Like field agents, my friend Paige and I rendezvoused at a predetermined location for day two of Kanrocksas. After parking, again and accidentally, in the camping area, we made the familiar trek across the grassy plain to the main entrance of the speedway. The sun was high, and by the time we passed the main gates, we were already sweating from head to toe.
Unfortunately, after making it down the stands and onto the field, I somehow managed to lose my wristband. Instead of trying to thwart security all day and night, Paige and I decided on honesty and we turned myself in hoping to be reissued another wristband. Long story short, I was denied a wristband but a nice security woman escorted us back to the field, and warned us not try to come back up; after all, who knows if I would have ever made it back down.
With the crisis averted, we trekked across the speedway and to the Ad Aspera stage to see Ok Go. Paige was stoked and I only knew of them from that treadmill music video they did a while back.
We were fairly early so we took refuge in the shade that was being cast by the giant stage. Luck was in our favor and managed to get front row once the band began to play. The music was energetic enough for me to bob my head with the beat and I admired Ok Go for a) coming down into the crowd twice to perform and b) pulling a fan on stage who knew how to play the guitar, teach him a few chords, and let him play along side them. Loved that! In the end, I enjoyed their set and their bright Crayola box inspired suits.
After Ok Go we ran into a bunch of Paige’s friends and as a group we headed past the sea of porter potties, toward the promise of water. Along the way, however, I stopped by a Coca-Cola stand, put on the sweetest smile I could muster and asked for a piece of ice for my water bottle. I ended up being able to duck my whole water bottle into the cooler! Anyhow, we made it to the “water stand” for lack of a better term and filled up.
Next up was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. That performance was, without a doubt, a close second to Eminem from the previous night. From the energy she exuded from the stage to her sultry, raspy rock n’ roll vocals, Grace Potter definitely made a new fan out of me. And it was only earlier in the day that I had first heard her song on the radio. You know the one; “Paris.”
Cage the Elephant followed Grace Potter back at Ad Aspera, and sorry Paige, but I wasn’t impressed. Half the time I thought the lead singer was going to literally fall off the stage and die or slip into a drug-induced coma. The way he haphazardly walked aimlessly back and forth across the stage…I was worried. He crowd surfed, he looked like he was going to swallow the microphone, and his red shaggy hair covered most of his face. Perhaps this is what the indie rockers do, but I wasn’t having it. Cage the Elephant wasn’t bad though in the sense that I never wanted to plug my ears….then we were hungry.
After filling up on some more water at the watering hole (new name), we looked hungrily at the row of food trucks. One in particular caught my eye, Mad Jacks, and after careful consideration, Paige and I chose this truck as our food destination. Side note :: my grandpa used to take me to Mad Jacks all the time when I was little so that small sense of nostalgia did lead me to that truck :: For a whopping $8 each, we scored a bowl of catfish and bread and we found relief in the shade.
As we were finishing up our catfish, Flogging Molly began to play at the nearby Stageasaurus Rex. And while I do enjoy Flogging Molly, I really did get my fill of them in high school. Bidding Paige adieu now amongst the crowd for Flogging Molly, I became adventurous and set out on my own in search for Tinie Tempah.
When I arrived at the Critical Mass Tent, DJ Krafty Kuts was still in full swing. Unable to handle the loud, thumping electronic music, I walked away a little and found the VIP Coors tent that Paige and I happened to have a passes for. After grabbing my first free beer and taking in my surroundings, I headed back out to the tent and found Tinie Tempah and his crew conducting sound checks.
It took a while for him to get set up, more than a while actually, but it was worth the wait. The lights dimmed, bodies quickly pushed forward to drink him in, and finally he graced the stage, lit in blue, purple, and gold lights and performed, “Till I’m Gone.” He followed it with “Miami 2 Ibiza,” a sampling from a Tao Cruz song I can’t remember, and other rap, hip hop, and dance beats. I took pictures, none really coming out the way I had hoped, and at one point one of the press photographers saw me and my camera and let me cross the line for a moment to snap a few shots.
My 50mm didn’t really hold up in concert atmosphere, and so I took out my iPhone instead to get the wide shots I was aiming for. I noticed two cameramen on stage recording with DSLRs, so I snapped a picture of them to take notes on equipment later for work purposes…always working.
Tinie Tempah and his handsome, British self finished up with his hit song, “Written in the Stars,” and the crowd sang a cappella the entire chorus at one point and that pretty much made my night.
Paige had met up with me for the beginning of Tinie Tempah but had again gone off to see one of her bands. I went back to the Coors tent for another beer and ran into some coworkers. Hanging out with them, we headed over to Stageasaurus Rex to hear The Black Keys. By this time, night had fallen, and glow sticks flew through the sky like low hanging explosions of neon light. After a while I reconnected with Paige and co., and we headed toward the main stage for the headlining Muse performance.
The moon was high and we climbed the stands to beat the crowds for later. Muse began to play, Paige was beyond ecstatic, and I felt my eyelids slowly drifting shut. The laser show was fun, but even though I kept drinking water, I knew I was going down a sleepy, slippery slope. I recognized a song or two, but I finally let my eyes fall shut and I drifted in and out of sleep while Muse played on. The set ended, the stage went dark, and fans poured up the stands. Convinced of an encore, Paige and I stayed put.
With the stars sprinkled above us in the dark, night sky, we finally made our way back to my car, across the field, as Muse continued to play on with an extended encore. We parted, exhausted, at our secret rendezvous point and headed our separate ways.
Kanrocksas was my first music festival and I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of it.