Sunday was a lot hotter during the afternoon and the parking lot scene was as unremarkable as the day before, so it made sense to head inside early.
The Snake Eyes stage was devoted to bands that fit the festival’s jam-band roots. Santa Barbara’s Animal Liberation Orchestra took the stage in the spirit of the Halloween event, dressed as pirates. They got the small crowd on their feet, energized from the band’s feel-good funky vibes and the occasional cool breeze blowing across the field.
During ALO’s set, an amazing stunt airplane show filled with death-defying maneuvers was taking place off in the distance. The biplanes performed a number of impressive aerial acrobatics through the sky. The wildest being what appeared to be an engine-stall drop. Combined with the music, it was a perfect feast for the senses.
On the Double Down Stage, which was the main stage, Ghostface Killah & the Rhythm Roots Allstars had an interesting collection of folks on the stage. Three men manned the mics over a large band consisting of keyboards, bass, guitar, four men on percussion (two sets of drums with an occasional set of steel being used, congas, and bongos) and two saxophones.
Back at Snake Eyes, Robert Randolph and the Family Band tore it up right from the get-go with a long jam to start their set. You can hear Randolph’s gospel roots in his music. The crowd went crazy for am instrumental version of Bell Biv Davoe’s “Poison.” He closed out his set with “Purple Haze.” A daunting task for any musician, but Randolph has the skills to do it justice. If you have never seen him play before, do yourself a favor and see him when he comes to your town. He will blow your mind as he no doubt did the 40-something woman who wrote in my notepad, “I am too old for mushrooms anymore.” The band left the stage at 4pm, but was scheduled to go another 30 minutes.
Reggae artist Michael Franti & Spearhead was on the Double Down Stage and had a good vibe going. He played a Bob Marley medley as I ate dinner and the audience was enjoying him. The mood came to a screeching halt as he or someone from the stage dedicated a song to a friend suffering from fourth stage intestinal cancer. Best wishes go out to that person and his loved ones, but gadzooks, talk about a buzz killer. I hoped the woman on mushrooms didn’t hear it. Franti brought back the party atmosphere with a cover of Sublime’s “What I Got.” The crowd went wild for it, and then Franti went way back into everyone’s youth playing rollickin’ versions of “Sesame Street theme” and “C is for Cookie.”
Back at the Snake Eyes stage, Umphrey’s McGee played as the day transitioned into night. The sky was a great mix of purple and orange when they started. A haze covered the entire audience in what appeared to be an attempt to recreate the smoke-filled auditorium from the back of Kiss Alive! Hands down the highest percentage of stoners were active during this set. UM was good but not enough to make them stand out from the line-up. Too many longs songs blurred together and didn’t engage the crowd well. In one instrumental there was a bit of The Beatles “Norwegian Wood” and their best song of the set was their new tune, “Wizard Burial Ground,” an awesome hybrid of Metallica and ELP. The song opens with a relentless attack powered by the drums and bass, before giving way to wild keyboards and a wicked guitar solo. The whole thing sounds like a battle has taken place. The song gets softer in the middle, led by gentle keyboards, but it builds up in intensity, and closes as it began. No doubt the band’s fans dug what they were hearing, but a festival is a place to make new fans and I was surprised they didn’t play more accessible music.
On the Double Down Stage, the trio Muse compelled the audience to dance with their infectious grooves and fuzzed-out guitars. They take elements from different genres and make a unique sound that has something for everyone. Kudos to the drummer who was wearing a Spider-Man bodysuit.
Once Muse was over, everyone began to advance forward, filling every vacant spot in anticipation of Rage Against The Machine. When they hit the stage, there was a minor surge of people. The band delivered a killer set of their hits, almost the exact one from Coachella, and the audience devoured it. Too bad the energy coming off the band and audience couldn’t have been harnessed; it would have powered a casino for a few nights.
Unfortunately, most of the Rage audience is just there for the intense music, which is outstanding, but is apparently too stupid to comprehend the lyrics. They miss the message of many of the songs about us all working together as a community as they selfishly push you aside so they can get to the front. Nor do they work to make society better. Instead, their only form of revolting against the system is downloading albums.
The clichéd mosh pit started up as those with small dicks deal with the many forms of impotence in their lives by feebly lashing out into the other losers because they either need some form of pain or need to feel like a tough guy. That, and they don’t know how to dance.
Rage only played for 83 minutes and was listed for two hours. There was also no banter from Zack about injustice in the world or plans to move forward. For the audience or the band. Were they going to stay together or just finish out their scheduled dates? They put on a great show, arguably the best of the weekend, but when they were done, I was left wondering about the band’s future rather than savoring the past few moments.
Vegoose put on a great two days of entertainment. Hopefully the festival will rise again like The Great Pumpkin.
The festival is taper friendly. Sets available online from Sunday’s line-up include:
Jump back to Vegoose – Day One – 10/27/07 to see coverage of the first day of the festival.