Sunday, May 6, 2012

Beale Street Music Festival, Day 1

In Memphis again for Beale Street Music Festival for the fourth time. This year, the only person I could get to go with me was Jon. We left on Friday and Jon drove. He'd driven almost all day, from Oklahoma City. I was tired, too, having only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before. So we decided to get a taxi down to the show. We called and the taxi got to our hotel really fast. Our cabbie was really nice and dropped us off at the BP station near Riverside. I'd never gone into the park from the south side, so it was kind of strange going in that way.
We went in and caught Needtobreathe. They were more rock'n'roll than I'd thought from listening to their songs. I thought they were more indie. Jon wanted to see Three Six Mafia, so we walked over to that stage. I'd seen them before at the frat house in Fayetteville and it wasn't a very good show. They don't really sing, just put on their CD and dance around a little saying, "Yeah," and "Hey" a lot. We stayed for less than one song before Jon said, "This sucks, let's go."
We went and got giant gyros and went back to see the rest of Needtobreathe. Then we stayed at the same stage for Florence and the Machine. There were TONS of people there. I wanted to get up in the crowd, so we followed some people making their way forward. Jon and I are both short, so we couldn't see very well. Every time we saw people going forward in the crowd, we tagged along behind them. Finally we got on the rubber mat in front of the stage. We were still pretty far back, though. We tagged along with two guys and a girl and got pretty close. One guy took his shirt off and was dancing in front of me, sweaty and really into the show. I was surprised at how many guys were there really getting into the show, singing along and dancing. The shirtless guy hit me in the head with his elbow once, but he was really nice and apologized and kissed my head. Unfortunately he was really tall and we couldn't see much, although when he got going dancing and lifted his arms I had a perfect view of Francine right under his armpit.
Jon got really tired of the guy and wanted to go, but I convinced him to stay. I could tell he was sort of mad and wanted to get out of there. But I didn't really mind the guy, he wasn't gross or anything. And I enjoyed listening to the band a lot. Francine was really energetic and ran back and forth across the stage, jumping up and down and wailing away. She was wearing this black dress with sleeves like huge black wings and she looked kind of goth and really cool, with her haunting voice and flaming red hair.
Finallly the show ended and we plowed forward when people started leaving. We ended up in the second row next to a group of college guys who were tripping and high, completely sweaty and kind of annoying. By then we were packed in so tight it was hard to move around and pretty much impossible to dance. We were drenched in sweat because it was warm and muggy, no breeze at all so close to the stage. Luckily we had water with us. Some of the people around us were begging water from security whenever they walked past.
I'd seen My Morning Jacket once or twice, but last time I saw them, they were at a smaller stage at a festival and the crowd was really small. This time, there were TONS of people, a lot of them hardcore fans who had come and stayed through the past 2 shows just to get up close and see My Morning Jacket. We stayed at the front and listened to a couple songs. It was unbearably hot with all those people, and the music was so loud that I could feel it in my sternum, in my bones, blasting my ear drums even with ear plugs in. It felt like it was trying to redo my heartbeat to match the drums. Jon just lost it and freaked out. He was like, "Hey, I'm not okay, I'm gonna go." He turned around and bolted from the crowd, as fast as you can bolt through a tons of people packed in like cigarettes in a new pack.
I followed him because I was pretty hot anyway, and we didn't have a predetermined meeting spot. Our phones weren't really working again this year, since there were so many people there. Jon went out and collapsed in the grass. I sat down next to him and touched his arm, which was literally drenched in sweat. It felt like he'd just gotten out of the shower. The heat and the crowd were too much for him, so after we calmed down a little, we went to the back of the crowd. We'd run out of water, so we went and got another 2 bottles and lay down on the ground a long way from the stage. Even WAY back from the stage it was still vibrating my bones.
We stayed there the rest of the show and then got up and walked back to the BP station. We called our cabbie but he said he'd just gotten home. He told us to wait at the station and we'd easily get another taxi. But the only 'taxi' that showed up was a guy in an SUV with a handmade sign in the window that said, "shuttle." He said he'd charge us $75 to take us back to the hotel. Considering we'd gotten a ride to the show for $38 in a legitimate taxi, we said we'd pass. Then the guy said, "Come on, it's negotiable," opening his door and beckoning us to get in. We got out of there pretty fast. We called the taxi company and they told us to walk all the way back to Union Avenue. It was a bit of a hike, but we tried to stay with the other people walking around since it was dark and kind of creepy in the area. Finally we made it back to Riverside and Union and got a taxi right away. Despite the fact that the car had a loud knocking when we went around corners, and seemed like a wheel might fly off when we got on the interstate, we made it back to the hotel for another $38.
A shower never felt so good.

Day 1: $100 including tickets.

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