“What is ‘indie?’” muses Alex Magleby, the founder of the In Between Days Festival. “It’s really just bands that you want to listen to. Sometimes it’s more Americana or bluegrassy, and at other times it’s more electric or emo, and we try to have all those different vibes.”
There will be a lot more of those vibes at the second edition of the festival, which returns to Quincy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. Besides adding a second day and a second stage, In Between Days is boasting some much bigger names this time around, thanks to indie titans Modest Mouse and Lord Huron. Also on tap are critical darlings like emo pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate, the atmospheric Phantogram, and New Zealand indie-pop band the Beths, who were recently listed on former president Barack Obama’s summer playlist. (Lord Huron appeared on an earlier edition.)
Last year’s debut In Between Days was a one-day, one-stage affair, and Magleby estimates about 1,000 people showed up. “It was a beta test,” he says. With the expanded lineup, he’s hoping for 5,000 to 7,000 attendees each day. “That’s a good level to be at,” he says. “The vision is not to get 20,000 people jammed into the space. We want it to be something that’s not everything else.”
“We learned last year that we could provide quality sound and take care of the artists,” says Magleby, CEO of Heritage Sports Ventures and the New England Free Jacks, the major league rugby team that plays at the stadium. The stadium has made Quincy an unlikely music destination, with headliners like string band Old Crow Medicine Show and two-tone ska pioneers the English Beat playing after Free Jacks rugby games this summer. Magleby is looking to add more events — he says an Americana-oriented festival is being considered for 2024.
Audience feedback asked for more shade and expanded food and beverage options, all of which will be on offer this weekend. “We’re putting a massive shade structure in the middle of the field,” he says.
The festival is also expanding into more genres. The indie bands are supplemented by the likes of energetic progressive bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles and the experimental R&B artist Cautious Clay.
“What is it that ties these bands together? It’s an authenticity,” says festival director James Macdonald. “It’s a real appealing event if you’re passionate about music discovery. I think the Boston market is ready to support a festival like this.” Vinyl vendors and a vintage arcade help “create an experience outside of the live music that lends itself to an ideal fun day with your friends,” adds Macdonald.
Thanks to its second stage, the festival will feature 10 local bands over the weekend. None are more local than the Gypsy Moths, a Quincy band with an impressive knack for writing the kind of catchy pop and R&B songs that would have been standouts if they’d appeared on a long-lost LP from a ‘60s British Invasion band. Five of the members graduated from high school on the same field where they’ll be kicking off the festival on Saturday.
“When we were teenagers we’d say ‘let’s throw our amps over the stadium wall and sneak in and play until the Quincy police drag us off,’” laughs guitarist Chris Conway.
Given the tight-knit world of Boston garage rock, it seems surprising that such a strong band, centered on powerful singer Steve O’Brien, has seemingly come out of nowhere. But it’s been a long journey from their Quincy adolescence to their album “Sounds On,” which comes out Aug. 25. After high school, the members joined local bands that kicked around haunts like The Rat and TT the Bear’s Place before work and family obligations took over. As adults, they would get together for vinyl nights where they’d spin their favorite records. “Eventually we decided to turn vinyl night into playing music again,” says Conway. “We would play obscure ‘50s and ‘60s covers just for fun. We had never really written originals in that style, but once we started, the fuse got lit.”
Those songs caught the attention of “Malibu Lou” Mansdorf, who added the Gypsy Moths to the roster of garage, rockabilly, and pop bands on his respected Rum Bar Records label. Another Rum Bar act, the Dogmatics, “were big inspirations for us — they were one of the reasons we formed our first bands, so to be on a label with them all these years later is amazing,” says Conway. Some of the first Gypsy Moths records came out during the pandemic. Now the band is getting to play its originals out live. It’ll be celebrating a joint album-release show with Boston pop master Phil Aiken at the Burren Sept. 15.
How did the Gypsy Moths get on such a big festival? Last year, coming home from an afternoon gig, Conway heard the closing notes of In Between Days from where he lived at the time in Quincy. He sent Magleby a note on LinkedIn. A few months later, he got the news that the band was on the bill. “The lesson,” he says, “is always ask.”
In Between Days Festival
At Veterans Memorial Stadium, Quincy, Aug. 19 and 20, noon to 10 p.m. Tickets are $105 (single-day general admission) to $400 (two-day VIP). More information is at https://inbetweendaysfestival.com/
Noah Schaffer can be reached at email@example.com.