Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bluesfest 2011: Day 1

You know you've hit middle age when the festivals start booking reunion acts whose albums you first bought back in college. So here we are at the 2011 edition of Bluesfest and Soundgarden and Jane's Addiction are on the bill. Yep, I'm old. This year the Bluesfest brainiacs have also shifted the arrangement around, putting the two larger stages facing the same way, adding some storage containers to block sound, shifting the entrance to Booth St. The Flaming Lips were the big draw for me on opening day, but there were a couple of other acts of interest.

First up, Coheed &  Cambria on the Claridge Stage put on a lively set with some ferocious guitar pyrotechnics and a really crushing rhythm section.

Coheed & Cambria at Bluesfest 2011
Coheed & Cambria at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

They were pretty hot, but I wanted to see what else was happening elsewhere so I did a brief circuit of the other stages, first stop Lindsay Ferguson at the Subway Stage, putting on a fine rootsy set. "Sometimes I speak with a southern accent, and people don't know why ... neither do I," she quipped in her best Georgia Peach.

Lindsay Ferguson at Bluesfest 2011
Lindsay Ferguson at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

That was followed by a brief stop at the Hard Rock Stage to catch local reggae man Ras Lee.

Ras Lee at Bluesfest
Ras Lee at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

I had never heard of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, booked for the MBNA Stage, so I thought I'd give them a look. I was quite impressed with their collective-sized lineup and genial pop sound ... a bit like The Mamas and Papas when the dual male and female vocalists get going. Frontman Alex Ebert certainly enjoyed diving into the crowd and bantering with the audience.

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros at Bluesfest 2011
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

I spent a few minutes at the National Bank Stage (formerly known as The Black Sheep Stage) to see what Elage Mbaye was up to. The Senegalese by way of Quebec performer had his work cut out for him coaxing the small crowd to step up.

Elage Mbaye at Bluesfest
Elage Mbaye at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

Of course, the real reason to go to Bluesfest that day was to catch The Flaming Lips. There show last year would be almost impossible to top, particularly with only an hour to work with, but once again they made a noble attempt to blow their confetti and balloon budget. But first a word from our sponsors, the Malhotra family (who own Claridge), who donated $10,000 on behalf of the musical Dube Brothers to the KANPE Foundation.

Flaming Lips at Bluesfest 2011
Malhotra family and Dube Brothers at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

Now, unleash the ball! It always makes me think of Rover from The Prisoner ... did I mention I'm old?

Flaming Lips at Bluesfest 2011
The Flaming Lips at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

What the hell is Wayne wearing, anyway?

Flaming Lips at Bluesfest 2011
The Flaming Lips at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

Soundgarden started cranking things up the second they stopped ... folks were dashing over to the MBNA Stage. I was a Soundgarden fan about 20 years ago, and still enjoy their music, bit I confess I wasn't feeling it. I'm told things went uphill after that, but I wasn't sticking around. Here's one of the cruddy photos I took from far away ...

Soundgarden at Bluesfest 2011
Soundgarden at Bluesfest, July 5, 2011

No, I had other musical plans ... indoor musical plans, at that.

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