My Two Cents - An HfStival Review (Sort of, I think)

by Bill

The Readers Digest on the arrival goes something like....We got to RFK stadium, located in a less than desirable neighborhood in beautiful Southeast Washington, DC at about 11:15 am. Things were looking pretty good... that is, after we found the stadium after a few minor detours that added to the experience. Loaded for bear is the only way to put it - we’re talking the six pack of Volvic water, four turkey and cheese sandwiches with Dijon mustard, some spreadable cheese with crackers in individual packs with these cool little spreading sticks... you get the idea. As it turns out, the only thing that you cannot take into the stadium is bottle water. The tight security allowed us to smuggle the water in right under their noses.

The lack of security in and around the stadium was evident. Lucky for everyone there were no incidents, at least none that I witnessed. Overall the Festival was a very well behaved event - not much carnage with a conspicuous absence of drugs. Things started on time, I think... well, I am pretty sure.

Reducing to the Ridiculous - Here are the ultra-edited reviews:

Semisonic - A tight, good sounding band that was an excellent kick off Festival act. They made it harder for the other bands that immediately followed. A pretty polished set overall including the overplayed Closing Time.

I forget who came after them; it could have something to do with whatever I had in my travel bag, but I was anxiously awaiting Soul Coughing, who was on deck and the third band to play. I like Soul Coughing a lot, so I was patient while the crack sound engineering types twisted the knobs in an ill-fated attempt at better sound. They never got it and Super BonBon turned out to be Hobbled BonBon. I still sort of enjoyed the performance, but the sound setup really did cripple them. But hell it was early and there was plenty to go.

(Let’s face it, everyone came to see Green Day, right? Not me, but I would see them anyway. Again, I am gonna have this order thing all messed up, but Kim will give you the exact line-up I am sure. Hey, I just lived it so...)

The next thing I know the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were on stage. Pretty cool stuff, guys in suits, running around and cooking in 90 degree heat - Hell, I’ll pay to see that. Good stuff from these guys and a nice high energy show. Oh yeah, the sound, much improved by this point. The only draw back was the Bosstones' lead singer, who constantly whined about people throwing stuff up on the stage. Where the hell does he think he is? Should we stop everyone in the mosh pit and have everyone observe in silence as the MMB play on? I don’t think so.

Now we are rocking... The Foo Fighters. These guys kicked ass. Tight ain’t even the word. Energy... like ninety miles an hour standing still. Can’t say enough good stuff about these guys who cooked up a hot set. The sound was terrific, maybe Soul Coughing should look into stealing one of the Foo Fighters' sound techs.

And then a vision of Retro hit the stage. Here comes Fred of the B-52's in a pink two-piece number with late Sixties sleeves and pant leg flares in all the right places. On your feet RFK for this Love Shack, Rock Lobster, were sing’n a new song, but nobody gives a sh@t, just play the hits. Really nice work and tight sound out of the band. The Jumbo Tron screens really showed off Kate dressed in a multi-faceted, mirror-like short blue dress. What a great voice, nicely featured in the duo hit Roam. I gotta tell you, it may have been the heat, but that woman was looking good, even with the wild overstuffed head of red hair..... Vavoom. At this point I think I had a turkey sandwich and a bottle of Volvic.

We had great seats down low at stage left, but there were a few drawbacks. The sun was punishing and we were experiencing a mini meltdown, but it was liveable. What wasn’t liveable was the constant traffic from the infield and the mosh pit area. Bottom line was that it was getting difficult, if not impossible to see, so we retreated to the cheap seats for some shade and improved sound.

Again, you can’t hold me to the order of events, but before we left the great seats, Wyclef Jean took the stage and fired the place up. I appreciated his talent and the energy he brought to the stadium, but I am just a bit wore out on the rap thing so I left it alone.

I am sure there were other great bands in the program, but I had another psychotic snap and came to as Scott Weiland took the stage. I wasn’t the only one who had a psychotic snap, because Weiland was right there with me. Scott hit the stage in a tank top undershirt which nicely framed his tattooed torso. The staging change was significant. The stage hands brought in Persian carpets for the stage and hung one behind the drummer, framed by two other maroon carpets. A pretty simple but rich look, fit for a King. I didn’t need to see the track marks on this guy’s arm to know that something was up. Hell, I like this guy and I think he’s talented - the only problem is that he knows he's talented and pranced around like the Queen of Sheba. The young set in the crowd didn’t appreciate his antics, but I sort of did, cause he was such a freak. I love that kind of sh@t. All to say, I don’t think he is going to get many album sales off of that performance.

Oh well the Festival rolls on and I ate some more goodies in the ditty bag... I was out of sandwiches by this point, but who the hell cares because here comes Green Day. I like their music, but had never seen them in concert until this event. Great performance! The band was tight, Billy Joe’s vocals were good and the sound guys really had their act together. Green Day was sure as hell making album sales with this performance. About three fourths of the way through the set Billy Joe screened potential candidates from the mosh pit to select a qualified candidate to take over his guitar and play with Green Day. A great opportunity and a credible job by a young lad from West Virginia.

To prove that they are not just three chord wonders, Billy Joe taunted the crowd asking if we wanted some heavy f@@king metal. Of course, so the band kicked into Iron Man. Tommy Immo would have been proud, but it didn’t last long and a change of plans. How about a little Metallica? They served up about forty seconds then they got right back to the business of playing Green Day cuts. As if this all were not enough, Billy Joe took off his pants and left them off for the duration of the concert.

It had been a long day and it was time for the closing act, Crystal Method. Well, who the hell cares, we had just seen Green Day, so we split to beat some traffic. I threw out some leftover boxes of apple juice and Kim kept the untouched Golden Fruit bar which she had joked about all day. I am pretty near sure she ate the whole damn bar that night when she got home.


And now for Kim’s two pennies... The Reader’s Digest of the Reader’s Digest, if you will. --And in entertaining run-on-sentence format no less!

THE WEATHER / 90 degrees, sunny and dry in the nation's capital; 225 and humid in our seats. Phew.

ARRIVAL / I’d like to thank the three large DOLTS who left the concert two minutes after surrendering their tickets to the guy at the gate, and then tried to re-enter (duh) sans stubs--which caused a convenient brew-ha-ha that enabled us to smuggle in 1) the apple juice that Bill had joked about all day, and 2) the oh-so-evil Volvic that kept us hydrated throughout the day. Not to mention all those other goodies. We're so naughty.

THE SEATS, SCENE ONE / Depends on how you like your shoulders... sunny-side up and trampled, or with creamed chipped beef--and there was only the potential for that last one, which was enough to encourage ME to flee, along with foul combo of Coppertone and genderless, putrescent pubescents tarped in black. A certain someone leaned toward me and asked, "Are you ready to admit you're too old for this yet?" Uh, yeah. See ya.

THE SEATS, SCENE TWO / Slight breeze, complete shade, right off the wind tunnel/ramp to the bathrooms and the grinning dude with the suds, unobstructed view of the stagemice, random french fries in flight. Onward.

OF QUESTIONABLE FASHION / When you know the flame is due to flicker somewhere near ninety degrees, do you wear black from scalp to pinky toe, complete with leather bands at all crucial pressure points? Apparently, yes. Can you tan through tattoos? Oh, and how many concertgoers does it take to catch a fish? Nice piercing jobs... you looked like a bunch of fishing lures. And now I sound like Mom. Peace.

THE BANDS / Apparently Bill had a little too much, um, Volvic, ‘cause he forgot a few bands. Here’s the word on the music as it was lined up on the inside stage... Tuscadero: Missed ‘em. Semisonic: Great; they’ve matured! (See Bill's pennies.) Nice little flashback, too, with a cover of Prince's Erotic City. And I must say, quite the looker that sweet boy in front! Soul Coughing: Obviously talented, but in need of new sound folk. I was greatly saddened. But they performed all my faves (and number 11!) so I loved it anyway. Marcy Playground: Forgettable. Background music for some superb people watching, that's about it. Wyclef Jean: Great bass and groove--and a little Blue Suede Shoes! Sent a much-needed ripple through the stadium--not to mention a steady stream of sweaty folk down to the field, right past me, right on me. Bare Naked Ladies: Unimpressive at the very first, but then I pushed up my sunglasses and suddenly they were in drag. Who's that, the Spice Girls? Some very entertaining guys! I'd see 'em again. Everclear: Good Lord it was bad. Noisy, boring... sorry guys, but other than the two or three hits, ciao. This brought the general mood down and put people to sleep on the field. It was at this time that I succumbed to the crackers and fake cheese. Mighty Mighty Bosstones: They may have looked good, but this set just didn't do it for me. (See Bill's pennies about the rantings of the lunatic frontman.) B-52s: Thank God for the psychedlic flashback. The whole stadium was back on its feet! One of a kind and always a party. Loved this set. Have always loved Kate's voice. Foo Fighters: AWESOME and ferocious. Easily one of the best of the day. I started moving, got hot, and then threw water all over the guy in front me. (Sorry, dude. But I know you liked it.) Scott Weiland: Hmm... I wonder what color eyeshadow that was... Scott's a talented guy and I love his voice, but oh was I disappointed. If not for Vaseline, which I enjoyed immensely from the restroom, it was sadly forgettable. (Bill's pennies sum it up.) Green Day: Gotta love their antics, even Billy Joe's penchant for air conditioning his vitals. Yeah, the flaming drums were cliche, but perfectly cliche, as well as the feedback, Jimi Hendrix style... Some guy from West VA is still high after having been body-surfed to the stage--by invitation--to jam with the band. The Green Day set was at dusk to boot, which is the greatest moment during any all day affair. Plenty of darkness for the requisite Bic salute during Good Riddence, which BJ played PLUGGED. (That pissed me off but I got over it.) I loved this set and thought they sounded GREAT. Crystal Method: Missed 'em.

THINGS I MISSED / Harvey Danger, Fastball (oh no!) and Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Friend Steve tells me the CPDs were amazing, the lead singer's incredible and that they didn't stop dancing once. --Oh, and that Fastball was a worthy catch as well. Damn damn damn. Maybe next time.

THE BEST, IMHO / Semisonic, Bare Naked Ladies, B-52s, Foo Fighters and Green Day.

DEPARTURE / Lost the apple juice somewhere, but somehow managed to retain the esteemed Golden Fruit bar. (How did that happen? Who was in charge of the food??) And then, pretty strange, we pulled out of the lot without a wait. No lines, no accidents. All in all, a pretty carefree day. Air conditioning never felt so good. Switched the car into autopilot and--Bill didn't know this--slept for an hour behind the wheel. I barely remember walking in the door, but I remember the couch and the aspirin. Ah yes...

And, by the way, Pisto's esteemed Golden Fruit bar still sits--in its entirety--in a cupboard.

Maybe I'll save it for the Tibetan Freedom Concert.