Thursday, November 15, 2007

Langerado blockbuster lineup still growing

A week after Langerado announced a blockbuster lineup headed by R.E.M., Beastie Boys and Phil Lesh & Friends for its March 6-9 festival, jammer Keller Williams has been added. Tickets for the festival, which will be held for the first time at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in Seminole FL, go on sale Friday, November 16 though the festival website at www.

Other big names in the impressive lineup include Gov't Mule, Ani DiFranco, The Disco Biscuits, Robert Randolph & EHT Family Band, Sam Bush, Les Claypool, The Wailers, The Avett Brother, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, and many more.

Like many other festivals, Langerado is making a significant effort to offset its impact on the environment. One feature is Greeneado, a "sustainability village" where non-profits, artists and activists will promote eco-friendly practices.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the pit for Rage at Voodoo

By Andy Sipe

The anticipation of a Rage Against the Machine performance has my nerves shot and my blood pumping. I have a feeling I’m gonna die in the mosh pit. People have already started camping out in front of the Rage stage to hold up-close seats. Excitement is building in the diverse crowd, which includes people who had fallen in love with them post breakup and never got to see them live, people who loved them before, and people who have never heard of them (however that’s possible) to this day.

Once Rage hits the stage, the crowd moves in unison—stomping, shoving, elbowing, and just plain worshiping in their own abstract way their musical gods appearing in the flesh within arms reach. Slow but steady hard-hitting beats accentuated by intellectual lyrics, passionate vocals, and fantastic guitar work ignites the crowd, which roars on cue when the microphone is thrust in their direction, then begs for more after what seems like a sample set and is rewarded with a three-song encore set.

Eventually the band had to quit, and the crowd—beaten and bruised, myself with a fat lip and swollen various other body parts--decided to trample the VIP fences and storm the stadium seats, chanting various lyrics from random Rage songs into the hysterical crowds below. I didn't see any trash can fires or tipped-over cars, but who knows? I have only two eyes facing forward. All I do know is it was a satisfied crowd, and one of the best damn shows I have ever seen.

Saturday brought in the emo crowd for Smashing Pumpkins, Coheed and Cambria. Bangs in their eyes, black and pink eyeliner, and slits down their wrists. Again the gods gave us lovely weather. Tons of bodies strolled around City Park dressed in lavish Halloween costumes. So far I have been graced by Samuel L. Jackson from pulp fiction, a female underdog, a slutty Pippi Longstocking, Darth Maul, The Super Mario Brothers and various other indescribable costumed characters.

As far as bands go, there is a ton of funky brass from the local scene, whose pleasure it is to pass the time until the headliners arrive.

Everything looks twisted when the sun goes down—neon sunglasses, random twirling glow sticks, even a light-saber duel keep migrating crows entertained in the dark. I had to work my booth gig and I didn't get to see the Smashing Pumpkins.

Sunday the crowds were mainly young kids and older couples—twenty-somethings were infrequent for some reason. A ton of merch and freebies were tossed out in anticipation of the festival coming to an end, as tired booth workers are looking to pack up early tonight. The park is looking pretty well trashed, andpark workers are doing their best to clean the place up before it reopens tomorrow to the general public.

I wonder how much money the average patron spent at the weekend event, and where did all that money come from? How can everyday people afford this? You can do a festival like Voodoo the full-cost way, or on the economy plan like I did. But however they did it, attendees had a memorable weekend at the 2007 Voodoo Festival. I know I did, even if I did leave early on Sunday.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rage rules the crowd for Vegoose Day Two

By John Robison

Day two was a bit rougher to wake up for. Sore from yesterday's hard partying, we arrived late and had to stand in line waiting to be let in. Unfortunately, the gods that had smiled upon us yesterday took today off, and we already had the makings for a cloudless hot fall day in Las Vegas.

Finally entering the festival fields, we took shelter in the Sony Erickson tent in comfy seats and listened to music through tethered headphones until setting out for the stage where Ghostface Killa of Wu Tang fame and the Rhythm Roots All Stars would be holding forth.

Ghostface's music was consistently decent hip-hop, but we found ourselves sitting on dying grass through the entire set as the sun just continued to kill the mood. Seeking shade, we enjoyed a cold lemonde in the “Impersonators CafĂ©” tent while listening to a convincing copy of Johnny Mathis croon familiar hits.

We made our way back outside to check out Ghostland Observatory—a duo of singer and sometimes lead guitarist Aaron Behrens and cape-wearing, synth-rocking Thomas Ross Turner. Although the crowd seemed to enjoy them it wasn't my cup of tea. After another break to check out the venders and their overpriced wares, we returned to the main stage an hour before Muse was schedule to go on. There was already a sizable crowd forming but we were able to snag a decent spot.

Muse finally came on and I have to say that every song hit us like a shock wave. What an amazing, truly powerful band. Muse tore through all the songs a fan would want to hear and put genuine heart and soul into the set. As Muse rocked the crowd, giant balls filled with confetti were let loose on the crowd, which bounced them around for a bit before they burst open and confetti filled the air. It was more than a concert at that point, it was a party. I even let loose and enjoyed a majority of the set in the mosh pit getting tossed about like a rag doll, and that is no easy feet as I am a big guy.

We decided to back out of the swarming crowd for Rage Against the Machine, which may have been the smartest move we made all weekend. Even several hundred feet back, the crowd was in a frenzy when Rage took to the stage, seemingly out for one another’s blood. Impromptu mosh pits formed near and around us. At one point as the music fed the crowd's aggression, a fist fight broke out right in front of me and I found myself trying to break up the combatants. After I stepped in, the crowd wooshed in and swept the fighters in opposite directions.

On stage, Rage kept up the aggression right to the end, finishing up with a crowd favorite "Killing in the Name Of." As everybody again made the tired and spent walk to the cars, I can imagine that the thoughts running through all those sweat-drenched heads were just like mine—content in all I had seen and heard and already counting down to next years Vegoose.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The human circus at Voodoo

By Andy Sipe

Being Halloween weekend, lots of festival-goers are decked out in flashy costumes. Unfortunately for them, they are too worried about their appeal to get into the pit and dance, unlike the ones who actually go at it without a care in the world. There are also plenty like me, who prepare for such a festival adventure with nothing but an old T-shirt, dirty pants, and grungy shoes, which they never expect to wear again since they will most likely be lost, torn, or drenched in cheap alcohol. But different priorities breed different styles, and all are welcome at this eclectic event, each adding his or her own spice to the mix. And, honestly, when I'm not dancing my ass off in front of a band I'm diehard about, I love looking at the flashy kids in their handmade wares modeling for me.

Because of some kind of sponsor deal, there is free Red Bull everywhere, and I’m scared to see the after-effects of it on these people, especially since free water is nowhere to be found. You can’t even bring water into the park unopened if you are not a vendor. In this heat someone is bound to dehydrate him or herself into a seizure.

Back in the VIP tent, I can't differentiate between the tattooed outlandish band members from the chronic roadies. The only perk of lounge access that I can see are the elaborate upgraded port-o-potties. Some scantly clad women wander into the VIP section looking to get close to big name bands, but find only small fry like myself.

Things start heating up at the festival around 4 pm on Friday. Under the relentless beating sun and cloudless sky, bands are transitioning smoothly and the swelling crowds chase them from stage to stage in a musical ping-pong match. Skin is being fried all around. The soft deceiving mud is going to sprout mud wrestling soon, and I’m caked in it already.

I’m starting to regret working the festival, as you have nowhere near the freedom of pay customers, who can wander around aimlessly all day long. However if you can't afford a ticket, and only want to see one or two bands and don't have a hot date lined up, it's a good alternative. If you can get a VIP job even better. There are tons of friendly freaks back in the VIP lounge to mingle with.

At night the stage lights up like Vegas, and the crowd is one big shadow, one big being, moving and dancing to the beat of the music, and no one worries what anyone else is thinking of them because no one can distinguish anyone else. Besides, the heat of the day, the endless walking, the intensity of the music, and probably a little too much cheap beer, helps ease the anxieties of the individual. I predict by the time Rage comes on one will have to move around just to stay standing on those aching feet.

Mind-blowing Day One at Vegoose

By John Robison

I arrived with a friend to park at Sam Boyd Stadium at ten in the morning. What we found when we got there was a collective of diversity that a Mountain Dew ad would be proud of. Hippies selling trinkets, others selling BBQ and beer. Different tents set up to sell the latest in bootleg shirts and tie-die apparel. We walked around briefly before standing in the line that took us about thirty minutes to get inside the Vegoose grounds.

Once inside we immediately made our way to the stage where Gogol Bordello would be playing. The weather was perfect for a outside concert, slightly overcast to block out the Las Vegas sun and heat, but no actual rain clouds in sight. Finally Gogol Bordello took to the stage, and they proceeded to exceed my wildest expectations with their gypsy punk act. Their set was probably the most energetic live show I have ever seen, and I have been to many a show. Next year, this band should be one of the headliners.

I missed the opportunity to see Blonde Redhead as hunger drove me to the tents where food and beverage were served. The burger and lemonade left me $12 more broke. Passing by the Zia Records tent, I saw that Atmosphere would be doing a meet and greet and soon after Gogol Bordello would be doing a meet and greet as well. So we took a detour and got in line. Shawn, the rap singer and man some know as “Atmosphere,” took the time to say a few words and pose for pictures with the people in line, still keeping his composure with several slightly drunk and deranged fans.

After that, we decided to wait for the meet and greet with Gogol Bordello. It was well worth the time in line and worth missing some bands I wasn’t to sure about to begin with. The band also took their time to chat with fans sign autographs and take pictures… all in all a pleasant experience with both sets of artists.

We then headed over to watch Atmosphere. He took to the stage and dived right in pumping the crowd and hyping them with commentary before each song. It was entertaining to see him engage the crowd and hear him make goofs before the songs. Each song had a clinical degree of precision, with recorded samples and a live band to accompany each song. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay the entire set as it was running into the beginning of Public Enemy.

Making our way to the stage where Public Enemy would perform, we had no idea of the energy we were walking into. We arrived at stage and soon after two gentlemen came out in camo fatigues with dark sunglasses ready to lead the crowd in the time-honored Public Enemy salute. Then the band took to stage you could feel the energy as these hip-hop legends commanded the crowd, stealing away much of the audience from Cypress Hill on the next stage.

As proof that hip-hop music transcends the boundaries, the thousands of fists in the air were mostly white. Chuck D had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as he dove into song after song. Three songs in was a huge intro for Vegas local Flavor Flave. It was a nice change to see Flavor Flave in his element on stage with the band that made him a household name. He was in top form hyping the crowd and throwing out the occasional line or too, far removed from the caricature of himself he created with his reality TV show “Flavor of Love”. To top that off, near the end of the set Flavor Flave jumped on drums and showed the crowd that Public Enemy’s hype man was more then just that, he is also a talented drummer.

We caught the tail end of Cypress Hill and from what I saw they had the crowd equally engaged as had Public Enemy. We took another food break at that point and then made our way into the thick crowd waiting for Queens of the Stone Age. I never would have imagined it, but Queens of the Stone Age bring out the aggression in a large crowd. Their set began and the music was incredible. Josh Homme brought a bit of naughtiness to the set and kept the music flowing with little time for talk and more time for rock. I was standing near a pit and just sat back watching the participants thrash into one another as though hypnotized. All in all, a stellar performance.

Finally the time came up for the most talked about band of the festival—Daft Punk. The curtain pulled to the side to reveal a large pyramid with room for two in a spacing near the top and a large structure that looked like a metallic cage structure behind it. The music began and at the top of the pyramid out came two robots ready to shake loose the tail end of Vegoose Day One.

In a dreamlike moment, one could look out into the crowd of thousands and see everyone dancing. Calling it amazing music and an amazing lightshow would be selling it short. There are no known words to describe the complete next level of entertainment that Daft Punk provided. The crowd was mesmerized and if anyone had doubts about the ticket price before this show, Daft Punk made it worth it and then some. They finally finished with a brief but mind-blowing encore. As we made the long trek back to their cars and then sat idle for more than 45 minutes, we hardly noticed as our minds were still processing all the music and visuals we had just experienced. Then finally time for sleep.