Today's HullabaLOU Festival was brought to you by the Cult of Kenny Chesney. Last night, for research, Roommate and I pulled up YouTube and played an extended game of "Oh, Kenny Chesney is THAT Guy." But even after re-familiarizing myself with Chesney's music, I was absolutely unprepared for the onslaught of his fandom. I recognized it immediately in the massive percentage of straw cowboy hat wearers in the crowd as soon as I walked onsite. And as the festival day wore on, the population of Chesney fans increased, as did, unfortunately, the stumbling drunkenness of said fans. Mostly female. Mostly very young. Mostly very pretty. And all of 'em wearing cowboy boots.
Speaking of footwear, that was my first big misstep of the day. A few paces into the festival, I realized I'd forgotten to change my shoes before leaving the house, and within a few paces more I was stumbling like said drunk fans. I partially rectified the issue by shuffling my bare feet in the dirt; dirty feet = better traction. But right now, as Mama Lou used to say, "my dogs are barkin'." "Howlin'" might be more accurate.
My second misstep of the day was being so enthralled with Joan Osborne's set (she's pictured above, by the way) that I stayed out way after my water bottle was drained. I think I'm still feeling the woozy from that.
Started the day by heading straight to see Ben Sollee's set at the Fleur de Lis stage. The man is a treasure, kids. We're so lucky to be able to call him a Kentucky guy. An amazing set in the blazing midday sun. If I didn't respect him before (and I did, y'all know I love him), I tip my hat to him now. I loved him at NuluFestival last year. And his show with Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet was one of the highlights of my Bonnaroo 2008. But.. ha ha... funny story. Okay, actually I'll save my funny story for a post dedicated to Ben Sollee later. He's worth a post of his own. And so is the story. UPDATE: The post is here. And make sure you read the comments to see Sollee's very nice response.
When I went to the Media Center after Sollee's show, I got out of the elevator and passed a wee tiny funny-looking man (keep in mind, I'm 5 feet tall so "wee tiny" from me is WEE TINY... and yeah, maybe I'm funny-looking too), and thought "Well, clearly HE isn't a broadcast journalist." Turned out the wee man was none other than Ben Folds coming in for an interview. I was tickled that one of the journalists asked Folds about the time he played Bonnaroo and asked the entire crowd to give him the middle finger while he took a crowd photo. I was in that crowd. I gave him the middle finger with gusto.
I pooped out around 40 minutes into Fold's set. It was just too damned hot...
... Oh, have I failed to mention that the highs today pushed 100? We're not talking "heat indices" here, kids-- we're talking no-cloud-cover temps. Brutal, but more on that in a sec.
The thing with Folds is, and I remember this from Bonnaroo, he starts out very slow and very mellow and then works himself up into a crowd-pleasing frenzy by the end of his show. And I didn't quite make it to the "frenzy" part. I don't know how he does it-- you'd think his energy would be sapped by then. But when I went back to the Media Center and watched the last of his show on the tvs, he was bounding all over the stage, playing drums, pulling audience members up on stage. Note to self: if you think you won't make it for an entire Folds set, wait til it's half over.
After watching a few songs from the astoundingly generic Sara Evans, I headed out to see local vocal titan, Joan Osborne. I'll do a "real" post on her next week, but I was dumbfounded by the contrast between Evans and Osborne. How is it that Evans-- whose voice is lovely, but no more so than dozens of karaoke singers I've seen-- could command the main stage, and Osborne's fame peaked 15 years ago? She's charming and precious and gritty and soulful. Her show rocked me so much that, as I mentioned earlier, I stayed WAY too long and got WAY too hot and have been paying for it ever since.
So much so, in fact, that when I got back to the Media Center, cooled down, and re-hydrated, I was in such bad shape that I couldn't bring myself to get back out there. Lucky for me, between the tvs in the Media Center and the balconies, I was able to see enough of both the Reverend Al Green and Huey Lewis and the News that I was mostly satisfied.
The Rev. Al-- as he did at Bonnaroo two years ago-- took the stage in a three-piece suit and threw roses into the crowd. The man shimmied and shook-- I'm telling you, between Al and Gladys, these older sorts are showing the younger generations of musicians here at HullabaLOU how it is done! Amusingly, according to the Twitterverse, the Reverend's sound went all wonky during his performance of "Amazing Grace," and he dropped some f-bombs and cussed out the sound crew! Wish I'd seen that first-hand.
I saw quite a bit of Huey Lewis's show, as the Fleur De Lis stage is nearer the Media Center balcony. And all I can say is... wow. Wow, Huey Lewis looks fantabulous for however old he is. Wow, Huey Lewis fills out a pair of jeans even better than Kenny Chesney. Wow, I forgot how fun his music is. And wow, I'm really sorry that I kinda used "and they're featuring Huey Lewis" as a rib about the HullabaLOU line-up. I felt the "Power of Love" during his show. It was, honestly, great.
(Funny side note: when I was a wee lass, Mama Lou bought me a Huey Lewis and the News cassette [yes, I'm that old] for Christmas. And Nana Lou was scandalized-- she thought the band's name was "Huey Lewis in the Nude.")
You know who wasn't great? Jason Aldean. Who the eff is this guy, and why was he on the main stage, and why was his crowd so huge? A dreadfully boring performer who barely moved for the better part of his set. And, in my humble opinion, the worst kind of country singer dude-- the kind that sings songs about how the rest of the country thinks rednecks are idiots, but the rest of the country is full of pretentious, elite a-holes, so what the eff do they know?
It was particularly precious that he decided to end the show with an encore of Kid Rock's "I'm a Cowboy." Here's the thing, Jason and Kid, if you don't fraking rassel some cattle for a living, you AREN'T a cowboy. You're insulting cowboys by calling yourself a "cowboy." At the very least, to be a "cowboy" in the metaphorical sense, you need to be a badass. A REAL badass. Not a plush tour-bus-riding, pressed t-shirt wearing, VIP lounge going rock star. At least Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" is a narrative, and we can assume by the voice of the lyrics that Jon Bon Jovi isn't insinuating that HE is a cowboy. He's singing in the first person voice of a cowboy-- well not a real cowboy, just a badass.
Yeah, not a fan.
And I'm not going to say that I'm a Kenny Chesney fan now, but he does put on a hell of a show. I don't get the truly CULT status that Chesney enjoys. Roommate says he's this generation's Garth Brooks, but I didn't get the Brooks thing either, really. Pardon the self-pat-on-the-back, but my favorite Tweet of the night was "Loueyville: I wanna knock his hat off so badly. You seen his videos? NEVER takes it off. What does he have under there? A conjoined twin? #hullabalou" Hey, if you don't follow my tweets, now is the time to start. :) (@loueyville)
So, that was my day. Blistering heat. Blistered feet. And some truly great music. Although Bon Jovi was my big favorite for the fest, tomorrow's line-up is the most consistently wonderful, so I am super psyched. I'm telling you, I could have two broken legs, a hangover, and a pen in my eye (did you hear about the guy who was arrested at ComicCon today for stabbing a guy in the eye with a pen over seating assignments?) and I STILL wouldn't miss Dwight Yokem and Loretta Lynn. Royalty, my friends. I'm a-flutter just thinking about it. Yokem's free show at the Kentucky State Fair a few years back was DI-VINE! And I've never seen Lynn, so... whoa.
Should be cooler tomorrow. Thank the baby Breesus. I have to say, I am going to miss heading out to Churchill every day. I love me some Summer Music Festivals. And I love being "media." Of course, I look over the Media Center every day and think "hey, WTF, all of these people are getting PAID for this??" That ain't right. Eh, sour grapes, right? I'm having tons of fun. And on Monday, I will sleep for days.
Also up tomorrow: Tonic, the Black Crowes, the Avett Brothers, and, of course, Dave Matthews.