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'Lonesome no more': Granfalloon brings together music and Vonnegut



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Durand Jones leans back as he sings May 11 during "Granfalloon: Outdoor Music Fest" at Upland Brewing Co. Jones sings in Durand Jones and The Indications. Annie Aguiar Buy Photos

Trying to stay dry underneath umbrellas and the hoods of raincoats, concertgoers braved hours of rain Saturday for the Granfalloon Outdoor Music Fest at Upland Brewing Co.

It rained throughout the entire concert, which was part of “Granfalloon: A Kurt Vonnegut Convergence.” The festival, which was started last year by the IU Arts and Humanities Council, is a celebration of the life and work of Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut.

The festival is named for the term “granfalloon,” which comes from Vonnegut’s 1963 novel “Cat’s Cradle.” A granfalloon is defined as “a proud and meaningless association of human beings.”

Events leading up to Saturday’s concert included a talk with author Dave Eggers at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Friday, concerts at the Bluebird Nightclub and the Bishop, dramatic adaptations of Vonnegut’s work presented by Cardinal Stage and more.

Vonnegut’s work was present at Saturday’s concert, which had the overarching theme of connection as a banner on the stage included the words “Lonesome no more.”

In the Vonnegut novel “Slapstick,” he designs a system of artificial extended families to combat loneliness. Attendees to the Outdoor Music Fest were given buttons assigning them to different families, with names such as Daffodil and Chickadee. Hugging upon discovering familial ties was encouraged.

The concert’s opening act was Durand Jones & The Indications, a soul band originally started as a side project among some students at the Jacobs School of Music. The band played on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” back in March, the same month its debut album “American Love Call” was released.

“We are Durand Jones & the Indications, and it’s so good to be home, baby,” frontman and lead vocalist Durand Jones said after the band took the stage.

The crowd danced as the band played some of its original songs including the slow and wistful “Is It Any Wonder” and funkier songs such as “Smile.” The group also covered “Apache (Jump On It)" from The Sugarhill Gang, with Jones on the saxophone.

During the set, Jones called out Dan Coleman, founder and president of Spirit of ’68 Promotions. Coleman was the first person to ever book them for a show in 2014, after making the band promise that it wasn't going to mess it up.

“And look where we are now,” Jones said.

New York City punk rock band Parquet Courts played next, performing songs such as “Total Football” and “Wide Awake.” The crowd headbanged and jumped around, even as the rain came down harder and harder as the concert continued.

“I don’t know why people don’t know about Bloomington,” vocalist and guitarist Andrew Savage said. “More tours are going to come through here because of this enthusiasm. We should tell our friends and fellow professional musicians.”

“I’m gonna drop a pin, I’m gonna drop a pin right here,” bassist Sean Yeaton said. “Check out this little town Bloomington.”

“Come in the summer,” one audience member said. “Avoid the students!”

The final act was singer-songwriter Neko Case, known for being a part of Canadian indie rock band The New Pornographers and from her own seven solo albums.

Jada Bee, who introduced Case, read out loud part of an NPR piece written by Talia Schlanger in July 2018 to describe her voice.

“’Neko Case's voice sounds like it originates from the belly of Mother Earth herself. In her music, you can hear the roots of trees, the wisdom of ancient warrior bones, the shift of tectonic plates, molten lava and placid water,’” she read. “What else is there to say?”

Case performed in front of an orange light, creating a glowing effect as it surrounded her red hair. She wore a zipped up gray sweatshirt with skeleton-print leggings. She said she was using the sweatshirt to cover up her rock star outfit.

“For confidence,” she told the audience.

The performance had a strict no recording policy for the audience so its members could enjoy the experience of live music. They swayed and some sang along as Case performed songs such as “Bad Luck” and “Last Lion of Albion.”

“Wish I could stand in the spray of the cliff of your sweet revenge,” she sang in the latter. “Ocean of naked serrated marble crushing in.”

One of the songs Case performed features an extended scream. All at once, the audience and Case shrieked together into the rainy evening.

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