It’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to get my Orlando Calling post up. At this rate, they’ll be selling tickets to the next one. I thought about not blogging about it but then I remembered my No. 1 rule of why I blog — to help me remember things I really want to remember.
Before my memory fades anymore, here are my thoughts of the first (hopefully annual!) Orlando Calling Music Festival.
Originally we bought three tickets to the event. DadJovi and I have been toying with the idea of taking E. to Jazz Fest in New Orleans next year. He has finagled his way there several times over the past eight years (somehow he and his friends conveniently scheduled all their weddings so that Jazz Fest could be their bachelor parties. Jerks). So we thought Orlando Calling would be a good music festival test run for her — all of the music without any of the travel!
We knew we couldn’t keep her there through the final act but we thought maybe one of us could run her home at some point and meet a babysitter there. But then that just became too difficult to arrange and neither of us was willing to leave during the early evening hours because that’s when some of our favorite bands were scheduled. We ended up taking her up to my grandparents in Flagler County and she had the BEST TIME EVER. It was her first sleepover with her great-grandparents and hopefully something that we can now do more regularly.
So, kid-free, we set off for the festival.
It was a picture perfect day — a little cool with no humidity and zero chances of rain. During the day it was warm but it cooled down at night. In fact it got so cool that I almost convinced my husband to buy one of those Dylan McKay Mexican baja coats (you know the ones. Dylan had several styles of them, in short and long-sleeved varieties).
Our first show of the day was a band I’d never heard of — The Deep Dark Woods. They were playing in the only covered venue, so it was nice to get out of the sun for a little while and chill in the grass.
And I may have developed a little crush on the lead singer. Seriously, what IS it about rockers? Their appeal is irresistible.
Since we didn’t know a lot about the band, we used the Orlando Calling app to learn about them. Very cool resource for concert-goers!
The band ended up being one of the highlights of the day. In fact, as soon as their set ended, we bought one of their CDs and we’ve been listening to it quite a bit since. I love discovering new-to-me bands!
After The Deep Dark Woods finished, we walked around a bit to get a lay of the land. Check out one of the areas they had set up to hang out.
The organization of the event was no joke. Everything ran so smoothly. There were plenty of food and drink lines, tons of bathrooms and the stages were set up a perfect distance apart. Promoter Melvin Benn brought the concert to town and you can tell he’s learned a lot from staging these events in Leeds and Reading, England. Seriously, there was not one hiccup (that we saw, at least). As I mentioned, DadJovi has been to several Jazz Fests, as well as Bonnaroo and Voo Doo Fest in New Orleans. We both attended the now-defunct Langerado Festival in South Florida and I attended a few festivals when I lived in D.C. No other event comes close to Orlando Calling in terms of organization and operations.
Next we headed into the Citrus Bowl to check out a band that our friend in New York told us we HAD to see.
They’re called Gogol Bordello and oh.my.awesome. They’ve been called a gypsy punk band and that seems a pretty appropriate description.
They had crazy amounts of energy. It’s seriously one of the most gender/racially/age diverse groups I’ve ever seen. The lead singer was rocking a pair of red silky boxing shorts and a bottle of wine was his contast companion.
I mean, c’mon. Does that not look like the best party ever? Our friend says he’s seen them on New Year’s Eve a couple times and now I have a new New Year’s goal — seeing them some year. I mean, check out how hard this chick is rocking the giant drum:
The highlight of the show was a Spanish-language, gypsy-style version of Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall.” So great. I’m not sure how much I would listen to Gogol Bordello around the house but I WILL see them in concert again.
Next we made our way outside to the biggest outdoor stage — the Authentic Stage — to see Lucero.
We even found a friend — hi Katy!
DadJovi decided to hang out there for awhile while Katy and I headed back into the Citrus Bowl to see Kid Cudi.
He’s not really my bag (baby) so I only stayed for a couple songs because there was someone else I wanted to see more — Iron & Wine aka Samuel Beam.
I even found DadJovi again.
And we sat back and admired the awesomeness that is Beam’s beard.
I have to admit that I first learned of Iron & Wine after I became obsessed with “Flightless Bird” at the end of the first Twilight movie (don’t judge). I also hate to admit how bummed I was that he didn’t play it at Orlando Calling, especially considering how much of a role it plays in Breaking Dawn. What’s up with that Sam? Oh well. No matter how I found him, I really enjoy a lot of his music now, so the show was good.
Next, we moseyed back over to the Citrus Bowl for the Avett Brothers.
They were great. It was my first time seeing them, and we ended up missing some of the set, so I really want to catch a full show next time they come to town.
The next show was THE main draw for me. A little history first. Dr. Dog is my favorite band that I’ve never seen live. It’s not that they’re my favorite band, per se (although they’re near the top of the list), it’s just that I’ve never seen them live … although it’s not for lack of trying.
The first time they came to Orlando, E. was about two months old. I was not ready in a million different ways to leave her yet, even for a few hours, so I
begrudgingly encouraged DadJovi to go see them without me. I think they came another time but we were out of town. Then, this past summer they were coming to town and miracle of all miracles, we were not only in town but our babysitter was available! We headed down to the Social for a great night out. During the opening acts, we unknowingly started talking to a guy who turned out to be one of the two lead singers in the band (I really need to study album covers more).
I promise, he enjoyed our conversation more than he looks like he did in this picture (at least I think). The band is from Philly (and remember, I’m a southeastern PA girl myself) and they got their start playing at West Chester University, where a lot of my high school friends went. So we had a great time chatting.
Then, about five minutes before the band took the stage, I got the call all moms out on the town dread — E. had thrown up everywhere. Our babysitter (who is one of her teachers) told us she was fine, had no fever and to not worry about coming home, it was under control. I planned to check in with her 15 minutes later to make sure all was still good. Then, just as the band took the stage for their first song (and we realized our new buddy was the lead singer), the babysitter called again — E puked a second time. I sadly left the club and got a cab home (and wife of the year — let DadJovi stay. I knew E would only want me anyway since she was so sick). He tried to hide how good the show was, but I knew. Oh, I knew.
ANYWAY, sorry for the trip down memory lane but you see how hard I’ve worked to see them in concert. Despite the fact that the Dr. Dog show couldn’t have been scheduled in a worse slot — The Pixies and O.A.R. were playing at the same time! — NOTHING was going to keep me from the show.
And it delivered.
Here’s our friend!
Note to self: unless you want to look like a linebacker, have the photographer stand a little bit farther than six inches away.
DadJovi and Katy left right after this picture to head over to the Pixies inside the Citrus Bowl. I was a little jealous because The Pixies are one of those bands I feel I “should” see … but again, see above. I wasn’t leaving the Dr. Dog show for anything. Since I was alone I sang my heart out, wormed my way up to a spot right against the fence and took entirely too many pictures.
Ahhh, I was so happy.
As soon as the show ended, I busted a move to the Citrus Bowl to try to catch the end of The Pixies but I arrived as everyone was streaming out. Oh well. Totally worth it.
After Dr. Dog, I became a bit of a wanderer. I watched some of Drive By Trucker with DadJovi.
I like DBT a lot (and they’re one of DadJovi’s favorite bands). But I’ve seen them a few times before (and I miss Jason Isbell as lead singer), so I decided to check out some other shows that were going on at the same time. Up first … the Roots!
I don’t know if it’s because I was on hour seven and drink six but I just wasn’t feeling The Roots show. And I also kept getting annoyed that MC Black Thought (that’s what Wikipedia tells me is his name. Hi my name is Jackie and I’m a white girl) kept saying after every song, “Thank you. God Bless” in a way that made it sound like the set was over. I’d definitely like to see The Roots again, though, and perhaps next time I won’t be coming down from my Dr. Dog high.
I decided to head into the Citrus Bowl to find Katy and to catch some of the Raconteurs show. And I’m so glad I did. Holy rock my world, Jack White.
I like a lot of White Stripes songs but I don’t know many Ranconteurs songs. But it didn’t matter — Jack White did what Jack White does best … rock the shit out of that stage and his guitars. He’s amazing. The one song I do know, “Steady, As She Goes,” just kicked ass.
Then, it was time for the main event and the headlining act — The Killers. They were the only show for the final show of the night, so everyone packed into the Citrus Bowl. Again, a bit of disclosure, but I’m not a Killers fan. I think they’re OK and I was really excited to see them but they certainly weren’t the main attraction for me.
But their light show was very impressive.
As they got started, I was surprised how many songs I actually knew. And they certainly put on an energetic show.
But our energy was fading. Yes, we’re old. But we had been there since 12:30 p.m. (and it was 10:15 or so by this point) and my husband ran 17 miles that morning before we even left for the show (marathon training is no joke). So, we were ready to beat the proverbial rush to our car.
What a fantastic day though. I only had one teeny tiny complaint for the day — the only beer available was Heineken. Blech. What’s up with that? I hate that crap. Even when I was in Amsterdam, you know where it’s brewed, I still chose any beer but Heineken. So I switched to vodka tonics early in the day and that may or may not have made me very sleepy by the end.
Otherwise, it was a perfectly executed event. I was really sad to hear that the promoter lost so much money on it (I think I heard somewhere in the ballpark of $3 million. Yikes) but I hope he was serious when he said he was committed to spending a few years building the show up here.
Afterwards, my friends and I brainstormed on which band could have been a bigger draw to bring in the crowds Orlando Calling needed to really succeed. The best we could come up with was Pearl Jam (you’re welcome for the idea Mr. Benn). We didn’t go on Sunday, which had more country acts booked (and I would have loved to have gone, too, but there’s only so many days we can pawn the kid off), but I hear it ran equally as well.
I hope this becomes an annual event that just continues to bring in bigger bands but also allows me the joy of discovering new music.
If you’re still reading this, then you’re either my husband or mom, so thanks for sticking with me to the end!
Where you at Orlando Calling? What’s the best concert/festival you’ve attended? And who do you think Orlando Calling should try to book next year as the headliner?