GloNo correspondents Jeff Sabatini and Mike Vasquez spent three days in Northern Michigan at the Hoxeyville Music Festival in late August. It was full of pleasant musical surprises. And a torrential rain storm Friday night. But our new REI Basecamp 4 tent kept us dry, and it was a great three days of music. Here are some highlights. Look for a full review of the festival from Jeff soon.
The set by these two guys was one of the highlights of the festival for me. First, they start off with a cover of “Cortez,” just the two of them. Great mandolin solo by Paul Hoffman, who plays with Greensky Bluegrass. Seth Bernard was new to me – another Michigander – and I was mightily impressed by his playing, his songcraft, and his stage presence.
Last summer we embarked on our first jam band journey, driving a mere three hours across Michigan to attend Rothbury. Within hours of our arrival, we were hooked on the camping festival vibe and by the time we left, we had vowed to attend again in 2010. Unfortunately, Rothbury had to take a hiatus this year due to the venue’s bankruptcy sale. Apparently this process dragged on long enough that the promoters were not able to book a high quality lineup, as bands had already committed to other festivals. This was actually a blessing in disguise, as it forced us to find another festival to attend. And we found two: All Good, in Masontown, WV, and Hoxeyville, in Northern Michigan.
I had really wanted to sleep in on Sunday. But at 6:30, my three-year-old demanded my attention. “Papa! PAPA! PAH PUHHHHHH!” And with that, my day began. Not atypical for a Sunday morning, but most of my Saturdays these days are not spent running ten miles back and forth across a park all day while pounding beers and falafel.
So we got the idea to bring my kid down to Lollapalooza for a couple hours. We figured we could eat some breakfast, get dressed, and get down there by noon, hang out in the “Kidz” area for a while, take a quick peak at Johnny Marr’s latest band at 2pm, and then head home, drop him off with the sitter, and head back in time for Erykah Badu at 5pm. Perfect plan, right?
I had a very clear plan for Saturday. There’s a spot to the right side of the “PlayStation” stage (actually called the Petrillo Music Shell) that’s always been easy to worm your way into. You can get really close to the stage if you just slide right along the wall, so I had told my entire posse to meet there three songs into the XX‘s set. But once we made it inside, it was obvious this was not going to happen.
At three o’clock in the afternoon the entire north side of the park was filled to capacity. To make matters worse, the entrance from Columbus into the stage area was a parking lot of people. It should’ve been a walkway but nobody was moving. Everybody was just standing there, blocking the path, not moving. I’m assuming Against Me must not have any fans because there were at least 80,000 people crammed into the cement lot that surrounds the stage, packed tight as far back as the second set of light poles. If you’ve been to Grant Park, you know what I’m talking about, and you know how bad that must’ve sucked. It was worse.
So this was my final Lollapalooza as a Chicago resident. From now on it will be a destination festival that requires me to actually travel to a destination. Which might be fun. But will it be worth it? Is a three day music festival worth the hassle if you can’t take the el back to your own comfy bed? I don’t know…I’ve never had to do it.
Of the past six Lollapaloozas, this was by far my most ADHD experience. I only watched three complete sets. The average time I spent with any band was 20 minutes. This might be normal for journalists who feel a professional obligation to “cover” as much as possible, but that’s never been my attitude. I like to take it easy and have a good time. Carefully select what I want to see and blissfully ignore the rest.
If Lightning Bolt is free jazz, no one was getting out of this set without paying dearly for it. The Rhode Island duo hit the Pitchfork stage midday Sunday in a peel of overdriven guitar shriek and crazed flurries of snare and tom-tom that magnetized the humid Chicago air and transformed the hazy afterimages still resonating from Beach House’s pleasantly forgettable set into spazzy molecules of fucked up oxygen. Pins and needles were made to float, and eardrums were sunburned. Did I mention that Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale was wearing a terrifying mask? His arms pounding savagely into his kit, his face obscured by this luchador death rictus, and then, halfway through this caterwaul, he begins to sing. Sure, it was more of a moan, scream, or reverbed yell. But that he was doing anything while still thoroughly murdering his drums on fast forward is profound. That’s some classic concentration.
Every year that I’ve gone to the Fork Fest, I’ve been surprised how many people actually show up for it. Rationally, I know it sells out and that there are 18,000 people there, but I forget how many bodies that really is until they’re surrounding me. It’s a lot of people.
And it seems like most of them are really into the music. Of course, there is also a good percentage of folks who are just there for the experience. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I would guess that the majority really gets into the performances, packing themselves densely into the fields, singing along, and paying attention to the music. There are moments when it feels like a community, and that’s pretty exciting in these days of extreme cultural fragmentation.
Who I want to see at Pitchfork Music Festival 2010
I’m breaking this down into two categories. My starters—bands I want to see because I f’n love them. And my bench—a few bands I want to see because I know good music when I hear it. I could’ve broken it up into Saturday and Sunday because—I’ll be honest—I’ve either seen most of Friday’s bands recently or I don’t really care if I ever do. Then again, Michael Showalter is probably going to be funny Friday night on the newly created Comedy Stage.
Also, this will be a brief chronicling. Don’t be lookin’ for some really in-depth expose. Go elsewhere for that, bitches.
Marvin’s Mountaintop, West Virginia, July 10, 2010
The third day of any music festival is when things get really funky. Your feet are caked with dirt and you smell, and two days of trying not to use the Port-A-Johns are beginning to catch up with you. You’ve now spent the better part of two days saturated by music, and the novelty of it all is beginning to wear off. It takes more for a Saturday act to wow you, no matter how much you may or may not have blunted your senses over the past two days.
It’s clear that after 14 years, the people programming the All Good lineup know and understand this. Which is why Saturday’s lineup included such upbeat, dance-your-ass-off-in-the-sun bands like The Macpodz, Rebelution, and Parliament/Funkadelic. That trio rocked the house Saturday, sharing the common vibe of big bass beats and funky grooves that served as a counterpoint to Saturday headliner Widespread Panic.
Furthur picks people up and carries them away, appropriate enough for a band named after a bus. Their four-hour show Friday night — on the 15th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s last show — was transcendent. After an afternoon of heat followed by an evening of rain, it made for a perfect night, the second of this four-day fest.