We started the day refreshed, slept in, and took our sweet time getting to the festival. After the suck that was yesterday, we were stoked at the efficiency and consideration of the festival organizers, One Reel. Not a single detail was overlooked; right down to the free water refills and the convenient recycling bins. Also a pleasant surprise, patrons could re-enter the festival. Unfortunately, it was also a slow and arduous process; probably used to collect data. Ironic, considering the strong (get link) presence of RFID protesters.
Neko Case the perfect first course; preparing our musical pallet for what was to come. Her voice was strong and rich; the band tight. The response to her set could be likened to polite spectators at a tennis match, with people politely clapping and cheering. There were two stand-outs among the set, one a banjo country number the other, a plucky number with a surprising dose of yodeling.
The air around the Fisher Green stage buzzed with electric energy. The crowd was intent on Saul Williams, paying close attention to his words. They responded enthusiastically to his message and charismatic delivery. When Williams eluded to Seattle's political activism the audience was appreciative. When the set was over, we bolted through the crowd like hounds on a bloody fox, determined to score an interview.
After alternately talking ourselves into and out of walking into his tent, we decided fortune rewards the bold. We tentatively pulled back the curtain to find Williams plainly waiting for us to come in. His air of self-assurance was calming and as we settled into his cramped, he told we could ask three questions. His response to questions regarding attempts to pigeon hole him was a gem.
"People will always have their preferences." He paused briefly before adding, "and will tell you. I think we try to live our lives as poems, and try to remain open to possibilities."
Williams had nothing but love for the results of the digital release of The Rise and Eventual Liberation of Niggy Tardust, unlike Trent Reznor his collaborative partner. In the past Reznor has expressed disappointment about free downloads versus album sales. Williams considers the free release a success.
"People get to say 'I tried this out,' and it's guilt free," he said. Another boon was that there was enough interest for the album to be released in stores, as well as an overall increase in album sales for Williams.
Our last stop of the day, Beck on the mainstage. He started the set with a classic, "Loser," which he dedicated the city. Though a charismatic and seasoned performer, it was almost as if Beck was just going through the motions. All the ingredients were there, but the souffle didn't rise. The energy of the set was inconsistent, starting strong before quickly descending to a down-tempo movement. It's not that Beck's set was bad, per se, it was just a disappointed considering the breadth of his talent and experience. Even the encore was dialed in and predictable. Regardless of our interpretation, the audience was definitely behind him, especially during the numbers from Midnight Vultures.
Come back for more festival coverage tomorrow...
© 2008 Kimberlee Morrison and Tanya Payne. Some rights reserved