Monday, June 30, 2008

Reflections on this year's Corndogorama

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 8:21 PM


No metal band that’s worth its salt is scared of a little rain. So when talk of moving Corndogorama’s headlining act Zoroaster to the inside stage at Lenny’s spread throughout the crowd Sunday night, the natives became restless. Black clouds rumbled overhead and icy fingers of lighting stretched across the nighttime sky. But rather than tuck tails and seek shelter, Zoroaster raised its fists to the heavens and called down the thunder into a career defining performance.

The Zoroaster experience is not as defined by songs, as it is by the low, gut-pummeling rumble and head-nod rhythms that emanate from the wall of Orange and Sunn amps that wrap around the stage.

In the battle between Zoroaster and nature’s fury, Zoroaster emerged victorious on this night. And in their wake, a battlefield littered with half-eaten corndog sticks and bleeding eardrums were all that remained of “The Year of the Mustard King.”

Not a single drop of rain fell during Zoroaster’s show, and even though the band braved the elements, sadly, not many Corndogorama goers braved it out with them. Last year, Mastodon held down the same closing spot on the bill. It was a historic performance and the place was packed. Homeless people gathered around on the sidewalk across the street to throw their fists in the air and there was hardly enough room in the whole parking lot to accommodate the masses. But this year was different.

It is a liberal assessment to say that Zoroaster had half the crowd that Mastodon drew, and there are several factors to be considered. But most notably, for an entire week leading up the Corndog, Baristas, bar tenders, waitresses and record store clerks that I encounter on a daily basis all complained to me about the $20 price tag this year. More than the threat of rain, I think the high cost that scared people away, which is a damn shame because Zoroaster really was at the top of their game on Sunday night. But what are you going to do? Gas is expensive, festivals are expensive and corndogs are expensive.

After the show people were speculating about the future of the Corndogorama, and whether or not it will happen again, based on the low attendance and other stories about bands who had the plug pulled on them during their sets. But there’s always talk of drama surrounding the festival. Last year people were up in arms about Mastodon being paid too much.

But by all accounts from both bands and concertgoers, attendance was thin all around this year, with the exception of Dan Deacon’s show on Friday night. Lenny’s booking agent Bean Summer says that overall attendance this year wasn’t all that different from last year, and even on Sunday between 700 and 800 people showed up.

But after having plenty of elbow room during stellar sets from Athens bands Cinemechanica and Maserati inside Lenny’s, and then during Zoroaster outside, that assessment doesn’t sound right. Regardless, it was a fun festival and there were a good number of folks there. After all, when Zoroaster was finished I realized that I hadn’t had a corndog yet. Being a vegetarian I approached the corndog lady and asked for one of her infamous jalapeño veggie corndogs, but was saddened when she said that they were all gone ... Someone was there eating up all the veggie corndogs.

The day after it’s all said and done, Corndogorama founder David Railey is not answering his phone, and who can blame him. A weekend of Corndog consumption will require at least that many days for recovery. Stay tuned.

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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