At 5 pm, Hot Chip was blaring through an outstanding set in a tent called Mojave, packed with thousands of shirtless 20-somethings, absolutely every one of them dancing, and not in the reserved head bob concert manner, but full goofy splendor, and at about that time, I fell down. Okay, I kind of slumped in a corner. I never lost consciousness, but I got to the point where I had to leave one of the better concerts of the year.
I called a friend to acknowledge my shame, and was told that it was 103 degrees, my sickness was understandable. 103 degrees at 5 pm.
Given that astoundingly difficult fact, something Regina Spektor took pains to apologize for as she began her set on the unshielded main stage, it is a testament to the crowd and organizers that nothing went horribly wrong. These have been the safest concerts I have ever attended, not because the music put people to sleep, but mostly due to one virtue I didn’t know was so prominent: outrageously good manners. As Win Butler, the singer of Arcade Fire, said in his parting compliment to the festival, the crowd had been very polite, a good Canadian virtue, and followed it with this axiom: “Manners are the cornerstone of a strong, prosperous society.” Good manners allowed thousands to dance together and take in the best performances of the festival without incident.
Manners are a complicated thing though. I thought, for example, that Jason Lee, Earl of My Name is Earl, and all the other celebrity fans of the Black Keys demonstrated outstanding manners by fleeing their backstage seats and taking over, however briefly, the photographer’s pit to enjoy the pride of Akron, Ohio. They were universally asked to leave the pit by a security staff that seemed non-plussed by their celebrity status, but for there was something remarkable in seeing famous type people show unbridled enthusiasm, to say nothing of the respect I felt for the posse after one of them sported this reporter a couple cold beers.
Okay, I mentioned the famous people, kind of. (If you want photos, log on to www.coacheelovesyou.com to see stunning photos by Biff, this ridiculously hard working artist and photographer with method to his madness.) This is a blog, so I should talk famous people. I should also say that Ghostface Killah swore that Cameron Diaz was in the crowd. He shouted this to the audience as he was requesting that some women get on stage and dance, explaining that “usually get girls up here and get them to show their titties, but we’re not going to do that here, unless you want us to.”
Anyway, that’s the gossip crap, now about the music, the concerts that make this festival so outstanding. Regina Spektor, from her opening pitch perfect a cappela number through a charming performance which demonstrated, even when her sometimes slightly overly precious and cute lyrics grated, that as a performer, as a singer, musician and personality, she belongs on the biggest stage. I saw her show after an easy-going if unoriginal opening set from Icelandic and English band Fields, an enthusiastic but not particularly memorable set from The Cribs, and a disastrous set from Fountains of Wayne, who can write a tight song and rhyme in any genre, but who probably should sell said songs to other bands for performances. Regina Spektor, then, saved the afternoon and suggested how good the evening would get.
More in extended entry…
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