Sunday, June 22, 2008

Popped Music Festival, Philadelphia, 06/21/2008

After my vacation started (last thursday) I was thinking: Is there a better way to celebrate the international day of music than with a big music festival?
Ok, Popped isn't that big but it was very special for me for 2 reasons: it was my first festival since I came to US, and it had two bands that I was kind of "dying" to see: Vampire Weekend and The Ting Tings. The former was more like a "matter of honor" than excitement about seeing them live (but I was wrong, their show was the best moment of the festival...) Before talking about the festival, I'll explain the "matter of honor" thing.

Saturday, June 14, Vampire Weekend played at Central Park summer stage FOR FREE. This was a big deal to me and I was very excited about this for months. But at the day of the concert, I once again was late (I'm basically always late and running against the clock...). There is, I wasn't late, but to arrive 15 minutes before the beginning of a free concert at Central Park, and with one of the "music's next big things" sure is very late, as I found out the hardest way.

When I arrived there, there was a huge line, and by huge I mean that it took me 20 minutes just to walk to the "end" of the line. Then I waited for 2 hours in the line. It should be ok, since I arrived at 3:45 and Vampire Weekend was going to play only at 8 PM. Yes, it should be ok if it wasn't for the rain and the lightnings. I decided to stay (after all, with all the people there, to be stripped by a lightning was very unlikely (why would god choose me with so many people there...). But after 2 hours I was starting to feel really bad and I decided that it wasn't worth the trouble and decided to go home.

Obviously, I was very upset about this episode and this was part of the motivation to see Popped. The other reason was to see The ting Tings. They played in New York three times this week but because I was focused into studying I couldn't see them. And they are coming back to open for MGTM a FREE concert last month. "Free, oh my god, I can't take the risk, I thought".

So I woke up early at Saturday (7:30 AM) and took the Chinatown bus to Philly. Having a friend living there, it was easy for me to go since I could spend the night there with no haste to come back to NYC. I arrived at the Drexel University campus, the place where the action was going to happen, at 12:30. A modest line was waiting for me: about 30 people, with a surprisingly high ratio of girls. I never thought of The Ting Tings, the openers of the festival, as a "girls band", but that was the case apparently. Who cares, I thought? It was time to have fun and to forget about the rest.

Although it wasn't like that all the time (I didn't like/know some of the attractions) it was pretty fun most of the time and when Vampire Weekend entered the stage to close the festival (at 8:10 PM), I was feeling like heaven, not tired at all (8 hours is nothing, common...) and already thinking about the next festival (Lollapalooza in August??). Here's a brief summary of the shows: (Grades are in a scale 1-10)

1:00 The Ting Tings:

This was the one that I was more excited about. Was it worth it? Let's see, they played only six songs (Great DJ, Fruit Machine, Be the One, Keep your Head, That's Not My Name and Shut Up And Let Me Go), there were only like 100 people watching (maybe because it was "too early for a concert" or simply because Ting Tings are not that popular yet in US), but it was pretty damn worth it! I mean, it weren't just six songs, but 6 of the best songs of 2008 so far. I love these guys and it was very special to see them live, even if just for half an hour. About the crowd? The number was disappointing, but the girls ratio was interesting (ok, I didn't go there for that, but, you know, girls are always welcome...) . Grade: 8

1:50 Hoots & Hellmouth:

I started to feel bad after the first concert (it was pretty damn warm and I ate just a hot dog before the concert) so I decided to eat something and rest a little bit in a fresh place, with no direct contact with the sun. Plus I never heard about these guys before and wasn't really interested. So I missed this. Only one thing: now that I did research and listened some of their stuff, I'm sure it's not for me. Thus I didn't miss anything important after all. Grade: I wanted to give 1 but it's not really fair to grade this since I didn't see them.

2:40: Mr. Lif:

If you're thinking who the hell is that, it's a rapper. Is it good for rap standarts? I honestly don't know. For me most rappers (except for the great Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Mike Shinoda) sound about the same. At least there is a good thing about that. Since they are almost all the same, a rap concert can't suck too hard. That being said, I had a little fun with this. Grade:5

3:30 Dan Deacon:

Someone asked me there: "Who the hell is Dan Deacon?" I said: "The hell I know...". When he entered the stage, I was surprised because it seemed that many people were really excited about the show, so I was curious and decided to not skip this one. And I had a good surprise. Now I know: Dan Deacon is someone who likes people to have fun and to dance. What I saw was a kind of eletronic music about having fun and, say, jumping. It reminded me of "axe parties" in Brazil, "the micaretas" when he asked people to form a circle and asked a guy to run around the circle and to pick someone to run with him (and this someone did the same, and so on, until everybody was running in circles...) . In the end, I couldn't believe, I almost missed this... Grade:7

4:10 Gogol Bordello:

Their music, a kind of rock with Eastern Europe pop's influences , is too weird and becomes annoying very fast, but live they are great. The songs had a lot of energy and the crowd was one of the craziest that I saw in US since I moved from Brazil. In the end, it was impossible not to jump, even not being a fan... Grade: 6

5:40 Crystal Castles:

This was one of the best moments. God, their music is so good to dance! I was dancing all the time. I can't believe I didn't know about them before... When the singer asked the crowd 'do you like shouting' I screamed pretty loud YEAH!. I was speaking with my heart. I don't like shouting, I love it. And I love to dance. Now I might as well love Crystal Castles. Even it that doesn't really happen, I'll surely go see them live again. Grade: 9

6:55 Mates Of State:

They do the kind of cute music, the kind that speaks to the heart but stays away from parties, that I don't usually like. But it's different with them. I don't know exactly why. Maybe their beautiful version of California made me fall in love with them and kind of become 'blind' about the rest. The fact is that I liked them them before yesterday and I like them more now. Very decent concert. And the voice of the singer is very beautiful live. Finally, it was good to have this, say, calmer, show after Crystal Castles (I was very tired after this, hehe). Grade:8

8:10 Vampire Weekend:

I wasn't expecting much, but I must confess: it was pretty damn good. Often I think that the afro beat of their songs doesn't quite match with parties, but things are different live. The crowd was dancing and jumping a lot. And I was having fun like there's no tomorrow. Best moments: A-punk (oh, really?), Boston, and especially the closer Walcott (I never realized before the power of this song). Worst moment: when it was over. Grade:9.5

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