Chris DuPont and The DayNites at Top of the Park

Chris DuPont and The DayNites add their musical luster to a beautiful summer night at Top of the Park in Ann Arbor.

The DayNites at Top of the Park

Chris DuPont and The DayNites at Top of the Park

The annual Ann Arbor Summer Festival capstone is Top of the Park, featuring an assortment of entertainment, including outstanding local music. Over the years, we’ve had the great thrills of seeing Kate Peterson, Wire In The Wood, Gasoline Gypsies, The Whiskey Charmers, Jennifer Westwood, Captain Ivory, Abigail Staufer, and more. Every time we come away in awe of the amazing talent we have in our state. 

Top of the Park returns after a long layoff due to the pandemic this year. There definitely is an air of jubilation, or it could be that I’m giddy from a beer and anticipation for music. As usual, our summer is packed, but we did make a plan to hear the incredible Chris DuPont and witness the debut of The DayNites on the Rackham stage.

Chris DuPont

Nestled into the trees near the Burton Tower, Chris DuPont made his way onto the O&W Grove stage. Joining Chris are Kylee Phillips (keyboards and vocals) and Brad Phillips (mandolin/violin). In case you are wondering, Brad and Kylee aren’t related except through their shared love of music.

Chris DuPont at Top of the Park
Chris DuPont at Top of the Park
Chris DuPont at Top of the Park

The air is wonderfully warm, like the music of Chris DuPont. The combined vocals, guitar, and keyboards caress like a breeze through the trees. Sure, Chris’s music is not necessarily uplifting, particularly on his most recent album, Floodplains. It is honest and extremely thoughtful. Tonight Chris, along with his friends Kylee and Brad, let their love for music shine brightly, and we all bask in this radiant performance. Chris concludes their set with a superb cover of Noah Gunderson’s “Atlantis.”

Chris DuPont at Top of the Park
Chris DuPont at Top of the Park

The DayNites

The DayNites bring the summer heat to the main Rackham stage with their lustrous mix of rock and soul. This is their debut at Top of the Park, their first show since last summer, and the first show for the full band this summer. Tonight is also my first time hearing The DayNites live. A lot of firsts for one night of music.

In case you aren’t familiar, The DayNites call Ypsilanti their home. They are Shaun Maazza (guitar), Erich Friebel (drums), Rick Coughlin (guitar), Kristianna Bell (vocals), and Tim Blackman (bass); joining them on keyboards is Binho Manenti, who was part of the recording of their debut self-titled EP released in 2020. 

The summer sun is the perfect metaphor for the shimmering sound of The DayNites. Their sound heats you up, making you feel alive. The Latin grooves laced with jazzy lines and subtle bass of “Cherry Blossom” reverberate through the crowd. Like a setting sun, the bittersweet melodies of “Coastlines” gently sway as Kristianna’s voice envelopes us in the passion of the music.

In addition to originals, The DayNites threw in some killer covers. I loved their inspired renditions of “Use Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. It was a mini Withers tribute that Bill would dig. To pump up the energy, The DayNites threw in “Just a Girl” by No Doubt. I’m glad I had the chance to check out this fantastic band live and look forward to the next gathering.

The DayNites at Top of the Park
The DayNites at Top of the Park
The DayNites at Top of the Park
The DayNites at Top of the Park
The DayNites at Top of the Park
The DayNites at Top of the Park

Pictures

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The DayNites at Top of the Park

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