This won’t be Sweet Plot’s first time at Outside Lands. Not by a long shot.
“We’re from San Francisco, so I’ve been to the festival plenty of times,” said frontman Cole Kromer. “The first one included when I was 18 back in high school.”
In 2017, the local band was a late addition to the line-up for one of the small stages, which was a converted trailer near wine and beer stalls off to the side of the main festival. This year, Sweet Plot moves up to one of the four main stages—the Panhandle stage—and will perform Friday at noon.
It’s a long way from where the band started, as a group of friends having a late night jam session about four years ago.
“We were in a couple different bands, and were playing a show together,” Kromer said. “We had an after party where we jammed all night and said, ‘wow, this sounds really great.’ So we linked up from there, and we ran with it.”
Sweet Plot is part of a resurgent Bay Area music scene.
“The tech boom initially pushed artists away, priced them out of the area, but then it got so much attention and money that there became a need for this art,” Kromer said. “The artists that have been able to hang on; they’ve been able to benefit from that need for entertainment and creativity. And now some are even coming in here seeking that spotlight.
“There’s always a silver lining to these things.”
Kromer cites the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, and Parliament-Funkadelic as influences, with a rhythm section influenced by Bay Area hip-hop. That comes through on their first album, 2016’s California Feeling, a funk-infused rock-and-roll throwback that invokes the music of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but with modern undertones and lyrics relevant to the present day.
As with any up-and-coming band, there were line-up changes. “We’ve lost a few members to school or just to moving away. We added horns, saxophone, keyboards,” Kromer said.
That moved the sound for their 2017 sophomore effort, The Plot Thickens, deeper into the ‘70s. It has a horn rock vibe, evoking bands like Earth, Wind, and Fire and Tower of Power.
The band’s influences also come through in its high-energy live shows, which more and more people are able to experience. After spending the first several years sticking to the West Coast—as Kromer puts it, “from San Diego to Canada”—the band just finished a tour that took them to Miami and through the south, and it will be touring its new album around the end of the year.
That upcoming third album, currently in post-production and on track for a winter release, will go back to the rock roots of the band’s first.
“We’ll still have the funk, soul elements. But the new one is a little bit edgier, a little bit harder,” Kromer said.
The band is looking forward to playing its hometown festival. And after Sweet Plot’s set, festival-goers may see them around the park.
“Since we’re a local band, we’re here; we’re gonna be there the whole weekend and have a great time,” Kromer said. “Our set’s on Friday, so once we’re done we have the festival to enjoy and see new artists we’ve never seen.”
Kromer is most looking forward to Durand Jones & the Indications and Monophonics, with whom they’ve played at shows, as well as Chicano Batman and Beck.
But before you see the other acts, be sure to come early and check out Sweet Plot.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.