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Arthurfest

Sep. 5th, 2005 | 01:43 am

After taking a long and odd detour to the Barnsdall Park, we finally arrive and not a moment too soon before we have to get in the longest line ever. It’s not too bad as it moves pretty quickly. I overhear sound check and could tell Sonic Youth was sound checking Rain on Tin and Schizophrenia (two of my favorite Sonic Youth songs, by the by). This, of course, gets me pumped up for the day/night that lies ahead of me. As we approach the front, they break off our tickets and hand us wristbands. It is final, we have arrived at Arthurfest.

What lay ahead us was a bunch of stairs and camera men, which Laura notices that they leave as soon as we come up. Looking around, the park wasn’t big at all. Well, as big as I thought it was going to be. I guess Arthur was right when he said this was going to be an intimate festival, as we scrounge around some more we have a look at the mighty lawn stage. And it is small. A very intimate size, if you will. After walking around for a while more, and seeing a duo of bassists insisting us to “Start our own bands”, we head to the downstairs stage, which is in a theatre setting. And I’m not sure if we were seeing Geronimo or Residual Echos but they were very good for the one song I saw. SOMEONE had to use the restroom therefore causing me to miss the set which in itself was a blessing.

I push my way through the exit and Stephanie and Laura rush to the bathroom, I stand around waiting. Letting my eyes wander… hey that’s a cool shirt… that guy looks like an asshole… hey, there’s Steve Shelley. Whoa, wait a minute, what? Steve Shelley. Of Sonic Youth, Steve Shelley? Right in front of me was one of my favorite drummers and I stood there in awe. Oh man…. Who’s that tall guy in front of him… is it… Sure enough, Thurston Moore was with him. My heart was pounding. I took my camera out and waited to pounce. Oh, would these girls please hurry up and finish so one of them could take a picture of me and the Sonic Youth guys. I started getting mad. Pretty soon, Thurston and Steve had walked right by me to go upstairs and the girls hadn’t even made their way out. Opportunity time was slipping. As soon as the ladies got out, I explain the situation and haul ass outside. Sure enough, Thurston and Steve are out there chatting it up with fans and business folk, respectively. I catch Thurston talking business and I tap him on the shoulder and ask for a photo. He seemed busy but he said yes. He said I had the right idea with bringing “that”. I don’t know if he meant my water bottle or the sun screen I was holding. I say thank you for the picture and move on to Steve Shelley who was talking with some other fans. I wait patiently and ask for a picture as well. Steve is more talkative and I shake his hand first and tell him how big of a fan I was. He seems grateful and we take the picture. I let them go and there it was! I had just met the folks that made Teenage Riot, Schizophrenia, RAIN ON TIN, now I was super excited to see them live.

With my legs weak from meeting them, we explore some more and end up checking out the lawn stage again and seeing what the game plan will be. Pretty soon we’re off exploring again and we find a nice little block to sit on. One thing leads to another and POW! Picture time. We do different combinations of cameras with different people, oh the chaos! After picture time, we go to this T-shirt shop and look around and we all buy some Arthurfest patches. Each choosing a different backing color, of course.

I try and buy my Sonic Youth shirt next but the guy has no change! Grrr. Off to eat something, or something. Gah, lines too long. So we decide to sit… but that doesn’t last for too long. Wolfmother was starting up and they were the band I was really looking forward to seeing, well, besides the aforementioned headliners. Straight from Australia come these hard rockers who mix Black Sabbath type music with a falsetto Jack White meets Ozzy Osbourne voice. It was wonderful. This band had the crowd grooving back and forth, surely making some new fans along the way. I know they made one out of me. With the singer/guitarist Adam twisting his body about when playing the guitar and having showy hand gestures, it was hard to get entrapped in the world he was creating.

After the rocking set of Wolfmother, we get some food. The food situation at Arthurfest was being handled by three booths, a Mexican restaurant one, a vegan one, and a good ol’ hamburger and hot dog one. I stand in line to get some chips and salsa but as every person next to me with a hot dog flew by, the franks looked tastier and tastier. Good thing because pretty soon I was in front of the line and I got the chips and salsa. We soon found shade and did no talking. Just chomping down.

Pretty soon after being done, I continue to shoot my film “Hunt for the Sonic Youth Tee: Part Duex.” I now had change so this movie had a happy ending. I had one dollar change left and decided to give it to Laura. But she was being stubborn, so I donated the money to charity and spun at the Amoeba Records Wheel of Fortune. It landed on number 24 which got me the prize of a bag full of stuff. My bag in particular was filled with buttons, stickers, and two Sonic Youth posters and some Sonic Youth cd’s. My day totally looked to be being headed to rocking out to Sonic Youth at the end of the night. I couldn’t wait.

We head back to the lawn stage and Sunburned Hand of the Man was playing. It was the oddest live show, I’ve ever seen. The singer was sacrificing babies, he put on a donkey mask and hit the ground with a stick and not to mention, there was like 80 people on stage making feedback thus making standing in front of the right speakers of the PA, an earful. We were also next to the backstage area, well, side stage area. Where lo and behold, there was Janet. And her ass.

She was backstage getting her drum set, set up. Right in front of us, too. I kind of wanted to scream to her to come up to the rail and take a photo but where would my manners be? Pretty soon, Carrie came from out of nowhere and was talking with Janet. Oooh, I was excited. Carrie was talking to Janet for a bit, when she was out the backstage area, SNAP! There was Stephs running after her to track her down. And here she came with the good news, “She’s right there, outside. But it looks like she’s talking on the phone.” Laura, with some hesitation, and Stephs, and I make our way down there and there she is. Stephanie first asks for a photo and Carrie obliges. Laura than asks for a photo and she obliges as well. Than some other folk come and ask for photos too. I panicked and thought she wouldn’t have time for a photo with me. I was wrong, Carrie obliged for my request at a picture as well. 3 PEOPLE FROM MY FAVORITE BANDS I MET, WITH PHOTOS TO PROVE IT. I was on a roll. “See ya later, guys” and with that Carrie was off into the crowd and Sunburned had just left the stage.

The Black Keys were soon sound checking and I was growing more and more tired. Lack of food and too much sun does that to you. I can’t remember if it was when the Black Keys took stage or if they were still sound checking but Corin soon showed up backstage with her son and the actress in the Jumpers video. Corin looked great with her short hair again and she just has this really big smile, kind of comforting in making me think they will have a great show tonight.

The Black Keys were next onstage and they rocked. That’s all I can say really. I had never heard them before today, so I went in there not expecting anything. What I got was a duo that played an alternative blues. I hate to use the analogy but sort of like a harder hitting-heavier White Stripes with a more soulful voice. I didn’t know any of their songs so their set was a blur. A good one at that though. Very fitting upbeat music and the dawn was upon us. They then said they’re thank yous and Sleater-Kinney was on next.

It seemed as though some of their equipment was on loan tonight. Janet had a Yamaha bass drum (wtf? What happened to the Ludwig!?) and Corin was using a different head and cabinet. The Fender head was bigger than she normally has, and her Cab was smaller than she usually has it. Carrie had the same gear though, SG into what looks like a Orange amps cab and her trusty old Fender. In an odd stroke of luck, Sleater-Kinney did their sound check in front of all of us hungry S-K fans. It was a wonderful site. Corin saying her “yeah, yeah yeah, oooh, ahhhhh, *soulful croon*” into the mic was great. While they were messing around, the music was off that the DJ usually plays inbetween sets. Carrie told the crowd “Hey, play some music. We won’t be playing for another 20 minutes. So what do you guys want to hear and maybe Zack will fire it up on the cd player.” Of course some people in the crowd say Sleater-Kinney which calls for more woo’s. A man in front yells the Pixies and Carrie has this look of disgust on her face as she mouth’s the Pixies. That was too funny. They soon the leave the stage and the sun fully sets. Here we go…

20 minutes go by and the ladies come back to a much deserved applause. The crowd is huge and half of the crowd don’t seem to be Sleater-Kinney fans in particular but more of people who want to see what all the fuss is about. And boy, did Sleater-Kinney deliver. Opening with the Fox and making so much energy, looking around, much of the crowd was moving. Bobbing their heads, dancing, jumping up and down. After Wilderness, much of the crowd said they couldn’t hear Corin’s vocals. Carrie shot the question to Corin to which Corin replied “It may not be the PA but my throat. Maybe you can help me by singing my parts with me” or something to that effect. It’s true, it was Corin’s voice. You could tell she was straining when she was singing. It was very noticeable during Let’s Call it Love, with her screaming very lightly [if that makes sense]. But what she lacked in vocal ability (and hardly, at that), she made up for in her charisma and ferocious playing. All the ladies in general seemed to be in a wonderful mood, maybe just glad to be in the good ol USA. Which Corin had some words to say about. She dedicated Faraway to the people in New Orleans. Going on a tirade about also dedicating it to the Republicans and President Bush, “We Want Them Out!” she proclaimed going into Faraway. The way some of these songs were performed were really powerful tonight, Faraway for example gave me the chills. Same with Let’s Call it Love into Entertain when it gets to the part at the end where all three voices are going, it’s chilling. The set consisted of Wood’s material, with the only non Woods songs being Oh! and Faraway.

And with the final rumble of Janet’s drums, the Sleater-Kinney set was over and I more than got my money’s worth. One thing became abundantly clear during the set though, I know I wasn’t going to be able to take another set like this. Much less more waiting and a packed audience with Sonic Youth. Sure enough after the set, I was asked if I wanted to leave. I said I didn’t mind and left. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, no pay off. I met Thurston and Steve, and got free Sonic Youth posters, and yet… Didn’t see them live. I might regret it later but I’m sure I’ll see them again when they tour around here next time. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Not all was lost though, because it was early I got to spend dinner with my two favorite gal pals. Yesterday was fun. A whole lot more fun than expected. Maybe I’ll go again next year, maybe not, I guess if this becomes a big festival in the years to come, I can say I was at the first. It would be a good story to tell my grandkids.

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