>A festival is a lot like a marathon. But instead of running 26.2 miles, it involves staying up for 17 hour days, braving the hot sun, and attending 14 hours worth of concerts each day while, for some people, drinking and doing loads of drugs. Both are physically and mentally draining, and both often involve pushing your lungs to their full capacity (from dancing…obviously).
Day 1 of Rothbury really set the tone for the whole weekend. We kicked off our musical experience at the Tripolee Domes with a funkysmooth performance by Underground Orchestra. They quickly got us in the mood to groove, but with so much else to see, we couldn’t in good conscience stick around for too long. During our explorations we came across the intensely magical and captivating Sherwood Forest (complete with a “secret stage” for acoustic performances), climbed into some hammocks (available to all who could grab one before the masses found out about them), and listened to the Kyle Hollingsworth Band (of String Cheese Incident fame) for a while. I’d never heard him without the rest of String Cheese before, but his use of Latin rhythms and instruments drew us close to the stage like flies to the Porta Pottie. By the end of the show, we had abandoned our nymph status and taken to the Sherwood Court stage to see Hollingsworth finish out a surprisingly jazzy and worthwhile set. He’s a priority for me the next time he’s in town.
From there, we moved to the Ranch Arena, the smallest of the three main stages, but the one most surrounded by lush green forests and easily accessible shady spots. We arrived just in time to catch the start of Zappa Plays Zappa, the aptly named band that is headed by Dweezil Zappa, son of the late great Frank Zappa. The songs are all his father’s, and if you’ve never heard Zappa before I can only describe his music as complete and utter insanity…in a good way. Each song is carefully and dissonantly orchestrated, and has multiple “characters,” which are each portrayed by Zappa and other band members putting on different voices. I had only dabbled in his early prog-rock before this, but I’ve already downloaded his “Best of” album.
It was around this time that the exhaustion of a 12-hour car ride, music-and-sun-filled day set in, and we had to make our most difficult decision of the festival: to skip the Disco Biscuits. I’ve heard incredible things about their live shows, and the next day people were buzzing with excitement about how they had electrified the crowd. Luckily, it was the only major act of the festival that we skipped, and it was a wise decision to pace ourselves on the first night. Besides, the Biscuits will be in town sometime soon I’m sure, and I’ll be more awake than I ever could’ve been after the driving, setting up our tent, and then taking a two hour nap in the sun (just let me rationalize, please).
Instead of the Biscuits, we retreated to the Tripolee Domes to see Lotus play their signature electro-trippy-jam band set for the (relatively) small crowd that had gathered. In my zombified state, I can’t say I was conscious enough to really appreciate and enjoy it as much as I have previously enjoyed listening to their tunes, and after about a half hour of half-dancing, half-swaying to the music we couldn’t take it any more…we retired to our luxurious tent, complete with queen-sized mattress, to sleep off the drive and prepare for three fully packed days of music.
Tomorrow – Part III: Day 2