Bumbershoot Quiet Keys and a Crumbled Temple
posted by September 1 at 13:15 PMon
If you’re going to have a two-man guitar and drum blues band play the main stage you need to get the basic mix right. The guitar is supposed to be leading the way - it can’t be buried in the mix behind the drums and vocals. Some of the Black Keys riffs are huge, Led Zeppelin rock riffs, but a lot of them got lost in the open air. Still, most managed to translate the intensity despite the hushed volume (aside from the guitar the whole thing should have been louder anyway). Regardless, it was great to see such raw chemistry on the main stage. You don’t even miss the rest of a band thanks to the added intimacy of the two person interplay. Watching them transition and work off each other is great entertainment, and right when you might start to drift or lose interest they pull you back in with a building, thumping climax. It’s frustrating when the instrumentation and performance are both stellar but it still sounds bad – and granted, there’s an amount of that you have to expect from a festival show - but this one was kind of a bummer.
Waiting for STP, the floor was a sea of grass, a mighty, stinky cloud wafting into the floodlights. What does a die-hard Stone Temple Pilots fan look like? They’re not as noticable as, say, a die-hard Alice in Chains fan, who most likely still looks exactly the same as they did in 1994. It was impossible to make a stereotype of the leftover STP fan from the people standing around me - were most of these people here just because it’s Bumbershoot, and this was the option they were given? There were plenty of dudes screaming, “STP!” as loud as they could, but also a guy right behind me shouting “My nuts!” over and over and asking everyone around him to give him some weed. I ask the couple standing next to me, probably in their early 40s, why they’re here. “We’re dedicated fans,” says the lady. “We have them on our Ipod.” The man, once obviously wild but now cooled out in his jean jacket, replies with a solemn smirk, “I’m just here to smell pot.”
The band has their giant tour van drive them directly to the side of the stage, and they open with the unforgettable sliding guitar of “Big Empty.” It’s an odd choice to open with such a slow song but everyone knows all the words and chants along. The guitar solo at the end is appallingly lazy and poorly executed. Next they break into “Wicked Garden,” and a totally grunge rainbow lava lamp effect comes up on the screen behind them. The band all seem so tired, like they’re going through the motions, refusing to let this be even the slightest bit of fun. “Big Bang Baby” is a good song on record, but they play it way too slow, and Weiland’s voice is already raspy and weak. When they start “Lady Picture Show” I’ve had enough. This band isn’t even trying to play music, they’re building a retirement fund.