Shovels & Rope is a husband and wife duo out of Charleston, South Carolina. After catching their act at Shaky Knees Fest in the Old 4th Ward I was eager to get to see them again. Unfortunately that meant missing Public Enemy, but Shovels & Rope was beyond worth it. Their gritty brand of folk has flares of Southern Gothic with songs about getting away with murder and voyeurism. The husband/wife vibe adds to the act tremendously, as Trent leans in to sing in Carey Ann's mic and she seductively pulls his Ray Ban's off his face. For both Shaky Knees and Hangout the couple huddled up in the middle of the festival's biggest stage with nothing but a couple guitars, keyboard, and snare-bass-hi-hat kit. Their close proximity masked the true environment with a permeating intimacy that made it feel more like a small club somewhere in Charleston than a huge outdoor stage.
At the end of the set it was time for a food break. The food tent we chose was right next to a band called the Bright Light Social Hour, and a dirty hippie with some of the best interpretive dance moves I've ever seen, not to mention his wicked green plaid blazer.
The band sounded good so we sat and ate and watched the man dance his heart out. Eventually he came over and hug tackled the four of us. (So much love in one person!) It was semi-unwelcomed but whatever, we gave him a sip of lime-aid for being a radical dude.
After we finished eating we headed back to the beach to have our faces melted by Warren Haynes insane guitar skills. Watching weathered professionals like Gov't Mule play music is kind of like talking about government spending or the size of the sun; it's at a level higher than my brain can truly comprehend, so I just marvel stupidly at it's awesomeness.
From the shade tent we laid back and listened to the Roots, who opted for a rock 'n roll set, even covering Guns 'n Roses classic "Sweet Child O' Mine." They closed with a quick rendition of their big hit, "The Seed (2.0)."
The Roots ended and after some collective encouragement among the group, we managed to stand up and leave the shade for Kendrick Lamar. As we walked up, an unknown rapper (from the crowd?) was freestyling on stage. The DJ then announced Kendrick Lamar, and the crowd goes wild.
The experience at Kendrick Lamar was similar to Macklemore. They were both classic hip-hop format performances. Lots of hyping up the crowd, "DJ kill the beat. I CAN'T HEAR YOU."-'s, and throwing one hand in the air. The difference was that Kendrick Lamar has a lot of hyphy songs that made the crowd literally insane. Like "drug dog outside Cheech & Chong's smoking car" insane. The bass was low, pounding, and mean ... And it sounded really good. Lamar kept it organic, too, often ending songs by repeating a verse a capella. After the encore, "Cartoons and Cereal," Lamar thanked us for loving hip-hop music, and threw out a couple T-shirts. As the crowd cleared out, two groups could be seen having a tug of war over one of them.
Bassnectar was already banging by the time we made it out to the beach. His audience was HUGE. I felt kind of bad for Slightly Stoopid getting scheduled against him. As we waded through the crowd, people were swinging glowsticks and light up hula hoops all around us. Many of them were painted up with neon colors proclaiming themselves dedicated Bass Heads. Much to the delight of those in our vicinity, one of my crew pulled out some gloves with LED lights in the fingertips and began dancing around. A couple passers-by asked her to "glow me out," a request she was happy to oblige, filling their vision with streaks of light as she waved her hands in front of their faces.
At the conclusion of Bassnectar's audio assault, the monstrous crowd began the 600 meter trudge down the beach to the main stage for Tom Petty to shut down the days festivities, which of course he did like a true professional. He seemed to be enjoying himself, the crowd loved every minute of it, and that's really all there is to say about a show like that. To hear songs that have reached that level of familiarity is effortlessly heartwarming, and a great way to end any night on the beach.
Back with day 3 next.
Looks like I will get a chance to listen in March:
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