Avoiding the direct sun and impending heat stroke‚ I found a small sliver of shade and nestled against the fence of the Maine Stage to hear the Portland‚ Maine‚ band Rustic Overtones. A huge favorite of mine during my high school years‚ I was excited to see the jazz/funk/ska/rock influenced band I had missed for more than a decade.
A small‚ sweltering crowd braved the sun to listen‚ but when the band went into a heavy rock opener‚ many shied away from the stage. The band did‚ however‚ save themselves with their 2001 hit "C'mon" that caressed the crowd back and a great version of "Rock Like War" over their hour-long set‚ eventually gaining a sizable audience.
The Ryan Montbleau band followed on Maine Stage 2 with their indescribable sound. It's part soul‚ blues‚ reggae and ragtime--ah‚ hell‚ it was perfect sunshine dancing music‚ okay? People loved it and the hula-hoopers were out in full hooping splendor as Montbleau himself crooned with his undeniably soothing (and dare I say‚ dreamy?) voice.
The absolute best and perhaps most entertaining and surprising band of the afternoon was one I accidently stumbled upon at the Port City Stage‚ The McLovins. Named‚ perhaps‚ because the bassist and lead guitarist slightly resemble the Superbad movie icon‚ these two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old boys sure can rip a masterful session with only a bass‚ lead guitar and drums.
Drawing by far the largest audience that the Port City Hall saw during an afternoon concert over the entire weekend‚ The McLovins completely blew people away by their musical adeptness and technically on-point squealing. (I had goose bumps‚ and it was 90 degrees out.) Their ability to formulate their own original music such as "Tokyo Tea" and "Deep Monster Trance" with such precision was mind-blowing. But what really blew the ecstatic crowd away‚ who after the set ended literally demanded an encore with their continuous cheering‚ was their nod to Phish in a "Tweezer Reprise" that sent the packed audience into a frenzy. Take note of these boys‚ they are going to be around for a very‚ very long time.
I caught portions of The Brew and Indobox which both drew small crowds‚ but it wasn't until Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9) took to Maine Stage 2‚ opening with their rarity‚ "Twilight‚" that the festival seemed to amass together for the first time all day as people anxiously awaited the Flaming Lips.
Under a golden and pink hued sunset‚ the crowd stretched beyond the soundboard and into the circular sitting area of lit telephone poles and food vendors some yards back and it was here‚ standing in front of the soundboard‚ that I saved the world.
A gang of puppeteers dressed in ridiculous alien attire made their way through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd and I found myself challenged to a dance off. Doing what any earthling would do in the name of humanity‚ I accepted the tentacle shaking‚ cyclop-eye swaying‚ three-pronged head bobbing challenge and participated in one of the most hilarious dance circles I can remember as STS9 went into "Empires‚" "New Soma‚" and "Rent." Even more appropriate‚ would have been when STS9 killed it with "Inspire Strikes Back." Just for the whole intergalactic aspect.
The Flaming Lips‚ in all their visually stunning glory and theatrics‚ proved why they are one of the most entertaining live shows to catch today. Aside from the massive LED video screen depicting a saturated‚ electric glowing woman and that‚ at times‚ focused "Blair Witch"-style on the face of Wayne Conye (lead guitar/vocals) as he spoke to the audience‚ his entrance in a giant bubble and crowd surfing atop the throng of fans‚ the oversized laser hands he held toward the heavens and confetti canons that shot into the crowd while orange-clad dancers lined the sides of the stage‚ really set them apart from other performers.
Highlights of the evening included "She Don't Use Jelly‚" "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots‚" and "The Yeah‚ Yeah‚ Yeah Song‚" but Coyne's heart-wrenching delivery of "Do You Realize??‚" dedicated to the Nateva audience and the closer of the show‚ really brought down the house.
Stunned by such a wild performance‚ I ended up catching portions of late-night performers Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and their roots reggae beats and the throbbing almost window-shattering pulsations of EOTO before I called it a night a hit the hay.
Sunday Fun-day and All for America
With all the red‚ white and blue tiny bikinis‚ American flags as capes and prevalent Budweiser-toting fans it was clear this was the Fourth of July. Even the Nateva letters atop the hill had a patriotic makeover for the event.
The morning kicked-off with local band Mudseason as well as the Nate Wilson GroupMark Karan's Jemimah Puddleduck and Moonalice; all nice transitions into the anticipated Furthur for the evening show.
The Alchemystics drew a large crowd to the Port City stage later in the day with their clever lyrics. A mix of reggae and rap with a soulful passionate sound‚ their high-energy performance definitely brought the energy up. At first the sound was off‚ much like at the Problemaddicts show‚ but it was quickly adjusted. They even invited members of the Problemaddicts on stage to join them at times‚ and maybe it's because those guys get too close to the mic‚ but unfortunately their segment was once again indiscernible compared to the smooth and stirring rhymes of the Alchemystics.
Zappa Plays Zappa was the perfect segue into the early evening with their funky rock and jazz. "These guys are technically proficient‚" said a friend from Boston who was familiar with the band. "You can tell they are on the road and are serious performers."
Things changed dramatically from sitting to a conglomerate of booty-shaking when George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic took to the adjacent stage. They praised Zappa and even toyed with his "I am Slime" for a hot minute‚ but it was the classics such as "Flashlight" and "We Want the Funk" that really got the crowd moving. Band members Kim Manning in a white thigh-high side slit gown tantalized the audience and granddaughter Shonda Clinton spit some seriously smoky rhymes with a funk background.