Friday, November 10, 2006

Vegoose Flashbacks

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Vegoose, but I don’t belong in Las Vegas. I mean, I’m all about a four day hedonistic binge, but Las Vegas simply doesn’t appeal to my main vices (chocolate milk, crazy Jewish girls, self-indulgent Garden State reflections). But that’s not to say I didn’t have an absolute blast staying up for four days, helping edit two newspapers, and interviewing everyone from for Guster (heady) to Widespread Panic (even headier). A good fifteen festival’s into Cold Turkey’s eight month summer tour (us hippies have a loose definition of both “summer” and “tour”) , I think I’ve finally figured out how to enjoy utopia. Since I’ve long since established that I’m way too ADD to sit still for a complete set---and way to neurotic to enjoy music for what it is---a multi-stage festival like Vegoose is an ideal way to filter my scatter-brained bounce. For those of you who couldn’t make it to Vegoose (or were to hung over to make it to the festival grounds before dusk), here is brief recap of some of the weekend’s most notable bands: The good, the bad and the blog able:

String Cheese Incident and Keller Williams: You can tell a band is on its way out when covers and guests start to replace new songs and tight jams on its setlist. That being said, I’d take a Talking Heads medley and a classy cover of the Wood Brothers over “Rivertrance” any day.

Jim James: Sometimes I wish My Morning Jacket wasn’t rock-journalism’s great hickster hope. That way they could be my own little garage-rock band, playing reverb drenched rock-and-roll in the rodeo bar down my city street. But, alas, I’m forced to share them with every critic and blogger whose ever compiled a top ten list. Yet, while Jim James’ solo acoustic set was neither solo (Carl from MMJ played throughout), nor acoustic (he used several keyboards and varied electric toys), for an hour the MMJ-frontman fashioned Las Vegas his own little hipster rodeo bar. Less cowbell, more reverb!

Guster: You can tell a band’s buzz by how packed its backstage area is. So it says a lot about that Vegoose’s parade of artists, publicists, and writers stood at the back of the tent instead of Guster’s tent instead of at the side of the stage. They were all there though, bouncing like they’d just received their senior driver’s licensees. Some bands truly get better with age.

Trey and Phil: Since releasing Shine, his 2005 attempt at post-Supernatural pop, Trey Anastasio has gone through two bands, one record label, and enough fans to populate a Phish-size festival. So why on earth is Trey still playing “Shine,?” especially when backed by Phil Lesh, John Medeski, John Molo and Larry Campbell. Besides that, though, seeing Phil and Trey play side-by-side was the best nostalgic combination since peanut butter and jelly (maybe).

Maceo Parker: Coachella might have nabbed Madonna, but Superfly once again proved its might by offering the mother of all diva sit-ins, Prince (and yes, I do mean mother).

Toubab Krewe: If the Slip spent a semester abroad in Africa they’d likely sound like Toubab How do you spell bounce is Swahili?

Yard Dog Road Show: It says a lot about YDRS (did I just coin that acronym?) that its primary guitarist (Enor) might have been too weird to stay in Les Claypool’s band. The perfect Vegoose side-show.

Radiohead: The best band I saw all weekend. Oh whoops, they didn’t actually play this festival. Oh, well we’ll just give them a nod anyway

Widespread Panic: I’m really sad I missed “Airplane” on Halloween. In certain ways, it’s the antithesis of everything Widespread Panic is: a slim, soft, pop ballad written by Michael Houser. But, in other ways, it’s everything Widespread Panic can be: a simple, beautiful song interpreted by a mammoth live band.

The Roots: I like the hip-hop as much as the next suburban jamband kid but these guys made Mars Volta sound quiet.

Built to Spill: Built to Spill has been playing edgy indie-rock since the blog world was just a sparkle in the Brooklyn Vegan’s eye, but took an appearance at Vegoose for hippies to realize that Doug March could be a long lost member of String Cheese Incident(or at least a stylistic replacement for Bill Nershi)

Jenny Lewis: My mom was so ahead of the hipster trends. Not only has she loved Jenny Lewis back when she was still the star from Troop Beverly Hills back in 1990, but she forced me to listen to her best cover (Laurie Nero’s “I Met Him on a Sunday”) way back when I was touring the northeast looking at colleges. Forward thinking New Wave-suburban-retro music at its best.

The Killers: If Las Vegas has a native sound, it resembles the Killers: flashy, stylish, fast superficial, and fun.

Tom Petty: Click Here, here, here, here or, even, here

Robert Randolph: I’ve loved Robert Randolph since the first time I saw him at the Jammys back in 2001, but after watching the pedal steel minstrel spread his gospel to a few lucky ladies on the dance floor during a Vegoose post-party at Light, I didn’t think I can ever listen to “The March” the same way again.

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