What began with a stellar performance by Moondog Matinee at Cargo ended with Con Brio at the same venue on Sunday, Nov 8.
The first-ever Off Beat Music Festival was a monstrous success, featuring 90 bands, DJs, and artists at 13 venues throughout Reno. Con Brio’s closing performance marked not only the end of Reno’s first legitimate festival but what could possibly be the beginning of the area’s reputation as an arts mecca. The team that spearheaded the project, Baldo Bobadilla, Remi Jourdan, Loren Codron and Flip Wright, took the stage before Con Brio to express their gratitude and briefly discuss the festival’s future.
“This year was good,’ Wright said, “but next year is going to be so much better,” echoing the sentiments of all in attendance.
All weekend, music-hungry locals and travelers alike moved from venue to venue seeing their soon-to-be-favorite, up-and-coming acts. The true beauty of the festival was in its ability to bring all facets of the scene together and tout a sense of inclusiveness that this arts community had never before seen.
The Reno rock five-piece kicked off the festival the only way it knows how: viciously. Over the years, Moondog has created a reputation for itself as the most exciting band to watch in the area and frontman Peter Barnato did not disappoint as he wailed, squirmed and gyrated his way through a set of blues-rock tunes.
The Soft White Sixties
San Francisco favorite the Soft White Sixties brought their slinky rock sound to Cargo on Thursday night and did not disappoint. Songs such as “City Lights,” “Lemon Squeezer,” and “Up To The Light” showcased the band as an amalgam of the Black Keys and the Arctic Monkeys with sticky hooks and classic instrumentation. They were tight, electric and an absolutely perfect addition to the Off Beat lineup.
Over the last five or so years, Mojo Green has become a staple in Reno’s funk scene. With its relentlessly funky songs and magnetic lead singer, Jenes Carter, the group has become one of the area’s premier party bands and proved why at Cargo on Sunday. The band’s closing song, “Triple Shot,” brought the house down and served as an excellent reminder of the high quality of talent we have here in Reno. The three-piece horn section, combined with the gang vocals behind Carter’s hip-hop-esque lyrical phrasing, presented a lush but powerful soundscape that permeated the crowd and left not a still body in the audience.
Also hailing from San Francisco, Con Brio continued its breakout year with a relentlessly energetic set to close out Off Beat Music Festival. From the second frontman Ziek McCarter took the stage he was a whirlwind of bright clothes, spins, splits and acrobatic dance moves. The highlight of the set was the groovy, down-tempo soul tune “Never Be The Same.”
With Off Beat’s ascension to Reno’s focus for a weekend, Cargo did more than its part to bring a series of terrific shows to downtown and proved once again why it is the area’s premier concert hall. Reno’s rise to a music destination will come speed bumps and hardship but this festival was a testament to what can happen when an entire scene comes together, this is just the beginning.