 10 years ago, or even five years ago. It’s not, however, an ode to the Top 40, thankfully. Stopover is showcasing what young legitimate musicians are doing these days.
Some national publication once said Stopover was “South By Southwest’s (SXSW) grungy little sister.” Perhaps that was true, but SXSW isn’t what it once was and even though Stopover was founded as a stop for bands headed to the infamous gargantuan, heading into its ninth year, it’s so much more than that now.
Stopover is a solidified annual Savannah institution.
Beyond being an obvious economic and cultural asset, Stopover has increased the city's visibility within the music industry, cultivated a regional and local following and opened the door for major bookings of great bands outside the festival's three days. Mitski played solo at El-Rocko last year in part due to Stopover's influence, for example. Even some of the bands Stopover booked early on, were later booked for repeat Savannah gigs by the city's stalwart music festival, The Savannah Music Festival.
It feels now like Stopover is the Music Festival’s grungy little sister, if SMF is that refined older brother in a button-down shirt and nice slacks who likes the indie stuff, but prefers to sit down and listen to an aged Jeff Tweedy sing amazing solo songs. (That April concert will be amazing!)
Stopover is Wilco in the late 90s.
In this hyperbolic analogy, I suppose, Savannah Voice Festival would be Savannah’s very sweet grandparents. AURA Fest is that weird cousin who’s nice, but into some wild stuff. The Savannah Jazz Festival is the cool uncle, who on sultry summer nights taught you to gamble and drink.
For such a small town, it’s amazing that we have an array of different music festivals. We cover all of those in Do, because they’re great for different reasons. But they all offer incredible live music for all tastes and flavors, to adoring fans, music nerds, and tourist stragglers.
This is a great city and Stopover is now as much a part of it as any festival. So buy a ticket. See a bunch of shows. Have some fun. Find a new favorite band. Find me. Let’s talk about music.
Joshua Peacock is the Do Savannah Editor. He has no idea why. You can email him with complaints, compliments, or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.