The mainstream and amateur reviews have been out for a week, and I’ve heard from many friends who’ve come back from Vegas and said, “That kicked serious ass.” Eloquent, really.
But until now, we’ve had no legit, personal reflections on the first-ever Vegoose Festival. Thankfully, Live Music Blog’s intrepid reporter Teddy set aside some time and concocted this account, which follows below. We understand that everyone’s experience at the festival was different and unique. We offer these simply as a chance to look at the weekend through someone else’s eyes, to receive a glimpse of what you may have missed. Enjoy!
Vegoose is Loose: Teddy Speaks
I booked my flights and hotel for the first annual Vegoose when the website went up. No dates announced; just the vague whisper of Vegas, Halloween, and Superfly Productions. Sold.
On day 1, I arrived in the lot around noon to discover a decent Shakedown with scattered Halloween costumes already in the mix. Among them, this cheerful fellow managed to hide a giant purple balloon behind his shower curtain just before this scenic shot.
Several Fat Tires and general provisions purchases later, I meandered into the venue for The North Mississippi Allstars. Normally I don’t get too riled up for the first act of the day, but this power trio set the bar and expectations sky high. The ‘Stars played a raging set of dirty, soulful blues, including an interlude with a washboard and a wah-wah pedal. Most excellent.
I made it into Sam Boyd to check out 15 minutes of Cheese (they sounded tight with the new lineup) before returning to the Joker’s stage for Gov’t Mule. Somebody slap me, because I forgot how bad (as in great) Warren Haynes is on the axe. The southern rock ‘n roll had me dancing on this day, boy howdy.
After splitting some time between Phil & The Shins, I waited at the Snake Eyes stage to score a solid spot for Beck. In keeping with the spirt of Halloween, the stage setup featured fake plastic trees, animals, a campfire, and a tent that Beck and his fellow boy scouts managed to trip over, fall into, and generally destroy throughout the set like sugar-satiated kids on a pumpkin-smashing spree. In the craziest set of the weekend, Beck indulged the audience with selections from his entire catalog, including some stellar acoustic tunes and a cutlery jam. This guy is a natural performer. He’s got it.
I took off after Beck (Dave, Trey and Friends just don’t do it for me lately) to rest up for my most anticipated show of the weekend: Robert Randolph & The Family Band late night at the Hard Rock. Three words come to mind: near religious experience.
Maybe the fact that I was about 10 feet away from the man with a completely unobstructed view for two hours had some sway, or maybe his pure energy and talent just overwhelmed me, but damn, this guy has more soul and chops than my mere mortal mind could comprehend. I think I almost cried at one point during the No Quarter jam. Seriously. One of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed and that’s completely discounting the second encore with Dave Matthews in tow. Holy bejesus, Dave was plastered. He refused a guitar, started rapping on about how great Robert Randolph is, and then commenced singing away incomprehensibly while playing what looked like some pretty sweet riffs on air guitar. Priceless.
Day 2 started out rather inconspicuously when I purchased some brews from a lot vendor flanked on one side by venue security and on the other by cops on bicycles. God bless open container laws. Not too many things in this world can beat cracking open a cold one right in front of the law, smirking right at them, and then walking around a corner 50 feet away to hear every controlled substance known to man kindly whispered in your ear like a Vegas stripper enticing you to buy the finest bottle of champagne. Beautiful.
After making my way into the show I just followed the general flow of the schedule with Franti > Umphrey’s > Sleater-Kinney with about 30 minutes of each. Sleater-Kinney actually impressed me the most with their punk rock/grunge stylings. Those ladies kick some serious ass. No foolin’.
Next up was Ween and their freak-show obsessive compulsive fans, and then I headed over to Spoon for some more solid rock ‘n roll before returning to secure a good spot for The Meters reunion. The old boys were certainly prepared, because they were absolutely smokin’ the entire set. Spectacular versions of Just Kissed My Baby, Funkify Your Life, and It Ain’t No Use.
After some old-school funk, I strolled by the Clubs Tent for a few minutes of hip-hop funk with Digable Planets. Some seriously sick rapping with a tight backup band make these guys worth checking out every time. All this nastiness got me in the mood, so I rolled back over to the Joker’s stage for the furry convention orgy that is The Flaming Lips. Excellent entertainment that trumps any second-rate burlesque show on the strip.
Many people I consulted about the Vegoose lineup informed me The Arcade Fire was not to be missed. Unfortunately most of their set conflicted with Panic, so I only managed to catch 20 minutes, but I did gather that this is a group of very talented and extremely intense musicians.
I made my way into the Silver Bowl just in time to catch the opening notes of Disco and off I went on another splendid Panic odyssey. Most of the George haters already down on the new Panic probably s*** a brick when Trey walked on, as it surely signaled the apocalypse was upon them. However, the 40 minutes or so that followed exquisitely showcased the talents of every musician on stage. The jam after Thin Air was smokin’ hot and raged for a solid 15 minutes. The Trey/Schools interplay sent the entire stadium into a frenzy. What a great way to close out the weekend and the first annual Vegoose.
My recommendation: Book your flights now for next year. Excellent organization, perfect choice of venue, amazing lineup, spectacular weather, and all in a city that can absorb a festival of this size and not miss a beat.
See you next year. Vegoose is loose.
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