Next to July 4th, this was the most anticipated day of the fest for me, and for two reasons: SS Bountyhunter and Pedro The Lion. But more on that later.
First up was Luxury. I’ve been listening to Luxury since their Tooth & Nail debut, Amazing And Thank-You. In recent years, they’d dropped off of my radar, occasionally reappearing every so often with some new tidbit. I’d seen Lee Bozeman (their frontman) perform a solo set a few years back (after their tragic post-Cornerstone accident). So I was looking forward to seeing the whole band in effect.
Unfortunately, I think I would’ve got into them more if the sound had been better. For me, Luxury’s strongest point has always been Bozeman’s sultry, Morrissey-esque voice. However, the mix was off so his vocals were buried. But on the bright side, they did do some smashing versions of “Pink Revenge,” “Solid Gold,” and “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” (my fave Luxury songs).
I skipped out on Canary (a Luxury side-project) to make it over to the SS Bountyhunter press conference. Well, maybe “conference” isn’t the right term. It was far more informal than that. Unlike their the stage personas, the band is actually very amicable and easy-going. The band answered many questions about the methods to their madness, their inspirations, and their latest album (Serpents For Eggs).
To some people’s surprise, I skipped the Joy Electric show that day to make it over to the New Band Stage to catch The Billions. Their self-released album, Quiet As It’s Kept, had really grown on me, so I was anxious to catch their live show, especially since some I know had talked it up quite a bit. To be honest, their show sucked. But I place all of the blamed on the sound. If there was any shining example of the poor sound this year, I’d have to say this show was it.
The thing about The Billions is that they’ve got tremendous vocals and arrangements in their music. Unfortunately, the sound was so bad that you couldn’t hear any of it. It was obvious the band was frustrated with it, as they kept asking for corrections throughout their set, but to no avail. If you were at their set and left feeling underwhelmed, go find a copy of Quiet As It’s Kept anyways. You’ll be glad you did.
Now it was time to rest up and prepare for the SS Bountyhunter set. Ever since I saw their show last year, I’ve been looking forward to this. I headed back to the campsite and rested up for a bit, and then changed into my outfit, replete with afro and pornstar shades.
It was during this time that I discovered an odd fact about Cornerstone. If you want to stand out among all of the other wierdos, wear an afro. Never mind the fact that there are people with bright pink mohawks and enough piercings to make a metal detector explode walking around. People seemed to totally dig the afro. Unfortunately, none of them were gorgeous models. Ah well… the disappointments of Cornerstone.
Anyways, my friend Liz and I made it to the Underground stage and I promptly joined Nolan, Tricia, and the rest at the front of the stage.
I wasn’t sure what was going on when a guy walked on stage and announced that, due to the nature of last year’s performance, the festival wasn’t allowing SS Bountyhunter to do any crazy antics this year. But my fears were allayed when I saw the band, bruised and bloodied, take the stage and proceed to kick the crap out of their would-be partypooper. In less than 3 seconds, the crowd went from calm and quiet to unrestrained chaos. And the madness was just beginning.
Soon enough, they had the guy taped to chair and were working him over, Reservoir Dogs style (and yes, the nunchucks were in full effect). I’ll admit that it got a little disturbing, almost to the point where I was afraid that the band had crossed the line. I had prepared myself for an insane show, but it seemed like this performance was going to turn into some wierd quasi-snuff film.
But I need not have worried. The band ended their set in complete madness, covered in fake blood and shattered glass. And then, their vocalist, who just minutes before had been getting medieval on the crowd’s ass, made a pointed statement about the shallowness of Christian pop culture (in the form of “Christian” shirts and whatnot).
After the dust had settled, I ran into my friend Elaine. We chatted for a little bit, and I headed back to the campsite to get changed back into some more comfortable clothing. I made it back for the last few songs of Jai Agnish. What little I heard I liked, that’s all I’m afraid I can say.
Then came on the Danielson Famile. They’d been strangely absent from last year’s performance, but the whole clan was up there this time, complete with nurse outfits. To say that they’re an acquired taste is an understatement, but I love their strange blend. Clint and I were backstage for most of the show, and from our perch the family put on a remarkable show.
And then was Pedro the Lion. I’ll admit that I walked into the show with a little skepticism. Every time I’ve seen Pedro the Lion, it’s a tremendously emotional experience, and I’m always afraid that each time will be a letdown. But David Bazan (who is Pedro the Lion for all intents and purposes) still impressed me with his honesty, humility, and passion.
Pedro the Lion played a stunning 2-hour set, and each song was delivered with passion and power. But even more engaging than the music was Bazan’s words, as he spoke about the arts, creativity, and his thoughts on their role in the Church. It was something that I could really relate to, and I walked out incredibly appreciative for having been there.