I kept telling myself I had gotten “too old” for festivals or all day concerts. The last one I attended was the Virgin Festival back in around 2007. But when I saw the lineup for Radio 104.5’s 8th Birthday Show, I knew I had to go.
The 2 stage line-up included Of Monsters and Men, Death Cab For Cutie, Hozier, Passion Pit, Walk the Moon, AWOLNATION, Vance Joy, Coasts, Meg Myers, X Ambassadors, Night Riots, Holychild, and Andorra. The first half of the day was general admission (including the seats and pit area). I had a pit ticket but I choose to sit during the general admission portion of the show. It gave my legs a break without having to go sit in the sun in the lawn. However, from what I overheard from the crowd, not everyone appreciated the general admission part of the show as much as I did. Several people paid for seats but ended up much further back during bands they wanted to see (especially Walk the Moon) and they were pretty vocal about expressing that.
The sound wasn’t great during the general admission portion of the show either. I don’t know if it’s where I was sitting, if it’s just a problem with outdoor venues, or if it was intentional for these opening bands but it was actually difficult to hear the vocalists. In particular, I was excited to here “Sail” by AWOLNATION. I imagined the song would sound massive live. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed and I think that had more to do with the sound than the band’s performance of the song.
I made the decision to miss Passion Pit’s performance so I could take a break, grab some lunch, and get a good spot for Meg Meyers who was performing on the smaller stage. It was around this time that I realized I missed these all day concerts. Sure the lines are painfully long, the sun is scorching and the food and drinks are overpriced, but a venue that holds around 7,000 people was crammed packed with people that are there for the same reason I am… the music. There is something beautiful about that.
Seeing Meg Meyers live was one of the highlights of the day for me. My plan worked and I snagged a center spot on the barricade. I was surprised by the energy she brought to her short set. She paced the stage, slowly working herself up to the last song she performed “Head, Head, Heart,” which was beautiful, powerful, and better than the recorded version.
Hozier had just started his set when I made my way back to the main stage pit. I love “Take Me to Church” but I haven’t heard the rest of his album. His performance was solid but I have to admit that his bluesy sound isn’t really my style. But, I may be one of the only people in the crowd that feels that way. Not only did the majority of the packed venue seem to know every word to every song, but I also noticed a lot of the crowd disappeared after his set. I wonder if they were there just for him.
Death Cab for Cutie was another highlight of the day for me. I love Ben Gibbard’s lyrics and vocals. Though tamer than several other performances that day, their set was jam packed with crowd favorites like “Crooked Teeth”, “Soul Meets Body”, and “I Will Possess Your Heart.” My favorite quote of the day also came from Gibbard when he said “I hope that one band you wanted to see, played that one song you wanted to hear.” That’s really the gist of the day. We were all there for the music, hoping to hear our favorite songs, but even if we didn’t, we appreciated the entire experience. I think I have officially changed my mind about festivals.