LANGERADO MUSIC FESTIVAL 2008
RFW DOES LANGERADO 2008 [A REVIEW]
Originally Published March 13, 2008
YouTube Video URL : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2tEbdkRz0U
Contributing Author – Rashon Massey
RFW DOES LANGERADO 2008 [A REVIEW]
The journey was incredible. The experience was memorable. The people were unforgettable.
So – let us begin our journey to Langerado 2008.
This year was a big deal for Langerado that saw beyond the horizon of raising the stakes with a powerhouse lineup. Langerado 2008 wanted to establish itself as a top festival contender alongside audience favorites Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. In this jump the festival relocated to the Big Cypress Indian Reservation (previous home to the millennium-turn Phish concert), and while the increase in space made it more conducive to a larger audience, the small details really cut this festival at the Achilles – Not enough to take it down, but enough to make some want to never come back.
In the future we are going to have a basic rating system for all festivals, with notes and media appropriately covering each dynamic; moreover, using our journal entries, photos and media from this festival, we will be begin that rating process with those results posted in a couple days.
For the time being, this review is going to loosely cover Langerado 2008 on two overall perspectives: The music lineup and festival grounds.
When I think about this festival, before narrowing in my focus, I continually draw a comparison to fashion for some reason. You know, I bet that the source of my conjured relationship comes from this constant comparison between concepts to reality.
In fashion, you start out with a basic sketch and build. Sometimes you get what you planned. Sometimes you go off track and get better. Then there are the times when your clothes just flat out suck. I am no fashion designer- just a Project Runway whore; however, while sitting at the festival I really understood how the two were not worlds different at all but shared similarities on many levels.
My point – Langerado built a great idea and sold a sketch featuring Beastie Boys, REM, 311, Phil Lesh and posse, the Roots and some other familiar faces for about $200. They also drew native huts, alligators and stressed the fact that the Reservation was their new home. ‘Management’ even brought a background face, ‘the artist only known as Lebo’, to paint some random shit during some hopefully ill performances. They did this, all banking on the fact that it would be a complete runway success, capable of walking on it’s own. Happily, I can say that Langerado DELIVERED on the music side of things.
The festival grounds itself needs major work.
The lack of handing out trash bags was the first visible sign that this festival wouldn’t be green at all. From the step out of the car, many of us had no idea where to place our trash. Some found the shaded recess under their cars as a perfect spot to discard waste. Others just dropped bottles and food wherever they saw fit. Bad idea Langerado. The Clean Vibes truck was in some mad overdrive, almost running down patrons while trying to empty and rebag trash receptacles throughout the festival.
I have already read many reviews from single day attendees who claim that they will never return. Once an accessible experience to partake for only your favorite day of the festival, the poorly configured parking screwed things up from the get go. I can totally understand how coming from the highway and traveling down the potholed, dirt paved road for 14mi was less than desirable for coming to the festival for only one day; moreover, once you parked your car in a field of trash and came to the grounds… it was probably nothing like what you anticipated. I can only begin to imagine regular folk being bothered for rolls and headies on the way into the stage grounds.
On the plus side, the stages were far enough apart that there wasn’t a cross of sound, which helped immensely. The venders were standard and I even picked up a couple of unique puzzle boxes for some friends back home.
The bathrooms and water is still something that I haven’t seen a festival perfect. Granted it was nowhere in comparison to the legendary failure that was Woodstock 99, but enough to go back to the sketch, erase and reorganize the cycle of cleaning the potties, possibly drawing something better than a truck of drinking water that hippies will only wash themselves under.
With the addition of our festival rating system, we will go into more specifics about the grounds giving points. Now to what really makes a festival in the first place… the music J
From the first anxious performance I was able to catch, the festival pleased me more than many experiences in the past.
The Dynamites, fresh at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon, stole the air from the sky. Instead of rehashing my appreciation for the band (see RFW previous entry about the Dynamites in February of 08) I will dive right into the experience. Charles Walker owned the sound, demanding that festival attendees walk from the opening gates right to the Everglades stage to watch their set. The best part was that once he drew you to the stage you didn’t want to wander off until the end. Doing just about every song from their 2007 release Kaboom!, vocalist Walker got every little patchwork queen dancing to the bands cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Following Dynamites, I meandered to the Sunset stage and caught the ever tall and orange Brett Dennen, backed by Animal Liberation Orchestra’s (ALO) Steve Adams and Adam Lebowitz. His set was really nice and he is one of those performers that could be a Brushfire Records artist – the live performances match the studio recording. He wasn’t as polished which works for the Brett Dennen sound, but he did make sure to play his current VH1 moneymaker “Ain’t No Reason.” After Brett Dennen, we hung out in the “smoke-and-mirrors” Medialand and met some cool journalist, even getting an interview with the New Master Sound that will be up in our RFWtv episode recapping the festival.
The rest of the day held great performances, notably by Ozomatli, Sam Bush, G. Love and Special Sauce, New Master Sounds, Sierra Leone’s Refugee Allstars, 311 and Beastie Boys. NOW – it should be said, we are split on Beastie Boys because they did tend to play the instruments too much. I mean, we get that this is the music of now Beastie Boys, but you are not KILLER musicians so the jamming can be cut…please?!
Biggest letdown of the last … decade : The Roots.
Let me teach you boys something in festival etiquette. You don’t show your face on the stage of a festival after being far too late, then address the festival by the wrong name. Then- you don’t apologize until you routinely make you way through a couple of songs that could be considered mediocre at best? While many might have enjoyed the variety, getting to see hip-hop flaying around the stage improperly leveled, we didn’t. The Beastie Boys might have over jammed but that is true hip-hop flaying in the ‘right’. If the Roots were on time, I wish they had spared those unspent minutes after their set to watch hip-hop legends do it best.
Saturday began with some fantastic class resonating from the gentlemen of The Bad Plus. The guys introduced every song with a story, sharing and communicating with a since of pride and true appreciation to be invited to the fest, and before I got too comfortable… I found myself screaming manically at Railroad Earth. How good were they? Pretty damn awesome. The crowd begged for more.
State Radio, Arrested Development and the Wood Brothers all did very nice, solid sets and because I won’t go into as much detail, don’t feel they were shooting on any par less than standard.
Ben Folds was himself – hilarious and energetic as ever. I have seen him more than enough times, and for a man who can pull the same stops, he has fun with the audience every time as if it were the first occasion that his little brain decided to throw his stool at his beloved ivory baby.
The day ended with a fantastic set by the Benevento-Russo Duo, who were looking very posh! At least drummer Joe, with his cigarette and whiskey in hand… while drumming. What a Badd Ass! The day concluded with a very alright set from Matisyahu and despite what some people feel…. REM did well. Very well. The audience was leaving in packs, but it wasn’t enough to dent the turnout; In fact, many attendees felt as though the REM crowd was larger than Beastie Boys. I don’t know – I was at the front for both. What I can hold firmly to is that they did a good show. It wasn’t a night of greatest hits, but if you knew the band for the notable songs… you weren’t let down. A nice mix of oldies and goodies they had in the bag. I was satisfied with the performance and I am not a fan.
And those delicious Disco Biscuits. Can we please talk about that HIGH energy set for a moment.
Once it got time for the final two performances of the day, The Lee Boys and Biscuits brought nothing less than the best, sweating and dancing on stage, taking the audience for a ride. DB even brought out an STS9 member to make their set even better. We raged and danced freely at the front of the stage and soon earth-stomped our way to the Lee Boys for soul, rock and gospel. The Lee Boys and family decorated the stage, and delivered a HOT revival at the end of their set because the fans wanted it. Hats off for picking up the slack in schedule that was with the drop-out of Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
The final day of performances was truly special at Langerado. This sense of community that bound the festival scene together was more than actualized on the final day, with great audience participation being created during the sets of Martin Sexton, Keller Williams, Gov’t Mule, Ani DiFranco and Blind Melon.
For me, the festival highlight didn’t come until the second to last performance that I was in attendance at : Of Montreal.
On the most swampified land possible at Langerado, Of Montreal took that stage and delivered one of the most theatrical, well-planned and paced sets of the festival. Complete in their infamous stage garb, lead singer Kevin Barnes led the band to glory, featuring many contributing staged actors to perform obscure scenes on stage while the music was in motion. The interactivity between the band and audience was tops, with the band even coming in direct contact, allowing the first two rows of the crowd participation in manipulating costumes and accessories. The band concluded the set with “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal,” a track from their album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer. After covering the stage in plastic, Kevin was brought out in a Plan 9 from Outerspace type coffin, covered in whip and/or shaving cream. After stepping from the prop, he delivered the haunting, dark and emotional lyrics over the incredible, nonstop rhythm of the music. The performance was both weird, fun, exciting and left us all wanting MORE.
We stood around after lights came up and the strike of equipment began just hoping to get one more song because they were that good. After 10 minutes (no exaggeration), the crowd finally began to walk away.
The festival closed with Phil Lesh and Friends. A good set to start but to be honest… it was simply alright. Then – during the last 20 min. Jackie Greene emerged as a top talent of this generation, going into a trans between him and his electric guitar. I like to think of that sole moment as the… Jimi Hendrix experience for Langerado- That BREAKOUT performance and although he has been on the scene for more than a while, many people didn’t not know of the California native until he added the coke back into the encore song “Casey Jones.” That was a beautiful moment, the last song of this festival.
Pulling the sometimes-aggressive fans of 311, the bump of The Roots and chill of REM might have brought some festivals down, especially if they didn’t deliver! But this did! Everyone performed and lived up to the initial drawing we were sold. I don’t think anyone felt as if this festival experience, musically, was a faux pas by any means.
In the end, beyond the memories, what remained after Phil Lesh and all patrons left the Reservation, were piles of trash standing lapidary with glass pieces and winded toilet paper. Fields of trash that a void of silence hung over while volunteers and organizers stood thinking, “Oh yea!”
Check back in a couple days to see our festival tour plans for summer, Langerado rating review and RFWtv episode featuring footage of The Dynamites and others as we wrap our coverage of Langerado 2008.
Rashon A. Massey