Friday, July 11, 2008

WB Guest Writer: Rothbury review, part two

WB staff are now dealing with the stomach aches and sugar rushes that come from too much ballpark food. Luckily, it's time for the second installment of 45rpm's concert review from the recent Rothbury Music Festival:

Friday: We set out early to explore the grounds. After a slight setback from a very long line at the ice truck where we bought three small bags of ice for $9 from a man with two fingers and a false leg, we went into the festival and caught our first glimpse of the Sherwood Forest. The Forest separated the three main stages—the Ranch Arena, Sherwood Court, and the Odeum. It was full of hammocks slung between any two trees that could hold them, some large, onion-like tents, and a Zen garden that sported paths and sculptures, including an enormous Buddha, all made from organic materials like leaves, sticks, and fruit. The hammocks were usually all full, with most supporting two people at a time. Overhead on the path through the forest were neon-colored hanging sculptures and large bolts of fabric spread out to create shade and visual interest.

After a quick survey of the layout, we went to the Tripolee Domes, another small stage where Brian Viglione, the drummer and other half of the Dresden
Dolls, gave a drum workshop, and then we returned to the Establishment Tent to see Mucca Pazza (left), a “punk rock marching band.” Nothing could describe them better: dressed in band uniforms in a wide array of colors and in varying states of “punk,” the twenty or so members — mostly brass and drum instruments but also with a group they called the “Freaks” on electric guitar, mandolin, violin, and accordion — performed classical pieces as well as originals. Their “punk rock” status came more from their appearance and outrageous stage antics than the music, which was well played. The band also had two cheerleaders who were reminiscent of the Cheri Oteri/Will Ferrell skit on Saturday Night Live.

Mucca Pazza

That afternoon we ventured over to the Odeum to see Snoop Dogg, who seemed a bit confused as to where he was since he kept addressing the crowd as “East Lansing,” a hundred miles east. When he failed to capture our attention, we made our way to the overpriced food, and after explaining to the vendor what “vegan” meant, spent $7 on a falafel before retiring to a hammock in the Sherwood Forest to rest until the next Sxip’s Hour of Charm at 6pm.

Una Mimnagh, Rachelle Garniez and Sxip all performed again, but we also saw Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey, two well-trained contortionist acrobats with a very humorous side, and Scotty the Blue Bunny, a 42-year-old man dressed in a skin-tight glittery blue bunny costume and doing a hilarious skit that began with him prowling the stage and roaring Godzilla noises, then reassuring the audience that he is “just a homosexual.” After rapping and doing magic tricks, he climbed over the rail separating the audience from the stage, explaining it as a protest against “boundaries.”

I should mention now that over the course of our weekend my finding skills were at 100%, and I found half of a still-warm sandwich just as we were getting hungry, a glow-stick crown, a baby manatee Beanie Baby, and most importantly, a glittery American-flag top hat. This I gave to my Significant Other (as he's been labeled here at WB), and the hat was cause for the most exciting part of our weekend. When Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls performed later that night in collaboration with Estradasphere, she too, climbed over the barrier to perform a Kurt Weill song, “Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife,” describing the gifts sent to the wife of a soldier from various cities before her husband is killed. During the song, Amanda borrowed the items she mentioned from members of the audience while she sang about them, and when she got to the verse about a hat from Amsterdam, she removed the glittery found hat from Significant Other’s head and placed it on her own, then sang the whole verse with her arm around him!

Giddy and in awe from such a close encounter with a mutual hero (should I mention how jealous I am?), we left for the Ranch Arena, where Of Montreal performed a spectacular set with lots of theatrics. Throughout the set, a man in a glittery silver mask and black body suit kept attempting to slay band members. Three small children, similarly masked, but dressed in Halloween costumes, occasionally accompanied him.

After Of Montreal ended at 11 pm, we rushed back to the Establishment Tent for a rare appearance by Evelyn Evelyn, a mysterious side project of Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley. Evelyn Evelyn are allegedly conjoined twin sisters, both named Evelyn, who grew up in the circus and now make music produced by Amanda and Jason. But — here comes the mystery — every time they are supposed to play something goes wrong, and Amanda and Jason have to cover their songs for them instead. (Hmm.) Such was the case that night, as the twins had skipped out on the show to see Primus with 39,950 other concertgoers, leaving only a confusing note behind.
Here, Amanda and Jason cover "Elephant Elephant":

Amanda Palmer (covering for Evelyn Evelyn) singing "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

At 3am we finally trudged back to our tent to shiver the cold night away, but only until the sun rose and rapidly turned our tent into an oven.

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