FOR better or worse, “authenticity” is one of those words that means a lot in the music world.
Whether you’re a rapping about “the street” when you live in a million-dollar mansion, or singing gay anthems when you’re as a straight as a die, you need to be seen to know what you’re talking about.
The Fleece’s all Americana line up on Saturday night was a case in point.
But while one was actually from the States the other hailed from London.
It shouldn’t take too much imagination to guess which band felt like the real deal and which a poor imitation.
On tour from the riot-struck capital, Deer Park tried desperately hard to tick every box.
The singer refers to himself as Mark Christopher Grassick – no doubt because it sounds more American with the middle name.
He sported the now standard issue beard and waistcoat worn by every singer who wants to be Bonnie Prince Billy.
And their first song managed to cram in references to California, Arizona, San Diego and Nebraska – the Bruce Springsteen album of course.
But it just felt like they were trying too hard to be something they’re not, and took themselves entirely too seriously.
The Cave Singers, by comparison, were just effortlessly brilliant, and one of the finest acts to take to The Fleece stage this year.
This Seattle three piece are somewhere between Fleet Foxes and The Black Keys, blending folk with a sometimes fiery blues rock.
Frontman Pete Quirk’s throaty vocal recalled a latter day Robert Plant.
You couldn’t understand a word he was saying but it was one of those voices you just have to listen to.
Unlike their support act, The Cave Singers also demonstrated a rather endearing personality.
It’s the fourth time they’ve played Bristol, so Quirk entertained between songs by repeatedly mentioning his enthusiasm for Pieminister.
Although he mispronounced it in the way that Yanks say “Glaston-berry”, the mere mention of Bristol’s favourite food got the biggest cheer of the night.