So it’s been over a week since the last sets of Langerado 2007, and I thought I’d wrap up my coverage with a few final thoughts and thanks. If you missed any of my prior posts, you can catch up here:
- Langerado Day One | Greetings from Sunny Florida!
- Langerado Day Two | The Swamp Tent Rules
- Langerado Day Three | Lazy Sunday Can Rock
- Langerado 2007 | Media Round-Up: Downloads, Photos, and Videos, Oh My!
- Full Set of Langerado Photos
We had a blast down in Florida and have finally settled back into “normal life. I’ve been to numerous music festivals and extravaganzas, and this definitely has found a spot on the top of that list. Here’s why…
Location, location, location…
Langerado is aided immensely by its location, both in terms of a choice spot in the beautiful (and very Floridian) Markham Park right on the edge of the Everglades, but even more so by the lovely climate that is Spring in Florida. I have been to a handful of festivals in the Northeast, several of which were very negatively affected by the inconsistent summer weather. Not only can it be annoying when living out of a tent, but bad weather can seriously dampen the vibe/mood and make re-scheduling perfromances a logistical nightmare.
I read in some official write-up that, at some point over the weekend, the festival was on the verge of reaching its max capacity of 15,000 for Markham Park (the official numbers are just about there, with an average of 14,000 attendees per day). In my opinion, this is just about the perfect size for a music festival. While 70,000+ festivals certainly have their moments, the smaller crowd at Langerado allows for a bit more breathing room and, at points, even a little more of an intimate vibe. The size also allows a festival like this to remain out of the large media coverage to which festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollaplaooza, are consistently subjected. It seems like they’ve found a formula that works and continue to let it flourish.
I also dig the local options for hotels and alternatives to camping. While the camping scene can really be fun and add to the party atmosphere, I think it works better to allow festival-goers the option to make that decision with a reasonable amount of alternatives. Those folks who want the extra amenities of a hotel (bed, AC, morning shade, unlimited ice, etc), can make the arrangements. Those who want the “rustic” (i.e. party-time) of the camping scene can be with like-minded folks. Works out for everyone. Having a hotel (and Internet) was obviously a necessary step for yours truly, but I’ll admit that it was quite nice (especially not to wake up at 8AM in a burning hot tent hating life!
Of course, the organization and set-up is only one piece of the puzzle. The vibe and atmosphere at Langerado 2007 was wonderful. People were fun, silly, mellow but excited, happy and not too drug-induced. I do not remember one moment seeing a fight, an argument, a person buggin’ out on something they couldn’t handle, or really any bad moods. People who have been to these festivals can contend that these little things add up. I’m know I am naïve and missed out on a few bad apples, but overall, the sketch factor was low. Of course, it’s hard to get pissed off or worry when it’s 70 degrees, sunny, and your favorite band is playing…but still, these things matter. And they build an impression.
And then there was the music… (after the jump)
Langerado 2007 had a really nice mix of bands from all genres and tiers of touring bands. You had your more mainstream blues and more classic rockers, up-and-coming indie rock bands, your jamband stalwarts, a little hip-hop and DJing, some electronic jammers, etc…If you can’t remember what a nice mix it was, you can refresh your memory here.
There’s really no possible way to give a solid review of even every performance we experienced, but I thought I’d at least offer just a few of my favorite moments and photos:
Settling into the festival sun and re-discovering Bela Fleck and the Flecktones:
I hadn’t caught these guys for years and standing below Victor Wooten while snapping a photo brought me back to the Somerville Theatre in 2001, when he first blew me away with his meaty (and virtuosic) bass-playing. His presence was a bit toned down this time around, but it was really cool to re-acquaint my ears with the odd banjo-inflected jazz-grass these guys perform. It was the perfectly mellow “sunny afternoon” set I needed to settle into the reality of not only being at the festival but also being, gasp, on vacation (sort of).
Front-spot for Trey:
It had been even longer since I’d been up-in-front of Mr. Anastasio’s big red mug, and it was great to once again catch the man up-close and personal. He seemed like he was on a mission and quite focused. He sounded good. His set didn’t blow me away, but it was solid.
Sound Tribe Swamp Tent:
The Swamp Tent was sort of our home base for a good amount of the festival, especially for some of the nighttime sets. STS9′s set was a great initiation to the Swamp Tent’s intimacy. It was solid all the way through. These guys have come a long way since I first caught them back in the Spring of 2000 at a little Ithaca spot, called the Haunt. Zach Velmer is even more of a monster on drums, and the rest of the band is extremely patient and mature. They worked the crowd without seeming like they were working the crowd. No wonder they’re playing Red Rocks again this Fall.
First Time w/ Mofro:
I’ve definitely liked what I’ve previously heard from JJ Grey and his Mofro boys, but something about the combination of sounds they piece together — the classic organ, heavy reverb-laden guitar, and full horn section, slide guitar, and occasional harmonica — was really perfect for a sunny Florida afternoon. They’ve definitely borrowed a lot of key components from their predecessors, particularly the southern soul of classic Stax records, but I wouldn’t really call them full-on retro. Maybe it was JJ Grey’s gritty soul howlin’ the gospel or maybe it was the crowd singing along to “Lochloosa” that really got me, but this moment really captured the essence and vibe of Langerado.
Fun Run-ins with the Security:
Although we managed to get some decent pics, my digital camera does not really scream “professional” and thus was the source of some ridicule by various security guards, several of whom pointed and laughed. I could only really do one thing: laugh with them, turn around, and get back to business.
One of the Security Guards I chatted with several nights in a row was on the left side of the Swamp Tent. On night 3, while prepping for the New Pornographers set, he asked me “is this one of those bands where you can’t tell when the songs start and end?”…A telling and funny reference to the two previous nights of dance-heavy sets by the Disco Biscuits and STS9. I told him no, that this band would definitely play songs with easily-discernible endings, and added that he probably wouldn’t hear any “trance-fusion.” I wish I had a picture of the bewildered look on his face, but that was just when the New Pornos started up with one of my favs…”Sing Me Spanish Techno.” And no, they didn’t jam (though a rockin’ segue into “Use It” would have been sweet!)
New Pornos, New to Me:
Plain and simple, the New Pornographers play great indie pop music. They piece together a nice mix standard rock instrumentation, slightly off-kilter pop hooks, and near-perfect vocals.
In a brief banter session, they asked if people had seen any of the other “rock” bands at the festival like MMJ, Explosions in the Sky, Band of Horses, Cat Power… (basically naming all the bands that might be characterized as “Indie rock”)…and then said something along the lines of “there’s a lot of good ‘ROCK’ at this festival, and we hope you guys have checked them out.” Maybe he meant Indie Rock? Or better yet, Rawk!?! Whether he meant to or not, I found it an interesting observation of the crossover of these bands with those of the jammier variety.
I thought, “Well, yeah! There is a lot of good rock at this festival…and I did see Cat Power; they rocked and Chan Marshall has an amazing voice! And yeah, Explosions in the Sky were really cool…but why separate out those bands from the Tea Leaf Greens, Widespread Panics, or even Lotus/STS9/Disco Biscuits? When it comes down to it, they all rock!
Explosion in the Sky:
That said, the statement might not have been meant to so loaded, and to be honest, I thought all the “Indie” bands were really great additions to the standard jam-oriented line-up. Surely some folks disagreed and went with what they knew they liked, but plenty of others were also there to check out new music no matter what simplified categorization it might fit into.
Explosions in the Sky is my personal example of checkin’ out a new band and realy digging it. Their set was intense, instrumental Indie rock at its finest, and their sound is really growing on me. I only wish I’d have stayed a bit longer to give these guys a more thorough listen. But so goes the problems of trying to adequately “cover” a festival.
This was another spontaneous and serendipitous encounter, as we simply walked by the Swamp Tent and into a dance party. This guy was hilarious and really put on a dance-a-thon before New Pornos took the stage. Girl Talk mashes up all kinds of famous pop-sings with dancey drum tracks. Hearing, say, a combo of Nirvana’s Lithium and JT’s Sexyback is pretty much the norm, and a total nostalgia trip…
Girl Talk dance-a-thon
But it really gets the party movin’! And even though Girl Talk is just a guy with a laptop, he tries to make it more of an energetic performance to get people going. The crowd went nuts — especially after he started rippin’ off his shirt — and eventually joined the guy on his little DJ platform only to be forced off by security. Girl Talk, although a little gimmicky, is fun and really brings out the freakshow!
Speaking of freakiness…
The freaky people at festivals always add an-“other” element. Unfortunately, no Banana man sightings, but we did run into…
• Gator dude
• Big head/brain guy
• Leopard Print Elvis (aka the Leopard KING)
• weird skeleton peeps (wearing neon ‘bones” outfits and masks)
• a guy that can only be described as “a short Gandalf”
• and people dancing with some odd items including, but not limited to: coconuts, broccoli, stilts, and, well, a whole slew of items I can’t even recall but were somehow part of the Mardi Gras-style parade that cruised throughout the festival grounds!
Leopard-print Elvis guy
…always adding to the good times and festive vibe.
(by the way, where do these folks go when the music’s over?)
Before the band went on, Marc Brownstein said something along the lines of “So I read some coverage in the Miami Herald today. They were kinda dissin’ our scene….sayin’ our scene was tired. I don’t think we’re tired. But they got one thing straight, they said the place to be at Langerado is in the tent!” Then proceeded to do a silly version of the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere”…
As I’ve already noted, this was a really fun dance-heavy set that Linds and I decided to check out in totality. We were just having too much fun to pry ourselves away. One of our commenters called it “dumb dance music” — which I took more as a suggestion the band was not all that exploratory and taking any risks. And although I agree somewhat, it might be better described as “getting down to bizness” Biscuits, which in my opinion, is perfect for a festival set.
I’ve since re-listened and although definitely not a mind-blowing set, the “Shimmy > Orch Theme” segment — with Matisyahu sitting in during a dubby-reggae jam – was really as perfect a festival “sit-in” as I’ve ever seen. It also blew the place apart…
During another banter session, Marc Brownstein gave a shout out to all the non profits (including his own Headcount) for all the hard work they do…
• Headcount – interviewed over 20 artists including Trey Anastasio, Bela Fleck and John Medeski, for a documentary called “A Call to Action” that will be released this fall. Also, although it’s a non-election year, Headcount also registered approximately 50 voters and signed up a similar number of new volunteers (which has become a 2007 priority). (according to Andy Bernstein, Headcount’s Co-Chair)
If you read any of my ‘Preview post,’ Rodrigo y Gabriela were one of the groups I was most excited to see. Although we had some issues getting to the park on-time each day, I made sure to get to their set on Sunday and was really bummed to find a cancellation sign at the front of the Swamp Tent and a completely different band playing in their place
Apparently, they were stopped by Immigration because of some mix-up with Rodrigo’s work visa…typical U.S. bureaucratic b.s.!
Scheduling, “Slacking,” and “Missing something”
At any festival, scheduling conflicts tend to create some really tough decisions. One of the hardest decisions was Disco Biscuits vs. My Morning Jacket (for which there was no staggering of schedule like other nights of the festival). Also, for various reasons, we also had some issues simply getting to the park in time for some of the early sets. Add to that my attempt at making this “ a vacation” and the standard scheduling conflicts, and it all amounts to the impossible feat of covering a festival in its entirety.
One person and a camera simply cannot do it justice, and as much fun as I had, this was really a new way of experiencing festival for me. Given my interests in the live concert experience, I typically like to give every band I see a full set to show me what they got. In many cases, I simply couldn’t (or did not) do that, and it felt strange. It sure was amazing to snap a ton of fun photos, but I couldn’t help but let it detract from my enjoyment of some of the great music these bands played. Also, there are simply times when you need to take a break to eat, drink, use the facilities, and just rest your bones. But it’s hard not to think even during those moments, “Man, I’m MISSING something else!”
Always Room for Improvement
Although I hardly had any substantial complaints about this festival, I think there’s always room to improve. I’ve seen much worse at other festivals, but some small items they could improve upon might include:
• Staggering ALL the sets for the festival by a half-hour (or re-considering the limits to photos for the first 3 songs)
• More efficient entry/exit points for both drivers and attendees
(not a biggy, but on Sat and Sun, the police and traffic folks changed the traffic set up so that you could only enter from one spot – i.e. not the way we’d entered the night before – fine, but at least put a sign up that clearly explains to drivers where they CAN enter)
• Increased access to potable water
(I only saw two spouts; one was basically hidden behind the vendors and the main one eventually created a mess of mud)
• Greening and/or Going Carbon-Neutral
Langerado would be wise to get with the Green program and find ways to be carbon-neutral, more sustainable, and raise more awareness about how festival attendees can help
(actually, I think ALL festivals, particularly those of the jammy variety, should be pushing this angle from now on)
Thank You Music Allies
We owe a big thank-you to the folks at Music Allies (known around these parts as the folks who sponsored our Langerado ticket giveaway). They also hooked us up with the necessary passes for festival access and quality photos, and thoroughly legitimized our efforts.
Thanks to My Lady
Thanks to my fiancé for dealing with my episodes of impatience while traveling, my late-night blogging, and putting up with all of my attempt to get pictures of her with all the “freaky festival folks”… (he he)
Random “Head” guy:
As always, muchas gracias to all the tapers! You’re an odd bunch, but we appreciate your efforts and wouldn’t be able to re-experience our any of our favorite “aural moments” without ya!
Perhaps we’ll be able to do it again. I hope everyone else enjoyed as much as me…