Talib Kweli | Photo by Joe del Tufo | Moonloop Photography

Dogfish Head’s Analog-A Go-Go music fest took things to a new level in its sixth year, moving the event to Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, DE and taking over the park in with its unique combination of live music, craft beer, vinyl and art. A diverse offering of local and national acts was a bold move for a festival in its first large effort- with headliners Built To Spill (a Dogfish favorite) supported by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Taleb Kweli, Hop Along, Beach Slang and Fiancé. 

Fiancé opened the festival with their jangly 90s rock, sounding more confident and catchy every time I seem them. With most of the crowd still in beer lines around the park, Fiancé did an exceptional job of playing a strong, energetic set, that drew in more and more as it went on. I expect to see these guys getting a lot of attention in the coming year.

Philly’s Beach Slang followed and completely brought their A-game. Vocalist James Alex is an exciting frontman, conjuring an edgier Replacements-meets-Gaslight Anthem sound that got the crowd moving and the sweat flying. They had the best energy of any band at Analog this year. Hop Along followed with lead singer and guitarist Frances Quinlan bringing her raspy emo-folk sound to a crowd that might not have been expecting it. By the end of their set it was clear that most of the building crowd were into their idiosyncratic vibe. Rapper Taleb Kweli was a late start but no one cared – he killed it. His jazzy, R&B-infused rap is infectious and some of the most refreshing music in the genre. Rapping over a four-piece band, his music has a much more organic and even had a classic rock sound in places.He played to a packed field of arms flying and hips shaking. “I see a lot of little kids here at this beer festival… not sure what kind of parents we have here today. And what is that I smell?”, Kweli quipped.

Kweli was a tough act to follow but Preservation Hall Jazz Band did not flinch, and rose to the occasion. Having seen their recent ferocious performance at WXPN’s XPoNential music festival just a few months ago, there was nothing missing from this set. Trombone player Ronell Johnson – in particular – was in full beast mode as the band brought out the full moon and transported a little Delaware suburb into the heart of New Orleans.

Indie rock legends Built To Spill were introduced by Dogfish founder Sam Calagione as “exactly the kind of music we expect people who love our beer to enjoy”. And there was no doubt that was the case. Soaring guitars flew into an amazing lightshow as the crowd, who had enjoyed one of the more diverse lineups I’d ever experienced, pushed forward to fill the front of the stage. It was a fitting conclusion to a feast for the senses.