Sunday, March 12, 2006

Live at Langerado

Its 7:30 PM and I've just pulled perhaps the dorkiest move in the history of jam-nation. After spending the morning moderating a pretty nifty podcast press conference featuring such luminaries as Art Neville, Michael Franti and the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, my internet connection cuts out, stunting Cold Turkey's launch into cyber space. At first, I panic and consult a few of the scene's biggest cyber dorks ('s Andy Gadiel and Relix's Aaron Benor to name a few) before finally leaving my favorite band's set mid-segue to call our technician back in Northampton, MA. So, instead of hearing the Disco Biscuits' play "I-Man," I find myself huddled in back of an old, red-and-silver tour bus, hijacking Perpetual Groove's wireless connection to navigate my way through a maze of iMacs and FTP files before figuring out how to put our podcast back online. Sure, it's probably not how journalists reported on Woodstock, but such is life on the modern festival circuit: a traveling circus with all the characteristics of an urban city (including, alas, bumper-to-bumper traffic).

As a child growing-up in suburban, northeast America, there were really only two reasons to travel to Florida: grandparents and spring break packages. And, while festival promoters ignored my idea to schedule designated grandparent visiting hours between main stage activities, Langerado does have an overarching family vibe. Set in a lush park near a clean waterway, Langerado is the type of gathering you can bring your children (or grandparents) to without being too sketched out. But, it's also the ultimate spring break adventure, boasting performances from tweaker-approved jam-titans like Umphrey's McGee and the Disco Biscuits, as well as soulternative stars like Ben Harper and Spearhead. If your stuck at home this week, try screaming the words "spring break" at the top of your lungs. Apparently, it is some form of age-old mating call in these parts.

Speaking of Spearhead, for a man who preaches peace and equality, Michael Franti sure knows how to drown out his competition. While performing on Langerado's Sunrise Stage, Spearhead pumped his politically conscious folk and hip-hop so loudly that Steel Train's guerrilla-set in front of the Relix booth was rendered all but inaudible. No matter, those who huddled around the Relix booth were treated to an extremely up-close and personal set by the folk-punk upstarts.

If Langerado is indeed festival season's official kickoff, then it also serves as a fitting preview of this summer's most popular trends. For some reason, many of the scene's core bands have slimmed down in sit-in department this go around. In fact, the day's only onstage collaboration took place during Umphrey's McGee's late-night performance at Ft. Lauderdale's Revolution. During a version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part II," the Disco Biscuits' Marc Brownstein and Jon Gutwillig each took turns dueling with the Chicago sextet onstage, trading both licks and fraternal punches throughout the extended workout. A few of my co-workers have also pointed to the Flaming Lips in the setlist asterisk department. While the Flaming Lips ran through a selection of material from its forthcoming album At War with the Mystics, members of Lake Trout, Drive-By Truckers and Steel Train could be spotted dancing onstage in animal costumes, along with Wayne Coyne's "mystery birthday girl" (which turned out to be Relix's own Cold Boyle.) While these personalities did indeed join the Lips onstage, we still need a 3/5ths majority vote to determine if their onstage appearances classifies as a worthy news bit. Oh, and to hear the abovementioned press conference in its entirety please visit Cold Turkey's home at

Special Thanks to Randy Ray!

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