by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out


There’s no need to bring fireworks to the Big What? this weekend (actually, just leave them at home altogether), since festival hosts the Big Something and their cohorts plan on bringing enough for everyone. The three-day Fourth of July weekend soiree that the Burlington rockers host at Possum Holler in Prospect Hill is a safe haven for the enduring vestiges of the jam scene — the fun, community-building aspects, not the seedy “Wookie playground covered in discarded balloons” kind. The Big What? has grown out of the litany of festivals that have called Possum Holler home over the past few years — Groove In the Holler, the Big Something Costume Ball, the GetDown, etc. — but this one may be the most fully-realized and accessible of them all. Each day presents a new theme and challenge for the attendees: Put on your best Tom Selleck on Thursday for the sunglasses and mustache theme, or give this Halloween’s Jon Snow costume a dry run on Saturday for the cosmic fantasy theme. If it sounds silly, it is, but if there’s ever a time to get silly, it’s during a summer weekend in the woods. This year’s lineup is bookended by the Big Something, who will kick it off on Thursday at sundown and close it out late Saturday night with branches from just about every trope the jam scene has concocted in between. Tickets are $80 at the gate only.


For those who visited the Fun Fourth Street Festival last year, the day’s events were probably best remembered as some sort of semi-lucid fever dream. A few thousand people lumbered around the 200 block of N. Elm Street two, maybe three times, amidst 90-degree temps before going home. Maybe they stopped to stare at some unremarkable trinkets for sale at a vendor’s tent, or maybe they slowed their step at Izzy & the Catastrophics’ Festival Park show to realize that not only was there no one making use of the makeshift dance floor rolled out on the grass, but there was pretty much no one “at” Festival Park, period. Fun Fourth, despite its efforts in good faith, is somewhat of a symbol of indifference. It’s been something to do, and that’s about it. Maybe it’s because the concrete, heat and sprawl make what are typically excellent bands in their own right into a collectively untenable experience, but Fun Fourth lacks soul. It’s to the point that the festival makes outlandish claims on its website to enhance interest (90,000 people expected to attend all Fun Fourth events? Really? A preposterous estimate). There is, however, a lot of potential to be found in this year’s event. The kickoff block party featuring Keller Williams with the Traveling McCourys on Wednesday is brimming with promise, but the best set of the event will come at 3:30 p.m. at the main stage. Durham chamber-folk quartet Bombadil have been strangely silent since their pretty good 2011 record All That the Rain Promises, but they primed for a major resurgence with the impending release of the quirky but startlingly great Metrics of Affection on July 23, their first on Ramseur Records. It falls on the opposite end of the color spectrum from the darker previous record, and should be a tremendous complement to their ostentatious live shows.