Right on witcher groovy weather! The sky fought the stages for
attention... one minute blue with fluffy clouds, and the next ominous. It was
gorgeous. Only a spatter of rain, no need for the ponchos. Perfectly breezy,
no heat stroke victims, no headache once back to the house. The burn's already
turned to tan, no complaints beyond my aching feet (we were all over
that stadium). Lots of Kodak moments, great folks all over (dug sharing
the stands with an STP fan for a few hours there)! Got a bit of attention due
to my cohort's Steelers jersey--no fights, however, as he predicted there might
Getting to RFK was a bit of a challenge, as usual... a little bit of detouring necessary thanks to the leather-clad folks of Rolling Thunder, who came out in droves to consume Northern Virginia and head into DC to take over the main veins. Even though we got to RFK by eleven, parking was about gone. However, the lots were full of life and the folks very happy--some too happy at this early stage in the day, as usual. (I'll never get that.)
As for the venue, PSINet's still my pick for this event. Gotta love good ol' RFK, but man is it run down... and filthy. Not to mention they had most of the big gates closed, so we were moved through like cattle. It was definitely the least decorated festival I've ever attended, barren and gray, and the screens were substandard and swallowed by the crowd in this old stadium. We were spoiled by PSINet's festive '99 set-up. Didn't get searched for sh* this time, again, though we opted to let Harris Teeter handle the turkey sandwiches this year and went in light. Good thing, because we were on the move! Have to say the party was definitely in the adults-only Bacardi tent, where they had a shot shower and some random boyz and girlz shakin' it on stage. We stuck around for a couple--any Bacardi drink beats that dreaded Bud Light they were selling elsewhere. Onward...
The Crowd: Such great people this year! Mean age still around 21, even though there were some geezers and infants there trying to throw it off. (What's up with these people bringing their four- and five-year-olds to this exhaustive all-day affair?) Anyway, no misbehavin' from the crowd--save the guy who got ticketed on the spot in the stands during Fuel's set. We still haven't figured out what was in that box, but whatever it was, the cops didn't like it. Otherwise, it was all love and peace this year, didn't even get hit by a single fry, though I did catch those twelve-year-olds trying to spit over the balcony. (SR-71... whaddya want?) The stand-out accessory this year was no doubt the cell phone, which beat out the tattoos, piercings and the multi-colored hair. And what was up with those damned leaves everybody was wearing? People had them tied around their necks, in their hair, around their heads, around their waists... Fake, plastic leaves. Not even attractive, so I didn't bother with a snap. Plenty of flesh to be found on the ground and on the screens, though, nothing's changed there.
The Artists: We didn't sit still until much later in the day and stayed away from the pit. Hit all three stages and avoided TranceMissions. It was too gorgeous to be inside! Caught a bit of Cactus Patch and Guttermouth on the Doc Martens street stage before and after my obsessive hunt for a program; sorry to have missed that first set, they were wonderfully loud and having a blast on stage. Stuck around for Powderfinger, who were a little light for Rich's taste but sounded great once they got the vocals worked out (sound not so veddy good out there); lead man's got some sort of Michael Hutchence / Jim Morrison thang goin' on, it works. Skipped the last half of their set to catch Coldplay on the main stage... they were okay. The sound was fair, they brought a fan up to sit benchside whilst they belted out a ballad at the piano. Overall, couldn't keep my attention and basically provided wallpaper for the turkey sandwich feast. Hauled it back out to the street fair after that to check out the booths and humanity while American Hi-Fi provided the background. Have to say, they sounded quite fine... couldn't even tell that Flavor of the Week was live. Then we hit the Bacardi tent to kill an hour before we made our way to the locals stage for Rebel Amish Radio. Great band! Hard rock, unique look... you go Mr. Bass Man! Almost stood there for the whole set, but the sky was looking scary (all bark, no bite as it turned out) and the lightning and wind were closing in... too many memories from the Tibetan Freedom Concert, thank you very much. So we decided it was time to find our seats inside for the long stretch at the main stage. Next up was Fuel, with Brett playing pretty boy to the hilt, clad in leather and then unclad, earning his title as this year's rock star poster boy. (Rich thinks he needs to ditch the David Lee Roth beach boy look if he wants people to think he's truly angry.) The sound guys had it figured out by then... we got the first decent crowd sing-along of the day (Shimmer, of course), and Fuel was in fine form, all hits and a little of the harder fare. Then The Cult hit the stage for this year's flashback performace, Ian Astbury looking like a cross between a nun and the Rolling Thunder folks we saw earlier in the day (Scott Weiland would've been proud). Damn, that was a great set--one of the better of the day--and the years haven't hurt them a bit. Next up, 3 Doors Down, with their radio hit bonanza (love that Duck and Run)! Another good-sounding set of pop-o-the-moment, made friends with an STP fan below me at that point and lost Rich as he headed for the street stage for Nothingface (he told me they were awesome and that I missed the second best band of the day). Back at the main ranch while Rich was banging his head outside, things took a dive when Tenacious D hit the stage. Two guys on acoustic guitar were just a little too quiet at that crucial point of the day when we're all looking for our second wind... couldn't tell you how good they were because they were putting me to sleep. In fact, when Rich returned just after Incubus took over the stage, I was napping with a bunch of other people in the stands. And Incubus, though a fine band, didn't do much to liven things up--save a truly beautiful job on Drive. Nice, mediocre set, more radio hits (yawn) and great sound... onward. Live was supposed to be up next, but we were surprised (and thankful) to see Green Day burst onto the scene early and get the whole crowd on its feet while the sun went down. They were a late addition to the festival line-up, and some sort of blessing for the sleepy arena--though I can't say I'd want to have followed them! If you want crowd participation and energy, full-stadium singalongs and stage antics, then BJ and his cohorts are never a disappointment, no matter how many times you've seen them. We were all awake and involved, people screaming way up and behind us, folks dancing in the stands, air drums, air guitars... and they again pulled a lucky lad, this time from Northern VA, out of the pit and let him strum a few meaty chords on stage. It was the longest set of the day, and definitely saved what was otherwise a very mainstream festival. Green Day went out with drums a-flaming (we're talking BONFIRE) and deafening applause. It was great to watch a band that didn't come out, well, yesterday, take over and consume the place. We left at that point, with most of the crowd, and I was surprised to learn that Live indeed came out to finish out the night! No worries, seen them about six times by now, but no way would I have wanted to follow Green Day.
All Told... A fun and groovy day, top to bottom, and thumbs up to The Cult, Fuel and Green Day for standing out from the rest and showing people how it's done. I'm very disappointed about the Stereophonics being pulled from the line-up, because that would've sweetened the day--and it's one of the reasons I opted for the outing in the first place! We skipped Monday (though I'm sorry to have missed Fatboy and Staind, and it sounds like the latter kicked a$$) because Sunday was enough madness... the tunes of the day lived on later that night at Carpool in Arlington, where I bestowed two free tickets to Monday's event upon two appreciative women (well, I let them buy me a beer). Ah, hope they went and had a great time! Will I go next year? Probably, unless they bring back the same damned people again. That was pretty much the attitude of all the people I talked to in the stands. HFS, listen up! We've had it with these vanilla radio bands (talk about Flavor of the Week), and all the repeats. Give us more of the tried and true blazing talent for a change--or something new to knock our socks off. These bands all sound the same!