Made it down to Baltimore for the second East Coast incarnation of the V-Fest over the Weekend of August 4th & 5th. Being to Coachella earlier this year and Bonnaroo last year I think I'm pretty qualified to judge destination festivals by now. This one was pretty good.
It was set up on smallest venue of the 3 which limited the activities and stages but i think what was there was solid and you really could get to everything available unlike the other 2. With no camping at the site we had to stay at a hotel but since I travel for work I was able to get that for free but with everything you need to actually camp I think the cost comes fairly even. The next issue was parking - there is none of it if you didn't buy a VIP parking pass which I didn't. People were selling places on their lawns around the venue for $20+. We parked in a middle school yard that was an "official" place and it took an hour to get out of there after the show, more on that nightmare later.
We settled into the North Stage first to see Amy Winehouse (iTunes) and Incubus (iTunes). Both good sets but not paired together well. Winehouse's sultry torch songs were soothed out some of the older folks in the crowd but the kids were fairly impatient for Incubus. Amy for her part was fun - and likely drunk...or worse, she did drop the mic and laughed it off. The set was a bit languid but that's not a bad thing early in the day on Sat. Plus not many of her tunes could be considered uptempo.
Incubus put on a solid set - only seen them mid days at festivals for some reason. Not a fan of the new set save the 2 singles to date and the live performances of other tracks didn't win me over. The rest of the set was very fest like and hit heavy - I wasn't complaining. Here is one of those hits:
So far I had missed The Fratellis (iTunes) due to parking and Paolo Nutini (iTunes) and Felix Da Housecat (iTunes) because I didn't wanna leave my cush spot on the north stage. So we explored a bit in the area of the south stage while PB&J (iTunes) were playing but never actually went up to the stage and we also went over to the grand stand area and snuck into the VIP section. It was uninteresting and not worth what they were charging - though they did get a gift bag so perhaps there is something in there that added value but I doubt it. Food wasn't better and there was still a massive drink line. Bad form V-Fest.
Next up was LCD Soundsystem (iTunes) on the south stage. Easily the best show of the day and it was completely hindered by mic problems. It was like a fat guy in a t-shirt doing all the singing. And he was freakin' out firstly in the good, lead singer way and secondly in the singer pissed that he can't hear his mic volume in the monitors and getting feedback for 1/2 the set kinda way. He actually went over and talked to the audio tech twice. In spite of that, the energy was 4 lengths ahead of anyone else playing the first day of the fest. The drummer (Jeff Daniels?) was rockin' out in flesh colored boy shorts - haha - and Nancy Wang was all sultry on keyboards. Though the day was in no more need of heat - I was a sponge in a lake by time the flailing ended. The single best song of the whole weekend was their closing track "Yeah" it's never been one of my favorites from the album but the crazy extended live version was blistering.
I was dead after this so I mossied over to the SoCo hurricane station and sat down to catch some of the Beasties (iTunes) set. Love the boys but was really not in much hurry to see 'em. Glad I saw some old school stuff - "Don't Sleep Till" & "Brass Monkey". They dropped "So What'cha Want" and I was satisfied and went off to the dance tent to take in Sasha (podcast) & Digweed (podcast). On the way I happened on the Incredibly Strange Wrestling ring. This is some kind of satirical send up of the WWE and it was superfantastic. There was a guy in a bad Chewbaca outfit named Macho Sasquatcho teamed up with a partner named El Pollo Diablo - he was dressed as a chicken. Another wrestler was named Oh My Goth...but more on ISW tomorrow. It was still ridiculously hot so I wasn't dancing yet and chilled in the back of the dance tent sitting for a while more before going in and shakin it for the rest of the set. The set wasn't as good as last years Sasha solo at Roo but it also wasn't 4am and the place was pretty skint on candy-paint ravers who tend to spruce up the tent nicely.
The rest of the night was spent between Modest Mouse (iTunes) & The Police (iTunes). The Popo show had none of the energy of the previous weeks show in Philly so I'm happy I was able to catch that - similar set list as well. MM were solid though I realized that I know way fewer tracks from them than I thought. "Dashboard" has been one of my favorite tracks of the year and it was a good performance but only getting into MM since their debut on alt rock radio I wasn't into as much as I had thought. Went back for the end of the cops and then back for the rodent encore then filed out to try and get to the car.
After the walk back we found the car after 20 min or so and then drove forward 15 feet or so to the exit line then proceeded to stand still for an hour. Finally we noticed someone had opened up some kinda back gate, or more likely clipped a fence as the transition from parking lot to street was a curb. But the Jetta handled that well and we were back to the hotel. I would suggest staying in Inner Harbor instead of Johns Hopkins despite being closer as there is nothing around there and the hotel bar closed at 12. Still the suite with a balcony was a quality set up.
Day 2 and my thoughts on the Telluride Film Festival on the way.