Ep. 356 – Rites of Spring 2010 @ Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN
May 11th, 2010
Category: Ben Harper, Ben Harper and Relentless 7, Cold War Kids, Drake, Melanie Fiona, Nashville, Phoenix, Rites of Spring, Vanderbilt Alumni Lawn, Video Concert Reviews
Rain, Rain, Go Away! It’s a complete and utter Suck Fest that it rained during this year’s Rites of Spring Festival. This was my second year attending, and once again, I was super impressed with Vanderbilt’s booking. They manage to pull in the most talked about acts in Alternative, R&B, Hip Hop, and Rock to headline. Then, they pop in some lesser-known, yet respected bands, making this mini-festival a real treat. It’s not overwhelming like multi-stage events, and you still discover new music and see those artists you’ve been dying to see – all on one ticket.
To use the Word of the Day in a sentence; the concerts that come through Vanderbilt are definitely a perk to students deciding on where to matriculate. (I hope I used that correctly.)
Since it’s mostly a college audience, there’s that mix tape mentality. They are open to everything, and exposed to everything – so the variety works for the setting. The only problem was the security issue. It took about 30 minutes for me to actually get through the gates, but seeing it’s an academic institution, that justifies the line. They need to check ID’s, bags, and all that jazz. Follow the rules.
(Night One – Cold War Kids, Drake, and Phoenix)
Photo Credit: Megan Woolfolk
This year, the highlights on the roster were Drake, Phoenix, Passion Pit, and Ben Harper and Relentless 7. The rain started before Phoenix, and kept going through Drake’s set, but it was “happy rain.” The rain that happens after everyone’s buzzing, and it brings them together. Then, there’s “bad rain.” The bad rain gets your shoes soggy, makes you miserable, delays concerts, and cancels performances. The bad rain came in on Saturday.
Passion Pit canceled due to illness, but rumor has it, they were never able to make it to town because of the storm. The show was Rain or Shine, so there wouldn’t be refunds. Ticket holders were informed of developments via Twitter. (Very helpful)
Eventually, the gates originally scheduled to open at 3:00 PM, opened at 9:00 PM.
People still came out and had fun. Doug E. Fresh sounded awesome as I walked in. I wish I got there earlier to see his set. He probably would’ve been my favorite over the two day experience.
I thought Friday’s Phoenix performance would top my list (and they were outstanding), but Drake did it for me. It had something to do with his dominance and confidence. He seemed dedicated to this particular crowd, truly connected. I read that he has a tie-in to Tennessee through his father, so that might be the source of that extra “something.” Also, I love when an artist brings someone from the audience on stage. Drake picked one lucky lady out of the crowd, and proceeded to publicly seduce/serenade her. She must have been DYING!
On Saturday, Melanie Fiona had a nice voice, but her set was so short. Not to get all American Idol on you, but I didn’t have time to focus on who she was as an artist. By the time I found a decent spot to stop, watch, and listen, it was over.
On to Ben Harper and Relentless 7…Okay, I have to mention it. The sound guy was a roll and a half. The sound check took FOREVER. I almost thought he was trying to stall the show. He walked around with this laptop checking levels. His mic check wasn’t the usual “Check 1, 2, 3.” It was a “Suck it. Suck it, faster, Suck it, harder.” Was I the only one that noticed this? I’ll drop it now, but what a character!
I saw Ben Harper at Sunset Junction Street Fair in Los Angeles a few years ago. This time was a thousand times better. It still doesn’t strike me as being the most entertaining concert, but I can appreciate the excellence in musicianship. I loved that they did “Under Pressure,” but I also hate saying a cover song is my favorite part of any show. The problem clearly lies in my own familiarity with the music. I’ll be back, and the shows will only get better. In the meantime, I’ll do my homework and listen up. Bear with me, Ben.
When all was said and done, most people got what they paid for. Yeah, it could’ve been better, but weather will be weather. Whatcha gonna do?
Side Note: You would think after doing this for over a year, I would figure out the lighting situation for these videos. Sorry for the dark footage/crappy quality. Anyone know of a non-intrusive light for portable video cameras (like Flip cams and Kodak Zi8s)?