Note: Apologies for this being so late. I’ve had a lot to do since I got back. Anyway, here goes…
On Sunday, I saw a lot more than just Mumford & Sons and Frightened Rabbit.
I also caught MGMT, a band I’ve been wanting to see for years. They’ve only played in Omaha one time and it was an opening spot for, I believe, LCD Soundsystem back before MGMT had even put out a full-length.
I wandered over to where they were playing to discover the largest non-headliner crowd I met with all weekend. At least 20,000 were packed in there to watch, if not more. I honestly had an easier time finding a spot close to the stage for that night’s headliner, Arcade Fire, but more on that later.
It was cool to hear songs like “Electric Feel” and “Time To Pretend,” but the songs from the band’s latest album were absolute crap. I’ve expressed my distaste for the songs on “Congratulations” before, but hearing them played right next to the band’s excellent previous efforts made the contrast that much more apparent.
Later in the afternoon, I caught a bit of the Temper Trap. I like the song “Sweet Disposition,” which is on the “(500) Days of Summer” soundtrack. A lot of the band’s music sounds like that, but not quite as good, I thought. They also played some slow songs, which, by that point in the festival, really made me lose my desire to see them. Slow songs at the end of a three-day festival just make you lose about any interest you had in a band. Your energy is draining, so you need music that pushes you through, not slows you down.
I headed back to the media area to grab my bag. I saw Erykah Badu (she’s really short), noticed the place was all but empty, grabbed my bad and headed back out to the fest.
Cypress Hill was finishing up their set with “Rock Superstar” and “Insane In The Brain,” which definitely brought me back.
I found a decent spot near the other stage on that field and waited. Shortly after, the lights came on and the last band took the stage.
It was Soundgarden and they were playing their first big show in 12 years. Chris Cornell had longer hair than he did 20 years ago and sounded even better. Plus the band was easily the most hard-rocking of the festival. If not that, then the heaviest. I mean, grunge is pretty heavy when you’ve been listening to garage rock, indie pop and folk rock for three days.
While listening, I realized that Cornell has one of those singular voices in rock ‘n roll. It’s powerful, it’s distinct, it’s instantly recognizable. It’s the kind of voice that Creed or Nickelback guys are trying for, but they fall flat on their faces. There’s no comparison.
It was fun to watch. I heard a ton of longs that I love, including “Spoonman,” “Fell On Black Days,” “Black Hole Sun” and a whole bunch of others. They even played a lot of old, pre-mainstream breakthrough songs, which was cool. There were a lot of Soundgarden diehards around.
I picked Soundgarden over Arcade Fire, the night’s other headliner, because I’ve never really liked Arcade Fire. Soundgarden, however, I practically grew up on.
But at a certain point, I realized that I heard every Soundgarden song that I knew and there wasn’t much else they could do that would leave me excited. With a little time left in the night, and despite my previously stated opinion of the band, I hoofed it to the other end of the festival to catch the end of Arcade Fire.
Now, I still don’t like them that much, but they did play three pretty cool songs. “Month of May” was going when I got there and they played “Keep the Car Running” and then an encore of “Wake Up.” I enjoyed “Keep The Car Running” the most and would probably listen to it again.
There’s something about that band that bugs me and I think it’s that they use a lot of weird instruments and strange melodies for simply the sake of being weird or strange. It doesn’t add anything to the music for me and, frankly, it’s pretty distracting. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but that’s what I think.
By the end of the night, I was ready to just collapse in a heap and sleep for a few days. But it was a great show.
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A full weekend wrapup is coming soon…