Adam PfleiderI have so much to spill out about Saturday, and yet I'm still quite speechless as to what happened that night. I saw Dustin Harkins walking out of the pit caked in sweat and dirt. He's trying to figure out what he just witnessed. Myself? I'm walking away shaking my head, "Holy fuck. Holy fuck. That was unreal. Holy fuck." Reunions can be a time of nostalgia and fun, or sometimes a band comes back and just denounces the last decade of punk rock they helped build. Refused said they wanted to "do it right" this time around, and if you witnessed what I saw Saturday night, or any of the shows earlier this year, you know that's a fucking understatement.
Let me backtrack through the day first, and then I'll ramble about Refused's set more. I got to the park to catch the last few Joyce Manor songs, but I already had a beer in hand and was ready for Red Fang. Yes, during the epic part of "Wires," I did take a couple of shots of whiskey from my buddy's flask. Even though I was beading in sweat from the sun sitting directly over the black stage, I couldn't control my head banging and early afternoon air guitar.
I was front and center with a lot of friends for Braid's set. I missed their club set the night before since I was seeing the Tell All Your Friends tour (no complaining, it was awesome, and I will get to that in this week's 'Consequential Apathy' column). I'm really glad the guys are back, playing the classics and making music again. I wasn't the biggest Hot Water Music fan growing up, so this is my HWM reunion. So many fist pumps while belting out those beautiful choruses.
I was catching up with a friend while Why? was playing, but it sounded great. I'm not sure there's ever been a Why? show I've been to that's been disappointing though…
I caught a couple of Surfer Blood songs. Went well with the early evening weather, but I ended up watching Wyatt Cenac and David Cross right after. Both sets were great, but I thought Cenac was more solid than Cross in the end.
I headed back to the black stage to hangout before Refused's set. Not much knowledge on Seaweed (see, I don't know everything) but with talk going around, I knew I had to catch them. It didn't disappoint. Kind of scratching my head wondering why this band was not part of my teenage years actually. Great set. I caught most of Youth of Today from the stage. Not my style of hardcore, but the band certainly put on an energetic show. While Youth of Today is not only an influence to Refused, the Swedish outfit also toured with Youth of Toady's vocalist, Ray Cappo, other band Shelter. Saturday night, both bands gave shout-outs to the other.
Here's to community.
I'm not a huge Wavves fan, but it wasn't a bad set, a little boring. It was the first time seeing The Sword, and the band was spot on, riff after riff. Again, not a band I frequent, but a solid show. As I scratched my head wondering why Youth of Today wasn't a direct support to the band that owes them praise, I began to question myself. Why couldn't bands like Wavves and The Sword be direct support? It's all punk and metal just their own. Hell, they should have had a DJ before for that matter.
I was standing behind the stage with one of my best friends and Jason Bartell and Marc St. Sauveur of Fang Island watching the band get set-up. What was ironic about the situation was that a punk band who ended in a basement in Virginia was now having their rig set-up by someone else. I think of what they said about having things "perfect." As bands move out of the basements and into bigger audiences, they hire techs and tour managers to make sure things go off more "perfect." They want the way they sound to expand into a spot on performance. As you get bigger in this industry, your expectations grow as well. So again, I was standing there fighting my teenage standards with my elder knowledge.
I could feel this year of nostalgia coming to an end as my mind was racing in anticipation.
I watched the first two songs from behind, witnessing David Sandström just annihilate his kit. I could see so much going on from behind the amps that I pushed my way back out front. For the next hour I was blown away. Saying everything was "perfect" is just being at a loss for words. Hearing "The new beat!" belted out live, the drums on "The Deadly Rhythm," and the chants during "Rather Be Dead," it was all overwhelming. When the violin sample kicked in before "Tannhäuser / Derivè," I felt goosebumps. Vocalist Dennis Lyxzén said many things on stage Saturday night, but there was an admittance to being young and angry, and that through everything, just do something. As the last chants of "Boredom won't get me tonight," rang through the crowd, I've put my formidable teenage years behind me for the moment and now realize that the future can be whatever I want it to.
Dustin HarkinsI kicked off day 2 watching Dallas locals on the black stage. As someone who's never seen them, despite every person I know talking about them such a great amount, they were very impressive at their craft, a modern take on thrash metal. The crowd seemed very awake, despite it being 1 PM and that the festival had just started for the day. Power Trip
After walking around, getting drinks, and catching bits of and Joyce Manor (Both of which sounded good), I headed to the orange stage to watch Red Fang perform for the first time. The hip hop/indie hybrid fronted by Yoni Wolf performed excellently, and left their crowd begging to add more songs to an already lengthy set. Why? are truly innovative and addicting in their live show just as much as their records. Why?
After Why? it was time for . The TDE signee had the crowd jumping up and down for every song, including songs they didn't recognize. After running through a few old tracks, he performed "Druggys Wit Hoes Again" and brought out none other than Schoolboy Q to perform it with him, who followed up the track with his own "Terrorist Threats" (without Danny Brown). As a matter of fact, neither of the two artists Schoolboy was touring with came out for his set. (Danny Brown on "Terrorist Threats", A$AP Rocky on "Hands On The Wheel") Nevertheless, it was a great set. Ab-Soul
Following Schoolboy Q on my list was . The eccentric critically acclaimed Detroit rapper took the stage and let his voice and his raps do the talking. While he performed great, it's hard for a rapper with a voice like his to have a hype man that doesn't make him sound too awkward in contrast. His rapping was great though, as usual, and so was his crowd reception. His sound is one that's hard to imagine portrayed live, and he was able to effortlessly. Danny Brown
I watched part of before The Sword on the black stage, and I must say, Wavves was not impressive at all. Their sound was very boring and although I'm sure they played it well, it just wasn't enjoyable by any means. Wavves , however, were spot on. The Austin metal quartet was spot on with their delivery and both the energy and music were great to witness. They performed like headliners, as if playing before Refused did not intimidate them at all. The Sword
And then took the stage. Refused
If there's ever a time to use the word "flawless", it's now. Dennis Lyxzén had the energy of someone half my age and the experience of someone three times my age, and with the rest of the band, truly brought Refused's legacy back to life. There were no hiccups, no moments of uncertainty, none whatsoever. When Refused said they were coming back, they came BACK. They performed almost all of The Shape Of Punk To Come, along with songs off their previous albums. They closed their set with "Tannhäuser/Derivè" to thunderous applause, chants of "THANK YOU" and "ONE MORE SONG" that could be heard across the festival fields. It was the kind of show that people in the crowd would tell their kids about someday.
Let me just say this: The whole day was incredible, but it's hard to be excited about anything after a set like Refused's performance. It was what separated the great newcomers from the veterans, the artists of today from the artists of forever. It was truly an exhibition of music at its finest, and is something I could never, ever forget. It's hard to write about this at all without sounding biased, but it's definitely a "you had to be there" scenario. Fun Fun Fun Fest, you hit the jackpot tonight.