Since neither Holly nor Christina was very familiar with Metric, I searched for Metric on Smellerbee as best I could; I knew there was a lot. But I could only find "Monster Hospital" and "IOU" before I gave up and just let it go back to shuffling.
There was a hell of a line of cars waiting to get into the parking area; I'd forgotten about that business. But it gave us time to figure out how to pay for parking. Parking was $15, and there were three of us. That math we could do: five bucks each. I had foreseen this issue and paid cash at Jack in the Box to get change, so I had three fives. Holly had a ten. And Christina had a twenty. I could not figure out the math until Christina thought out of the box and noted that if we gave her twenty, she would get five back. And I would give her a five, and Holly could give her a ten and get five back. In reality, I gave Holly the five in change, and she gave me the ten, and I gave Christina my five and Holly's ten. Which produced the same result.
Once we parked, we then had to wait in line to get in. So much waiting! At security, we had to...throw away the caps of our bottled water? What?? Because people make "bombs" out of them and throw them at the artists? But...it's a bottle! With water! It needs a cap! Gah. I stuck it in my thigh pocket; I was glad I'd worn cargo pants.
Audrye Sessions were already playing when we got to the stage; I have pimped them before and extolled the virtues of their hot female bassist. The lead singer had gotten a haircut! They were playing something off the new album, which looked to have more instrumentation. Then they played "Julianna," which I liked, and then another new song, and then they were done! Aw. Christina said she liked them later, so I was glad she got to see them.
Next up were Anberlin, whose radio song I liked well enough. They were all right, generic white boy rock, but what I remember most is that the lead singer was very friendly! He seemed like a nice guy, very appreciative of everyone there. Holly said they used to be a Christian rock band, which could explain the difference in personality between Anberlin and the next band.
Which was Cage the Elephant. We all only knew the one song, "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," which is a good song, but was not exactly representative of their music. "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" is a sort of twangy, rappy song, but most of their songs were much harder, more punk- and metal-inflected. Some of them sounded like songs I might like in the studio, but they were a little much live.
The lead singer, however, was terribly entertaining. He couldn't stand still! He was always shaking and hopping up and down, the blond mop atop his head bouncing along with him. He always had a very pained expression on his face. Sometimes he would just scream with a very pained expression on his face. He climbed down off the stage and sang in the audience. He moved speakers out of the way so he could climb back. When a microphone seemed to go out, he grabbed another one and then put both up to his face.
They were an interesting act, and I actually did not hate them live, however baffled I was by the lead singer. And the second guitarist, who wore a striped shirt and had an actual hairstyle and looked like my high school calculus teacher.
At this point, I should mention the homeless guy behind us. Because, uh, there was a homeless guy behind us. He did not move or change his expression. He just stared at the stage with his mouth slightly open. We weren't sure how he had gotten in, but I figured it was the best day of the year for him. Maybe someone had given him a ticket so he could have a fun day.
Next up were Airborne Toxic Event, whom I had been kind of meh on last year but was now very interested in seeing since I'd fallen madly in love with "Sometime Around Midnight," which I realized during the set had no chorus. Now that I was prone to liking them—and now that I was actually paying attention to their set, unlike last year—I did really like them. I liked that they had a Japanese bassist and a woman on keys and violin, and I liked the lead singer's voice. They have a good mix of upbeat stuff and melancholy stuff. Thumbs up, should check out more.
Then came Glasvegas, from Scotland. I didn't really care for them (especially the lead singer's voice), but I did notice that, like Hep Alien, they had a chick drummer! But unlike Lane, she drummed standing up!
I thought it was totally cute, even though she appeared to be doing the most simple drumming imaginable (Holly was also watching her and thought after a few minutes, "I could do that!"). I just watched her because she was enjoying herself.
Since I did not care about Glasvegas, I took this opportunity to get a picture of me wearing my Woody Show shirt, which was a Small. I'm not used to wearing Small. When I put it on in the morning, it felt tight and constricting, like there wasn't enough material, but...it was also kind of flattering. It made me look skinny! I got used to it after a while and didn't really notice. But anyway, check out how hot I am in this shirt!
Why any number of cute girls present did not ravage me right there is beyond me.
Holly and Christina had heard that Mute Math were well known for being awesome live, so we were excited to see them, even though we didn't know many songs (I liked "Typical").
So we knew we were in for something interesting when we saw that the drummer was TAPING HIS HEADPHONES TO HIS HEAD WITH ELECTRICAL TAPE. He rolled it around his head six or seven times. Oh, did I say the drummer? Because when they started, someone who would turn out to be the bassist was also drumming:
If the drummer hadn't taped his headphones on, they would have flown off.
And then the lead singer came out and rocked out on the keytar. WHAT. YES. THE KEYTAR.
I did not know people still used those things!
And the guitarist looked like Charlie Pace.
They opened with "Typical," which was, in fact, way more awesome live than it is on the album. They're very energetic performers, and they really pleased the crowd, I think.
Never so much as the very end, which was one of the coolest outros I've ever seen at a show. The drummer walked over to the railing between the two stages and started drumming on the railing.
Then he climbed it and was drumming up there. I was trying to snap a picture when I felt something brush my head since HE HAD JUST THROWN HIS DRUMSTICK AT ME. That was close.
But then he went to the other side of the stage and grabbed a drum and went into the crowd and DRUMMED WHILE CROWDSURFING.
Meanwhile, the guitarist PLAYED THE FEEDBACK.
I'm not joking; he was turning dials and shit and changing the feedback noise.
I didn't get a picture in time, but at one point all three of the other members were drumming on the other end. It was just a raucous affair.
So I am now perpetuating the rumor that Mute Math is pretty awesome live and you should see them if you get a chance.
Then, finally, after two minutes of a DJ killing time and showing the audience his tits, as requested, was Metric. METRIC METRIC METRIC! I only know a dozen or so Metric songs, but I love them a lot. I highly recommend them.
Metric took the stage, and out of the speakers came a beeping, a beeping, and then continuous tone like the heart monitor of a dead patient. Could it be? COULD IT BE?
"Bam chicka bam, chicka boom boom boom, shalang shalang boom, shalang shalang boom," cried Emily Haines, confirming my suspicion that they were TOTALLY doing "Monster Hospital," which is my favorite song. Hey, look, I still have it available for download.
Now, my impression of Emily Haines from her music was that she was a calm wisp of a woman. Oh, I was wrong. For, lo, she is a total rock star:
She was dancing all over the place, kicking up her knees like she was doing aerobics, and making all sorts of lyrically appropriate gestures. It was clear she really enjoyed performing.
I didn't know they had a black bassist!
After "Monster Hospital," she introduced themselves as Metric and said she wanted to give us that summer feeling of turning on the radio on the way to hang out with your friends and it's playing your favorite song. Also, she wanted to rock our faces off. She proceeded to do so with "Help I'm Alive."
Then they did "Gimme Sympathy" off the new album, which I hadn't heard. I liked it.
Lots of applause as fans recognized the beginning of "Empty." I have an oddball assortment of Metric songs, and I don't know what songs are really popular and what was likely to be played. "Empty" I knew, so I was ready for the part where the soft first couple minutes suddenly turn into a couple minutes of rocking the fuck out. Emily really enjoyed shaking her head, it's empty.
They lengthened the intro of "Dead Disco" so much that Emily missed her cue and had to run to the microphone to catch up and start singing. It was the first time I'd really heard the lyrics and really understood what the song was about. I'd never really processed it before. I think it helped that I finally heard the second line of the chorus as "dead funk," which made sense sandwiched between "dead disco" and "dead rock and roll."
Emily described their closer as a "post-apocalyptic love song," and it was "Stadium Love," the closer of the new album, and I really liked it. It was pretty awesome and included the bewilderingly cool line "Angel versus eel."
After Metric, I realized my thigh pocket was wet because I'd been jumping up and down with an open water bottle so much. BUT IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT YOU GUYS.
We took a break to avoid the reggae stylings of Rebelution and checked out Dizzy Balloon on the local stage. They were not that great, but they seemed like a bunch of guys having a fun time with a violin and a cello. And they covered "Flagpole Sitta"! Not very well, but they did it.
Back at the festival stage, we saw Alkaline Trio, and they didn't play a single song Holly or I knew, and although they were fine, I just wasn't as into their set this year, although I liked a couple songs I hadn't heard before, like "Private Eye."
Taking Back Sunday started being very loud and screaming, so we exited to get some food before MC Lars...and I somehow lost Holly and Christina. But I figured we'd find each other soon enough, so I went to get some turkey sausage. As I got my food, I ran into them in the next line getting their food. I headed to the local stage, where MC Lars was still setting up! Good thing he was running late.
Finally, MC Lars got started with "White Kids Aren't Hyphy." He needed help from his pal "DJ." I have no idea what funky spelling it is, but he was just called "DJ." Maybe it's, like, DeeJae or something, I don't know.
Next up was "21 Concepts," which is one of my favorites and uses the Tetris theme ("Korobeinki") as the backing track. He asked for us to help him out on the Cantonese part, but we were unsuccessful.
I did notice a familiar face lurking in the background, though...
Yes, that is none other than MC Frontalot, the namer of nerdcore and dude behind "It Is Pitch Dark." But MC Lars had some other special guests that he brought up for some song I did not know in honor of Wesley Willis.
Songs I did know, however, included "Download This Song" and "iGeneration." An awesome song I did not know was "Mr. Raven," which was a rap take on "The Raven." We got to participate in the call-and-response of "Who's that?"/"Who's that rapping?"/"Who's that rapping on my chamber door?" and "Mr."/"Mr. Raven"/"He's all up in my grill like nevermore."
MC Lars was an English major who studied 19th century American literature. He begins the song by asking us to give it up for Edgar Allan Poe, America's favorite anti-Transcendentalist.
He did bring up MC Frontalot for a song about a dad encouraging his son to play more video games even though he wanted to do his homework and take out the trash. It's a song about an ironic situation, explained MC Lars redundantly. "Give it up for irony," he said.
We gave it up.
"You know when I say that, you're not supposed to give it up."
MC Frontalot has a very specific aesthetic, and he appears to be like Stephen Colbert in that he keeps up a persona. A very evocative persona:
Meanwhile, I was totally crushing on the keyboardist/backup singer/violinist.
Look! She's cute! I like cute girls! And she was singing and smiling and having fun and it was very cute. And she even has another side to her face!
I realized later that she looked just like my friend Ronnie from Ann Arbor. Back me up here, Coco.
They closed with "Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock," which led to a mosh pit that knocked the girl in front of me over.
Then it was time for us to find a place on the lawn...which was pretty damn full. We found a decent spot in the middle, but the figures on the stage were barely discernible. I'm not sure if Dead Confederate were down there or not, but whatever.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs eventually took the stage (Karen O: "Yeah yeah yeah!!") and broke into "Phenomena," which is not really a good opener, in my opinion. But then they did "Art Star," which I never expected them to do because it's an older song, but I was happy because it's one of my favorites, even if it basically consists of Karen O yelling, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAART STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR," and then skipping around going, "Doot doot doot, doot doot, doot doot doo do." I couldn't see shit, though, and this is the best I could get of Karen O's ridiculous outfit with my 20x digital zoom:
They also did "Cheated Hearts" and "Gold Lion" and "Maps" and, of course, "Zero," which is an awesome song. The problem is that Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren't really a lawn band. It didn't help that it wasn't dark yet and half the people didn't seem to be paying attention. It really ruined the atmosphere and made it hard for me to get into the set. Which was a shame because I'd really been looking forward to it.
311, though, were surprisingly good! They sounded great, and they put on a really good, fun show. They played hits I knew like "Beautiful Disaster," "All Mixed Up," the new single "Hey You," "Come Original," "Amber," and, at the end, one for the "old-school" fans, "Down." Which I had been waiting the whole set to hear, so yay.
The coolest part of the show was a long drum solo that included the rest of the band bringing on big timpanis and drumming as well.
After 311, I headed to the restroom, and then, since I was getting a headache and my feet were hurting like hell from having stood up all day, I headed over to Rock Medicine for some ibuprofen. They had been there for me last year, and they were there for me again this year! I thought they were awesome. And to show my appreciation, I donated a couple bucks since I ought to put my money where my love is.
Back at our spot, I stood and waited. A teenage boy came up to me and offered his hand, so I shook it. We had the following conversation:
"Are you enjoying the show?"
"What're you here for? Just to enjoy the show?"
"Do you have a MySpace?"
"Why're you taking all those pictures? You just like taking pictures?"
"Do you work for Live105?"
Because the only reason anyone would take pictures would be to PUT THEM ON THEIR FUCKING MYSPACE. Or LiveJournal.
Finally, it was time for the Offspring! Who botched the opening. "Let's try that again," said Dexter Holland. And they launched into "Bad Habit," which drew a lot of applause. He asked us to help him out on the bridge, and, come on, what's more fun than joining thousands of others in screaming, "You stupid dumbshit goddamn motherfucker!!!" Next was "Come Out and Play," and while the music sounded good (as it did throughout the show), it sounded a little like Dexter was tired of having to sing that song over and over for the last fifteen years (FIFTEEN YEARS YOU GUYS THAT IS A WHOLE PERSON I AM OLD).
For the next song, Dexter sat at a piano and told us he was going to be playing the piano because he was a serious musician, so don't make fun of him or he would piss on you and shit in your head.
Then he played the Peanuts theme.
And then he did a soft, sensitive version of "Gone Away" that I think I kind of always wanted to hear because the song lent itself to that treatment even though it wasn't as successful as I would have hoped because Dexter Holland's voice is not really suited to ballads. Regardless, we raised our lighters and cell phones in the air.
After every song, the lights went off, and then the lights would come on for another song. There wasn't really a throughline; it was like here's a song and here's a song and here's a song. And the Offspring have so many hits that they could fill up an entire set with just hits. Which is what they did. The only non-singles they played were "Staring at the Sun" and "Americana," which I happened to know because I downloaded Americana back in the day. But I don't own a single Offspring album and I knew every goddamn song they played. "All I Want," "Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?" "Hammerhead," "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)," "(Can't Get My) Head Around You," "Why Don't You Get a Job?" "Gotta Get Away" (I think). For the encore, they did "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid," "Want You Bad," "Self Esteem," and "The Kids Aren't Alright." ("Self Esteem" didn't seem to suffer from the "I've been singing this for FIFTEEN YEARS" issue, thankfully.)
Hearing all that Offspring brought me to the conclusion that A) they have some kind of embarrassing songs in their repertoire and B) as much as I love them, they're not that great. Whatever, I still think "One guy's wasted and the other's a waste" is a brilliant line.
There was, of course, more waiting in store for us as we attempted to leave the show, but it had been a full day of great live music, once again. Rock on.