Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fest V Flashback: Day 1

Ah, it's that time yet again. The Fest 6 is here in Gainesville this weekend and it's bigger and crazier than ever. In fact, it's been sold out now since Tuesday morning! In honor of the festivities (can you believe Wayward Council is doing a show Saturday that begins at 6am?!?!), I'm posting my accounts of last year's shindig that I submitted for the now-defunct Undertone. I do have to say that even through the writing is mine, it is
© 2006 Gainesville Sun/NYT Publications. Without further ado:

Rain rules, but Bear growls on The Fest V’s opening night


The day began promisingly enough. Excitement could be felt in the air as early as midday as throngs of bearded, black-shirted music fans, along with their jean-clad girlfriends, began to trek up and down West University Avenue. Their destination: indie record store and co-op Wayward Council, the official pickup point for their weekend pass wristbands for The Fest V. With its fifth year, The Fest promises to be bigger and better than ever, and not only because everyone was getting a free orange and white beer coozy with their ticket.

This year, with a barbeque on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a rooftop sunset happy hour, where the recently released Fest III DVD will be screened, shows that the event organizers are getting comfy with Gainesville tradition. There are even free shows each afternoon on the city-owned Downtown Community Plaza.

As the evening began, you could see why even the local Convention and Visitors Bureau was aware of the annual event this year. Parking spaces were at a premium even earlier than usual on a Friday as fans and band crews alike dueled for coveted downtown street parking. By eight o’clock, even the Sun Center parking lot was over capacity with vehicles parked halfway upon curbs in order to catch an early set by Miami natives Sidecar Racer at Club Red as part of the first-time electronic music Fest showcase by promoter Electronic SubSouth.

By this time, University Avenue almost had the feel of a street carnival. Packs of Fest attendees were easily spotted by their black attire as they strolled back and forth, checking out local businesses along the way. This manic atmosphere, however, was soon to be replaced by an evening monsoon not seen in Gainesville in quite some time.

As the more daring Fest goers took to the streets, some running, some merely shuffling between venues, the driving rain continued, bolstered by the strobe-effect lightning across the Gainesville sky.

Seattle’s Minus the Bear took to the stage at Abbey Road to a dedicated but slightly damp crowd. With tunes from their latest disc Menos el Oso as well as older favorites, The Bear kept the crowd grooving with their unique mix of synth grooves and rock sensibility. The crowd surfing was a bit atypical of a Minus the Bear show, but considering the venue and its longtime reputation of overzealous security, it seemed to fit the situation. Other band members on the bill came out to lend a vocal hand to the band including those from P.O.S. and Velvet Teen.

MTB made due with the largely cavernous venue that is Abbey Road, filling the undressed room with their unique pulsing sound, much to the delight of all in attendance. At the show’s conclusion and after last call, almost on cue, the rain lessened, giving all hope for a cool yet sunny music-filled Saturday.

© Copyright 2007, The Gainesville Sun

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