Sep 8, 2007

Music Soaking in $5 Iced SoCo

Leslie Hall - The Fight for Des Moines and My Body (2007)

The Soco Music "Experience" felt like taping a commercial about a music experience. It was immediately obvious that a disproportiate percentage of funds were invested on creating the superficial festival infrastructure and atmosphere instead of creating a solid lineup. For most of the early afternoon, small groups of Madisonians were strewn about the huge field on blow-up SOCO-branded furniture, waiting around and looking bored. The crowd huddling around the shade at the back of the event was larger than the crowd huddling at the front of the stage. The characteristic Madison kool-aide died hair and ripped army pants looked like costumes against the backgroup of sleek corporate advertising. A laughably excessive "DJ" tent shaped like a lime sprayed machine-fabricated smoke and pounding bass at people checking their emails and writing blog posts like this.The Sick Puppies played bland music with such an extreme, unreciprocated enthusiasm that I was waiting for someone to yell "cut" on their rockstar performance to announce that the ideal shot had been achieved. The expensive sweeping cameras focused on the thin crowd in sophisticated ways that made the experience look grand on the Jumbo-Vision, clearly demonstrating the intent of the evening.

The music finally got started as a large crowd assembled for the two-act crux of the festival. The Cold War Kids were solid, but lost some charisma by attempting to force their characteristically fragile instrumentation out of its dutsy bar atmosphere and through the enormous outdoor speakers. The reason SoCo didn't crash and burn was the exceptional strength of the Flaming Lips' energetic and thoughtfully visual headline performance. Its intensity was captured in Wayne's taps performance and the successive gong crashes coinciding with projected images of crash test dummies smashed into walls. But even this performance was compromised with SoCo branding as Wayne awkwardly worked a mention of the brand into his between-songs banter and large blow-up SoCo bottles and footballs were added to the Lips' usual ballon bouncing extravaganza. Overall, a shallow shell of a "music experience"... but an exciting Lips performance and fun to see Wyndham, Ryan, and Lauren rocking the Flaming stage.

The "Snake on the Lake Fest" impressed with a much more relaxed atmosphere (and a better drink selection). Leslie Hall stole the show as usual in her golden pants, but the Pale Young Gentlemen also offered an extremely strong set that had the young crowd wondering how they hadn't heard them before. Props to Y Mae Sussaman and the organizing committee for the event.

Schooner - There's Enough To Do (mp3)


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