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HIGH WATER 2024: Another Stunning Showcase of Talent Along the Cooper River - [Photo Gallery + Review]

Updated: May 4

High Water Music Festival celebrated another year in Charleston, SC on April 20th and 21st, bringing its trademark mix of indie, rock, and folk artists back to Riverfront Park. The park’s open spaces, bordered on one side by soaring oak trees and presenting a scenic view of the Cooper River on the other, made for an incredible setting for the two-day event.

Curated once again by High Water mainstays Shovels & Rope this year’s lineup featured headliners Noah Kahan and Hozier, both having a fantastic year on the charts with Kahan’s ‘Stick Season’ peaking at #9 and Hozier’s ‘Too Sweet’ sitting in the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time of writing. Looking beyond the headliners, the lineup had a solid mix of new and familiar, with rising names such as Al Olender and The Heavy Heavy, and established acts including The Flaming Lips, Grace Potter, and Fleet Foxes.

This year’s High Water was not without some problems. Festival goers were treated to some classic South Carolina weather; Saturday was oppressively hot with barely any cloud cover to help, while Sunday brought lower temperatures along with a steady rain for most of the day. While there was some dissatisfaction among those in attendance for day 1 due to reported issues with traffic leaving the venue, We both Luckily had no problems with said traffic. While parking in the furthest lot meant we had a trek at the end of both nights, once we got back to our cars we were able to get on the road in quick order.

This year Sauce With Spoons was able to send two photojournalists to the festival, and we split the stages.

Olivia Jean, Houndmouth, Courtney Barnett, Fleet Foxes, Babe Club, The Heavy Heavy, Kevin Morby, Briston Maroney, and Noah Kahn.

Al Olender, Leyla McCalla, The Dip, The Walkmen, Shovels & Ropes, Cut Worms, The Linda Lindas, The Wallflowers, The Flaming Lips, and Hozier.


Emily's Day One Recap


Hailing from Seattle, Washington, The band Fleet Foxes currently consists of Robin Pecknold (Vocals/Guitar), Skyler Skjelset (Guitar), Casey Wescott (Keyboard, Vocals), Christian Wargo (bass, Guitar, Vocals), and Morgan Henderson (multiple instruments), took on The Edisto stage Saturday evening. In attendance with the band, the incredibly talented Uwade, Born in Nigeria, but raised in our sister state, North Carolina.  

Out of all of the bands at High Water, Fleet Foxes has been a long-time favorite of mine, and I have wanted to see them play live for over a decade. I can't describe how much I loved every second of their set. Hearing my favorites "Can I Believe You" "Mykonos, and "Helplessness Blues" by the ocean during a gorgeous sunset was unreal. I couldn't help but lay in the grass and enjoy their entire set after leaving the photo pit. You could tell the crowd was enjoying it just as much as I was, even the people who had no idea about them until they came out to perform. There was a sense of gratitude for having been a part of something special. For in the world of Fleet Foxes, music isn't just heard—it's felt, deeply and profoundly, leaving an indelible mark on all who experience it.


In the dynamic landscape of indie rock, few artists stand out quite like Australian singer, and songwriter, Courtney Barnett. With her distinctive blend of wit, vulnerability, and unapologetic honesty, Barnett has carved a unique niche for herself in the music industry.  From her introspective lyricism to her raw, gritty guitar riffs, Barnett's music resonates with audiences on a deeply personal level. On the drums for this set was Warpaint's very own, Stella Mozgawa. 

Courtney Barnett had a thrilling set in the Charleston heat. I've been a long-time fan of hers so seeing that she was on this year's lineup was very exciting to me. She exceeded my expectations and hopefully, everyone watching. She played two of my favorites 'Avant Gardener' and 'Pedestrian At Best' Which ended up being a big hit with the crowd, shaking things up at a fast pace compared to some of the slower indie/folk music before her set.

Olivia Jean is a force to be reckoned with in the music world. With a signature blend of garage rock, surf, and punk influences, she carves out her own unique space in the industry. Hailing from Detroit, Olivia's musical journey began as a member of the all-female garage rock band The Black Belles before stepping into the spotlight as a solo artist. I discovered Olivia through her husband of 2 years, Rock Icon and frontman of The White Stripes:

Jack White. Their partnership yielded dynamic tracks, blending Olivia's gritty vocals and formidable guitar skills with White's signature production style. Their collaborative efforts breathed life into songs like "What Can I Do?" and "It's Cold Outside," showcasing a chemistry that resonated with audiences worldwide.

On stage alongside Olivia; Marcus Argiro on guitar, Erica Salazar on bass, and Marcus Powell Davis on the drums. Olivia's guitar playing was infused with passion and personality, elevating each song to new heights. Her ability to effortlessly transition between different styles and moods showcased her versatility as a guitarist, leaving the crowd in awe of her talent.

Houndmouth is an American indie rock band formed in 2011 in New Albany, Indiana. Known for their soulful blend of folk, rock, and Americana, the band gained attention with their debut album "From the Hills Below the City" in 2013. Comprised of Matt Myers (lead Vocals, guitar), Zak Appleby (vocals/guitar), Aaron Goodrich (drums) And Caleb Hickman (Keys)

The band took on day one at High Water in the sweltering heat, during the hottest part of the day. I have seen them quite a few times and every show has gotten better and better. the set started slow with a somber track titled Darling". I noticed fans started getting more into the performance around the 5th song in their set titled "McKenzie" Sadly the song got cut short by a medical issue in the crowd due to the extreme heat. my favorite moment was hearing the crowd singing loudly along to the song "Sedona" which finished off their set.

Grammy nominee and rising star of indie folk-pop took on the main Edisto stage as the first-day headliner.  Kahan has been making waves in the music scene with his distinctive blend of folk, pop, and indie influences.

Born and raised in Strafford, Vermont Kahan's musical journey began by writing songs at age 8 and uploading them to SoundCloud and YouTube, where his music began to gain exposure. honing his craft through years of dedication and passion,  Drawing inspiration from his personal experiences and introspective storytelling, Kahan's music resonates with audiences on a profound level, offering a glimpse into the depths of human emotion.


Highlights of the set included performances of fan-favorite tracks such as "Stick Season," "Northern Attitude," and "Forever." Each song was delivered with sincerity and conviction, drawing cheers and applause from the audience, especially from the die-hard fans who endured the extreme heat all day to be front row. With his captivating vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and dynamic stage presence, Kahan delivered a performance that left a lasting impact on all who attended. As he continues to rise in prominence, Kahan's music serves as a beacon of authenticity and vulnerability in an increasingly chaotic world, reminding us of the power of music to heal and inspire.     


Dillon's Day 1 Recap


New York’s singer-songwriter Al Olender was the first to take the stage and get the festival in full swing. Opening a festival has to be a nerve-racking experience, regardless of how many shows you have played. And while Al may have seemed a little anxious walking to the microphone, it vanished as soon as she began playing. Seeing that happen, combined with her all-in commitment to her performance and the unexpected barrage of jokes and quips between songs, was charming in a way that instantly clicked with the audience. This set was, for me, the ideal way to start a festival: an intimate performance from a single artist giving it their all and creating an atmosphere that, as the crowds grow and the stage production kicks into full swing, can’t be captured later in the day.

Multi-instrumentalist Leyla McCalla was my next set of the day. Her music pulls from a wide range of influences, ultimately leaning most heavily on folk, and perfectly set the stage for the acts that would be following. Leyla’s musical flexibility was a treat to see, her vocal delivery was great and she played guitar, banjo, and cello during her set. The heat was already in full swing at this point and you could see the impact it had on the audience, but from watching Leyla and her band you would never be able to tell. They put on a tight performance and delivered a great set for the audience braving the direct sun to watch them.

I knew that The Dip was going to show us something we hadn't seen yet as soon as their three horn players walked onto the stage. The Seattle R&B group started off their set with the track ‘Ready to Go’ and it was definitely appropriate! Hands down, my favorite part of live music is watching performers who are genuinely and visibly having fun on stage; and that’s exactly what we got from The Dip. The band was having a blast playing for the audience and the highlight for me was seeing the chemistry between vocalist Tom Eddy and Jace Holmes-Floyd, who played keys for the band on this tour. This was the set that really started to give me an idea of what High Water Music Festival is all about.

New York indie rockers The Walkmen returned to the scene in 2013 following a ten-year hiatus. As it turns out, that was a stroke of luck for the crowd at High Water Festival because the group hasn’t lost a step. They wasted no time starting into their opener, 2008’s ‘On the Water’. Vocalist Hamilton Leithauser is one of those musicians who seem to have an aura of cool around them on stage, and wherever he moved the eyes of the crowd followed. From a photography perspective, it’s always fun when a performer gives you something different to shoot and there was a stir in the photo pit when Leithauser picked up his own camera to snap a few photos of the crowd.

Given their history with High Water Festival, it should come as no surprise that husband and wife duo Shovels & Rope were rock solid for their performance. Practice makes perfect, and the folk pairing might just have perfected their act for this festival. I admittedly don’t have much exposure to their music, but that didn’t stop me from getting wrapped up in the performance and enjoying every bit of it. I don’t often see a harmonica at shows, so watching Michael Trent on playing both one along with his guitar was fun for me. But the real draw for this show was the incredible intensity of Carrie Ann Hearst behind the drum kit. There was very little onstage movement during the set, but Trent made his way to the drums where the pair shared a microphone to deliver some of the final lyrics of the show.


Emily's Day 2 Recap


Babe Club is a captivating indie pop duo originating from Charleston, South Carolina. Comprised of Jenna Desmond and Corey Campbell, their music is a mesmerizing blend of dreamy melodies and gritty guitar riffs. Since its formation, Babe Club has been steadily gaining recognition for their electrifying live performances and evocative songwriting. With each release, they continue to push the boundaries of their sound.

Babe club started off the second day of the festival and I really enjoyed it. Their indie rock vibes filled the grounds with energy and excitement, as fans danced along to the catchy melodies. I was impressed by the stunning visuals and outfits, making for a fun set to photograph. It wasn't just the music that made their set special—it was the connection between the band and their fans. Babe Club's down-to-earth vibe and infectious enthusiasm made the concert feel like a gathering of friends, with the band members sharing stories and jokes between songs. Jenna even threw a few trucker-style hats with 'Babe Club' designed on the front to some of the fans in the crowd. Babe Club definitely caught the attention of us all in attendance and I walked away as a new member of the Babe Club-club.

The Heavy Heavy is an indie/alternative rock band hailing from Brighton, UK comprised of Will Turner and Georgie Fuller. The band began with a shared ambition of “making records that sound like our favorite records ever”. There was something so nostalgic about their sound that I am currently obsessing over. I haven't been able to stop listening to their music.

My first thought after hearing them was "WOW!" They sound so much like 'The Mamas & The Papas' which I think is exactly what they were going for. you can really hear an influence of that psychedelic blues with fuzzy guitar tones from the 60s in their sound. I was pleasantly surprised when they covered 'Father John Misty's' song titled 'Real Love Baby' and knocked it out of the park. I really enjoyed their song 'Go Down River' as well as the rest of their set at High Water this year and I really hope to see them live again!