We fight for the setlists, and don't score on that front, but Florence manages to score the handwritten lyric sheets (and insists on giving me one later, causing me to go completely speechless and tears to spark into my eyes). I suddenly am very tired. And cold. And hungry. And I notice that my feet are very, very wet. Jessica and Paris and Angel and Mike walk down and we are all experiencing more or less the same thing, so some of us decide to go find food. Oh, yeah, and call Jean and see how much of the set she actually got to hear (I kept checking and just kept hitting redial over and over and over and over.) We find a corner of the main building at the top of the hill, and we're all sharing notes and filling in what to me was [mumble] and Paris keeps saying, "TELL HER ABOUT THE WINDMILLS". I have to call her a few times to make sure she gets everything, as people's fazed brains bring up more details. ("Jean, Ed did a lot of windmills during 'Patriot'." Jean: "Yes, I got that, it seemed to be important to a few people").
We are walking around, looking for food, running into friends everywhere we go. The food lines are now horrendous and we just say "fuck it" and pick one and stand there for 30 minutes, waiting, while talking a mile a minute and don't even notice. We find a patch of dry pavement and eat our $8 gyros or burritos (or whatever it ends up being - it was FOOD). Jessica has to take care of some things, Mike is heading back down to see what's left of Live's set (we kept commenting during lunch, "Isn't this the EXACT same set they did in 1995?" #$%@ journalists had no problem with THAT, now did they). With Paris in tow, I am off to look for prayer beads and prayer flags and just generally skip around and enjoy the SUN and the atmosphere.
Now, I hate festivals. HATEHATEHATE festivals. Short sets, less than optimal conditions, $8 burritos, you name it. (Last festival I did was Lolla '96, and that only worked because I brought my own food, found a good viewing spot, didn't MOVE the entire day, and left the second Soundgarden came off the stage.) All I have to say is, this was *fun*. Considering they had one stage to work with, things moved fast; considering the amount of bands, they were running close to being on time. They staged it well - you really did have time to get up and walk around, unless you absolutely HAD to see every single band that was performing. And, the most incredible thing to me, was what we called "the monk tent" - at other TFC's, it was indeed a tent, but here it was the upstairs of the main building, where they had non-stop chanting and sacred dancing, where the energy was totally different, where you could sit and recharge and actually LEARN something. If you didn't go upstairs in the main building and check this out, you really missed the whole point of the festival, not to mention really missed out on something special and moving.
#1 on the list of people who missed out on this experience was Mr. Vedder, who walked up after his set to TRY to go upstairs, but was completely MOBBED by people grabbing, touching, running after him - he couldn't even get upstairs, and ended up having to be escorted back to the backstage by a cadre of no less than 10 security guards. Come on - did you (whoever "you" is here) REALLY have a life-changing experience because you shook Ed's hand for three seconds or ran after him? You couldn't have let the guy alone and let him dig the festival? Ah, it was sad. I saw him being escorted back down the hill (as I was waiting in the interminable line for lemonade before running back to my seat for Blondie's set), looking kind of bemused and resigned, surrounded by big burly guards. Sorry, Ed....
Highlights from the rest of the day:
Well, effectively, it's over. I hug Jessica and Paris goodbye, and run out of the pavilion to the pre-designated meeting space. I would have loved to have said goodbye to everyone, but I love the idea of getting sleep before driving back to Chicago the next morning more. Back to the car and the parking lot nightmare, which ended up working out because of 1) our fear of getting into the car and sinking into the mud, and 2) a forward-thinking individual in a SUV who moved some barrels and created an exit where there was really NOT supposed to be an exit. If we'd been sitting exhausted in the car, waiting, we'd probably still be sitting there; as it was, it only took us about 20 minutes to get the hell out of that parking lot (which I am informed is some kind of new record). As it was, we didn't get back to Morris until 2:30am, I'm asleep by 3:00, and up at 8:00am to drive back to the airport.
the divine ms. h
- Blondie: I went to see them a few weeks before the TFC and while they were so much fun and really exceeded my expectations, they completely surpassed that with this set. The best thing had to be that I had an unobstructed view of Clem Burke, who is the spirit of Keith Moon incarnate if anyone is. They walk out, pick up instruments, and charge straight into "Dreaming". Not a wasted second up there, the band in top form, and Debbie Harry's voice as sultry as ever. (You didn't like them? Go get a $8 burrito! =) That's the beauty of the thing!)
- Tracy Chapman: So we were up in the monk tent, chilling out, and I decided to walk back down and get some sun and see the end of her set. I wasn't all that enthused about it; I think she's talented and wrote some great songs, but she wasn't #1 on my list. However, I have to say that I was very pleased and surprised with her set; it was strong and enthusiastic, and very very solid. A nice interlude. (You didn't like her? Go get some $5 lemonade! =))
kick out the jams, motherfuckers: rage!
- Rage Against The Machine: Okay. I will admit that while being a fan, as well as admiring (but not 100% agreeing with) their politics, I have never been able to see RATM live. I don't know why, it just never happened. So, I was really looking forward to this. For this set, I switched tickets with Paris, who is an ENORMOUS fan and was going to appreciate my seat more than I would have (and his were halfway back, dead center, if those had been my real seats I would not have been disappointed!) All I can say is - wow. Okay, maybe it was supposed to be obvious, but it's not easy to sustain that kind of energy in a live show, it's easy to be loud and raucous and only pay lip service to the music, but it is very very very hard to go out there and deliver the way they did. No question that they blew everyone else on the bill away, and I walked out of there wanting to buy everything they've ever released. What a *dangerous* band, I'm thrilled that in 1999 someone like them can exist. And again, while I don't agree with all of their politics, I respect the fact that it is REAL and that they have the courage of their convictions. Wow. An MC5 for the Millenium. We need one.
- Run DMC: So, according to the lineup that was released to the on-site media that morning, Run DMC were supposed to go on *after* the Beastie Boys. Good. Kathy is the major BB fan, we are going to stay until their set ends and then escape from Wisconsin as quickly as we can. Paris returns my ticket after Rage, and then I pass it on to Kathy, who heads down front for the Beasties. So Paris and I sit there creating our theoretical game plan for Pearl Jam in 1999-2000 (it all made sense, except for the fact that it's *Pearl Jam* and sense does not come into play), and then we notice the stage is set up for a dj.
Oh NO. Run DMC. Then the Beasties.
Which would have been fine, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT THEY SPENT 45 MINUTES DOING SHOUT-OUTS AND MAYBE 10 MINUTES PERFORMING ACTUAL SONGS. (Kathy: "If they had done *ONE* more shout-out, I woulda gone up there and knocked their two bald heads together"). I do not think that Run DMC rated being that late in the set. I do not think Run DMC rated getting almost an HOUR to play. AND WHEN PEOPLE HAVE TO GET THEIR CARS OUT OF MEADOWS THAT HAVE TURNED TO QUAGMIRES AND DRIVE AT LEAST AN HOUR AND A HALF TO THE NEAREST CITY, IT WAS UTTERLY DISRESPECTFUL TO DO THAT TO THE AUDIENCE.
Special reportage from Kathy Davis, former Footsteps editor: "Run DMC were wearing Abercrombie and Fitch underwear".
mca, come and rock the sure shot
- Beastie Boys: Okay, so they were as tired as we were, and it showed a little. But they made me forget that I was tired and cranky at Run DMC and just went with it and bounced around and had a grand time. I think that the journalist types cut out early, because the ones who did write about them seemed to not remember, or not hear, the fact that they most certainly *did* bring the audience's attention back to the whole raison d'etre of the day, Tibet. Whether it was Adam's brief talk in the middle of the set, or (my favorite), Mike D's wonderful "This next song goes out to the government of China. Thank you very much!" as they slammed into "Sabotage". (That was one of the best statements of the day, and one of the best illustrations of the whole point of the TFC, the combination of music and activism and how effective they can be.) I think it takes a lot of nerve, and it does Adam Yauch and the rest of the Beasties a great disrespect and disservice.
And it was worth every single second of it. For one of our few (maybe only?) Pearl Jam adventures this year, it was certainly a worthy one. Thanks, Ed.
support independent music
- You can buy C Average's records from cdnow.com or Kill Rock Stars directly [they need a new van. buy the record!]
- You can buy the Mono Men's records from cdnow.com or directly from their label, Estrus Records
- You can buy some of Dead Moon's records from cdnow.com
- Or (even better), patronize your local independent record store!
- the police ["driven to tears" can be found on zenyatta mondatta
TAPING UPDATE: Despite security busting countless tapers, there are at least 4-5 good audience recordings from the show. THERE IS NO NEED TO BUY THIS SHOW! However, yes, you will need some patience in finding this show. If someone wanted to organize a tape tree, the tapers in question would probably be happy to seed it for you; ask around (but *don't* ask us). Additionally, there are at least two video sources, one incomplete, one complete.
MORE thank-yous: Florence (you know!), Angel ("Did anyone else in this car get kissed by a rock star today? I don't think so!"), Kathy Davis ("Hi, nice to meet you, let me spill red wine on your stuff"), Ray ("Your reindeer is falling over" "It's a MOOSE!"), the rest of the slumber party pj gang, Family Stinson for taking my extra ticket off my hands, Bob and Mike for getting the damn show encoded so quickly so I didn't have to rely on my memory and my notes to get the quotes right, Jessica and Paris ("Oscar") for sharing notes, seats and everything else, and everyone else I met when I was way out of it and didn't think to ask what your email address was so I could figure out it was *you*...(Lynn!)
Copyright © 1999 Caryn Rose