Take a deep breath...here's a run down memory lane from Saturday last year:
The Fest V turns the corner on day two
After a damp but promising start on Friday, The Fest V reached its stride on day two Saturday with a full 13-hour schedule of music. To even begin to comprehend how grueling such a task this is, one must begin the day well nourished. With that, it was off to Common Grounds for some of their barbeque. Upon arrival, the chow line was already quite long – in fact long enough to bail out while my better half held our place in line. Inside Common Grounds, Frozen Cobra were just finishing their set as the first band of the day. Their short-but-sweet set of raucous punk tunes provided an aural bloody mary for those still recovering from the night before, including the band itself.
Continue to 2nd paragraph The barbeque offered both carnivorous and vegetarian options with entrees such as pork sandwiches and barbeque tempeh. After ordering the latter with sides of potato salad and beans along with bottled water, I was informed that the beans were not totally vegetarian. I explained to the server that I wasn’t vegetarian but was instead trying to eat healthy in an effort to last the day. The dish was adequate, but hardly the “ass-load of food” that the schedule promised, unless of course you’re speaking of your typical indie rocker chic diet. Nonetheless, the tempeh provided a quick shot of protein energy to take on this musical juggernaut. My wife enjoyed her pork sandwich, although she thought the meat a bit “lukewarm to cold.” The meal passed for a solid lunch, though, but would have been more suitable at two or three dollars less than the eight bucks charged.
Back inside Common Grounds, Blacksnake were into their early afternoon set. The Gainesville band featured vocalist Rich formerly from Whoreculture as well as other former members of rock vets Grinch, Scorcher, and The Doldrums. Blacksnake flexed their longtime musical chops with a set of top-notch garage rock. The Hold were up shortly thereafter representing Gainesville with metal-inspired tunes in the eighties/early nineties tradition of The Cult and Alice in Chains. It almost gave one the feeling of being at the Button South in South Florida fifteen years ago.
Any lingering feelings of nostalgia soon went out the window with the set from Wilmington, North Carolina’s Thunderlip. The recurring theme of costumes finally made their debut this Halloween weekend as singer Charge Kruiser dressed in drag with a cape and ascot as he writhed on the ground. The band put on a shock-rock set of songs that thoroughly entertained the ever-growing crowd, complete with a blood spitting bassist in the form of Patrick Phillips.
After taking a bit of a break to watch our local football team pull out an unimpressive win against a clearly inferior opponent, it was back downtown for more costumed musical mayhem. The band VCR were taking the stage at The Atlantic complete with neon-colored Jason masks. As a squid-man danced through the crowd, the band showered the audience in its aggressive synth-rock sound, inspiring many spontaneous mass-handclaps. No guitars here – just a rhythm section with three keyboardists that took the crowd on a musical journey of equal parts Hammond B3, Moog, and Farfisa. (They get my vote as The Fest V's best and most original band!) The Atlantic’s Fest set-up took some getting used to: the usual front entrance was reserved for bands only while us common folk had to enter through the side alley, which brought us into the club near the rear toilets. Charming.
After a missed attempt to catch Ghost Mice on the Downtown Plaza before the end of their set, a quick check of Common Grounds saw the line well into the parking lot in the direction of Five Star Pizza. Clearly, any hope of getting back there this evening was now lost.
The Side Bar was a great replacement, though, with a throng of high-energy punk bands. The Tim Version whipped the crowd into a frenzy with crowd surfers galore, even inspiring one overzealous fan to hang from the sprinklers mid-set. After a thorough scolding by the soundman, The Tim Version continued with Russ’ sandpaper-rough vocals and a harmonica stand that received little or no use. Up next were Mississippi trio One Reason. Stocky vocalist Ginger kept the crowd energy up with a tight set of stage diving crowd-pleasers.
The Door-Keys from Bloomington, Indiana were up next at The Side Bar. Led by vocalist Daun Door-Key, the quartet was a pleasant surprise for those that stuck around for a locally unknown name. Their tight rock sound showed much promise, providing hope we may see more of this band soon. From one college town to another, The Door-Keys were touring with Future Virgins, who were up later on the bill.
After a quick detour over to Bar One to catch part of a shoe gazing rock set by Building the State, it was back once again to Abbey Road, where Minus the Bear had put on a stunning set the night before. Oakland’s The Fleshies began the evening here, holding court before an enthusiastic crowd who continued to be inspired by vocalist Johnny No Moniker as he seemed to do more singing from the tops of the crowd’s heads than on stage. Equal parts Mick Jagger, Eddie Vedder, and J.D. Wilkes, No Moniker showed screamo energy that knew no end, while balancing atop amp stacks, crowd surfing mid-song, and being an all-around dynamo across the stage. It actually made the veterans Radon seem tame by comparison.
Radon, however, were not about to miss out on the fun. With members donning costumes as rapper Lil’ Jon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the band ripped into yet another reunion set that always holds the Gainesville locals rapt. For the first time, however, I noticed a marked decrease in the sound level while Radon was on stage. Perhaps it was just my overworked eardrums by that point, too.
After a few of Radon’s songs, it was time to hop on the old bike (the only way to get around town Fest weekend!) for a quick trek over to Club 1982 for the remainder of the evening. Upon arrival, three people were carrying someone dressed as Superman through the door in front of me. Turns out this was Morningbell vocalist Travis Atria making his grand entrance to the stage. With other members of the band dressed as Batman, The Flash, and Batgirl, the band opened with a spirited version of “Monster Mash.” These power-pop super heroes put on a concrete set of tunes, culminating in a finale of the band donning jackets covered in electric lights that strangely recalled the conclusion of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” video.
Local indie hip-hop trio C.Y.N.E. drew my biggest bit of sympathy on the day, however. Cultivating Your New Experience certainly did that, being the first act to feature a member that was actually too inebriated to perform. The conscious hip-hop collective’s DJ, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, was clearly in no shape to provide the beats that let emcees Akin and Cise Star work their normal magic. As a result, the duo did many of their tunes acapella. Those in the crowd clearly felt for them, though, providing much love and moral support for their efforts. Serving as a latter-day Public Enemy, Akin spouted conscious messages from the mic such as “crack kills black males” and other platitudes. Their set made one yearn for a performance under more sober conditions.
Closing out the evening, funk faves Velveteen Pink put on an impressive set of retro rhythm and blues inspired the likes of Prince and George Clinton. Drummer-vocalist Nicholas Robbins kept the beats coming through a constant cloud from the onstage smoke machine, while bassist-guitarist Timothy Deaux danced front and center with the band’s pimped-out jackets and shades. Keyboardists Stanley Walker II and Alfredo Lapuz, Jr. also laid town the funky riffs. While the smoke and disco lights did grow tired after a while, Velveteen Pink proved to all why they continue to be one of Gainesville’s most unique musical exports. By this time, however, many were weary from a grueling day of nonstop music. Even though the 1982 bartender emphasized an extra hour of drinking ahead thanks to the evening’s clock change, I doubt many took him up on the offer. After all, one more solid day of Fest music remains.
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