If you couldn’t tell from the title of this post or from my first post ever, I’m not a big fan of festivals. Most of all, I hate amphitheaters. So a festival at an amphitheater is my ultimate concert nightmare. You can imagine my frustration when a festival is announced that has multiples of my current favorite bands. Every time this happens I struggle with the should I, shouldn’t I go decision I have to make. I usually make the addict decision to go, and I always regret it. What is it about festivals that make your favorite bands sound mediocre? How did I just see Run the Jewels and Death From Above 1979 only months prior in Atlanta and they sounded like completely different bands? I don’t get it. Maybe its the lack of walls and a ceiling surrounding the stage? Or are the stage architects really just that terrible? PUT SOME SPEAKERS IN THE BACK OF THE STAGE! OR MAYBE A FEW HALFWAY OUT IN THE FIELD! I can see how that could be dangerous, but still! I hate it. I hate that I fight my way to the front of the crowd and all I hear is base & no vocals. Apparently the back of the crowd is the only option for a festival set. Not too far though! Then you’ll hear nothing! Nonsense. That concludes my bitching. Now on to more reviewing like things!
This is BIG GUAVA FEST 2015
@ The MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre (originally Ford Amphitheatre and formerly 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre and Live Nation Amphitheatre *UGH I HATE IT!*) in Tampa, Florida on Saturday May 9th, 2015
I didn’t go on Friday. Here is why, the only person I wanted to see that was playing on Friday is Passion Pit. I was okay with missing them and gaining an extra $65. Heres who else played: FMLYBND, Dreamers, Robert Delong, X Ambassadors, Milky Chance, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Big Data, Ex-Cops, Jenny Lewis, Awolnation, Iration, Ryan Adams & Pretty Lights.
Speaking of pretty lights, there was some pretty ass lights during The Strokes set. Totally out-of-order of how I watched the bands on Saturday, but fuck it! Check out the pretty lights!
Excuse the bad vocals. *cough* Amphitheaters suck! *cough* All in all, The Strokes were great. I love me some Julian Casablancas. Not the way all the screaming 16 year olds do, fighting over a water bottle he touched that was thrown into the crowd after the set. I just love to watch him sing. The last 15 seconds of the video above literally gives me chills. I’ve watched it a million times. Recently I’ve learned that Julian has his hate groups. Many call him a spoiled rich kid. One reviewer said Julian was acting like a “trust fund brat, making snide comments about Tampa and the festival.” I didn’t hear it though. Maybe it was because I couldn’t hear much at all, but what i did hear was him bitching about media & Game of War ads. Stating his observations and how he thought they were funny. I don’t think anyone in the crowd thought they were THAT funny, but many people laughed along anyways because…. Julian Casablancas. At one point I even heard him say “Quite a cool little fest you got here.”
I digress. The set was amazing, playing mostly classic Strokes songs with a few newbies thrown in there. The band kept me entertained and caused me to get my dance on. Even though I was ready for bed after standing through only a few bands at the Grove stage, aka the directly in the sun stage. I believe I’ve only seen the Strokes once before and it was at the Pearl Jam 20 tour in Wisconsin in 2011. One thing i noticed at Big Guava that i didn’t notice at PJ20 is- Julian Casablancas has terrible posture. Someone’s grandma should tell him to stand up straight more often. Ha! This was pointed out to me by my lady friend Shannon as we squeezed out of the nearest exit of the amphitheater with a thousand other people like a herd of elephants desperate for water and a cool shower.
Now I’m sure you can’t wait to hear about my experience with the Grove stage. This happens to be where I spent the most time during this festival. The bands I caught on this stage were The Pixies, TV on the Radio & Death From Above 1979. Death From Above went on at one of the hottest times during Florida summer, 5pm. Sebastien Grainger even deemed the state unlivable during their set, telling everyone to move up to Toronto with them. He fit in great with his white overalls with nothing underneath. I’m sure they are super excited to come back when it’s even hotter in August. Maybe he doesn’t know. Someone should tell him to convince Deftones & Incubus to move their show here indoors. Wouldn’t that be great?
You can’t even tell Death From Above was close to being defeated by the Florida heat. They played great. I can’t say they sounded great, but I don’t blame them. They played an amazing set, although I don’t dislike one of their songs so its impossible for them to play me a bad set. They played a sample of a Kurt Cobain interview before they started playing “Always On” which includes the lyrics “If we brought Kurt back to life, there’s no way he would survive.” Days after watching the newly released documentary “Montage of Heck” this insert pulled on my heart-strings and pumped me up for some chaos. I cannot say I was happy with the crowd that watched DFA either. Imagine me, flailing around, pumping my fists, screaming the lyrics and jumping up and down. Now imagine everyone around me barely moving. Head bobbing at most. I probably looked like the biggest weirdo ever. My excitement for this festival was not only fueled by my love for these bands. It was fueled by the experience I had seeing these bands in Atlanta months prior. The crowd in Atlanta was a beast! You couldn’t stand still even if you wanted to. You were involved in the madness or you got the fuck out. It was almost like Death From Above was every single persons favorite band in that crowd. That whole crowd was me at Big Guava times 5.
Why are HOTtlanta crowds rowdier? Do they just have more fans there? It makes a little more sense for Run the Jewels whose home town is Atlanta. On top of that there was the birth of Atlanta hip hop with Outkast in the 90s. So a rowdy crowd for Run the Jewels in HOTlanta makes sense. Plus with a chance of Big Boi showing up to support his Potna Killer Mike, who wouldn’t show up and be excited as fuck? The first time I saw Run the Jewels I had no idea who they were. I was in Atlanta to see Death From Above and a friend who wanted to be there but couldn’t recommend we check out this show. Adam and I had heard of Killer Mike from some Outkast albums and we had nothing else going on so we decided to check it out. Great idea. Aside from being hours late to the stage, it was the best hip hop show I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of people held up their fist and gun’s. Hundreds of people jumped up and down causing the whole second floor of the Masquerade to literally bounce. It was a little bit scary along with a giant adrenaline rush. Plus Big Boi showed up. So it’s a little hard to compare a festival set to that. But we did get some Killer Mike dance moves in Florida….
I raced to the front of the stage a couple of songs into Run the Jewels. They played at 4:30pm on the Nectar stage which luckily was located inside of an air-conditioned building. This was the first band we caught at Big Guava fest. The sour strawberry edibles kicked in just in time for some gangsta chaos. The sound was shitty as you can easily tell from my video below. Being close to the stage allowed me to hear 95% vocals and 5% of Trackstar the DJ. The opposite way around of every other stage I was at that evening. Killer Mike and El P killed it even though Killer Mike just went through some recent shoulder surgery and had one arm in a sling. He pumped up the crowd by telling us they didn’t cancel our show because they’ve never done Florida before. “I told motherfuckers, don’t you worry about my goddamn arm, because these motherfuckers are gonna turn the fuck up!” That I did. The crowd did not turn the fuck up with me as much as I had hoped though. El-P told us that we were the best hip-hop audience he’s ever seen, but that’s hard to believe when I know he saw Atlanta and I know that shit was better. Shannon and I left the crowd during the last song to race to Death From Above as there was a 15 minute overlap with their set. As we were leaving the comforting A/C we noticed that you could hear the DJ and the vocals equally toward the back of the crowd. I guess we shoulda camped in the back for that one. Oh well. I can only hope they come back and play a small venue or I can trek to Atlanta again for another epic experience.
After watching Death From Above, there wasn’t much else I was super excited for. I was never a huge fan of the “cool Dad bands,” TV on the Radio and The Pixies. I know one TV on the Radio song and maybe two of The Pixies songs. Don’t get me wrong, they were both great live and I’m glad I got to see them but I was not there for them.
TV on the Radio started on the Gove Stage at 6:30pm. The sun was staring to set which made looking in the direction of the stage without squinting a difficult endeavor. It was the perfect festival setting though. I listened with my eyes closed half of the time and bobbed my head back and forth to their fun eclectic indie sound. They played my favorite song “Wolf Like Me” half way through the set and killed it.
Tons of people showed up at the Grove Stage right after the sun set at 8:15pm for The Pixies. This is the first time they’ve played in Tampa in over a decade. They probably could have played on the main stage and filled up most of the seats but the setting at the Grove stage suit them better. They played everyone’s favorite, “Where is my mind” and my favorite, “Nimrod’s Son” purely because of its fun upbeat sound and disturbed meaning. It seemed like a lot of the older crowd members were nice and liquored up by the time The Pixies went on stage. As soon as the first note of “Where is my mind” was played a sea of phones covered the top layer of the crowd. The man next to me made a comment about all of the phones, held up his lighter and said “look, it’s an old school cell phone!” Not quite the reason everyone was holding up their phones, but we get the point old man. Kids these days are too dependent on their phones. Me included.
We left the crowd a few songs before The Pixies finished up. We wanted to get to a good spot in the pit for The Strokes. Aside from the millions of teeny bopper girls around us, we got to a great spot.
All in all it was a good day at a decent festival. You’re never going to get perfect festival weather in Florida unless you’re super fucking lucky. There’s only a few of those days a year in Florida but it could have been worse than it was at Big Guava. The lineup was pretty impressive, but the sound at most of the stages was shit. I enjoyed myself, my time with friends and my lemonade but decided if Big Guava lives to see another year, I will not be attending.
I leave for vacation in good ole O-Town tomorrow. I despise Orlando with a passion but Alkaline Trio just happens to be playing one of their Past Live shows at a tiny little venue called The Social this week. 4 nights, 2 albums a night. There’s no way I would miss that. Who knows, Matt Skiba could just join Blink 182 forever and never tour with A3 again after this! I’ll let you guys know how it goes and take a video from each album for you.