|Not me, but really a festival "everyman"|
As a whole, I am not fond of music festivals. Particularly big (or small) open air stages filled with overpriced food and beverages and sound akin to a loud tin can falling into a puddle. That’s not to say I haven’t had positive experiences attending one, it’s just that, as a whole, at some point you realize you’re standing in a field, or a parking lot; baking in the hot sun, or having rain pissed on you. I often think, “Have conditions ever been 100% exactly perfect for a festival in North America?” After going to Punk Rock Bowling in 2016 to see Dag Nasty, I SWORE I’d never go to another outdoor gig. Yet since, I’ve still found myself at them, either wishing I had a jacket, or a bag to put stuff in, or maybe something I would actually want to eat while I’m fucking locked inside the fences; is that too much to ask?
A couple of weekends ago, I’m hoping that I went to what will be my last outdoor festival, not that it was terrible, I just don’t like experiencing music this way. Anyway, I took a chance on something called “Burger Boogaloo” in Oakland. Mostly, the lineup consisted of bands that seem far too “hip,” or something, than my “I grew up in the suburbs in the 80’s” taste. It seemed like it was mostly stuff for people who live in gentrified areas of a city and stay out late drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon on a weeknight. I arrived in the early afternoon, waited an hour in line and pleasantly ran into my friend Mike, whom Dead Hearts (my old band; Mike happens to be an uncle of another member, but is my age) had stayed with a bunch on tour. Mike drove a long way (Olympia, WA) to get to the show. We caught up and tried to watch Mudhoney but they were as boring as I’d remembered. I was never much of a “college rock” or “grunge" guy, so no surprise there. Some other bands played, but I barely watched any, until The Mummies came out and wrecked the place. Now, seeing a band in broad day light in not optimal and I think most people can agree that seeing a band in a dark, packed club is always the ideal. I saw Dimmu Borgir once in the middle of the day at an outdoor gig in 90 degree heat and high humidity: it did NOT work on any level. I actually felt bad for those guys having to do their evil black metal shtick while slowly melting on stage. Anyway, the Mummies came out and after one of the greatest introductions I have ever seen, ROCKED. Their gimmick works at 6:45pm as well at it would at 11, so I was pretty into it.
|The Mummies, photo by the author|
I had made my way upfront long before The Mummies in order to secure a spot for the reason I came: DEVO. A band I had discovered/ liked in 1981, fell in love with in 87 and never looked back. I wasn’t a completest, but I had the Freedom of Choice and Are We Not Men? LPs and Greatest Hits on cassette, which I listened to on my Walkman riding the bus to and from high school in between blasts of thrash metal and hardcore. At the time, I didn’t have a copy of Duty Now For The Future, so on the extra blank space on side two of said cassette, I dubbed “The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise,” my favorite song, off of the We’re All Devo Vhs tape I had. I wasn’t cool, and even though they acted like they weren’t, Devo certainly was.
John Waters came out and did a stumbly, odd-paced introduction and then we were off to the races. Devo sounded EXCELLENT and exceeded all of my expectations: Girl U Want/ Whip It/ (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction/ Secret Agent Man/ Uncontrollable Urge/ Mongoloid/ Jocko Homo/ Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA/ Gates of Steel/ DEVO Corporate Anthem/ Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)/ Beautiful World/ The Girl Can't Help It/ Come Back Jonee. It was really incredible, with the only song TRULY missing from the set was Freedom of Choice and seemed to be the only complaints fans had while I was leaving. It only took me like 37 years from when I first heard “Through Being Cool” to finally see them, I had been kicking myself for the many times I missed them over the years, but now that box is checked and I’m REALLY hoping that this is the last time I have to go to another outdoor festival gig, unless of course, I can sleep on the lawn during Dinosaur Jr.
|photo by the author|
|Photo by the author|