Eric Heisig: Pearl Jam, Gaslight Anthem were Friday highlights
11:26 AM, Sep. 22, 2012
Music fan and PNJ reporter Eric Heisig will be blogging about DeLuna Fest 2012 throughout the weekend.
Starting just a few minutes late, Pearl Jam more than made up for it in a two-hour, 20-minute set.
The band started a bit slow, and was definitely influenced by the festival being inches away from the Gulf of Mexico (opening song was "Oceans," and they later did "Amongst the Waves.") But despite some great opening songs (a quick cover of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Cordurory), the Seattle quintet took a couple songs to find its groove.
Once it did, the band didn’t stop. They played the old (“Even Flow,” “Why Go”), the new (“The Fixer,” “World Wide Suicide”), and the cover (The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Dead Moon’s “It’s OK”).
The best thing about Pearl Jam is that they are able to make any crowd, as small as a club or as big as a beach full of people, seem like they are of one. Vedder excels in this, especially trying to make every song seem like it’s unique to this one show.
The band’s last song “Yellow Ledbetter,” is a mishmash of words that even I don’t know (you can sing along with the band by just humming the melody if you really wanted). But each time, the song makes a crowd grab each other by the arm and sway. This time, lead guitarist Mike McCready (a Pensacola native) tacking on “The Star Spangled Banner” for good measure.
One thing, though: The band was scheduled from 9:30 p.m. until 11:45 p.m. There is no reason to do encore breaks. We know they are coming back, so don’t bother.
But a minor quibble in a strong closing set. Foo Fighters have their work cut out for them.
Well, it looks like I didn't miss much by getting to Guided by Voices 15 minutes. The band was never able to get its set to catch on fire.
Robert Pollard and the gang (which reunited a couple of years ago and recorded three albums to be released this year alone) have long been one of my favorite bands. I collect all of their albums, as well as the various side projects Pollard indulges in.
I loved every song they played. But there was something missing.
For one, it seems like the band was too small for the stage. The quintet didn't use most of the stage, even though it was massive. It dwarfed them.
Two, the crowd just wasn't into it. There were no singalongs, no matter how hard Pollard and the others tried (bassist Greg Demos looked like he was pleading the crowd to sing along to a song nobody knew). The audience was clearly made up of Pearl Jam fans who were waiting for their heroes to take the stage.
The band picked up steam toward the end, no doubt in part because of Pollard getting progressively intoxicated on his bottle of tequila.
"We aren't young, but we still rock," Pollard joked midway through the set.
They played the classics, such as "I Am a Scientist," "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" and set closer "Game of Pricks."
But it was too little, too late, and I guess my expectations were too high. Next time, I'll see them in a crowd of their faithful followers (and trust me, they are fanatical).
Ben Folds Five, a 90s alternative band that broke up before the decade ended, started 15 minutes late, and mostly stuck to the songs off their first three albums. Yes, they did "Brick." Yes, they did "Philosophy."
No complaints from this guy though, as the new songs they played (“Do It Anyway,” “Erase Me”) don’t live up to the standards of anything on the first three, or even his solo work (”Landed" was given the Five's treatment, though the band was noticeably bored playing a song live they had no part in creating).
Folds was never as musically interesting as a solo artist, and bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jesse made up for lost time with a jazzy playfulness. and heavy bottom. I have seen Folds play with his solo band twice, and "Army" never sounded as good as it did tonight.
One complaint thought: I wanted, so badly, to hear “Song for the Dumped.” Instead, we got “Brick,” which is a very uncomfortable song to sing along to if you know what the song is about.
Overall, an enjoyable set.
6:30 p.m. Friday
Best set of the day so far.
Eddie Vedder came out with The Gaslight Anthem to play Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust."
"Hopefully that'll tide you over for a little while," lead singer Brian Fallon said after Vedder walked off the stage.
The Gaslight Anthem treated DeLuna like they were the headliners. Thousands sang and clapped along as the sun gradually set. Each song sounded like a classic, be it a cover ("House of the Rising Sun," which I also complained about because I thought lead singer Fallon's voice wasn't up to it) to their own ("Great Expectations").
Ben Folds Five is next. It will be a tough act to follow.
5:45 p.m. Friday
The Gaslight Anthem may be as close to a religious experience as I will get at DeLuna. It's only the second set I've seen, but I'm floored.
OK, this may be because I recovered from a mild bout of heat exhaustion right before their set started (three glasses of orange juice will help!). Or it may be because I have wanted to see this band for several years, but always miss the chance.
But the New Jersey quartet (with an extra guitarist on stage) pulled me in immediately with the one-two punch of "American Slang" and "The '59 Sound." Their Springsteen-meets-punk sound sounds great as the wind blows and the crowds get bigger.
They are playing new song "45" now. Stay tuned for more later.
4:30 p.m. Friday
Fishbone knows exactly when to end a song. When the jams get too long, the band will cut it off.
They impress the crowd with some of their best-known songs, including "Everyday Sunshine" and their cover of Sublime's "Date Rape."
The sun is out in full force, meaning fest-goers aren't moving as much as Fishbone may like. And their dedication of their song "Lyin' "A** B****" to Mitt Romney didn't win over as many cheers as they may have hoped.
But Fishbone trudges on, at least keeping the party going onstage.
3:50 p.m. Friday
"Looks like we're the first band of the day, so we're going to start it out real nice for you," said Angelo Moore, lead singer and saxophonist for Fishbone.
Well, they were a bit off, as a few bands have already played, but they do sound good. Several thousand are making their way to the DeLuna Stage to see them, and the band's trademark mix of ska, hip hop, reggae and funk is drawing in even more.
Moore, shirtless and wearing swim trunks, is the ringleader, constantly trying to get the crowd ruled up.
This is my first set of the day, and its sounding good so far.