Monday, September 24, 2007

Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 2- The Six-Strings Come On Strong

(Photo: The silhouettes of Built To Spill's Doug Martsch (left) and Jim Roth (right), milking their amp wattage for all it was worth.)

So, Saturday (September 15) was potpourri day for the Treasure Island Music Festival. It was all fun and good, but something was missing-- kick-ass guitar. And as referenced in Saturday’s critique, plenty of amplified guitar noise reverberated across the festival grounds on Sunday, so much so that some if it definitely could have been used to make up for the lack of rock on Saturday. But like Saturday, that fact didn’t put much of a dent in the fact that the music was good.

Also like Saturday, the execution of the party was flawless; throughout both days, there was never more than a 20 minute wait between any two sets, as all the various crews for bands on one stage were able to use the space allotted for a given set that was simultaneously occurring on the other stage for their sound check. This isn’t rocket science, of course, but producers Noise Pop and APE got this practice down to a science in programming the proceedings, and thus the eardrums of the masses had no time to recuperate from earlier beatings (which was a good thing, in this case).

The second day of the festival, for your FP representative, started off with a walk into the gate of the grounds listening to the sound of a local band, the Trainwreck Riders, ending their set (you might have noticed that an interview w/ the Riders was conducted and published earlier on the FP site), and it was obvious from this particular get-go that a new, simpler, rougher sound would be served up today. Today would be the day for those in the tight jeans, worn-down All-Stars, and plaid, as opposed to the dreadlocked and macrobiotic of the previous day.

However, up-and-comers Two Gallants would provide a respite from fuzz early in the afternoon. With one of the most descriptive vocal styles that can be heard in the modern scene today, singer-guitarist Adam Stephens had the crowd transfixed as he belted it like an unaccounted-for Donner Party survivor, while still delivering the luscious fingerpicking that drew the fans to his band in the first place. Meanwhile, drummer Tyson Vogel beat the hell out of his spare drum set such that, put together with Stephens’ efforts, a hearty sound worthy of a Best Picture soundtrack placement emerged.

The distortion came back strong, though, with Built To Spill providing the most brutal set and balls-out guitar work of the day. It was like the early 90’s all over again, and that’s not being cliché-- it’s the damn truth. Songs like “You Were Right” were heavier on Sunday than they are on record, and so B.T.S.’s show sounded almost like an old batch of Smashing Pumpkin b-sides, without the overtly whiny vocals.

Built were then followed by Spoon, whose new record had recently debuted at number 10 on the Billboard Top 200. As a result of the achievement, the band was the most visibly enthusiastic of the whole bunch at Treasure Island, and they also sounded like bonafide popstars, putting out the cleanest sound of anyone at Treasure Island, with faves like “I Turn My Camera On” and “Don’t Make Me A Target” sounding exactly like they did coming out of speakers at home.

Finally came Modest Mouse and their irresistibly eccentric frontman, Isaac Brock. Apparently, he and four other members of the band had contracted the flu, so before the band launched into the first song, he felt compelled to offer his assessment of the situation--“I’m fucking freezing”-- and light up a cigarette. Apparently, he believed that lighting up a cig and screaming at the top of his lungs during the first song (“Bury Me With It”) would help his present circumstances, or perhaps he was just being a good showman. Whatever Brock’s intentions were, MM were a pretty good closer to the whole two-day shindig. They broke through the frontier just like any of the Saturday bands, while pumping out their consciousness through what might be described as the “most normal means”-- guitars, bass, drums, and organ, for the most part.

By the end of the two days, it was obvious that Noise Pop and APE were on the right track; the idea that there won’t be a Treasure Island Festival next year is incomprehensible now. As long as the two producers can balance out the allocation of styles on both days better, the Treasure Island Festival has the chance to eclipse even the Noise Pop Festival itself as the Bay Area’s signature event for all things hip.

-- By Ross Moody

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 1- Comfy Buses And Far Out Sounds

Well, it’s pretty safe to say that the inaugural Treasure Island Music Festival, which ran from September 15 to 16, was an overall success. For the way San Francisco Bay Area promoters Noise Pop Industries and Another Planet Entertainment (APE) handled their risky choice of a venue, as well as their round-up of both underdogs and relative (indie) bigshots, they get an A-. Some minor slippage in programming --in terms of choice of performers, NOT in terms of how the whole party all went down-- docked them a bit, but the festival turned out a lot better than anyone should have expected.

The focus of most of the risk was, again, in the choice of venue. For those who don’t have much knowledge regarding the general geography of the SF Bay, Treausre Island is a small (about 1 sq. mile), man-made island that can only be accessed by ship or through two exits onto the neighboring Yerba Buena Island from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge-- a Randall’s Island of the West Coast, if you will. Because they couldn’t rent out enough parking for all the 5,000 to 10,000 fans, and would have had to contend with angry residents (some people do live on Treasure Island) if they made parking a laissez-affair, Noise Pop and APE forced everyone to drive over to the AT&T Park parking lot south of downtown SF and park there.

The missing link in the journey, and big ramfication of all this? Buses. Anyone who’s been to their fair share of festivals knows that in cases where some sort of centralized transportation is needed to get the fans to the grounds, there’s usually an uncomfortable bus ride and a 30 minute wait for that bus ride. Well, that definitely wasn’t the case with Treasure Island. Ususally at least 3 or 4 buses, on average, were stationed at either end of the route, arriving within 2 minutes if there were none there at first, and the interior of the vehicles housed 30 to 50 comfortable leather seats. So, all in all, transportation wasn’t much of an issue.

The venue planning was also top notch. After going through the gate, fans found themselves in a grounds area about the size of two football fields, which was just right for housing a ferris wheel, numerous arts, crafts and concession stands, and the main and support stages, without making anyone walk much to get to any of them.

Now, for the music. Saturday seemed to be geared toward those who liked the hip-hop and dance-heavy shows at this year’s Noise Pop, with veterans of the quite eccentric persuasion, Honeycut and Ghostland Observatory, playing sets.

Saturday was also the designated day for the generally weird. Every performer, from M.I.A. to Thievery Corporation, seemed to bring across a new vibe, with more exoticism in their sound as well as their visuals (dress, background videos, etc.) than the previous performer. Obviously, this might be the point of any self-respecting lineup-- avoid monotony at all cost, right? But those who wanted to hear any good amount of genuine Chuck Taylor-Black Levi’s-boogie would have to wait until the next day (with hard-rock outfit Kinky’s admittedly guitar-heavy set notwithstanding) and it just would have been nice if there was a little bit more balance.

Nevertheless, on Friday fans were treated to quite a nice range of sounds, whether they were coming from a Gibson or not. They could hear DJ duo Flosstradamus pretty much just spinning a straight mix of hip-hop standbys-“Jump Around” and “Push It” were among those in their repertoire- or Gotan Project’s Massive Attack-go-to-Buenos Aires trip-waltz, to mention a couple examples.

There was a common denominator to everything on Saturday, though-- the Beat and its ability to effect any sort of general motion in a 7,000-strong mass of bodies. This first day wasn’t about listening carefully for subtle synth and guitar effects or introspective vocals as much as it was about just letting off some steam, with each idiosyncratic outfit simply providing a new flavor as the night wore on. There just should have been a little bit more of that Beat traded in for some of the rock on Sunday.

-- By Ross Moody

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monterey Music Summit is more than just entertainment

The first ever Monterey Music Summit is scheduled for October 20 & 21 at the County Fairgrounds in Monterey, CA. This festival will feature over 25 performances on 2 stages from a variety of music, including: Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Roots, G. Love & Special Sauce, Cake, Ozomatli, Céu, Brandi Carlile, Cobie Callait, ALO, Ian Ball (of Gomez), Tea Leaf Green, Zap Mama, Yard Dogs Road Show, Ollabelle, New Monsoon, West Indian Girl, Grash Hot, Band Bang Bang, Jessie Baylin, and more. Also featured will be spoken word presentations and other performance art, including a drum circle complementing many of the musical acts. It's more than just entertainment though. Besides art, the central focus of the festival is on political and social issues. It's said to be less of a festival and more of a forum, in which these issues will be addressed through speech, music, and more. The Monterey Music Summit is guaranteed to open your eyes, make you think, and show you an excellent weekend of music, art, and social change. Below is the ticketing information:

A combination of reserved and general admission 2-day event tickets on sale now online at starting at $99 for both days. Early purchase discounts apply.
To purchase tickets by telephone, please call (866) 55-TICKETS. For event information, please

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interview w/ Treasure Island MF Hits Trainwreck Riders

Photo: [From Left: Steve Kerwin (drumer), Andrew Kerwin,
(lead guitarist, vocalist), Garritt Heater (bassist), Pete
Frauenfelder (vocals, rhythm guitar)]
Credit: +1 Music

It’s not very often that you’ll hear a band that manages to wind its way through the two opposing genres of Americana and post-punk, within the span of an album and come out at the end with an easily accessible gem, especially when they’re doing the whole thing on a shoestring budget. Well, it seems that Festival Preview has just made contact with such a band, the Trainwreck Riders of San Francisco.

Now, why would FP bank these words on a band like the Riders, who are still used to small warehouse gigs rather than arenas and ampitheatres with a backstage buffet serving 20 types of sushi? Well, just listen to the band’s second album, Lonely Road Revival, or catch one of their shows. Live or through headphones, they’re money for this simple reason: Whether you’re a fan of Merle Watson, the Replacements, or a little bit of both, they’ll give you what you want, and then some. If you’re a country bumpkin, they’ll make that guitar fuzz you’ve always detested start to make sense. If you’re a city slicker that doesn’t know the second meaning of the word “rag”, then they’ll open your eyes to what you’ve been missing.

The key in all this is the band’s ability to both hone in on that kind of kick (and melancholy) that gets right to the core of being a bacchanalian twenty-something and trying to nail down that wide-open life of yours, and to then hold that sound steady and not muddle it up.

At the Treasure Island Music Festival, they gave everyone pretty good evidence of their mastery in the ways of punch-drunk beauty. On songs like “Through Unto The End” and “Slow Motion Cowboy”, the hard hits and addictive arpeggios came through in the extreme, and it paid off. As the crowd dispersed after their set, many a fan could be heard promising that they’d buy the Riders’ material sometime in the very near future.

FP sat down with the amiable Andrew Kerwin, guitarist and songwriter for the Riders, to talk about the band’s past, what makes the band tick, and how it bridges the gap between its diverse range of audiences.

(Q) How did you arrive on your sound?

(A) We just came up with it naturally. We listened to tons of punk rock and tons of old-timey music. Our sound’s basically just rock’n’roll, though many people would call it “punk-country.” My brother Steve (the drummer for Trainwreck Riders) and I grew up in a house full of old 78-rpm records- nothing past 1937- and we also got into punk at a pretty decent age, so there’s just an eclectic range of things that come through in what we do.

(Q) What’s it like being in a band with your brother?

(A) We’re pretty decent for siblings. Growing up, we were playing Little League together and had a mutual group of friends. At a really young age, it was kind of annoying, but when we started playing music together, we didn’t have any problems. Overall, it’s been pretty healthy, and after each gig it’s more like “See you at grandma’s” than just “See you at practice.”

(Q) Has there been any band or artist that everybody in Trainwreck has always admired throughout their career?

(A) The one the whole band all agrees on completely, the one the we all wear on our sleeves, is the Meat Puppets. They were literally the reason why I started playing guitar. To this day, if you put on a Meat Puppets record, it’ll still blow all of our minds.

The craziest thing is, we opened for them twice, in LA and in San Francisco, when they started touring again this year. I remember I was asked at South By Southwest what I was most looking forward to in 2007, and for me it was instantaneous- new Meat Puppets record and tour. A couple months later, we were opening for them! I still can’t comprehend it.

(Q) You guys gave Two Gallants a shout-out from the stage today, and you tour with them frequently. What’s the relationship between Two Gallants and TR?

(A) Well, we go way back, long before any of this (Kerwin gestures to the expansive Treasure Island backstage area). We both did our first tour outside the Bay Area together, which was our best tour ever. Today was awesome, because it was exactly like that tour, where you have your friends playing next (Two Gallants played their set immediately after TR at Treasure Island on the day of the interview).

So it was just natural to say, “Hey, check out our friends next," because we were thinking about having Adam (Stephens, singer, guitarist and harpist for Two Gallants) come onstage and play with us during “Christmas Time Blues”(probably the Riders’ most powerful song, a sonically simple, yet descriptive ballad about loneliness in wintertime San Francisco, on which Stephens plays harmonica) anyway, and that didn’t work out.

(Q) Speaking of “Christmas Time Blues”, where did that song come from?

(A) Pete wrote that song, and I don’t want to speak for him, but you can trace a map of the area he’s singing about in the song. So yeah, it’s definitely a song written from his own experience and from the heart.

(Q) What revs the engines in the songwriting process-- what takes it from tunes like “Christmas Time Blues” to “Slow Motion Cowboy” (a square-dance-on-Red Bull that's probably the Riders' flagship tune)?

(A) I think more of our stuff comes across like “Slow Motion” than it used to, but we’ve just started trying out new things. We like to remain conscious of the idea of not putting up barriers in terms of what we can or can’t do. It also depends on the subject matter and how we feel when the song comes about. I mean, look at “Alemony Wildlife Refuge” (probably the most progressive in the band’s catalog, the song veers through several tempos and melodies before ending on a start-and-stop riff)-- A song like that would never be expected from us. It goes so many places and now people say they want us to play more stuff like that anyway.

(Q) In June (2007), you guys got side-swiped by a drunk driver. What long-term effects, if any, has that event had on the band?

(A) I figured you’d ask about one of the Texas incidents. We just feel really lucky to be able to walk away from that. We had to cancel half of our tour, all of our gear was wrecked, the driver didn’t have insurance, and it was a hit and run. We didn’t have to go to a hospital or anything, though, so we just feel extremely lucky to still be able to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

(Q) Now for the other Texas incident. What was it like for one of your shows to get busted (Members of TR, including Kerwin and then-bassist Sean Kohler, along with Two Gallants, were Tasered and arrested at Houston nightclub Walter's On Washington in October 2006)?

(A) The whole Texas experience is just unbelieveable. First you have the guy who does a hit-and-run on us, in possession of drugs and without insurance. Next, you have this cop losing his shit, coming into a legit venue where they do shows every night, and we get Tasered and have to spend a night in jail. We almost missed our next show in Austin.

Because we’re from California, the court decided to drop our charges down to a Class-C Misdemeanor- it’s basically as if we just got a parking ticket. However, I just got a letter in the mail that says I have to write that cop a letter of apology and pay the $110 fine. So, it still ruffles the feathers, but we’re just glad to get it behind us, y’know?

(Q) Have you ever considered writing a purely folk record or a purely punk record?

(A) We all have these big concepts in our heads about what kind of themed-record we’d want to make, but it’s so hard to just stick to one road when we’re naturally going down so many all at once. At the same time, we also like playing everywhere from street corners to this festival at Treasure Island, from basement gigs to the Revolution Café (a coffee shop and acoustic-based music venue located in San Francisco’s Mission District), just mixing it up and doing what’s interesting for us.

Down the line we might come up with some theme or concept record, but, for right now, we just like showing our range. What we play depends on where you catch us, of course.

(Q) More on that note, what’s it like for you to play a club like the Gilman (a punk-based venue in Berkeley, CA, possibly the SF Bay Area equivalent of CBGB) vs. Freight & Salvage (a roots-based venue also in located in Berkeley)?

(A) As far as our general approach to each show, it doesn’t really change too much. As far as the atmosphere of each venue goes, though, you just take everything for what it is. Both of those places have their positives and negatives.

We did come up in the whole DIY Gilman scene, though. We were playing shows there when we were really young, like 16 or 17, and it was nice to have that place to go play gigs whenever we wanted. You also get the feeling, playing at the Gilman, that everybody there is just on the same level, completely. So, places like that do have a special little place in our hearts.

(Q) What do you like playing more, festivals or your own shows?

(A) We’ve done things like fundraisers for, say, a local radio station in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but they’ve all been in local dive bars and places like that, but this is the first festival we’ve ever done to this degree, and we’re just having a blast. I don’t really have any positive or negative things to say about the topic, in general, though. You lose some of the element of personal interaction, what with the size of the crowd, but at the same time I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people backstage.

(Q) The purpose of a band isn’t just to meet a set of objectives within some period of time. That being said, where would you like to see the band five years down the line?

(A) That’s a really hard question. I just hope that we’re still playing music together and having fun, and also doing the same music we’ve been doing, while, at the same time, not repeating ourselves. Just keeping the old ears while gathering some new ones, playing new places, playing old places. Playing with new bands, playing with old bands. And not get stagnant. That’s really all I can say.

(Q) Your most recent album came out the summer of last year. Do you have a new album in the works?

(A) Yeah. It’s a little bit over half-written. We have the basic song structure down, and we could play eight of them the way we’d want them right now, and we’re just practicing the other songs. We plan to have the album out and hit the road again next spring, and just get it out as much as we can, go farther than we did before.

--By Ross Moody

Treasure Island Music Festival Photo Gallery

There's verbal evidence of the inaugural Treasure Island Music Festival on the way, but while you're waiting, feast your eyes on some of these Class-A pocket cam photos:

Singer-guitarist Doug Martsch and his band Built To Spill were by far
the heaviest at Treasure Island.
Film School's Greg Bertens belting it. The Trainwreck Riders finishing out their set w/a bang.
Guest sitar player Rob Myers during Thievery Corporation's set.
Kinky's lead guitarist Carlos Chairez provided most of the
very little total monster guitar riffage heard on Saturday night.
A view of the SF skyline from Treasure Island.
DJ Shadow (left) & Cut Chemist (right) went as far as to scratch over
Metallica's "One" on Saturday.
Frontman Britt Daniel (left) and bassist Rob Pope (right), kicking out
some of the cleanest rock heard at the festival.
Two Gallants' Adam Stephens (on guitar) and Tyson Vogel
(on drums), along w/ a guest fiddler.
Gotan Project guest player Nino Flores feeling the heat of
his own licks on the bandoneón.
Flosstradamus putting their own spin on the hits. Pun intended.
The members of West Indian Girl in all their psych-rock

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pearl Jam closes strange and glorious weekend on Day 3 of Lollapalooza

By Rob Janicke

I don’t typically use words such as “grand” or “finale” but in this case I’ll make the exception. Days 1 and 2 of the 2007 Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois have been two fantastic days of sights, sounds, people and atmosphere. Why not expect the last day to be a “grand finale?”

I knew this day would be a bit different from the previous two in that most of the estimated 70,000 people would be gearing up to see the festival headliner Pearl Jam at 8 pm at the main stage. This “prediction” was the driving force in how my schedule was going to play out on this final day. As with days 1 and 2 there were plenty of good bands to see and much ground to cover. Here’s the problem though…I knew that if I wanted to be in the same zip code as the main stage to catch Pearl Jam at 8 pm, I’d need to be near that stage around 3, because by then people would begin camping out to secure a prime spot for the headliner. This was a bit of a dilemma but I was confident that Lollapalooza would not let me down. I was right!

My first planned stop was to see Juliette and the Licks at 11:30 am. It was another hot day and I wasn’t moving as quickly as I had on Friday. Because of the heat induced laziness I was a bit late for my date with Ms. Lewis and her Licks. When I did finally arrive at the Adidas stage, what I saw and heard was an absolute jolt to my system, waking me up and preparing me for the rest of my day. It is true that the Juliette in “Juliette and the Licks” is actress Juliette Lewis. After seeing her play though, she is now lead singer Juliette who also happens to be an actress. The band is raw, loud and sloppy enough to be just right. Lewis is a tiny human being with tremendous presence. At one point she threw herself head first into the crowd only to eventually be held up by her feet, high above the crowd, arms aloft in victory. The crunching guitars, the melodic choruses and Juliette’s passion kicked Lollapalooza Day 3 into high gear!

At 12:15, I made my way over to the Bud Light stage to check out punk rockers The Cribs. I wish I hadn’t. Nothing too exciting here at all. They basically play boring punk rock with no hint of originality. It may as well been a punk cover band in a very hot, outdoor bar somewhere. After the high of the previous band, this was a downer.

I was hoping to get a kick in the ass from the next band, The Heartless Bastards over at the Myspace stage, and I wound up with a slight push instead. This trio out of Cincinnati plays inventive music with cool grooves and great melody. The problem is that it just doesn’t translate in the great outdoors. Their sound gets lost in the elements and leaves the viewer confused and deflated. It’s not the band’s fault, mind you…they’re really good. Wide open spaces just do not allow for music like this to thrive. The band gets no vibe from the crowd to feed off of and the crowd in turn gets no energy from the band. The venue is just not the right fit for these guys. I’d love to see them in a small club somewhere and give it another shot…I think it would be well worth it.

Ok, so now it’s getting close to the time where I had planned to head over to the main stage to stake my claim on the piece of grass that would become my home for Pearl Jam later on in the night. It was approaching 2:15 and I really wasn’t interested in any of the bands performing during this time slot. Thankfully, I met and talked with a great guy called Chris who had come all the way from South Africa to attend this festival. He really made the insane trek to see his favorite band (Pearl Jam) live in concert because they have never been to his native land and he saw this as a terrific opportunity.

One of the bands he was excited to see was The Black Angels, who I had never heard of before. I decided to head over to the Citi stage with Chris and see why he needed to see this band. Let me take this opportunity to thank him…The Black Angels flat out blew me away. I don’t even know where to begin with this eclectic band from Austin, Texas. It took me about three or four songs into the set just to get a grasp for what I was witness to. Every musician on the stage (except for the drummer) switched instruments at one point or another throughout the show to the delight of the rather large crowd. The best way I can describe their dark yet melodic sound is The Doors meets Neil Young meets Satan. Lead singer Alex Mass seems to channel the spirit of Jim Morrison while belting out sounds reminiscent of the great Neil Young.The psychedelic rock boiling behind him sets a trance-like mood that keeps you on the edge of your seat…well, if you had a seat. By the time they were through mesmerizing and probably scaring the crowd, I was left wanting more. This is a band I will definitely see again.

Now that I had witnessed the Black Angels, I was ready to sit and wait for Pearl Jam to put a cap on a great weekend. I was trying to position myself near the stage for the 4:15 performance of Kings of Leon. The crowd had become very thick and immobile. People were not moving from this point on. Pearl Jam was just a few short hours away and no one was giving up their tiny pieces of Grant Park’s grass and dirt. This was not going to be easy. I was able to get a decent enough patch of grass for myself and watch what was a good Kings of Leon set. I’m a fan of the band and I like most of their songs, but I felt like they had left something out. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I have to admit I felt slightly disappointed.

My Morning Jacket was up next. These guys are interesting at best, with the occasional good hook. Most of the songs seemed to blend with one another without much distinction among them. They did, however, enlist the services of a youth choir from Chicago, which added some needed bigness to their sound.

Dusk was now hanging over Chicago’s Grant Park with seemingly the same anticipation as the capacity crowd. The beginning of the end for Lollapalooza 2007 was moments away and the buzz was unmistakable. I was reflecting a bit on the weekend at this point and was somewhat sad it was coming to an end. On the other hand, I was very excited for the next and final act, Pearl Jam.

Opening up with a vicious blast from their debut album Ten, “Why Go,” got this 2007 crowd feeling like it was 1992 (the band’s first and only other Lollapalooza appearance). After rockers “Corduroy”, “Save You” and “Do the Evolution,” the band slowed things down a bit with the sing-a-long fan favorite “Elderly Women behind the Counter in a Small Town”. After ripping through several other “greatest hits” with all the power and passion that one would expect from these rock veterans, they ended the first set with the 90's anthem “Alive,” which nearly brought down the house. There is something about listening to 70,000 voices singing “I’m still alive” that leads you to believe that you are better off here in this moment than anywhere else on earth. Coming back for what was the first of two encores, Vedder and company ran through “Betterman”, their rendition of the cult classic “Crazy Mary,” “Life Wasted” and a loud, violent version of “Rearviewmirror.” By now the night sky had fully engulfed Chicago and Pearl Jam had completely taken over Grant Park.

Hitting the stage for their second and final encore, Pearl Jam enlisted the help of two friends. The first is a man called Tomas Young who is the Iraq war veteran that the song “No More” was written about. The second is an old friend of the band and brilliant musician in his own right, Ben Harper. This lent tremendous feeling to a song already overflowing with passionate protest. The next and final song, not only of their set, but of the entire weekend, was the Neil Young cover, “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Once again, the band had some help. From my vantage point, I couldn’t make everyone out, but the stage was full of people just rocking out and singing along. What was impossible to miss, though, was the way the whole shebang came to an end. Former Chicago Bull and longtime Pearl Jam friend and fan Dennis Rodman hoisted Eddie Vedder onto his shoulders giving the singer the opportunity to see as far as his eyes would allow. He flashed the peace sign to the masses of Lollapaloozians (that’s not a word I just made that up) still hanging on every note, hoping they could stay for at least one more song. It was a strange, yet glorious end to a strange and glorious weekend.

Attendance strong on Day One at Bumbershoot

By Karen Martin

Bumbershoot is off and running. I'll start with an apology for my bad. This is the 37th Annual Bumbershoot, not the 36th, as I wrote in a preview entry last week. Here is my report from a volunteer's perspective on the first day of the festival.

First, a few negatives. In my opinion, this year's t-shirt design leaves a lot to be desired. For those of you who collect, maybe this is the year to add the main logo shirt instead of the 2007 design. Or save you souvenir dollar for Flatstock, the poster art exhibit and sale running over at the Fisher Building. I saw many people taking rolls and rolls of goodies from that event out to their cars and then coming back for more fun.

As a volunteer, I worked part of Saturday at the gate. There was some confusion about a new ticket scanning procedure. Not only do you get scanned coming in to the event, but each time you want to go out and come back. This allows One Reel, the festival producer, to get a better handle on the true attendance numbers, which were said to have been up 40 percent over last year.

In addition to the scanning, we are still stamping hands for in-and-outs. We all apologize for the green hand stamp that is being used this year. Perhaps the festival staff needs to rethink this PAINT. as that is what it is. Remember to keep your ticket in a safe place so you can get it scanned when you come and go.

Now on to the good stuff! I was right that the Esurance Stage was the best stage by far last evening. The crowd was huge and it spilled over the Fisher Green onto the hills beyond. Many stood on the rocks in the new Poetry Garden (a lovely space that was dedicated to a recently retired Seattle Center employee.) Many stood on the rail above the Fisher Building on top.

Even nicer, there are two beer gardens--one behind the stage and one on top of the Fisher--where you can enjoy a beverage while allowing a the view of the stage. Sitting on top, you get a view of the entire Fisher Green all the way over to the Fountain, the Fountain Lawn and Queen Anne Hill.

Besides the layout, the Esurance Stage, which was previously known as the Bumbrella Stage, far-out rocked the Main Stage. In fact, a lot of the people who stood in line to get the coveted pink ticket for the evening acts at the Memorial Stadium didn't turn out for that gig last night. One reason for the good vibe at Esurance was that my buddies Buddha and Anthony are back again this year as the stage manager and assistant stage manager. They also have some fine people working as backstage crew from the local IATSE union--one of the sources of production talent that One Reel has learned to tap to enhance the experience.

One great thing about Bumbershoot is the variety of family activities. A lot of people come with the kiddies for the day, then take the kids home and come back for the night events. There is a “Brick” area set aside for Lego lovers inside the Center House, along with face painting and other kid's activities.

The Fun Forest is split in half this year. The younger rides are outside of Bumbershoot. The older rides like the Log Splitter, the Roller Coaster and the Ship Ride are inside of Bumbershoot, as is the Arcade and the Midway. Ride tickets must be purchased for all of them separate from the Bumbershoot ticket. Why is it feeling more and more Disneyland like each year?

Well, it is a musical Disneyland. Tonight the Samsung Mainstage is going to be much more interesting with Sean Paul and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas) headlining. It is a limited seating/mostly standing event, so get in early and nab your "square ticket" at the Mainstage info booth. Be prepared to stand in line.

Okay, gotta run to get to the grounds for the Sunday schedule. I hope to see you there for the last two days before we have to wait another year to see it again! More blog tomorrow.