Jazzfest Day 5

Fairgrounds

May 04, 2008

BY JASON SONGE


This was my favorite day at Jazzfest this year, besides the Thursday. I got there just in time to see Rotary Downs dominate the Alison Miner Music Heritage Stage(a.k.a. The Lagniappe Stage). The band was just so loose and confident and full of good song after good song. They were happy to be there, and we were happy to see them.

Fans crowded that middle area and danced and laughed in the sun. Strangely enough, during "Sing Like The Sun," I took off my sunglasses and raised my head toward the sun and soaked it in. How wonderful to be out in God's sun, listening to great music and drinking beer. One girl came to the party with a reem of white paper, and she kept making these very Steven Wright/Mitch Hedburg-like signs. One said, "I made you a sign!" Genius.

I've never seen Zack play better drums, James' voice always sounds larger and crisper outside, and the new songs rocked. "Indian Summer" was a highlight, though I miss the reprise. The real showstopper was another (really) new song that was touted by Patrick Brower before they played it. And sure enough, it ruled. It's so gratifying to watch a band evolve and contract and expand and devolve, all the while finding ways to sound new that I couldn't have even thought of. Did that make sense? Anyway, they're getting better and better, and I can't wait for the next album.

Next up was The Raconteurs. It would have been enough just to hear Jack White high-pitched, twisted rubbery guitar tone, but there were great rock songs, too! I think everyone was a little skeptical when Jack White put a new band together, but dammit if he didn't win again. He created a place where singer songwriter Brendan Benson could explore his classic rock side and offered himself as a competitive presence that would push him to new heights(a la Lennon/McCartney).

There's so much fiery testosterone twisted together with awesome melodies and rock hooks that would make Dave Grohl proud. This band was out to kill, even during their ballads, taking their time and floating patiently in their confidence in the material, knowing the crowd would appreciate the journey. And sure enough, they did. At one point, White had to say, "Wake up, New Orleans," and he was right because our rock crowds normally suck, but I think by the end or close to it everyone out at the Gentilly Stage knew they were watching a Hall of Fame group at the beginning of their run.

White was possessed and full of emotion, his drama scaring me at points. I fed on his fire and gave it right back. This music that talks about love is love. Creating light from black.


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