Langerado | 03.06 - 03.09 | Florida

Words by: Kayceman | Images by: Dave Vann

Langerado :: 03.06 - 03.09 :: Big Cypress :: Florida

Editor's Note: In our effort to bring you the most compelling, multi-faceted coverage possible, a large part of JamBase and this writer's experience at Langerado was conducting video interviews. This was a time consuming endeavor and therefore forced us to miss several acts we would have liked to cover. You can view over 30 exlusive interviews from Langerado right now on JamBaseTV.

Beastie Boys :: Langerado :: 2008
Now in its sixth year, the Langerado Music Festival is competing with the big boys of Bonnaroo, 10KLF, Wakarusa, All Good and the other massive music and camping events. By making the jump from Ft. Lauderdale's intimate Markham Park to the ginormous Big Cypress Indian Reservation (30 miles west of Ft. Lauderdale) they gained a lot but also lost a little.

Clearly what was gained was the ability to welcome far more music fans, more bands on more stages (five of them) and the traditional festival atmosphere where one can camp, roam the lot and find everything they need on-site. Florida has never been a hot bed of musical inspiration but Langerado has made great strides in bringing Floridians top-notch bands from around the globe. But with any type of rapid expansion there are growing pains. What was lost was the small boutique feel of a destination festival. The past few years operated more like a mini-Coachella or smaller Vegoose where patrons would fly right into Ft. Lauderdale and have the luxury of hotels, showers, air conditioning, walks on the beach and night shows in clubs. In essence, this year's Langerado was more like all the other major festivals. Depending on what your ideal fest atmosphere is, this was either a great advancement, or perhaps a slight disappointment.

Logistics and personal tastes aside, Langerado absolutely put on a fabulous, well-run event with a plethora of incredible performances.

THURSDAY :: 03.06

Les Claypool :: Langerado :: 2008
After Mother Nature's buckets of rain made for a difficult landing in Langerado, the first band to leave a mark was Dead Confederate. Heavy like a ton of bricks slamming into your chest, this was one of the more impressive sets of the weekend. The five men from Georgia dabble in similar, epic songs structure like My Morning Jacket, and almost have the head-banging, hair-slamming stage presence to match. More than just sludging riffs and crashing drums, the shifts in tempo and lingering guitar lines create tension for climactic crescendos. For this young band, the future is bright.

The first powerhouse to take the stage was Les Claypool. Dressed in matching red shirts (except for Les who had his tuxedo on acid vibe going), Claypool was flanked by percussionist/vibraphone mad man Mike Dillon, saxophonics freak Skerik and drummer Paulo Baldi. As the drying masses assembled for the masked bassist, the air tingled with electricity and anticipation of the weekend ahead. With Claypool laying a fierce, primal foundation, Dillon was able to create space to work his vibes with four mallets. Never one to stay back in the fold, Skerik utilized his sax pedals with great dexterity, creating walls of sound that adequately compensated for the lack of lead guitar. Following a drum solo by Baldi and Dillon that would have made the Dead proud, Claypool endorsed the idea of riding the "happy, wonderful ferris wheel" before looping a bassline, swapping for a new bass and shredding through a dirty section of psychedelic offerings. Throughout the set, Claypool wore just about every mask we've ever seen from him. We saw the "Clockwork Orange" big nose mask, the goggles, the monkey mask, Elvis and perhaps one or two more. Closing the set with fan favorite "Dee's Diner" featuring Mike Dillon on the call-response vocals: Who wants to go to Dee's Diner? things were well underway for Langerado.

After the Claypool ass-whippin' it was time for a little electro groove with The New Deal. Once a major player in the jam scene, the past few years have found the instrumental trio exploring new avenues with different projects. Yet on this first night of Langerado it appeared none of their magic had been lost. Pumping the crowd with rapid, rock-steady dance beats and electrifying keyboard work, The New Deal proved to be the right way to dive into the later part of the evening.

Playing the final slot of the night against Dark Star Orchestra, Perpetual Groove wowed the crowd with big hooks, dissonant, distorted jams, inspiring lights and lots of Brock Butler's guitar. At some point following a strong version of "Save For One," the band dove into Peter Gabriel's "Digging In the Dirt" which proved to be a clear highlight of the night. PGroove is a definite rising star on the jam scene. While there are moments that recall early Phish jams (which is not necessarily a bad thing), the quartet has found a winning mixture that is sure to keep the kids dancing for years to come.

FRIDAY :: 03.07

Nic Offer of !!! :: Langerado :: 2008
Set up behind the Sunset Stage conducting interviews, it was the sounds of Ozomatli covering Pharcyde's "She Keeps On Passing Me By" that inspired Friday's backstage crowd with a fever to dance. Also diving into impressive cover territory, G. Love & Special Sauce's reading of The Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" was unique, fun and a great way to set up the G. Love staple "Cold Beverage."

For this scribe, the biggest surprise of the weekend was !!!. Having never seen a full set from the electro-punk dance rockers, they blew the crowd away with incredible stage presence, dynamic, clean instrumentation and the ability to work the audience. Featuring at least seven people onstage and two drum kits, it became impossible to not shake one's junk to their psychedelic dance vibe. At one point, the female backup singer took lead vocals and dove into the photo pit, sending the crowd into a tizzy as she finished the song two feet from the first row. Clearly inspired by her antics, frontman Nic Offer followed her lead, diving off the stage, grabbing JamBase photographer Dave Vann's water bottle and pouring it over his head as he humped the first row. In regards to "putting on a show," there was no band at Langerado that did it better than !!!.

Speeding through the muddy field towards Built To Spill, it was the sounds of set opener "Going Against Your Mind" that pulled people closer to the stage. With three massive guitars roaming the airwaves, BTS create chunky, lumbering rock that is difficult to compete with. With Doug Martsch leading the charge, it's the two guitarists by his side that patiently build the songs to huge peaks. During "Unconventional Wisdom" it became apparent that Built To Spill operate in the world of alchemy. Heating songs from the bottom up, they would turn copper into steel, soaking the crowd with blasts of molten sound. The icing on the cake was the epic show closer "Carry The Zero," which sent most into Friday's headliner.

Performing to a huge crowd, the Beastie Boys took every opportunity to mix in raps and commentary about "The Glades," "alligators" and big fields. While not the most impressive Beastie's show, the set featured moving versions of "Sure Shot," "Root Down," "So Whatcha' Want" and big time closer "Sabotage." Beyond the hits, what was truly impressive were the instrumental grooves often led by keyboardist Money Mark. Clearly pioneers, the Beasties are total pros with a keen sense of what to play when.

STS9 :: Langerado :: 2008
Closing down Friday night was the late night dance-a-thon with STS9. Perhaps the ultimate after hours festival band, the Tribe laid down a clean, sharp, very well played set. This new age, instrumental outfit has been honing their sound for years, and as bassist David Murphy said in our interview earlier in the day, "We feel this is just the beginning. We've just now truly found our sound." Having had the opportunity to watch this band grow, it's difficult to deny what Murph says. What's most impressive about STS9 is their ability to create an entire world. By blending technology with good ol' fashioned instruments, the band's sound has the ability to overwhelm listeners and remove them from the daily grind, which in this case could have been wet feet, tornado warnings and drizzling rain. When STS9 lock-in, nothing else matters. Your best bet is to surrender your mind and body and just let it all go. Kicking-off the set with "Tooth" and a dirty "Bigs," other gems included "Inspire Strikes Back" featuring keyboardist David Phipps and a well played "Oneaday." The highlight of the gig very well may have come in the second set. After what appeared to be a slight gear malfunction, they returned with a stunning version of "Abcees." Tweaked out with a dubby, dancehall vibe, there were few who could resist the urge to freak out like a 20 year old at their first show. If there was a gripe, it was a less-than-stellar "Moonsockets" and an early close to the night. Scheduled to play till 4:00 a.m., the band left the stage at 3:30. However, the weather was threatening and it wasn't long after the show was over that it began to rain sideways, trashing campsites and dampening spirits.

SATURDAY :: 03.08

Blitzen Trapper :: Langerado :: 2008
Rising to the sounds of Oregon's Blitzen Trapper the day began in a truly wonderful fashion. Although the weirdo rock band has been together for years, the arrival of their latest album, Wild Mountain Nation has propelled the band out of regional bars and into the hearts of music fans everywhere. "Wild Mountain Nation," the hit song off the album of the same name, blends the worlds of rock, jam and experimental freak-sounds in a way that should appeal to everyone from Deadheads to hardcore indie fans.

Still packing in the interviews, my schedule left little time to spend at stages during the day. Upset to miss acts like Antibalas, Dr. Dog and The Avett Brothers (who had to cancel their performance due to traffic and weather issues), Saturday did offer the sweet sounds of State Radio who proved meaner and more rocking than expected, Arrested Development covering Sly Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," and an impressive showing from RAQ who pulled more fans to the small Greening Stage than any other band of the weekend.

Saturday truly heated-up with the Benevento/Russo Duo. Drummer Joe Russo and keyboardist Marco Benevento build songs slowly, patiently and naturally with an impeccable sense of melody. If a new fan wasn't familiar with the Duo, it would be easy to assume there are three of four musicians onstage. What Benevento does with basslines and lead organ work creates a huge sound that often replicates a guitar. What set this Duo show apart was the addition of guitarist Tom Hamilton. Playing with Russo in his new band American Babies, Hamilton walked onto the Chickee Hut stage with his hollow body guitar and proceeded to shred like a young Anastasio. While it's the format of two musicians that has made the Duo famous, by adding a guitarist who truly understands their vision, they push new boundaries, finding new ideas and melodic avenues not available sans the six-string. It would be difficult to say that one likes the Duo more as a trio, but on this Saturday at Langerado, it was the addition of the guitar that blew hair from the damp faces of fans.

Michael Stipe of R.E.M.
Langerado :: 2008
Also adding guitar to the mix was MMW performing as Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood. Like the Duo, by adding Scofield to the mix, their sound grows exponentially. With deeper grooves, jazzy guitar leads and less experimental excursions, this quartet excels in a festival setting. As the set pushed on and the sun dropped away, the temperature plummeted, reaching a cold that most never knew existed in south Florida. Scurrying for warmth, many left MSMW to add layers and prepare for the evening's headliner.

Expectations were high for R.E.M. and set opener "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" seemed to imply that the set would be a rocker. While not a bad showing, the performance left much to be desired, as the energy levels waxed and waned, often needing bigger guitars and a faster pace to truly win over the jam fans. Mixing classics like "Orange Crush," "Imitation of Life," "Losing My Religion" and set closer "Man On The Moon" with new, shorter songs off 2008's forthcoming Accelerate (out April 1 on Warner Brothers), big time fans found plenty to latch onto, but more casual listeners may have been at the beer tent getting sauced. With incredible backup harmonies supporting him, bandleader Michael Stipe is a true performer, leaning into the crowd and connecting with his rabid fans in front. Another aspect of R.E.M.'s show was their political message. Starting off in a green "Obama" shirt, Stipe did a full wardrobe change onstage, tossing the t-shirt into the front row and eventually finding himself in a white suit. While the use of the "Obama" shirt was subtle and well done, there were times when Stipe dug too far into political banter. Balancing the party with politics is no easy chore. It's important to use one's influence as best they can, but at the same time, no one likes to be preached at. Overall, R.E.M. was a bit underwhelming. Their songs never really reached a peak, but at the same time it was a great opportunity for many folks to see a truly legendary band.

Dashing off to heavy, instrumental rock outfit Pelican, fans of bigger riffs, darker tones and head-slamming jams found their sweet spot. Working through slow-burning progressions that would erupt into huge explosions of sound, there's a reason this quartet is one of the rising stars of the instrumental metal scene. Mixing the mentality of Tortoise with the heaviness of Mastodon, the band will rattle your fillings and knock you on your ass if you give them a chance. This was the only set of the weekend that you could truly feel your chest shake with sound waves. Kudos to Langerado for bringing in diversity of this nature.

Saturday night wound down (at least music wise) with the Disco Biscuits. Their one set show began and ended with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Certainly a fun song, for those who don't drink from the Bisco well, their fast-paced, vocally challenged version may have put off more than one frigid Langerado fan. Following "Sgt. Pepper," Matisyahu joined the fray for "Tomorrow Never Knows" and STS9 bassist Dave Murphy jumped up on keys for "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." Highlights for this casual fan were an abbreviated "Svenghali," "Story of the World" and show closer "Helicopters." The Disco Biscuits are clearly an acquired taste. Those who are down love them passionately, but those who haven't found the sound deep in their heart often have difficulty letting the music take over.

SUNDAY :: 03.09

Blind Melon :: Langerado :: 2008
After the chill of Saturday night where temperatures plummeted down to 40 degrees, the final day of Langerado featured beautiful, temperate weather. Walking through the grounds it was obvious that the party atmosphere had taken its toll on more than a few. Patchwork pants dragged through the mud, while people slept on what dry spots they could find, and many appeared to be playing through Saturday night, never having hit the bed at all.

For those working the festival, Sunday was a day of tying-up loose ends, cleaning up gear, and for many who had been on-site since Wednesday, trying to get out before the morning light. Striving to balance work commitments with the music, Sunday featured the legendary Funky Meters, an upbeat set by Keller Williams, a passionate performance from Ani DiFranco, the always captivating Grace Potter and a festival closing set from Phil Lesh & Friends. Cranking out two sets, Lesh began the night with a "Sugar Magnolia" > "Uncle John's Band" that instantly inspired his legions to dance euphorically. Those who were having trouble keeping the energy high were juiced to hear the set closing "Help On The Way" > "Slipknot!" > "Franklin's Tower." The second set began with an appropriate "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "Viola Lee Blues" and concluded with a "Casey Jones" encore.

Another act that drew a large, enthusiastic crowd was the recently reformed Blind Melon featuring vocalist Travis Warren. Warren is a lifelong Melon fan and the opportunity to perform with his heroes is a dream come true. While he lacks the confidence and bravado of original vocalist Shannon Hoon, Warren sings in the same range as Hoon, creating a very similar delivery to the band's heyday. Mixing a few new songs with classics like "Galaxie," "No Rain" (something the festival could have clearly benefited from) and an inspired, gut-wrenching "Soup," it appears that Blind Melon may make a descent comeback.

Phil Lesh & Friends :: Langerado :: 2008
While the new look at Blind Melon proved satisfying and although Lesh was the big name on Sunday, for many, the most impressive set of the day was Gov't Mule. There are few guitarists who command respect like Warren Haynes. He's a class act who never overplays and always leaves appropriate spacing for the notes to breathe, but what truly puts Haynes over-the-top is his smooth touch and emotive, almost lyrical guitar phrasing. Starting with a "John The Revelator" and "Thorazine Shuffle" combo, the Mule wasted no time blasting out their blues-based rock. When Haynes isn't sliding up and down his fret board, fans can always count on keyboardist Danny Louis to be the perfect compliment. His playing is powerful yet tasteful, and like Haynes, he knows when to lay it on thick and when to sit back. Picking up speed as they went, the mid-set "Hunger Strike" > "Dear Mr. Fantasy" > "Hunger Strike" was a magnificent build up to "I'm A Ram" and an introspective cover of James Brown's "It's A Man's World." Closing with "Blind Man In The Dark," festival fans were reminded why Gov't Mule is one of the hardest rockin' bands on the scene.

What began as an intimate Ft. Lauderdale gathering with a few thousand people in 2003 has exploded into a four-day camping festival with five stages, more than 80 artists and around 20,000 fans. So, was the move from Markham Park to Big Cypress the right decision? There's no easy answer. Many loved the expansion, happy to camp (at least in theory - the rain and wind certainly put a damper on that) while digging the natural Everglades environment and enjoying more music at Langerado than ever. But, there were also those who felt that what made Langerado special and different was lost in the shuffle. As a general observation, it appeared that younger fans that can't afford hotels and love the lot scene were very pleased, while older veterans reflected on years past, where logistics were easy and one could truly enjoy all that south Florida has to offer. However, for those who want the comfort of a roof and protection from the elements (including fire ants that tore folks apart), this year's Langerado offered the ease of Consider It Dan's on-site RV rental. Without having to rent it yourself or drive it to the site, patrons could show up to a fully-stocked RV with all the trimmings.

Regardless of your preference - whether you dig hotels, walks on the beach and late night fun in the city or the more traditional camping vibe, Langerado was certainly a success. Like any great event, it's often what you make of it and whom you hang with. For this writer, the company of great friends, new and old, as well as a strong lineup and a very professional staff made the long weekend in stormy south Florida well worth the effort. All that said, I do agree with the notion that perhaps Markham Park was the ideal setting for Langerado. However, this doesn't negate the fact that Big Cypress could evolve into a more compelling setting. Growth is difficult but Langerado is dealing with it as best as can be expected. Small boutique gathering or a big time event that echoes every other major fest, Langerado is the right way to kick off festival season.

Watch your favorite artists on JamBaseTV. All interviews were conducted at Langerado:

American Babies:
Ani DiFranco:
Arrested Development:
Backyard Tire Fire:
Ben Folds:
Benevento-Russo Duo:
Blind Melon:
Blitzen Trapper:
Citizen Cope:
Earl Greyhound:
Funky Meters:
Grace Potter And The Nocturnals:
Martin Sexton:
Pete Francis:
Railroad Earth:
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars:
Sound Tribe Sector 9:
State Radio:
The Felice Brothers:
The Heavy Pets:
The National:
The New Mastersounds:
The Pnuma Trio:
The Postmarks:
The Wailers:
Trevor Hall:
Umphrey's McGee:
Warren Haynes:
Will Hoge:
Yard Dogs Road Show:

Continue reading for more images of Langerado 2008...

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