Monday, July 14, 2008

WB Guest Writer: Rothbury Review, Conclusion

The final installment of our guest reviewer's look back at the Rothbury music festival in western Michigan. Thanks, 45!

Saturday and Sunday Highlights:

• The Dresden Dolls show at 3:30 Saturday. They blew the audience away with covers of “Two-Headed Boy” by Neutral Milk Hotel and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, as well as songs from all three of the DD albums. (Thank God for groups that are faithful to their older work!). After the show the Dolls went to the side of the stage, signed autographs, and took pictures with fans who wanted them:

Amanda Palmer and me

• Stopping in Sherwood Forest to be “gonged” — laying on a reclining deck chair with a blindfold on, between two large gongs. People running the station played the gongs for five minutes, which is supposed to make the 98% water in your body vibrate and relax you. Whether my water was moving or not, the experience was refreshing and not entirely negated by one of the men repeatedly calling me “honey” and trying to sell us mushrooms.

• Scotty the Blue Bunny performing while wasted and inviting “just another white boy” named Seth from the audience to come on stage and help him “break down some more barriers.” This meant that Seth had to unzip Scotty’s bunny costume, and soon Scotty was performing magic tricks in only his blue bunny ears and platform stilettos. “Sxip is going to kill me! Amanda is going to kill me!” he exclaimed, but no one killed him, and his magic tricks were all the more impressive for his naked drunkenness.

• Jason Webley keeping up the ridiculous drunken spectacle by teaching the audience a drinking song, then calling everyone up toward the stage with promises of getting us wasted, but in return, he said we needed to be closer. “Pretend I’m famous,” he said. “If this was Snoop Dogg, you'd be much closer.” When everyone had gathered around the stage, he persuaded hundreds of participants to spin circles twelve times while looking at their raised fingers, effectively making all of us feel more than a little drunk. Then he had us put our arms around each other and sway while singing a drinking song with him:

• Visiting the Epicenter fair, where the local farmers’ market was set up along with non-profit booths. We signed petitions, joined email lists, and bought organic strawberries in a compostable cup. Everything distributed by food vendors at Rothbury was compostable, from the food to the straws, and each trash station was separated into compost, recycle and landfill options. Of course, this leaves the question about where the corn to create 500,000 corn-cups came from….

• Overhearing two girls talking about their drug dealer boss, and how many people he had “working the festival.” Drug dealers sent people to the festival? Were all the people who had offered me drugs working for them? Was anyone but me here of their own accord?? Then, on our way back through the forest, I was stopped by a guy who asked if I “Do Molly.” I resisted my urge to say “Do her? I don’t even know her!” (Ba-doom tchsh!) However, it did finally sink in that of all the drugs anyone had tried to sell me that weekend, (and it was a lot) I recognized the names of very few. (Significant Other and I do not use drugs. An occasional drink is the most either of us consume, and at events like these we abstain so we can take away clear memories — so that I can write detailed reviews like this!)

• Seeing Jason Webley perform a full set and including a cover of Outkast’s "Hey Ya" and Evelyn Evelyn’s "Elephant Elephant" (see part two). Webley asked for audience participation several times, reassuring us with “Don’t worry if you don’t know the words, just sing it LOUDLY.” At one point he tossed an imaginary pear to an audience member too soon, and had to ask her to throw it back momentarily before he gave it back again to her. Unfortunately, as soon as she took an imaginary bite, Jason’s song broke the news that it was poison, and he mimed to her that she ought to be dying.

• Watching Atmosphere and Brother Ali perform. They were wonderful, funny, and intense, playing off each other and singing during the choruses of each other’s songs. Instead of one performing for the first half of the set, then the other for the last, they alternated songs, and they were the only performance of the weekend cheered into an encore. “I don’t think we are supposed to play any more,” they said while announcing they’d do it. “So if [security] comes on stage to take us away, don’t get mad, they’re just doing their job.”

• Having a chance to hear John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Susan Tedeschi, and Taj Mahal perform. Much different from the Establishment Tent acts, though, as the "majors" basically just played very polished music but didn't really perform the kinds of captivating visual acts like the ET players did.

• Taking part in the Project Jenny Project Jan dance party, which began around three in the morning, but this didn't stop the people who attended from shakin' booty all night long. The infectiously catchy songs got everyone going, including Sxip Shirey and the trombone player from the Yard Dogs. The DJ, Uncle Reuben, spun tracks dressed in a white painter's outfit that glowed under the black light, and the lead singer, Junior Highness, explained that "his uncle Reuben" was a part time painter but his own outfit — skinny jeans, wrist warmers, an ill-fitting ribbed suit jacket and a tie — was due to his day job as an accountant. Junior was trashed, and although he performed his music perfectly, he ended the show with a wild cry of "Who wants my pot?" and struggling with his pocket before producing a baggie which he tried to fling into the audience. Instead, it flopped to the ground between the stage and the barrier, and a confused security guard picked it up and handed it back to Junior. The baggie successfully got to the crowd the second time.

The weekend’s energy seemed to stay behind at the JJ Ranch, and while we left feeling amped for the three-hour drive home, we soon knew we had to stop and sleep somewhere or we’d crash the car and die. When we arrived back home we were definitely ready to sleep in a comfortable bed, but not really ready for Rothbury to be over. Before this summer, we were avid Lollapalooza fans, but assuming there’s something equivalent to the Establishment Tent next summer, we’ll definitely be choosing Rothbury again instead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, that "just another white boy" is me, and that was the scariest moment of my life.