Hullabalou: Day 3 (Concert Review)

July 26, 2010

Louisville’s 1st annual “HullabaLou” music festival kicked off this weekend. There was a wide variety of artists present all 3 days (I really would have like to have caught the Rev. Al Green on Saturday) but I only caught the third day’s line-up. There were about 5 stages set up around the different corners of the track, and for anyone with the fortitude and energy with a little proper planning could definitely see a great set at any moment between 2:00 and close to midnight. The heat was pretty brutal for the majority of the afternoon, making some sets a bit hard to finish–Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes, said before launching into “Seeing Things for the First Time,” that “I might melt into a puddle and evaporate into the atmosphere…that’d be seeing something for the first time.”

I caught the last part of Taj Mahal’s set–I really would have like to have seen it all; what I did see of it was great, Taj jamming a country then a blues solo on the banjo then trading back to guitar to do “1 and 99” and “The Blues is Alright.”  Next up for me was the aforementioned set by The Black Crowes: I caught the first half of their set including “Twice as Hard,” “Jealous Again,” and “Soul Singin.” The Crowes deliver some of the most traditional and no-frills rock and roll of nearly any currently working band and the Sunday set from them backed that up (full Black Crowes setlist here).

My biggest dissapointment was in not getting to the main stage in time to catch the entire Avett Brothers set–as I was making my way there I heard the echoes of “Kick Drum Heart” and “I And Love And You,” two of my favorite songs of theirs.  I did catch a tremdous performance of “Head Full of Doubt,” “Go to Sleep” and “Laundry Room.” The Avett Bros killed it–the main stage should have been full to see it, because they rescued the day, making the heat worth it. I was about to write off Summer Outdoor Festivals and then in the middle of the HFOD performance I felt that unmistakable click when the spirit or whatever you want to call it settles on–music lovers who happen to be religious know this feeling well and when it hits, it hits. Now I have to see the Avett’s in a small venue up close, because they’re phenomenal.

To escape the peak hour or so of heat, I escaped into the food court and bar area with AC; I caught Loretta Lynn’s set via the big screens inside, and Loretta dressed queenly and braved the heat, singing with as much energy and strength as she always has. Her performance of the classics – “Fist City,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Don’t Come Home Drinkin’ with Lovin’ On Your Mind” were pretty great, although I could have done without the monologue from the ex-Restless Heart dude during “God Bless America Again.”

As Zac Brown was setting up on the main stage I booked it over for a little real Country music–Dwight Yoakam. No offense to Zac, he has his fans and I had a little redemption on my opinon of him which I’ll discuss down below a bit, but while I’m not a fan of any of his singles thus far, Dwight has crafted some of the best Country singles of the past 25 years- true to form, back to basics, but authentic and rock fueled with enough energy to convert punk fans to country fans. We got up close to Dwight, his band took the stage dressed like the dudes who could have backed Elvis in the early days mixed with the cow-punk bands of the eighties– Rhinestones, glitter, tight jeans, over-sized cowboy hats, long hair.  They played flat-out on and rollicking. I caught 40 minutes of it, including “Turn it On, Turn it Up, Turn Me Loose,” “Blame the Vain,” “Streets of Bakersfield” and about 10 other quick, great songs. Dwight and his band play Country with the energy of early rock n roll; about the time we had to leave to make it to our seats at the main stage for the Dave Matthews Band, the sound went out for Dwight. Luckily for those that stayed to catch the last 35 minutes of his set (which overlapped with DMB), the sound kicked back in when we were a few dozen feet away.

DMB were set to hit the stage at 8:30. We had seats with a decent view, and of course since it’s a high-profile headliner there were also Jumbo tron screens with all of the stage bells and whistles to amplify the show and to showcase every feature of the performances. The sun had set and the temperature felt great for the first time all day. They made it to the stage around 8:40 and played for about 2 hours (the full setlist is here ). Shortly after taking the stage, Dave said, “I thought this place would smell more like horseshit. I don’t smell any horseshit, maybe I’ll sniff around later,” HullabaLou being at Churchill Downs and all.

I’ve never seen Dave and the band before, so I’m not a fair critique for the hardcore set, those that follow them around, swap boot-legs and dedicate themselves to the band like Phish or Deadhead fans of years past, but I ranked “Groo Grux” as the best album of the year last year (here), enjoyed “Busted Stuff” almost as much as that one a few years past, and have always found the band’s work to be really solid. So while those that have seen them dozens of times might be chattering on the internet complaining of a “mainstream” set and wishing there had been more random, alternate or rare versions and songs and also wishing that every 5 to 7 minute instrumental jam break had been extended to 15 to 20 minutes, as someone seeing them for the first time I was thoroughly pleased. I loved hearing “Funny the Way It Is,” “Shake Me Like a Monkey,” “Why I Am,” “Spaceman,” “You and Me,” and “Seven” from Grux live; “You Might Die Trying” rocked hard; “Gravedigger” and “Lie in Our Graves” were perfect. Of course there were the usual “Don’t Drink the Water” and “#41,” both of which were fun though. The jams the band broke into were always a thrill, and if they were going through the motions and coasting this performance it didn’t show–the band seemed full of energy and happy to be playing. Dave mentioned the prevalance of great music at Hullabalou and that he had been touring with one of the acts–bringing out Zac Brown to join in for two songs. As mentioned above, I had assumed for awhile now that Zac simply wasn’t my thing– I’ve hated his singles, I was mad when he won the Grammy for best new artist over (in my opinion) more deserving new acts; that said, I assumed he was a consumate live performer with talent, and half of my group had stayed to watch his performance while I was at Dwight, saying that his set was great. Well, Zac joined in with Dave on a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” which worked well. They went to the max with what they did next, though– “All Along the Watchtower.” Dave’s done this one live many times before, and with a band as multi-layered and uber-talented as his backing a song with arguably some of the best rock lyrics Dylan ever put to paper, it’s hard to not do the song well. But trading verses on it, Zac and Dave ripped through this in an incredible manner. The band built up to crescendo then pealed back and did it again–when either singer roared that “the wind began to howl,” you looked near the full moon to see if it was so. I’ve often heard rappers say they want to deliver “some biblical level sh*t” in a performance or song–that is what this felt like, no lie; then Zac Brown launched into a verse from the end of “Stairway to Heaven”–I’ve read elsewhere on the net that this was a mistake and that he got his lyrics confused, but it didn’t seem so at the time. Dave launched into the “waahhs ahhhs” [or however you phonetically write that] that top that “Stairway” verse, so either Dave’s a consummate cover-up helper or this was an inspired improvisation; it really doesn’t matter, because it worked. Dave and Zac took the entire crowd to the Church of Rock and Roll and it was sacramental.

*All photos, including this extra fuzzy shot of Dave, were taken by my wife on our far less than professional digital camera.

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5 Responses to “Hullabalou: Day 3 (Concert Review)”

  1. La Duchessa Lisa said

    Great blog report. Thanks for sharing. Glad you appreciate Dwight & the guys – they sooo deserve it. Besides having paid their dues with years of hard work, they are genuine; my favorite men in the world!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by uncreative, Dwight Yoakam. Dwight Yoakam said: Check out this blog review about Day 3 of HullabaLOU! http://bit.ly/ahlmAa […]

  3. kayteekay said

    Great review. Dwight Yoakam is a legend and my favorite singer/songwriter. I have been a fan since the very beginning of his career and what a ride… It is difficult to say whether it is his ability to write or his musical talent that I most appreciate – both are surreal. He’s remained honorable (no public divorces, dui’s, drug charges, etc.) that a lot in the industry have shown us; certainly one of great character as well.

  4. Vivian Van Camp said

    Thank you for the great article on my man, DWIGHT YOAKAM…I have been a fan since his career began.He`s my inspiration….I feel that Nashville has never given him the recognition he so richly deserves….He will alway`s be my no.1 singer of all time!!!!! VIVIAN VAN CAMP

    • wendy greene said

      With his beautiful melodic voice & his unbelieveable sense of rhythm along with those sultry, sexy moves I find Dwight Yoakam a remarkable artist. I feel he is not being recognized as the remarkable artist he is. Even though he’s singing country, I’m sure his appeal goes well beyond Country fans. I love Dwight

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