Where to begin…
Wow. Overall… the festival as a whole was a BLAST. Withstanding the heat was challenge enough, but it was well worth it.
Of course I was unable to make it to EVERY show, and even had to pick between artists I wanted to see, but every show I did see I was very pleased with, if not completely blown away.
—– Day 1 :: Saturday, September 15, 2007 —–
Saturday marked our first day at the festival, and we started out by watching Paulo Nutini at 2:30pm. What an amazing voice! Talented songwriter, great performer, but oh my gosh, you could not understand almost a single word he said! Originally from Scotland, and here it comes, suprisingly enough, ONLY 20 YEARS OLD! There is definitely a future for this young songwriter.
After Paulo, we made our way to the water refilling area, to stand in line and listen from afar to The Cold War Kids. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with this group, but they still had a solid performance.
We then made our way back to the “AMD” stage, where Paulo had played, to watch a bit of a local Texas-spawned group known as Blue October. VERY interesting stuff. We stuck through for a few songs, but were overtaken by the overwhelming need for food!
BTW, the selection of food (all local vendors) was fantastic! Everything from Greek (Lamb & Beef Gyros) to interesting drinks (Organic Cactus Juice/Agave Lemonade) to some GREAT Texas BBQ (The Salt Lick). The food both days was FANTASTIC. Especially when you’re starving.
We then made our way to the larger stage to “hang out” for the rest of the evening.
The first act we watched on the big AT&T stage was Damien Rice. I had never really heard Damien before, but WOW. I was completely blown away! He is an extremely talented performer, songwriter, and his backing band was phenomenal. One of my favorite highlights of this show was a drum solo battle between his backing guitarist (who jumped onto a broken down 3-piece set) and his main drummer. The main drummer definitely won out. In fact, he has easily become one of my new favorites. Mr. Brendan Buckley. Tasteful, skillful, and very versatile around the set. Excellent musicianship as well.
We chose to hang around the stage after Damien was done to ensure good seats for that night’s headliner (and one of my favorite bands), Muse. And let me say, there was definitely no disappointment from this group. WOW. For one, I’ve obsessed over the band for the past few months, which helped the experience for me, so I may be a bit biased, but overall they were absolutely AMAZING. Their performance was dead on, if not BETTER than their recordings. Their live show was mind-blowing. Synced lighting, bizarre video work, as well as plenty of improvisational rocking out. I can’t even begin to explain how spectacular this show was. I HIGHLY recommend seeing Muse live.
We rounded out the evening by heading to “The Spider House” a local bar/hangout with some very creative drinks, delicious food, and a DJ spinning. Definitely a SOLID Day.
—– Day 2 :: Sunday, September 16, 2007 —–
After being sunburnt and exhausted from the day prior, we were a little slow moving this morning, but none-the-less, got around and made our way back into the heat… Fortunately there was quite a bit more cloud-cover and a nice breeze…
Day 2 for us began with watching Ben Kweller. Definitely a solid performance, but I was not nearly as engaged with his act as the others. Plus I was still experiencing “after-shocks” from Muse the night before.
We parted ways with the rest of our party for the next couple of acts due to taste differences.
Jenn & I made our way to the “Dell” stage to watch Common. WOW. This guy knows how to work an audience. Great message, and solid hip-hop. His backing band was right on par as well… featuring a drum solo, keys solo, and turntable solo. A nice change of pace from the rest of the festival.
We opted for food over Bloc Party & Lucinda Williams, again, hunger winning out.
After our delicious lunch, Jenn & I headed back to the “Dell” stage to watch Amos Lee. What a voice! Amos was another artist that I wasn’t particularly familiar with before the festival, but now definitely have an appreciation for. Soulful, bluesy, and talented. Again, the backing band was awesome.
We left during Amos’ last song to snag a beer, and make it over to the AMD stage for Wilco. Unfortunately we didn’t leave early enough, and the crowd for Wilco was already MASSIVE! We stood in the back for awhile, but the sound was not too great… so after a few songs, we mosied over to the AT&T stage to catch the end of My Morning Jacket, and hang out for the BIG HEADLINER… Mr. Bob Dylan!
Wow. My Morning Jacket is definitely eccentric. The guitarist, who used to have extra long super 80’s hair, has since cut it down… so instead he wore a long straight platinum blonde wig. Musically they were eccentric as well. I recognized a couple of songs, but they always managed to throw something completely out of leftfield into everything they did.
Once they wrapped up, we spread out to help save space for our party to convene for Mr. Dylan.
We all gathered around, and were nestled in the middle of what had to be tens of thousands of fans, all awaiting Bob’s performance. And then it began. The entire crowd stood up, cheering, and excited, but were soon to be disappointed.
Bob’s voice has always been a bit gravely, but good lord… it sounded completely shot. I dare say that Paulo Nutini & his scottish accent were easier to understand than anything Bob was singing. This was also accompanied by some poor lighting for Bob, and apparently a rider in his contract, stating that there were to be no close-up camera shots. The jumbotron dissolved back and forth between a wideshot of the full band, and a medium three to four shot of Bob with his core players. Unfortunately you NEVER were able to see his face. A middle-aged woman behind me even said, “How do we even know this is him? This could be anybody!”
Needless to say, the crowd began clearing out after about the second song. People slowly drizzled out of the crowd with die-hards, or hopeful first timers sticking around to see what else Bob might have up his sleeve.
Unfortunately, this venue was probably not best suited for a “classic” Dylan performance. We found ourselves leaving after roughly 45minutes into his set, exhausted from the weekend and disappointed with the “finale”.
While I completely respect Bob Dylan for all that he has done, and what he stands for, this performance made me feel left out of the true “Bob Dylan” experience. Earlier in the day Common said, “I’m for the people. Just like Mos Def is for the people. And Bob Dylan is for the people!” Well I can’t say that I completely felt like Bob was there for the people. Perhaps the generation gap was just too great, or I missed the bus on seeing Bob in his hay day… either way the closing show was definitely a bummer.
After leaving early, we headed to a local hangout called “The Draught House”. AWESOME. Roughly 70 beers on tap, and all sounded fantastic. Chilled out atmosphere and good company made for a excellent wind down to the weekend.
This morning, we packed our things, said goodbye to our wonderful host & hostess, and hit the road…
I am currently writing this in the car on the drive back to Manhattan… We’ve made it into Winfield, KS, and only have a couple of hours left… then it’s back to the grind.