A Festival Story By E.FG
By Sunday, my sneakers looked as if they’d taken a beating. They were ripped and torn, dusty and distressed. I stared down at them as I sat on a chalky grate, leaning against the barricade that separated me from the stage. “If these shoes could speak…” I said softly. They’d probably sing instead.
I’d seen many performances over the course of three days, I’d done a lot listening, and very little talking. Oddly enough, TURF had become somewhat of a meditation retreat for me. Sure, it was beyond loud and packed with people, but I mainly kept to myself. A wise man once said “when you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” On Friday, when I agreed to the experience, I took that mans advice.
The sun was beating down on my face and also on my poor decision to wear all black. I watched as people began to make their way towards where I was sitting. Because I was so early for the show, I assumed they thought I was a big fan of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They were wrong, but about an hour or so from then, they’d be right.
At 5:30pm the drummer took the stage first, silencing the hum of fans exchanging B.R.M.C concert stories. Moments after, two men in black leather jackets followed suit. One with a curly mop of hair hiding his face and the other with a cigarette hanging from his lips. There was no introduction, just the beat of a drum, a bad ass guitar riff and the line “You have forsaken all the love you’ve taken, sleepin’ on a razor, there’s nowhere left to fall.” It was all the introduction I needed. Without any consent from my brain, my foot began to stomp the earth, my head swayed forwards and back, as my soul said “Now we’re talking!”
Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, Rival, 666, Mercy, Complicated Situation, were song titles that dominated my notes. “You’re supposed to be writing a review, not a list of what to download” my conscience cautioned. But in hindsight, my list spoke volumes, B.R.M.C kicked ass and was right up my alley. My own curly mop of hair was getting in my face as I rocked out, that band and I were already on the same page.
“So this is the last show I think we’re going to do in a long time. We’re not going to play for awhile, we’ve gotta write a new record and try to say no. So you guys get the final straw, the final word” Robert Levon Been announced.
I think I was the only one who wasn’t disappointed about that, their last show was my first, and I had lots of music to catch up on before I would ever see them again, and I would definitely be seeing them again.
I’ve never killed a pen before, but by the time I made it to Will Butler’s show, I was slightly impressed that I had. Thankfully I’d brought a spare, for there was much to say about Will Butler. He was wild, weird and bold, traits I could relate to. Four people stood on stage, with each of their names printed in white on black sweatshirts. Julie, Sara, Miles and Will brought the crowd to their feet as they played songs that made it hard for anyone to resist a dance break. They had this Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe to them and I ate it up. With their ooo’s, ahh’s and cha cha cha cha’s, I felt so alive. You Must Be Kidding was their show opener, a contagious blast of energy followed by Son of God that had a similar effect. Their set tempted me to break my solemn vow to not google any of the performers at TURF. I wanted to know who the guy was, but more specifically what he ate for breakfast, cause man did he pack a punch. It was Will Butler’s performance that reminded me the next day was just another manic Monday, TURF would be over, as well as the adventure of discovering bands like him.
My walk over to the East stage was bittersweet, I knew I was headed to my last concert of the weekend, but it was with the freak’n Pixies! It was as if the Gods of rock said “Congratulations on stepping out of your comfort zone, now go jump back in and watch the band that influenced all your favorites. Ya done good kid.”
I rounded the corner and there they were, in all their glory. I walked in during Bone Machine, and quickly learned the perks of being alone at a concert. I had no one to guide or follow through the crowd, as I made my way to the front. I joined a group of girls and just let it all out. I jumped, headbanged, spun around and yelled at the top of my lungs. It was during What Goes Boom that I ditched the chicks and took my one man mosh pit a few feet closer to the stage. I was surprised that there was any room for me at all, considering the magnitude of the Pixies fanbase, but I didn’t ask questions. They were fantastic, thunderous and raw. I had pen marks all over my face from the amount of times I shoved my writing tool in my mouth to free up my hands for applause. Whoever had organized TURF, had chosen their festival closers wisely.
I was one step ahead of the game when lead singer Black Francis said “Let’s do something to get our frustration out!” right before they performed Tame. I’d never seen the Pixies live, so everything that was happening in front of my eyes, was the equivalent to a child meeting Santa Clause, it was game changing. They played Silver Snail, Cactus, Ana, but by the time they did Indie Cindy, one of their newer songs, it was time for me to go.
I was standing in front of a fence that divided me from backstage, on the other side stood a man who clearly had the freedom and wristband to stand wherever the hell he pleased. I looked at him and wondered if he knew how lucky he was to have that option. I hoped so.
I unzipped my knapsack and shoved my precious notes inside. As for my trusty pens, I dropped them in the same manner as a rapper who drops their mic, with confidence and self approval. I headed for the exit one last time, there wasn’t anything I was leaving behind that I would miss, everything I came for, I was taking with me.