New London - Fans of independent music gorged on ear candy all day Saturday as the I AM festival returned to downtown New London.
On Parade Plaza, a single couple swayed in one another's arms, finding the rhythm they needed to dance to alternative rockers Sidewalk Dave. Perhaps their enthusiasm prompted lead singer Dave Von Witt to comment that it was still early, but not too soon to get crazy.
A short while later, multiple arms and legs were flying to the reggae/punk sound of local act The Hempsteadys.
A block away, inside the Telegraph record store, a small but appreciative group tapped its feet and clapped along as folk duo The Sea The Sea tried out a new number featuring the banjo.
Twenty-two local and national acts performed at four downtown venues, including the Parade, Telegraph, Hygienic Art Park and Oasis Pub. It was the sixth installment of the uniquely New London event, and the show went on regardless of unsettled weather.
With a strong breeze coming off the Thames River, DJ Frank Lo of Nu Lo Order, a new local hip hop act that opened the festival on the Parade, was overseeing the installation of a plastic shield that would prevent his CDs from blowing away. Event organizers and co-founders Rick Martin and Sean Murray managed the last-minute adjustment as the band members warmed up.
The organizers expected attendance to increase throughout the day.
"It looks pretty good already," Martin said of the patient, growing crowd waiting to see Nu Lo Order.
The fans sat on the concrete "benches" surrounding the Soldiers and Sailors monument or checked out the henna tattoos, handmade jewelry and custom hula hoops on sale in the nearby marketplace.
The I AM fest began in 2006 but went dark last year due to funding issues. Martin said the organizers regrouped and were able to offer a stronger, more exciting festival this year.
Chip McCabe from New Britain said he was here for the "awesome amount of local talent" and wasn't worried about the threat of rain.
"It's warm enough out that if you get rained on it's not too bad," McCabe said.