Last year, I was lucky enough to score a free ticket to BFD from one of my lurkers (*waves*). The lineup, as you can see, was pretty sweet.
So on that Saturday, I drove down to Mountain View, stopping at the Jack in the Box on Willow to grab some lunch, since I wasn't going to pay the exorbitant prices inside Shoreline. My records imply that I bought two of the dollar chicken sandwiches.
On the way, I listened to Live105, of course, and I heard an interview with the Lovemakers, whom I hadn't heard of. They sounded worth checking out, though.
Once inside, I headed to the local stage to see Honeycut and eat my chicken sandwiches. Someone commented on my Tegan and Sara shirt. The local stage is fun because it's much smaller, and you can go right up to the stage, especially when the band is the first to play and not many other people are there. (As a sidenote, Audrye Sessions headlined the local stage last year, but I didn't know I would like them later on! I was just waiting for the Oakland Art and Soul Festival, obviously. And then the show I went to with Rachel (harriettheelf) that I never wrote about.)
There were some local bands on the festival stage, too, but I didn't really know them or pay attention to them, although Tris (sainfoin_fields) was friends with the Matches, and she may have had a connection to Street to Nowhere as well, maybe. I caught a little bit of CSS, who I didn't know much about at the time but now wish I'd paid more attention to. They seemed like a lot of fun onstage, though.
The Lovemakers were awesome. So much energy, so much fun, and I had "Shake That Ass" stuck in my head for days. It's always great when you discover a new band at a concert like this. I've extolled their virtues before, though, and I will continue to do so in the future, so I hope you're listening.
Tiger Army were decent; I was most entranced by the guy plucking the giant electric bass cello. It was more like he was slapping it, actually.
Shiny Toy Guns were not what I expected from only having heard "Le Disko." They had a more varied sound, and I was impressed with the frontwoman, who not only sang but seemed to play every instrument they had onstage at one point or another.
I had no idea why Sum 41 were there, since they hadn't had a hit in years, but I did like several of their songs, so that was fun. The best part was the audience singing the bridge of "Fat Lip."
Cold War Kids were the big disappointment of the day. I really liked "Hang Me Up to Dry," but I didn't really like anything else, and the lead singer was kind of spastic. I thought he seemed mentally disabled, to be honest.
I like the Bravery more now, but back then, I only knew "Time Won't Let Me Go," so I wasn't as into their set. They had some technical difficulties and didn't even get to play their full set, unfortunately.
Silversun Pickups, predictably, were great, and from post-show reports, they were the highlight of the festival stage, hundreds finally discovering what I had already discovered at the Oakland Art and Soul Festival months back.
I didn't stay for the Faint, since I didn't really know anything by them, but I saw them from afar later, and it did look like a good show (I had heard they were great live).
For dinner, I had a six-dollar turkey Italian sausage. Oh, concert food.
The first band to take the main stage was Scissors for Lefty (shout-out to eirefaerie even though she's being a horrible LJ friend). I don't really remember much at all about their music (I think I missed most of their set), but they had a very wacky stage show, with people in funny costumes and giant cardboard cars.
Kaiser Chiefs were great, Interpol were fantastic, Queens of the Stone Age rocked, and Social Distortion were fine. I left during Bloc Party to avoid the rush, but they sounded good from the little I heard. But, seriously, what a killer lineup, right?
It was close to midnight by the time I got out, and I was tired, so I decided to hit up that Jack in the Box again for some Coke and, hey, how about some mozzarella sticks. I dipped them in marinara sauce and ate them while driving. And drank my sweet, sweet, acidic Coke. It was glorious, and I did not fall asleep and die.
After that wonderful experience, I will admit I was disappointed when I saw this year's lineup. But, unlike last year, I wouldn't be alone! I would have arbitrarium with me, and we would also meet up with holly96 and her brother!
I picked up arbitrarium from her place, and we set off for Mountain View. We stopped at the Jack in the Box on Willow for lunch. arbitrarium had never been to Jack in the Box before! She was entranced and enthralled by the selection. She was also buying my food because of the gas I was using. We both got the chipotle chicken ciabatta.
Now, I had ordered first, and then she had given her order. The cashier asked me for a name, but I didn't say anything since I wasn't paying, so she asked arbitrarium for a name, and she didn't say anything because she's weird. The cashier was sort of confused and asked for a name, so arbitrarium said, "Pete." The cashier went with it, even calling for "Pete" and looking at us with amusement when she brought our food out.
I told arby about my mozzarella sticks the year before, and she declared that we totally needed to do that on the way home. She also suggested getting egg rolls, but when the time came, she decided against them, so it's really only the mozzarella sticks that matter in this story.
As we approached Shoreline, we heard an interview with Flobots, one of the bands I was interested in seeing, even though I'd only heard the one song on the radio. To our surprise, we heard a female voice. I didn't know there was a woman in Flobots! And she played the viola. I didn't know they had a viola, either. The interview was good and made us like them more; arby especially appreciated that they specifically crafted a full album that is an experience when listened to from beginning to end. Don't let the age of mp3s destroy the art of albums, musicians!
Parking was $15.00. What the fuck? I didn't have to pay for parking the year before, and I'd read that parking was $4.00 on the Live105 site. So fucking lame. arby scrambled for cash, but I said I'd take care of it, and she would buy me food the rest of the day.
I parked, and we got out and headed for the entrance. And then turned around so arby could get her sunscreen. We headed for the entrance again. And then turned around so arby could get our tickets out of her purse. We headed for the entrance yet again. And finally made it.
The security was not very secure, as we were told to empty our pockets, and I didn't even bother taking my camera out. The lady noticed the two bulges in my thighs made by our lunches, but she completely missed the large metal bulge near my crotch. (Yeah, I did. </Marshall>)
Once inside, I grabbed a program and called Holly. It was hard to hear each other over the music, but we did eventually find each other. Drive A and Middle Class Rut had already gone, and Airborne Toxic Event were up. I didn't think the first half of their set was that great, but the second half had a couple good songs. They were followed by the Whigs, who were all right. I liked one song.
Next up were Flobots. Now, Flobots are an indie hip-hop group out of Denver, Colorado. I'm not really into hip-hop, but what that really means is I'm not into the mainstream rap that's so popular with the kids these days. I can dig the Flobots because of their intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics set against actual music. For an example, listen to "Handlebars," which features pizzicato viola and horns. What I love about the song is how it starts out all innocent with "I can ride a bike with no handlebars" and progressively builds and builds, using that same braggy construction, until it becomes something wholly sinister, serious, and topical.
They began with "No W," the obligatory song where you teach the audience to spell your name. The audience didn't seem to be responding, but by the end of the song, we were theirs. In the middle of the song, there's a line "we never play second fiddle," which cutely signaled a viola line. That I recognized. It sounded familiar, even though it was really short. They repeated it a couple times, and then the guitars broke into instantly recognizable opening chords from "Killing in the Name"! That's what the viola line was! It was goddamn awesome, and it's too bad they don't do it on the album version. There was another similar bit with a familiar-sounding viola line, but I couldn't place it. In any case, the Flobots were a go after that.
Flobots were a really high-energy group, and it was clear they were enjoying themselves. Brer Rabbit, who was wearing one of those hats whose name I don't know, did a pretty cool dance during one of the songs when he wasn't singing.
They did "Same Thing," which impressed me because it was very specific. It's not just some empty, vague message of discontent and change; these guys actually know what they're talking about (when was the last time you heard a reference to the assassination of a Salvadoran archbishop?). "Stand Up" was written after Hurricane Katrina, and it features a prominent viola loop that reminded me of Andrew Bird's "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left."
And, you guys, the violist was totally cute! Even from many yards away. Especially because when she wasn't playing, she was dancing to the music, and I like a girl with moves because I have none of my own. And she sang a little too, even though I couldn't hear her. I resolved to take her home with me. (Sidenote: I did not succeed in this endeavor or, in fact, try.)
Between a couple songs, she had a little viola solo, and people cheered. Cheered! Especially when she played fast, because to the layperson, the ability to play fast is the most impressive thing in the world. It was so weird to hear rock fans cheer the viola. Or, more accurately, the violist. This always happens when there's a chick in the band! Like when the Silversun Pickups bassist has a short solo, the crowd goes wild, but no one would give a simple solo like that a second thought if it were being played by a dude. I always hope that our inordinate reaction has more of a "You rock for being a woman in rock!" subtext than an "Aw, isn't it cute that a girl is playing in the band?" subtext, but I am not overly optimistic. At least I know my reaction is because I like girls.
After the Flobots were Atreyu, who were the disappointment of the day. They were surprisingly young, and they sounded kinda shitty. They were kids who had grown up listening to heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Limozeen, and that's not really my scene. I prefer my metal alt- or nu-. Regardless, I really like their song "Falling Down," so please enjoy that, at least. It's very fun.
Next up were MGMT, who were just...something else. I don't think they're suited for large, outdoor venues like that, but they made the best of it, mocking themselves the entire way through (after yet another fuck-up: "You are witnessing the last show we will ever play") and rolling with the punches when things went wrong. Since I'm sure you've already heard "Time to Pretend" a dozen times, here's "The Handshake." They also played "Electric Feel," "Weekend Wars," and, I think, "Of Moons, Birds and Monsters," which they hilariously said was written about Shoreline. And, ha ha ha, the lead singer went crowdsurfing during one song. And the last song had some random dancers. It was such a strange set, but it was not unexpected, given what Holly and I had seen in December.
Hey, don't you guys want to know what I was wearing? I know duchessdogberry does! Because it was the debut of the shirt she designed in honor of tcbumfhnemc. I felt a little self-conscious wearing Curly Sue on my chest. Please excuse my stupid expression, and note that that's MGMT in the background.
arby took a more dramatic picture to show it off:
None of us really cared about Anti-Flag, so we took a break and strolled around. We caught the tail end of their set, however, and they were pretty good. They sounded a lot better than Atreyu, probably because they've been in the business long enough to know how to use a soundsystem. And I was amused that they, despite railing against "this bullshit fucking war," they were surprisingly optimistic, inspired by the diverse crowd gathered in one place. They told us all to look around and shake the hand of the person next to us if we didn't know them. Later, this one guy actually walked through the crowd, shaking all our hands (a full-on greeting, actually, with the clasping and the back-pat hug). It was kind of cute.
The Kooks opened with the one song I knew, "Always Where I Need to Be," which is a fun, bouncy song. All of their songs kind of sounded the same, with the same sort of beat.
I left with arby halfway through, however, because I wanted to see the Action Design, started by two former members of punk band Tsunami Bomb. I had first heard "The Scissor Game" on Soundcheck months ago, and I was wondering why the voice sounded so familiar. When the song ended, my question was answered! Unfortunately, the band had some issues setting up, so we listened to the rest of the Kooks set from the local stage. This was also the first time we had sat down in four hours. Once the band got started, however, they were great. I really love Emily Whitehurst's voice, and she sounds just as good live as she does in the studio. She was fun to watch because she was having the time of her life up there, smiling and happy the whole time. Also, at one point, I think she played the theremin.
As arby and I came back to the festival stage, I heard Everlast putting on a lifeless rendition of "What It's Like," which was the last song in the set. Holly told me that, unfortunately, I had missed "Jump Around" (and the #1 Everlast Fan who seemed quite indignant at anyone not jumping up, jumping up, and getting down).
Alkaline Trio were good, even though I wasn't too familiar with their music. They sounded good, and I liked the lead singer's voice. The one song they played that I did know (besides the song currently on the radio, "Help Me," of course) was "Mercy Me." But if you're interested, I recommend you also listen to "Cooking Wine," which is a nice little song. After seeing them live, I am more inclined to check out more of their music, which is always a good sign.
As Flogging Molly started, arby and I went to grab some dinner and see whether the Phenomenauts were up. As luck would have it, they were playing the song I'd heard on Soundcheck, "Man Alone." And they were dressed up in funny outfits, and the lead singer had a microphone stand that looked like it was pulled out of a spaceship, and they played space noises between songs, and they talked about missing thrusters. It sounded like fun, but arby was too busy ordering me a seven-dollar chicken sandwich that consisted of a grilled chicken breast between two pieces of bread.
Back at the festival stage, Flogging Molly were doing their Irish thing. And calling George Bush the devil. Just once, I'd like to see a rock band be all "Yay, Bush!" or "Man, we totally support the war in Iraq; it's awesome!" For a change of pace, at least. Here, have "Drunken Lullabies," the only Flogging Molly song I know and, really, the only one you need to know since they all basically sound like that. There's a banjo! (Flogging Molly were really good, though; I was impressed that the lead singer was essentially yelling the whole time, but he was still singing.)
Next up were punk stalwarts Pennywise, who were loud and raucous. They didn't play the one song I really liked ("The World"), but they played all sorts of other songs that could be described as "Fuck _____." Fuck authority, fuck the rules, fuck the war, fuck perfect people, fuck it all! They were good live but not to arby's tastes. She clung to me as a shield when the giant mosh pit got out of hand.
Finally, Cypress Hill took the stage. I only knew the three songs I'd heard on the radio, and they played all three of them, so I couldn't ask for much more. Well, "played" is such a broad term when you apply it to rap groups. Most of the music is being spun, pre-recorded. I enjoyed watching the percussionist, though. Mostly, they put on a really fun show, always engaging with the audience and asking us whether we were drunk and/or stoned. And they used this audience dialogue to lead into songs, like when B-Real asked us if we were getting crazy a couple times and then replied, "Who you getting crazy with, ese? Don't you know I'm loco?" And then we got insane in the brain. (We got an uncensored version in which, rather than the cops coming and trying to snatch his crops, they come and try to suck his cock. Which is amusing, but I love the original line!)
In front of us were a few teenage boys and maybe even a pre-teen, seemingly chaperoned by one of their parents. The mom sort of got into it, kind of like, "Oh, I can kind of see why the kids think this is fun," but the dad was sort of stoic, kind of like, "Oh my God, what am I doing here?" This was not a kid-friendly show! The youngest one picked up a water bottle and threw it into the crowd, feeling very pleased with himself. There were a lot of objects being thrown around the crowd, including shoes and hats.
I mentioned this was not a kid-friendly show, right? Well, they took a smoke break in the middle of it. Heh. On the upside, they also inflated a giant skeleton king.
They closed with "(Rock) Superstar," which is an awesome song. So awesome, in fact, that at the end, the mosh pit got totally out of hand and expanded rapidly, threatening to knock us all down. But we survived the adventure.
What had not survived were my fucking feet. And legs. It had been four more hours without sitting. After standing around and talking to let everyone else get stuck in parking lot traffic, I hobbled over to the Rock Medicine stand for some ibuprofen. We waited for an open bench, and, finally, I could sit down.
Holly and her brother took off, and I was able to introduce arby to what I figured would be her new favorite song, "Merry Happy" by the Lily Allen-esque Kate Nash. Then I played her some Elbow, although Pipsqueak was being a bastard and skipping "The Bones of You." I ended with a song off the new NIN album, "Demon Seed," which is one of my Top 5 ATM.
Once I was finally able to walk, we checked out the Scion Subsonic Tent, which looked like an epileptic's nightmare. It was a craaaazy dance party with lots of flashing lights. Come on up and get your seizures! Apparently, MSTRKRFT was spinning, and in about half an hour, Moby was supposed to be up. But from what it said on the website, he was just going to be DJing, not actually performing his own material, jumping up and down and getting crazy with his bald self. So we decided not to wait and see what sort of music Moby would play for people to dance to.
We walked to my fifteen-dollar spot in the dirt and took off down the sketchy backroads to the highway. I couldn't remember which exit to take off 101, and I ended up overshooting it. So I had to actually turn onto Willow Road to get to the Jack in the Box. And then attempt to navigate my way into the drive-thru line. Look, we really wanted those mozzarella sticks. And I wanted a Coke and she wanted a root beer. arby even had exact change.
She wasn't sure whether I wanted to eat them then or wait till we got back, but I said that no, we had to eat while driving! This was now going to become a BFD tradition, my mozzarella sticks and Coke on the way home. The Coke was quite refreshing. Sadly, there was no marinara sauce! There was something called buttermilk house sauce. arby read the ingredients. Buttermilk was number six. I tried some, and it was basically like ranch. She held the sauce container up so I could find it easily.
Mmm, fried cheese.