Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jamboree Music Festival

Traci and I spent 8 1/2 hours watching 4 hours of music at the Jamboree Music Festival at Thanksgiving Point on Saturday. Some thoughts:

The Aquabats

Lap steel guitar is the new Moog, which was the new horn section, which was the new - I don't know - three-headed guitar monster. By the time we had sat through three alt-country bands (Piebald, Limbeck, Cub Country), I couldn't believe how excited I was to see the Aquabats take the stage.

I know I just dissed them, but they really put on a good show. I solved the mystery of what they do with the old songs now that they've dropped the horn section from the payroll. For the most part, they just power through the ska songs, just using the keyboard. But on a few songs, such as Super Rad, the keyboard player just busted out his sax-a-ma-phone and handled the brass parts himself. Pretty impressive.

The So-Cal superheroes were up to their usual antics. They led the crowd an oath, declaring this the best day ever and renaming Thanksgiving Point "High Five City." This resulted in two pilgram-costumed men (the founders of Thanksgiving point, of course) coming on stage to challenge the name change. After an exciting battle, the Aquabats were victorious.

The Aquabats were also the only band of the day to get the entire crowd on its feet. No one wants to miss two six-year-old crowd members have a crowd-surfing race will sitting on blow-up swimming pool dragons.

The music wasn't half-bad either. I am really starting to dig on their latest album - the Aquabats vs. punk rock, plus Reel Big Fish-style vocal harmonies - "Charge!" More than anything, it was nice to hear something upbeat after all of the sullen acts that proceeded it.

The Format

The chance to see The Format was the motivating factor for getting the Jamboree tickets. This was the first time either of us had seen them and I wasn't really sure what to expect. Their album Dog Problems has been on constant rotation in my car for about a year. I was skeptical that they would be able to recreate the very orchestral sound of the record live, but was pleasantly surprised. The two man studio band becomes a six piece live band, with - at any given point - three keyboards, three guitars, a saxophone and a fugelhorn. The poor Thanksgiving Point soundguy couldn't keep up with all of that, but I could imagine how all those things were supposed to sound.

The Jamboree was The Format's last performance of a monster 55-date tour. After a year-and-a-half of nonstop touring, they were heading home to Arizona to write a new record. The band looked pretty road ragged, but sounded tight. I was surprised by the even distribution of songs of both of their two albums. I doubt all of the teens and pre-teens screaming for them had heard much of the material from Interventions and Lullabies, but what do I know? I didn't realize every little girl in Utah County loves The Format.

The forty-minute set was 20 minutes too short. I would have liked to hear Dog Problems in its entirety, or at least been able to choose which songs they played off of it. (We didn't get "Time Bomb" or "Inches and Falling.")

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Basically sucked. Fear is a great record. I had my mind made up that they were going to show up and say, "We're just going to Fear straight through." Not so. There was one of Glen Philips' solo songs. A couple of songs sung by the guitar player (Does he sing?) and a bunch of songs I didn't recognize. Not wanting to feel out of place with all the lap steel, I guess, they invited a friend up to play slide guitar for a few of their songs.

Philips seemed to be resentful toward the teenage crowd. ("This next song is dedicated to your parents, since most of you were probably in the womb when it was popular.") As far as can remember, Toad broke up because they hated each other. Now that they're back together for financial reasons, and it still seems like they don't really like sharing a stage. It felt like a band who was refusing to just play the nostalgic hits, but who didn't have enough chemistry to move forward with compelling new material.

We were thoroughly unimpressed.

Dashboard Confessional

After sitting in the same location for nine hours, the 45 minute wait between Toad and Dashboard was unbearable. Not because of anticipation, but because of frustration. Even though we spent a day away from our child, the parenting responsibilities couldn't be pushed aside. Dashboard didn't go on until almost 10:30 (the show was supposed to end at 10:45). We were only able to see three songs, before it was time to make it home in time to apologize for far overstaying our babysitting welcome. Those three songs, however, were filled with plenty of crowd singer/swooning. Part of the long set up time included the roadies putting up big wooden boxes on either side of the mic stand so Chris Carabba could stand high above the crowd and mouth the words while the adoring girls screeched them back at him.

In the End

The show itself was underwhelming, but it was a beautiful day to sit in the sun and listen to music. More than anything, it was a chance to spend 10 hours of alone time (alone meaning hanging out with 3,000 people and not with our kid) with Traci.

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