Sunday, 3:12 p.m.
I’ve been sick all morning. Some sort of stomach flu combined with the exhaustion that comes from running across miles of sand all weekend. But today has been a pretty sparse day anyway. We interviewed Mutemath and the Constellations today, but that’s about all we’ve had time for. It’s a six hour drive home, and I don’t want to arrive at 6 a.m. the morning before a big test.
DeLuna Fest has been one of the most special experiences of my life. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it one tenth as much as I’ve enjoyed covering it.
Sunday, Oct. 16, 2:15 a.m.
This has certainly been a night. Maybe not as memorable or life-changing as the end to Friday night, but jam packed with a ton of crazy moments nonetheless. I’m writing this from the free-wifi at a bar, where I’ve been watching a classic rock cover band. I can’t escape the music. I don’t want to.
We’ll start with the Shins. It’s been years since I heard of any new activity with the band (in fact, their spot at DeLuna Fest was one of only three shows they played this year), so it was an amazing surprise to find that not only are they incredible live, they have new songs in the works. From what I heard, I can’t wait for their new record. In addition to their own songs, The Shins also busted out covers of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes.” More, please.
Jane’s Addiction was scheduled to go on after the Shins, but because of a delay on their part, I only got to see a few of their songs before heading off to see the remix DJ Diplo, who also serves as one half of the electronic dancehall act Major Lazer. That was probably a better choice, as I was much more captivated by the insane dance party that broke out during Diplo’s set of remixes. Ghostland Observatory played at the same time, and all reports point to them being excellent.
I also caught The Hood Internet’s mashup heavy set after Diplo. They were good, but sparsely attended. Unfortunately, the crowd just wasn’t giving off the best energy they could. Still, those guys are great DJs. I’d love to see them in a slightly more energetic setting. But after two full days of rocking out, some people can’t keep it going too long.
But really, the biggest problem with the fest so far has been the lack to rime to see every band I want. It’s been — Oh! The cover band is playing “Born to Run.” Catch you later.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 9:30 p.m.
I’ve been loving this festival, bu I’ll say one thing: I can’t stand all this walking across the beach. Loose sand is really difficult to walk on, and with about a half mile in between the two main stages, I’m about wiped out. But I soldier on. I do it because I don’t want to collapse on the beach. And also because I like to party.
Manchester Orchestra rocked the main stage about two hours ago. I’m always consistently impressed by their shows. I saw them at a small venue with Anathallo back in 2005 when they were a local, Marietta, Georgia band. So every time I’ve seen them since then, they’ve grown bigger and bigger. It’s really impressive to see them on the main stage of a major festival. And they’ve really grown into their status as legitimate rock stars. I’ve always preferred to see certain types of bands in smaller settings, and it would occasionally bother my when “my” smaller bands would graduate onto larger venues. But it never bothered me with Manchester Orchestra. They really deserve to become the huge stars that they’re on their way to becoming.
And Manchester’s live show has evolved into a much more serious, professional affair in the years since I’ve seen them. It’s one thing to play for an intimate crowd and have everyone quiet down and listen. It’s much harder to get a band to command a huge audience’s every single thought. And Manchester Orchestra knows how to do it. They swing between hard rockers like “Shake It Out” and more intimate numbers with absolute ease, frontman Andy Hull alternatingly crooning and screaming his voice out. Five years after their debut record, Manchester Orchestra is showing no signs of slowing down. I can’t wait to see where they end up next.
But in non-Manchester Orchestra related issues, the New Pornographers also gave a killer set at the Wind Creek set. I won’t lie; the New Pornographers were a little before my time, but I never really bothered to look into their back catalog in the same way I did with bands like Pavement and Sebadoh (as is the same with tonight’s headliners Jane’s Addiction). But I legitimately regret not seriously looking into at least their most famous records before the show. They were such an enthralling that I help but stand in awe, despite having very little familiarity with the band as a whole.
Now excuse me, I have some New Pornographers records to listen to before the next band comes on.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 5:30 p.m.
So, it’s another day at DeLuna Fest. Rather than showing up early for the festival, the Cluster team decided to spend some time exploring the city of Pensacola before making our way to the beach. I have to say, I’ve really impressed with the city. It’s full of super friendly people doing awesome things. We stumbled upon a farmer’s market, Occupy Pensacola protesters, and a ton of other interesting people. One of whom rode a tall bike. We also at at McGuire’s Pub, one of Pensacola’s most famous restaurants. Let me tell you, I am all about their fish and chips.
But I know you’re not reading this just to hear about a relaxing beach town. You want to know about the bands. I understand that, so I’ll skip to the awesome stuff. Right now, Outkast’s Big Boi is tearing the stage apart on the last song of his set. He’s cycled through both new material and older Outkast hits, and he brings a level of serious artistry to all of it. Hip-hop is definitely under-represented at the fest, so I’m glad to see that such a strong performer was given time on the main stage, even if he went on a bit early for my tastes. I bet it would have been even crazier had he gone on closer to nine.
Anyway, the New Pornographers are playing at another stage now. I have to hustle over there. After that, Manchester Orchestra, The War On Drugs, The Shins, and tons of others will be playing. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I have to fit in an interview with up and coming electronic indie rockers The Constellations. I’m up for the challenge.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.
Wow. There’s really nothing I can say about last night’s headlining bands. Cake, Weezer, and Girl Talk all played back to back, and it was just an insane combination of bands. By the end of the day, I was almost bereft of energy, having spent hours walking back and forth across the beach, hustling from stage to stage and somehow finding time to write in between. But I soldiered on and continued to check out some awesome bands. I do it all for you, readers.
I’m not the biggest Cake fan in the world, so I was honestly unsure of what to expect from their set. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t blown away either. They cycled through some of their bigger hits, launched into a few extended jam sessions, and then just sort of ended right as I felt it was really getting started. Cake is comprised of some seriously talented musicians, but the band just seemed like they didn’t think about the fact that their set was only an hour long. I’d love to see them in a headlining when they’d have more time to explore their back catalog and still trot out the hits, but I could take or leave their set last night.
So, a little underwhelmed with Cake’s set, I few a few minutes early to ensure I’d find a spot in Weeer’s photo pit. Two years ago, I wrote a review of Weezer’s Raditude and formally broke up with the band. I was so unimpressed with their new material that I’d decided to write them off altogether. But when I saw they’d be headlining DeLuna Fest, I figured it couldn’t hurt if I went and saw them live. You know, for old time’s sake. I feel guilty for ever leaving them. Weezer’s two hour set was nothing short of incredible.
Sure, their last couple albums have been pretty lackluster. No one’s going to deny that. But seeing all the passion and energy they put “El Scorcho” and “Surf Wax America” live, none of that matters. My disappointment had all been washed away. Hell, they even brought that same manic energy to their new material. It was hard to believe I’d ever held anything against them. Rivers Cuomo is an absolutely enthralling frontman. At one point during the beginning of the band’s set, Rivers jumped off the stage, hopped a few security fences, and brought the show right into the crowd, standing atop a sand dune as the crowd sang in awe below him. While there was a host of photographers following him for this, I ended up falling headfirst down the dune and missed the shot. It was…disappointing. But hill-related mishaps aside, I’ve fallen in love with Weezer all over again. It almost makes me want to give Make Believe a second chance. Almost.
Then, as Weezer’s set ended, I dragged my tired legs across the beach for the massive dance party that is Girl Talk. Sure, I was worn out, dehydrated, and extremely tired, but it wasn’t like I didn’t have the energy to dance myself to death. I’ll tell you one thing, for a dude that spends the show manipulating tracks on a laptop, Greg Gillis understands how to put on a show. It’s unfair to call the remix/mashup artist a DJ, but most of his live set was spent doing just that. But DJs are boring to look at. What’s more exciting to look at? Clearly, the answer is 50 twentysomethings dancing on stage and an endless amount of confetti and toilet paper being launched into the crowd. It was an experience. An insane, sweaty experience. In a lot of ways, Girl Talk’s set wasn’t too different from last year’s album All Day, but Gillis threw enough surprises into the mix that everything stayed fresh without being unfamiliar. So, just how mind-blowing was Girl Talk’s set? After the crowd had dispersed, Jonathan, Liz, and I found each other and just sat there stunned for the longest time. There was nothing to say. My mind was gone, lost somewhere in the shuffle of a thousand bodies dancing to a remix of Iggy Pop and the Beastie Boys. It was certainly a good end to the night.
Friday, Oct. 14, 7:20 p.m.
Matt and Kim just took the stage, and I’m absolutely wiped out. If there’s one thing the keyboard and drums duo knows how to do, it’s command an audience. They rushed onto the stage, backed up by the Rocky theme, and immediately jumped into one of the strongest, most energetic sets I’ve ever seen.
Plenty of bands can run through a setlist full of greatest hits, but sometimes it’s hard to really connect with an audience on a level deeper than, “Hey, I’ve heard these songs before.” They’ll run through your favorite songs in such a boring, lifeless manner that you forget why you even bothered to see them live. Matt and Kim is not that band. They held a legitimate dialog with the audience, with each feeding off the other’s ever-increasing energy. Hits like “Good Old Fashioned Nightmare” and “Daylight” become more than just songs — they were communal experiences, shared by the band and audience alike. Plus, Kim did this thing where she stood on the audience’s hands and danced. If you’re not into legitimately meaningful experiences, there’s always that.
Cold War Kids is on the main stage now. The just played “Hang Me Up To Dry,” and while it was a great rendition, it lacked the authentic joy for performance that Matt and Kim brought to the table. I’m not too sad that I’m only hearing their set in bits and pieces. And if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to secure a good spot for Cake, who plays in about half an hour.
Friday, Oct. 14, 5:34 p.m.
After our initial post, The Cluster team was understandably pretty excited to roam around the fest and check everything out. And I’ll tell you, it’s a pretty sweet setup. The two main stages are right on the beach, with a couple smaller stages in a larger area out in front of the hotels. It’s a good setup, leaving a lot of room for festgoers to explore without feeling crowded, but it’s small enough that you can’t get particularly lost. And that fact that we’re right on the beach certainly isn’t hurting the mood.
So, what bands have we been seeing so far? My favorite at this point was the raucous, electronically tinged AWOLNATION. I’m not gonna lie, I spent most of their set subconsciously trying to place them in one specific genre or another. “Hmm, maybe ‘aggressively electronic indie rock?’ No, no. That won’t work. What about ‘synth rock?’ That’s terrible.” It went on like that for a while until I just decided they didn’t need a genre. And there’s a reason for that. Their sound is incredibly varied, ranging from the chill indie-pop of “Not Your Fault” to “Burn It Down”‘s hyped up, drugged out version of roots rock. It was like someone gave Elvis the really good stuff early in his career and stuck him a modern recording booth. And AWOLNATION has the energetic stage presence to pull it off. Watch out for them in the future. They won’t be a mid-day act for too much longer.
A horn-heavy funk rock act named Trombone Shorty is on the main stage now. Matt and Kim goes on soon, followed by Cake, Weezer, and Girl Talk. It’s a long stretch of great bands. I probably won’t update until significantly later, but there’ll be good stuff to report on then.
Friday, Oct. 14, 3:35 p.m.
So, The Cluster has just arrived at DeLuna Fest in Pensacola Beach, Florida. For the next three days, we’ll be hanging out on the beach and watching a ton of bands, from The Shins to Girl Talk, to Outkast’s Big Boi. I know, I know. You’re very jealous. But that’s why we have this blog, so you can read about it in real time. It’s almost like you’re here.
Right now, I’m with editor-in-chief Liz Bibb and columnist Jonathan Popham in the media room. Ra Ra Riot is playing in the background. Their stage is right on the beach, and it’s an amazing scene. We’re all very excited to get out there are start experiencing this big, beautiful festival. Over the next few days, we’ll have photos, interviews, and more ready to go live online. We hope you enjoy it all as much as we do.