Or, how I spent my Friday night in Downtown Boise.
After two days of rocking until the wee hours of the morning, the festival finally gets “started” when the main stage opens on Friday afternoon.
Twin Peaks (Main Stage)
One of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing, I was fortunate enough to see them twice. Their second set, opening up Friday’s main stage lineup, was further evidence that these fellas can make you shake your rump and rock the house. Again, we got to enjoy Tuna bringing out his birthday gift to himself – a fancy new white double-necked guitar, bought here in Boise. While the energy level was a little lower than the night before, I chalk that up to the time of day and venue. Also, note in the picture below that the main stage had a fancy new camera mounted on a crane that wove through the crowd – I guess we can’t afford/don’t trust drones…
La Misa Negra (El Korah)
Although 100% of their music was en espanol, it was booty-shaking happy music to be sure. The crowd had a great time, myself included. In what was a theme of the weekend, the lead singer was a lady, and boy did she have energy to spare. A highlight – her loud guttural scream that I (or maybe it was one of my friends, not sure who gets the credit) dubbed the “bird call”. I enjoyed shouting out bird calls randomly the rest of the weekend.
Cy Dune (El Korah)
The stage name of one Seth Olinsky, Cy Dune is some badass shit. This cat can play (read: shred, melt your GD face off) and also delivered some super-interesting rock opera type songs. Personally, I was loving his last song, where he had musicians from local bands Sun Blood Stories and punk diehards Antibalas join his band onstage for an improve jam that went about 10 minutes. Most of the crowd was “over it”, as the kids would say, but it reminded me of watching Neil Young and Crazy Horse in 2011 as they bored/amazed the crowd at Outside Lands in San Francisco. The fact that these guests had never played with him before was evident, as they were both staring at his every note, waiting for their release. Great set, and an artist to watch – provided you enjoy either interesting desert rock or unpredictable and abrasive music.
Hanni El Khatib (El Korah)
Oh, Hanni. Where to begin? This cat can play, and his songs are a breath of fresh air. He combines simplicity and a slacker vibe with aggressive experimentation to great effect. From the first track, the excellent “Baby’s OK” from his latest record, two things were clear: Hanni El Khatib and his band were going rock the house, and Hanni was pretty trashed. Complete with his Marshawn Lynch Raiders jersey, white jeans, and cocktail glass, Hanni strolled onstage partway through the aforementioned song and nearly spilled said drink and tripped over his own guitar cord within one minute of taking the stage.
Although he was clearly on another plain, he played his ass off and gave us a great show. He mentioned more than once (more than thrice, actually) that he had just taken ecstasy, which is as irresponsible as it is childish and lame to repeatedly mention, and I doubted it. When I ran into him the next day, he confirmed that he was, in fact, performing under the influence of his friend Molly. In the picture below, you will see him interacting with his guitarist/keyboard player who seemed to me to be spending the night doing double duty: band member and babysitter. He threw his guitar over the gentlemen’s shoulders and then proceeded to play it – sort of. Great energy, great set, and a solid band to check out. God Bless Treefort!
My personal highlight of the festival going into it was this reunion performance of this seminal northwest indie-rock outfit who last performed in 1994. They didn’t disappoint – and the crowd came ready to rock as well. The Neurolux was so packed that I felt like a fish swimming upstream trying to get up near the stage – which was eventually accomplished. Once we got there we were treated to an hour of guitar heroics and nostalgia – complete with a rabid mosh pit full of 40 and 50-somethings. While the Hand and Built To Spill have evolved into bands that are superior that anything this outfit ever recorded, it was beyond fun to see them back together and running through the hits, including “Big Mouth Strikes Again”. Rock on, Scott, and rock on, Doug!