Saving you explanation, let me just say hello... and thanks for taking me back. After having been missing for some time Rebeleven Music makes its return appropriately done through gasoline, liquor, and rock. Three things that were not without excess as I trekked across the southern states making my way towards Atlanta. Fate would have it that as I found out I had been invited to the peach haven for the Music Midtown Festival, Motortrain, the last of the true rock bands in Northeast Oklahoma / Northwest Arkansas, were in need of a driver. Having never driven anything bigger than my creeper wagon Dodge Van... I faked composure and comfort as I strapped myself into the forty foot RV and trailer and took the road a mile at a time. Red Bulls and Slim Jim's helped ease the tension from my inexperience as I took the 700mi. tour of secession, both of these some how enhancing the 80's Hair Metal that became a road staple. Though I was sporting aviators and a trucker hat, my facade of being a veteran driver fell apart as I took the band through a tour of residential Memphis while trying to find the K.O.A. that was actually 10 miles outside of town, but giving me an opportunity to showcase my ability to make 9 point U-turns without rearranging the front yards and driveways I used as turning lanes. I pedaled forward through the monotonous 350 miles from Tennessee to Georgia and passed varieties of "GFISHN" license plates and friendly truck stops where everyone calls you 'Hunny' and arrived in Atlanta cutting in on our load time at the midtown venue Vinyl, or Loft, or Center Stage or whatever the gridlocked arena that I didn't get to see was.
I spent the night guarding the "Big Bitch" tour bus with my 20 inch mag lite and a grimacing growl that was meant forboding, but probably appeared more forlorning, of a mean result if'n the crack-heads tried to mess with me. After dark I re-entered the RV and decided it was safe to take a shower, however forgetting that the pump needed to be turned on, I ran into problems when there was no water to be had. No problem. I reverted to my military days and scrounged until I found the baby wipes and spray deodorant. Motortrain rocked, gained some fans and lost some sobriety, and away we slept. The morning would bring with it more navigational challenges as Google would leave me to believe there was an RV park within city limits that could accommodate our need for electricity. The problem was that amongst the 50,000 music festival attendees in Atlanta this day were masses of people attending the Georgia Tech football game, and a random presidential motorcade of sorts leading the meandering parade of locals through the blocked and mazed streets. Luckily I teamed up with an Irishman that was trying to get to his pub(not joking), and tore down the police barricades as we didn't see their need as much as the city apparently did. Signaling and weaving and hoarding lanes I made it to the 7 lane crowded interstate for a sigh of traffic relief in comparison to the cluster f@*& that was downtown. Insert some boring travel and arguing with GPS directions and fast forward to arriving at the festival.
Check-in was efficient, saw Brad Schultz from Cage the Elephant and gave a "what's up" nod, after noticing he caught me awkwardly staring at him trying to catch a break in his conversation with someone... not wanting to be that guy who butts into conversations I backed away slowly like a retreating Kool-Aid man and picked up my media credentials, then headed back to catch The Joy Formidable. They played a good end set as I caught a few songs I recognized and sang along as my back was turned to mainstage settling in the matchbox of people ready for Band of Skulls. Skulls did not disappoint with their simplistic sound that mixes Kink-ish Velvet-y Plant notes... not to over glorify their talent but to give a hint at their folky brit rock sound. The band seemed to hold back a little, or lacked the strong front that Marsden needs to fulfill. Not to hash their amazing play for a three piece, but their band aesthetics still need some reworking. Shuffling back towards the mainstage, I grabbed a craft brew IPA to overcome the stain of light beer left in my pallet. Andy Hull and the rest of the Manchester Orchestra then staged themselves in front of a growing hometown crowd and begin what would become a highlight of albums. Especially exciting for me as I noticed a trending habit of mine to make favorites of songs that end up becoming the bands set list. His hometown connection battled his slight social awkwardness and sweat beaten eyes, and kept asking for more love from the crowd... and we gave. Hearing his vocal range as he stretches from scratchy shout to sanded registers from the top of his scale, its difficult not to fall in love with the big bearded front man. The highlight came when the Orchestra hammered out a 10 minute play of 'My Friend Marcus' bleeding it into 'Everything to Nothing' with their lulling guitar and static filled keyboard turning to dueling drums with reappearing chorus between the spaces.
Young the Giant, while I'm a fan, had to take a backseat to hunger and thirst... two pork sandwiches drowned in a sweet smokey molasses based bbq sauce put me right back in festival spirit and gave me the energy to return back to the pit for The Black Keys. This was the musical climax of the festival in my opinion as I opted out of Coldplay in trade for sleep that I needed in the coming hours to begin my 15 hour drive back into the Ozarks. I was pressed hard between another media attendee and a group of unappreciative girls who were unfortunately a full foot shorter than I. Throughout the years I have stopped sympathizing for these types however... their fan logic and ill manner towards those of us blessed to be over 5 ft. is enough to kill any negotiation on crowd positioning. They are shorter than 90% of the crowd, this does not entitle them to the front row, and me being taller than 90% of the crowd should not have to stand in the back row every time. So I flashed the media credentials and hoped that would get them to shut up, it did. Dan Auerbach and his other half Patrick Carney wasted no time as the immediately began their classic Keys set. While they did bring out more members to play a few songs off the commercially successful (Brothers) album, they made this long time fan a happy camper when they began and then returned with their simplistic two-piece garage rock blues. A follower of karma, I find it to be no coincidence that the band played a sulky performance of 'Stack Shot Billy' which is my favorite track and a less popular choice among the more mainstream fans, immediately after I had to once again rely on rapid recall from my military days when an elderly man had a heat stroke directly behind me. I believe I scared the crowd when I caught him and began yelling at him for response, removing his sunglasses checking for eye movement and opening his mouth with my hand clearing the airway and checking respiration. One girl actually shouted at me to leave him alone, I thought maybe she was a doctor and was going to take over, it turns out she just thought I was playing with the old mans face. A few east indian college age kids showed up and took over, I assume they were all med students so I turned back around and enjoyed the show after I had already assessed that the man just fainted and was coming back through. I silently patted myself on the back, and allowed Auerbach and the Mc'Lovin-esque Carney to do the same as they howled and groaned their lovesick ballads.
Following the dramatic experience I just had in the pit, I decided I would take a spot on the hill and relax for the Cage the Elephant show. Matt Schultz repeated what he does so well... make it impossible to relax. I sang and danced alone as people around me looked at me wondering what such a fan was doing with the conservative crowd. So as soon as "Around My Head", which some of you may know I starred in a home shot music video in my underwear, finished I posted up next to a tree with some more BBQ laced food and finished out the festival watching the Schultz brothers spin upon stage and jump off the 10 ft. drop into the crowd, before heading back to the beast of a tour vehicle for some late night band antics which involved drunk dialing girls and sharing naked pictures and eventually some sleep.
The drive home would attempt to rival the weekend with a testy tranny(the mechanical kind), 100 mph winds that turned out to be a small tornado I drove through, and 15 hours of assholes(anyone faster than me) and grannies(anyone slower than me) on the road. However it gave me plenty of time to reflect back on the festival and my first tour experience, and helped me realize that I needed to get back into the business of writing and trying to make a spot for myself in the music industry that I love so much. I would like to thank 360 Media, Inc. and the Music Midtown Festival for the most amazing festival experience I've ever had. In very un-festival fashion, everything ran smoothly, emergencies were handled appropriately, staff were knowledgeable, kind and available, and the line-up paralleled a single day at any of the larger festivals in the country for a very reasonable public price. Anyone planning next years music escapes definitely needs to keep Atlanta in mind.