flotsam, reviews

I heart Camelfest 2011

Neon music sign
Image via Wikipedia

We arrived at Maxwell’s early enough to eat before the show. The place had a good vibe, but I am out of my element in a bar. I know it shows. The weirdness factor was only increased by the fact that the place the boy had chosen for us to sit – in truth the only two free seats at the bar – was literally right behind an old friend. Someone I know from another life.

The boy suggests I say hi but my friend – or whatever people become after so much time – is eating, he’s engaged in conversation, I’ll be colliding his worlds and that will make him feel weird. Making him feel weird is not even remotely on the agenda. There may be a moment later for us to say hi, but this isn’t it.

Instead the boy and I relax and have a bite to eat. My friend and I will pass each other 50 times, not acknowledging recognition. If there is any on his side. I’m almost sure that he sees me more than once, but there’s a lot going on, so it’s hard to be sure. There aren’t that many of us yet for us not to have been noted… the crowd will grow significantly throughout the evening so that the place gets to be really hopping around 11PM. I’m not trying to avoid him, I’m just not trying to make a deal of my being there. Several times I catch a glimpse of him in passing and think I should say hi and each time something hinders. He’s talking to someone. He’s monitoring the show. He’s telling someone about the great work the Roots and Wings Foundation does. He’s recording a set. He’s busy as a whole. (We did eventually say Hi. With just the perfect amount of possibly-feigned surprise (on his part) and awkward handshake-or-hug doofiness (on my part) and Varsity Drag just starting a great set at the time so no opportunity to say more than hello and comment on the show, and not even a chance to introduce that stoic-looking fellow behind me as the boy.

Just as well… the awkward non-reunion was not why I was there. I had wanted to see one of the bands (they would be the last act) and wanted to support a fantastic cause.

So aside from the nonsense, I watched the show. I enjoyed the show. Which most who know me would find surprising. It was not my typical fare – who knew my tastes were so eclectic? – and it was LOUD, though I have a lower tolerance for loud than most. But it is what it is, and it was quite good. The bands played at a volume suited to a bigger venue, or even an outdoor venue, and had I been able to make out more than a few of the lyrics I probably would have enjoyed it even more.

That said… from what little I could make out, I definitely want to hear some more of The Library is on Fire; I couldn’t make out their lyrics, but they were solid. The 65s were described by one of the other bands as having played a “face melting” set and since I can’t improve on that assessment I’ll just have to let that description stand.

The third band up was Varsity Drag. I hadn’t heard them before, and I have to say they really impressed live. I don’t have the language to describe music… this is not my gift (you may have noticed)… but the whole was not just more but magnified by the sum of its parts.

And then at last Stuyvesant came out. This band was the reason I chose *this* Camelfest show over any of the others. And they were phenomenal. I don’t generally use overplayed text-speak, but: OMG. I could have listened all night.

If only, if only. If only it hadn’t been so late, so loud, so much-too-much of something he never expected, the boy might have looked happier. And so when my heartbeat started to sync with the music, and I was overcome with the monster talent playing up there, and there may have been blood trickling out of my ears from the sheer volume over the length of the evening, and almost I didn’t care that I might never hear again because they were so good, and then I looked over and recognized that the boy‘s head might explode from the sound, and he was worried about his car (more on this tomorrow) but he was putting a brave face on for me so as not to spoil my evening, I knew what I had to do: I had to make it okay for us to leave in the middle of the set of the most awesome band of the evening. Because you know what? My ears DID hurt too. And the whole evening HAD BEEN too loud for me too. And he’d gone ABOVE AND BEYOND for the night.

We slipped out quietly, unnoticed.

But I will totally be over at Drom’s site tomorrow checking out cool new tunes. And I’ll be supporting their upcoming releases to benefit Roots and Wings.

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