The last day of the Gainesville fest was a lot more laid back and subdued, at least for me (no booze). My feet and knees were killing, and there’s only so many smell fat dudes with beards you can be around (feel free to insert a picture of a bot and a kettle here). After catching a fun and bouncy set from Armalite (Atom from..”and his Package, the omnipresent Dan Yemin and the Mike McKeen of amateur Party who suffers from a hysterical inferiority complex) I went with Joan to the 2nd St Bakery for some acoustic sets. This was the only club not near any of the others and was the encampment of the crusty kids. There’s nothing like a jackass in an ongoing war with hygene that let’s his dog run around with traffic to piss you off. Please some one tell these jackasses that pets aren;t an accessory to a lifestyle.
Mike Hale sang and played guitar for one of my all-time favorite No Idea bands (Gunmoll) and his current outfit (In the Red) sounds just like them. I was bummed I missed the ITR show during day one of the fest, but did manage to catch his solo act. It wasn’t bad, and “Leatherface Fan” is a near perfect tune, but I wish I could’ve caught a plugged in, full-on band set from this dude, rather than the laid back, everybody sitting down stripped bare acoustic set. Also, there was a terrifying woman who kept scream “I love you” over and over while alternately playing air drums and conducting a symphony with her hands. If you ever read that pieces of Mike Hale were found in the back of an ’89 Le Baron, you have your top suspect. Lost Hands/Found Fingers straddled the line between post hardcore crunchy guitar driven beard rock and doomish metal riffs. Very enjoyable.
My friends and I watched The Draft and Less Than Jake from the bar and couch area. As much as I loved HWM, I’m not sold on the follow up band at all. They sound too much like a band whose sole songwriting purpose is to come up with the theme music for a breakout teen show on the CW. Awesome musicians, but no spark. LTJ played a fun set for kids that absolutely flipped out for them. Not really my thing, but there’s way worse bands to kill an hour watching. To be honest, most of our section was watching the Patriot annihilate the Redskins 52-7, and we were high fiving each other like the Yah Dudes we deep down really are.
Small Brown Bike was the highlight of the fest for me. Getting back together for a short time in order to help a leukemia-stricken childhood friend pay for medical bills, the foursome from Michigan didn’t show any rust. From the moment my friend Joan emailed me to let me know the Bike was playing fest I had a ticket booked. Crushed up to the front of the stage, I spent the better part of an hour yelling myself hoarse to every song. Playing in near cronilogical order, SBB kicked it off with “The Cannons and Tanks” and continued on with “Curiousity Killed the Cat and I’m the Killed” “Zerosum”, “See You In Hell” among others. So many of their songs are about the tight knot bonds of family and long time friendships and what happens when those bonds are threatened or severed. They’ve always played with a sense of urgency and passion, with sweat andstrained vocals. Bassist Ben Reed paced the stage in frentic circles, head bowed, muscles tensed whenever there was a break in his parts, and it was palpable how much he wanted to just get to the next part. Guitarist Travis, a mountain of a man, eschewed the microphone for most of his backup vocals, choosing to lean over the edge of the stage and glare out at the audience as he screamed his head off, daring the crowd to exceed his volume. Every SBB release had a killer closing cut, and for the sets end, the boys played three closing numbers: “Bury You In Me”, with its amazing duel guitar intro and monster riff changes, “Table Four Four” with ultra passionate backup vocals and churning ending, and finally, their signature song, “Make This A Holiday” A perfect end to a fucking great weekend.