The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway transported my pedal-playmate Dandelion and I to the Nelsonville Music Festival — my first since its inception seven years ago. It was nice to have a pedal-partner again; sure beats the hell out of solo cycling.
Besides squishing hundreds of the little baby caterpillars that littered the bike path, the ride was smooth and serene like none other. I was both surprised and disappointed that I did not see anyone taking advantage of this opportunity to ride the path. In fact, I saw not one soul riding either Friday or Saturday.
Friday’s most enrapturing performances came from Athens’ own Octopus & Owl and, hailing from Columbia, Bomba
Octopus & Owl played on the almost-too-intimate of a stage, the “No-Fi Cabin,” a small abode dedicated to acoustic sets that was festering with flatulence.
In essence, it was just like a sauna, besides being inundated by soggy, saggy, old-man-scrotums no matter where you look (don’t act like you’re not scarred from childhood visits to your local community center).
Bomba Estéreo surprised me by covering my all time favorite party anthem, “Pump Up The Jam” by Technotronic. It brought me back to the pep rallies of my elementary school days, it was the faculties idea of what was “hip,” never mind that it came out in ’89, some seven or eight years before.
Bomba Estéreo’s set started with a drizzle and culminated with a torrential downpour, after which we road our soggy bums home. There were too many toads on the bike path to avoid, and Dandelion savagely smashed one of them; he croaked immediately. Sorry, Bud.
Saturday, I stopped at my buddies’ house on Mill Street for some quick bicycle maintenance before I left for the fest. What I wasn’t keeping in mind is that it was Mill Fest, so I ended up getting on the bike path a little later than I had planned, but I was in exceptionally high spirits once I did.
Two bands previously unknown to me really rocked my socks off Saturday night: Mount Carmel and Lost in the Trees.
Mount Carmel was quite tasty. The band possesses that uber grimy, riff-driven rock that I covet so. Reflecting influences from Ten Years After and The Allman Brothers Band, it could do no wrong.
Frontman Matthew Reed tattooed his fretboard with inspiration and desire while molesting the crowd with his nastiest “nasty-face” (guitar players know what I’m talkin’ about).
Elucidating metaphysical conundrums with each lick, Reed proselytized to the congregation to stop worshipping God and worship something higher up: The Blues.
Lost in the Trees was also quite impressive. Outfitted with a cello, violin, accordion, and myriad other musical apparatus not found at, say, a Slipknot concert, it served sentimental tunes that would bring tears to Beelzebub himself.
However, for me, the festival’s zenith was Yo La Tengo’s nostalgia-inducing “Autumn Sweater” followed by Ira Kaplan’s 20-minute, face-melting axe work over the hypnotic bass line of “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind”.
Also worth mentioning, I met Georgia, the drummer, outside before the show and bumbled something to her about loving her — not her music, but her.
After the always crowd pleasing Flaming Lips had a characteristically extravagant show, I rode home in a squall that I thought would swallow me whole.
My only qualm with the Nelsonville Music Festival is that there was not one ambassador for hip-hop (and, yes, it’s music, you moron).
As if country, folk, rock, blues, indie, classical, noise music and marching bands were all viable options for the event but hip-hop was left in the lurch along with polka and Inuit throat singing. The
Brian Bors is a senior studying social work and a columnist for The Post. Brian made you a mixtape of his favorite Nelsonville acts. If you would like one, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.