CINCINNATI — Indie rock giants The National returned to their stomping grounds to host the inaugural two-day Homecoming music festival this weekend at Smale Park with Feist, Big Thief, Father John Misty as well as other emerging rock and alternative artists.
Along with Wilco, Bon Iver and The Decemberists, The National is part of a growing wave of indie rock artists who are curating their own music festivals for fans. It’s a way to provide music lovers with a more intimate experience in comparison to the larger likes of Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Homecoming truly felt like The National had returned to their roots with two special performances each night. Saturday’s set featured selections from “Sleep Well Beast,” “Trouble Will Find Me,” “High Violet” and “Alligator.” Sunday’s set featured 2007’s “Boxer” in its entirety and the debut of the band’s newest song, “Light Years.”
Bryce and Aaron Dessner also treated fans to a special performance at the Cincinnati Masonic Center Friday night to demonstrate their guitar prowess as part of Red Bird Hollow and celebrate the release of German electronic duo Mouse on Mars’ latest album, “Dimensional People.”
Lisa Hannigan, Spank Rock, Sam Amidon and Kristin Anna joined the Dessner twins and Mouse on Mars to kick off the first night of the festival.
Fans also enjoyed riveting performances by Lord Huron, Julien Baker, Future Islands, Moses Sumney, Alvvays and other talented artists.
The Motor City indie pop-rock singer-songwriter, aka Maggie Cocco, digs deep and gets personal on her new nine-song double EP, “Love & Life,” which drops June 1.
On “Love & Life,” Cocco’s inspirational lyrics and soulful, powerhouse voice are reminiscent of Carole King, Patti Smith, Kelly Clarkson and Emmylou Harris rolled into one. Her richly-layered songs unravel relatable situations for fans who have experienced the trials and tribulations of life and love.
Cocco is releasing her first single, “I See You,” today from her upcoming double EP. “I See You” brings an acoustic foot-stompin’, finger-snappin’ tale of an unexpected love facing personal triumph despite life’s ongoing challenges.
“‘Love’s four heartfelt songs explore infatuation, confidence, insecurity, frustration, anger and loss as it pertains to romantic love. I was inspired to draw personally from my own love life and pulled a ‘Taylor Swift’ of sorts,” said Maggie Cocco, who formed Science for Sociopaths in 2016. With ‘Life,’ I dealt with the deep stuff bordering on existential. Everything from self-love and being our best selves to life’s toughest questions and big decisions. It’s real, and so sometimes it’s dark, but it’s always hopeful.”
Together, Ana Gomulka (music, lyrics, vocals, guitar and keys), Taylor Greenshields (drums and percussion), Ian Griffiths (bass and vocals), Andrea Holther-Cruz (keys and vocals) and Leo James Willer (live painting) are introducing their talents to a growing Motor City audience.
Gomulka attributes the band’s smooth sound to their longtime love of past and present jazz, soul and funk singers and musicians, including Esperanza Spalding, Sharon Jones, Kneebody and Hiatus Kaiyote.
“When we first started this band, I don’t think any of us were like let’s make jazzy music. When I was young, I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan because that’s what my parents played,” she said. “So when I sang people would be like, ‘Oh you sound like Sarah Vaughan or something like that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t even trying to sound like her.’ I think that’s where our jazzy sound comes from. It’s just what comes out.”