The Langerado Report
For many, the 2008 festival season kicked off over the weekend with the sixth annual Langerado Music & Arts Festival. Having outgrown its recent home in Sunrise, FL, the annual gathering moved down the road to the Big Cypress Indian Reservation, boasting headlining performances from the Beastie Boys, Phil Lesh & Friends and R.E.M., who were opening a tour in support of the new release,_ Accelerate_.
Despite inclement weather late Friday night and some unavoidable growing pains, including heavy traffic entering the festival on Thursday, Langerado adjusted to its new size and expanded scope, without losing the modest charm of years past. Langerado’s new location awarded fans onsite late night shows as well, including choice performances from Sound Tribe Sector 9, Umphrey’s McGee, the Lee Boys, the Disco Biscuits and Bassnectar, the latter of whom nodded to the Beasties with a remix of ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!).’ Indie-rockers were also treated to a hip after hours performance from Pelican, a main stage set by Dan Deacon and a bizarre vaudevillian performance by the Yard Dog Road Show.
The Beastie Boys anchored Friday’s festivities with a packed performance that sprinkled instrumental cuts from last year’s The Mix-Up with classics like ‘Root Down,’ ‘Intergalactic Planetary’ and ‘Sabotage.’ Like many of the weekend’s performers, the Beastie Boys also urged the Florida audience to vote Democratic in 2008 Presidential Election, though the trio avoided endorsing Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama outright.
Friday ‘s festivities also featured standout sets from longtime Langerado favorites G. Love & Special Sauce, current New Groove of the Month The Heavy Pets, rock-trio Earl Greyhound, experimental indie-rockers Built to Spill and Brooklyn’s Matt Pond PA, who revealed to Jambands.com/Relix that they planed to regroup under a different name for their next studio album.
Saturday’s offering were similarly electric: R.E.M. made a rare festival appearance, playing new songs like ‘Supernatural Superserious,’ ‘Houston’ and ‘Sing for the Submarine’ alongside hits ranging from ‘Losing My Religion’ to ‘Man on the Moon’ to ‘Orange Crush’ and ‘The One I Love.’ Michael Stipe also told fans that the Beastie Boys’ Mike D. sent him a text message earlier in the day saying, ‘It’s going to be good.’
Like Friday, a number of festival favorites delivered standout performances, particularly Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood, Dr. Dog, whose experimental brand of pop won over a number of new fans, the always outspoken Antibalas, who ended the stage playing at the front of the stage without microphones and the New Mastersounds, who filled in for Vampire Weekend after the Columbia grads scored a spot on SNL.
Sunday featured a number of festival heavyweights like Gov’t Mule, the latest incarnation of the funky Meters, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Keller Williams and Ani DiFranco, whose band included Mike Dillon on percussion and vibes. Steel Train bolstered its set with a number of covers, including Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘1979’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk,’ while the recently reunited Blind Melon rolled out a new version of ‘No Rain’ and the National’s set peaked with the beautiful, emotive ‘Slow Show.’
Keller Williams took home the weekend’s collaboration award, sitting with Relix recording artist Jonah Smith on a version of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Man Smart, Woman Smarter’ and inviting out fellow progressive singer/songwriter Martin Sexton for a version of ‘‘Hallelujah.’ Matisyahu also got into the collaboration game, beatboxing with Ozomatli and joining the Disco Biscuits for the second Langerado in a row on ‘tomorrow Never Knows.’ STS9 bassist David Murphy stuck around an extra day to help the Disco Biscuits to play keyboards on a first time reading of Marc Brownstein’s new ‘Caves on the East.’ Joe Russo remained busy as always, performing with American Babies, Chris Harford and the Band of Changes and The Duo, the latter of whom brought of Tom Hamilton for a handful of songs includes ‘Sunny’s Song’ and ‘Powder.’
Despite the festival’s expanded scope, a number of performers celebrated Langerado’s roots in live improvisational music. Matisyahu paid tribute to Jerry Garcia from the stage and offered a version of ‘Morning Dew,’ while Athens-bred indie-pop stars Of Montreal covered ‘Shakedown Street.’ A few months after parting ways, Phish cover band Phix reunited for a late night performance that included on point versions of ‘Divided Sky,’ ‘Reba’ and ‘Destiny Unbound.’ Mickey Hart also showcased a new band featuring recent collaborator George Porter Jr., Jen Durkin, Steve Kimock, Particle drummer Darren Pujalet and Sikiru Adepoju. Several groups associated with the indie and alt-rock roots also discussed their love of Phish backstage, including 311 and The National, the latter of whom actually spent their formative years playing Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers covers before rising to indie-fame. Of course, Phil Lesh closed out the weekend with a two-set show that included such familiar selections as ‘Uncle John’s Band,’ ‘Sugar Magnolia,’ ‘The Wheel’ and ‘I Know You Rider.’
A number of performers also recorded exclusive sets for Relix’s Cold Turkey, including Dr. Dog, Matt Pond PA, the Felice Brothers, Martin Sexton, American Babies and Matisyahu. Please check out www.relix.com/radio in the coming days.