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Bonnaroo 2011 Blog: Matthew and the Atlas

Matthew and the Atlas (credit: Dave Watts)

Matthew and the Atlas (credit: Dave Watts)

by

Anglo-American folk-rockers Matthew and the Atlas have been touring with Mumford & Sons this spring and the quintet, who've been tagged with frequent comparisons to Bon Iver, made their first appearance at the Bonnaroo Festival on Saturday night at the On Tap Lounge.

In addition to a few more Mumford & Sons shows this week and a gig co-headlining with The Head and The Heart at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 17, Matthew and the Atlas have lined up two New York performances at Mercury Lounge on June 22 and Brooklyn's The Rock Shop on June 24. A slew of UK and European festival dates follow, including the Lamer Tree Festival and Green Man Festival.

Bobbing between scrappy ballads and foot-stomping dust-ups, the band is comprised of singer and guitarist Matt Hergarty, vocalist/pianist Lindsay West, Dave Millar on accordion, drummer Thomas Field and banjo player Harrison Cargill. They have just two EPs under their belt thus far, but both releases, including the new Kingdom of Your Own, are on Communion Records, run by Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett (and also home to the terrific Michael Kiwanuka and Treetop Flyers). You can get a free download of the Matthew and the Atlas track "Deadwood" which is unreleased, but makes frequent appearances in the band's sets by signing on to their mailing list.

We thought that the Matthew and the Atlas were having a pretty remarkable June, between the Mumford & Sons tour and their Bonnaroo debut, and we asked Lindsay West if she'd document the band's Manchester, Tennessee adventures:

 

After an early start and a long drive, we arrived at the festival on golf buggies, so hot the leather seat singed me so I had to jump up and sit down again more carefully. The dust from the dried out earth drifted across the fields and into hair, eyes and mouths, and long-timers wore scarves and masks to guard against it.

We had a few hours of interviews lined up, which meant we wouldn’t have too much time to enjoy the music that was going on around us-but there were some bands we really wanted to catch. In between interviews, we slipped out into the crowd to hear a few songs from Alison Krauss, whose soft bluegrass fiddle riffs and melodies were perfect for the warmth and light that flooded the fields.

After we’d finished our run of interviews, we spent some time soaking up the sweet shade of some leafy trees near by. Then we hopped on the golf buggies again, this time to record a live session with some people from a Nashville radio station, who wanted us to play within sight of the main stage. This was a bit difficult, as there was a really loud hip-hop act playing, but we did our best and I think they got some good footage.

When we got back, we still had a couple of hours before our set, so our tour manager, Zac, got us to the side of the stage to see some of the Black Keys show. It was awesome: the guitar and drums thundered out into the crowd, who stretched right out into the distance and were going crazy for the rockin duo. We had to tear ourselves away to get to our own stage; otherwise I would have happily stayed there all night.

At 10:40pm, it was time for us to play some music. Right before we went on stage, I got to catch a glimpse of one of my heroes, Neil Young, playing with Buffalo Springfield, on the main stage behind us. As we played some of our quieter songs, we could hear the unbridled guitar solos of Young and Stills, and it was difficult not to nod along to “Rockin' in the Free World”. The crowd stayed with us through our set, though, despite the background noise, and we really enjoyed the experience.

- Lindsay West
Matthew and the Atlas


 

Matthew and the Atlas US Tour Dates:

June 12 Fox Theater, Atlanta GA*
June 14 Harrah’s Council Bluffs Council Bluffs, IA*
June 15-16 Fillmore Auditorium Denver, CO* 
June 17 Palm Theater Telluride, CO
June 22 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
June 23 World Café Live Philadelphia, PA
June 24 The Rock Shop Brooklyn, NY
June 25 Great Scott Allston, MA

(* remaining dates with Mumford & Sons)