Langerado Day One Roundup*
By Andy Smith, Contributing Editor
That the sweet tongued and socially charged soul vibrations of Dubconscious would open the main stage at the 5th Annual Langerado Music Festival makes complete sense. A white reggae band from Athens, Georgia, this crew serenaded the sun-soaked throng of early birds for a stellar start to what’s inevitably going to be a sonically cosmic weekend.
Their infectious and inspired presentation resonates with everything that the post-modern hippy festival has become: a social mash-up and spiritual mix-tape where a complicated pastiche of cultural influences is held down by the singular metronome of love. While gaggles of tank-topped (or topless, in some cases) dervishes began to shake their collective groove thing, the band’s lyrics encapsulated a message of love and unity. Just in case the fans couldn’t figure out that the operative idea here is unconditional compassion, lead singer Adrian Zelski preached between songs that we as Americans need “a new political system” and (referring to the ridiculously over-hyped red state-blue state chasm) that “all this division is bullshit.”
While previously the secret of Woodstock legends, Lollapalooza misfires, and the sweaty rituals of our European kin at places like Glastonbury, the rock festival resurrected itself in epic fashion at the turn-of-the-century. And amazingly, just past all the hoopla about the larger convergences like Coachella and Bonnaroo, a second tier of smaller soirees exist around the bend, and more keep popping up like spring flowers all over the continent. Langerado joins this fresh genre of gigs where the traveling circus that descended from Deadhead culture mutates and percolates in many forms while relying on the central formula of solid, funky sounds that keep the children dancing. Bopping to the global heartbeat, the dusty and dread-headed nomads somehow find their way from show-to-show, with this south-Florida excursion marking the official start to the 2007 season—and oh what a season it promises to be! Other events of this ilk include Wakarusa in Kansas, 10,000 Lakes in Minnesota, and All Good in West Virginia. While on the one hand it appears that the market’s being insanely oversaturated, there apparently exists a huge appetite among young Americans for his kind of counterculture.
(A Langeradian enjoys the scene. Photo credit: Jonathan Marx Photography/jonathanmarxprophoto.com)
Even though most festivals replicate similar logistical scenarios and many contain an overlapping musical roster, the culture has a ravenous craving for something spiritually authentic that does not revolve around Christian fundamentalism. The festival scene provides the Dionysian counterpoint to what the sex-hating and war-loving mainstream looks for on Sunday morning.
Two fans from Philadelphia shared their summary of why this kind of movable feast and family reunion has found such a devoted audience. Heather testified, “Festivals are very important for humanity because they are one of the only experiences that you’ll get where it’s completely peaceful and you don’t have to worry.” Melissa conferred, “I’ve never made more friends than at a festival—good friends. I have friends in almost every single state from festivals.”
These kinds of evangelistic testimonies proliferate with varying degrees of profundity. Because being articulate descends (as the day grows older) as spirit ascends to a non-verbal blisssed-ness, it’s best to catch these kinds of eyewitness clips during the day. Like at the public showers this morning, where hippies young and old gave their versions of the visions they’d experienced the night before, shouting their statements from stall to stall. (And who said we don’t shower anyway?)
(Ben Ellman of Galactic. Photo credit: Jonathan Marx Photography/jonathanmarxprophoto.com)
A forty-something dad named Paul from Indiana had this to say about how the traveling and dancing culture has evolved since the days of the Dead: “It was never about one band. It was never about a band. It’s always been about the music. It’s still about the music. We’re chasing the music.” The longer the wine flows and weed smokes, the people get happier and happier until they stumble back to the tent or pass out in a parking lot turned drum circle after the show. May God protect the people who didn’t score a campsite and have to drive back and forth each day!
Even though I come to this place from the indie rock side of the tracks, my inner hippy was long overdue for some nurturing. Rather than seeing only the specific shows on my earlier sketch of the day, I got swept off my feet by the well known spontaneity that makes a party like this such a high-quality party. Since I found myself in sunny jamland, I decided to do as the jam band kids do. From Dubconscious, I went to Lotus. From Lotus, I went to Tea Leaf Green. From Tea Leaf Green, I went to New Monsoon. Before yesterday, I was not familiar with one of these groups, but horns and keyboards and percussion and guitars and more all blended together into a smoothie sensational musical theater. By this late afternoon point, the beer-drenched and sun-fried body needed a break. I took my tired ass back to the tent for a power nap. Thank the spirits I didn’t sleep past 7:30pm.
My closing set of the day was as symbolic of what the whole fusion that the festival world represents as my first. After catching just a taste of Trey Anastasio (and yummilicious one at that), I took my freshly showered body in its glowing orange evening attire from the Everglades stage to the Swamp Tent where Sound Tribe Sector Nine was still setting up. Having heard the buzz but not the studio albums or live recordings, this was my virgin incarnation at that certain level of intoxication that Friday nights have always inspired.
Who would have known? While I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d arrived at the party rather late, the STS9 party doesn’t show any signs of stopping soon. This jamtronica dance party creates one of the most addictively energetic and active spaces of spaced out spinning heads imaginable. The fact that soulful, spiritual musical seekers would play techno on laptops only bears witness to the over-the-top amalgam that the music scene has become in the years since 2000. This is where the music goes into your body to take you out of your head. The religious allusions are no accident because dance parties like this are so flipped out and freaking fabulous. It’s where the ethereal becomes carnal to become something indescribably good. While the terms “New Age” and “Age of Aquarius” have been beaten into corny pejoratives, attending the contemporary musical festival can make you a believer in sonic beauty’s unbelievable power. Spirit made flesh in an irrepressible day of dancing, prancing, and trancing.
For more information on the Langerado Music Festival, please visit its official website: https://www.langerado.com
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