With 40 artists on four stages over two days of perfect weather and with late nite blowouts all over Las Vegas, if you weren't having fun on Halloween Weekend in Sin City, it was most certainly your own damn fault. Add to the equation the highly coveted "Halloween Shows" from both Widespread Panic and Ween following the final day of the inaugural Vegoose festival, and it seems clear that Superfly has once again given the music world a top-notch, tough to beat, amazing event.
But more than just music, there's something happening in these fields and in these concert halls that is of the utmost importance. Listening to Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips speak to the mass of people gathered in front of the stage Sunday night, he put things into perspective. With balloons bouncing, confetti flying, folks in animal costumes dancing, and projections glowing, Coyne turned to the audience and said something to the effect of: "Listen everyone, you are the ones. You are the young, you are the open-minded, the folks who come to these events. YOU are the ones who need to come up with new ideas. YOU are the ones who need to make a change in this country. YOU are the smart, the gifted, the caring, YOU are the chosen."
Vegoose 2005 :: Jokers Wild Stage :: By Andrew Wyatt
It's events like Vegoose, Bonnaroo, and High Sierra that are the breeding grounds for change. These fields of mud and stretches of grass are where we find like-minded, deep-thinking, heavy-questioning, inspirational individuals. It's where we have a chance at change. Music is the place that perhaps serves our best opportunity at uniting for the greater good. We no longer see the youth taking to the street - sure there are pockets of progressive action and areas where change is occurring, but for the most part, we no longer see protests and rallies. It's the world of music where we find our people. Woodstock wasn't just a music festival, it was a political statement. And as Wayne Coyne insinuated, whether you realize it or not, these festivals and tours to which we see hundreds of thousands flocking are also political. It's not rooted in Democrat/Republican; it speaks to something much larger. But it ain't all heavy thoughts and movements for change; it's a hell of a party as well - especially when Las Vegas is the backdrop.
SATURDAY :: 10.29.05 :: LAS VEGAS, NV
IN SOME WAYS, VEGOOSE WAS THE POLAR OPPOSITE OF BONNAROO
(Superfly Entertainment's other major festival). Bonnaroo takes place on the East Coast in the middle of the summer; Vegoose goes down in the West as we hit winter. Bonnaroo is humid, often rainy and muddy; Vegoose is dry, clear-skied and boasts absolutely gorgeous weather. Bonnaroo occurs around the peak of the Summer Solstice making for very long days of sunshine; Vegoose hit at exactly daylight savings time - making Vegas dark by 5 pm. At Bonnaroo you camp; at Vegoose you get a hotel. Bonnaroo has about 75,000 - 100,000 people; Vegoose closer to 30,000 or 40,000. Yet with all these differences, there were some striking similarities between the two mammoth events. Put simply: Superfly knows what they're doing. Vegoose was a logistical dream, far easier to get around than Bonnaroo - mostly because of the size. And while there wasn't quite as much of it, there was once again a stellar group of musicians serving up a fairly diverse span of music. If there were complaints, they came in two forms. There was the complimentary "which of these bands do I miss?" (like when Primus played against Beck and Widespread Panic versus Arcade Fire). And there was also the more serious gripe in regards to late nite shows. While the actual festival that ran till around 11 pm was full of variety, the late nite fare was heavy on the jam with Ween being furthest outside the box. It would have been nice to have had the option to see bands like Spoon, Sleater-Kinney, Atmosphere, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, or Devendra Banhart after-hours should one have desired.
George McConnell (WSP) & Trey Anastasio
Vegoose 2005 :: By Josh Miller
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Being the first or second band to play a huge festival like Vegoose is a mixed blessing. Bands like Steel Train and Slightly Stoopid were honored to kick things off as they played to small, yet excited crowds - yet many fans were still getting off planes and getting to the site. As folks began to spill into the half-empty festival, the North Mississippi Allstars pushed things into gear as freak folk darling Devendra Banhart performed his quirky, original, and impressive songs. Banhart even went as far as to pull a young lady out of the crowd to perform one of her own selections. Look for Banhart to win hearts across the country as he continues his ascent to stardom.
The Cabaret :: Vegoose 2005
By Jeffrey V. Smith
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
The Decemberists, one of the hottest bands to come from Portland, OR in years, is a perfect example of why Vegoose (and her Tennessee sister Bonnaroo for that matter) is so appealing. They may not be the type of band you are inclined buy an expensive ticket for at the theater in your home town, but maybe you're curious what all the hype is about. At Vegoose, all you gotta do is get your ass outta bed by 2 pm and find the Snake Eyes Stage. And what seals the deal about these Superfly events is the fact that if after checking out a half-hour of The Decemberists' instrument-swapping indie-pop, you decide it just ain't your bag, you walk for five minutes on the soft, well-groomed practice field grass, and you're standing at the hip-hop stage where Blackalicious is holding court in front of a rabid fanbase spilling out from under the circus tent. Hip-hop and indie-pop still not greasing your wheels? No need to fret, a ten-minute journey into the gigantic 40,000-person Sam Boyd Stadium to the Double Down Stage, and The String Cheese Incident is twirling under what might as well be summer skies. Need a lil' more bite? All you gotta do is head back to that grassy field and set up at the Jokers Wild Stage where Gov't Mule was doin' their thing, which included an impressive version of "Lively Up Yourself" that successfully mixed psychedelic guitar leads with a jazzy backbeat and recalled Charlie Hunter's incredible 1997 release Natty Dread. This is what sets Vegoose and Bonnaroo apart, the variety and the wide range of musical choices. The only criteria seems to be that the band brings it live.
Vegoose 2005 :: By Andrew Wyatt
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Minnesota's Atmosphere put on one of the more surprising sets of music all weekend. Rarely do we see a hip-hop group that is able to captivate as Slug and crew can do (For more on Atmosphere, see JamBase's Vegoose Supplement). While it was tough to walk away from Atmosphere, there was a compelling opportunity to see another indie band that hadn't reeled me in but had piqued my curiosity: The Shins. With the underground classic "New Slang" from the movie Garden State capturing young ears across the country and 2003's Oh, Inverted World putting the band in the glossy pages of every major magazine, it seemed foolish to not stroll by their stage. The Shins may have proved to be a bit light and poppy for some (although their nun attire was certainly a hoot), thus there was Phil Lesh & Friends in the stadium and an impressive, eclectic, rousing set of rock-based sounds from Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers. As the Colonel's nuggets faded with the sun, conscious hip-hop stalwart Talib Kweli was dropping-in. It was at about this point in the early evening that the first really difficult decision was forced upon Vegoose: Primus or Beck?
The Shins :: Vegoose 2005
By Josh Miller
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Much like Claypool's famous "BOONNNNAARROOOOOOOOO" chant, his "VEGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE" was a call to arms for fans of the heavy. The doctor demento weirdo hour-of-rock freak with Primus was very difficult to tear away from. It was loud, spacey, and all frizzle-fried. Claypool was popping bass strings while guitarist Larry LaLonde was blazing a psychedelic path. As the set raged, Les brought it down for a minute at which point his trademark nasally voice echoed, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're missing Beck right now." I took the opportunity to check out a bit of Beck, and as fun as Mr. Hansen's boy scout set was, Claypool's extended instrumental areas would prove to be the highlight of Day 1. (For more on Beck go to JamBase's Vegoose Supplement.)
Les Claypool (Primus) :: Vegoose 2005
By Jeffrey V. Smith
9:00 PM - 10:30 PM
Strolling into the stadium for Dave Matthews and Friends, it was clear that the masses had arrived! Whereas earlier in the day, Sam Boyd was traversable, full in some areas but empty in others, at Dave's gig, it was packed to the gills. As the sea of beautiful people were up in arms, Dave delivered, perhaps a bit more than this tainted writer expected. Dave's more-than-talented band pulled off songs like "Will It Go Round In Circles" and "Tell Me Something Good" particularly well, and the moments when he performed solo ("Some Devil") or with just Tim Reynolds ("Jimi Thing") were excellent as well. Also of note were the contributions of Trey Anastasio, performing solo with Dave in pretty much exactly the same format as they did at Bonnaroo in 2004 ("Everyday," "Bathtub Gin"). More than the songs, what was perhaps most impressive about Trey was watching him as a side-man (as he would be the following night with Widespread Panic). In 2005 it's rather enjoyable to see Trey adding color to the top, taking cues, and not being the center of attention. He's damn talented and can be fun to watch when the situation is right.
Matthews & Anastasio :: Vegoose 2005
By Jeffrey V. Smith