Mile High Makeout: Rolling on the River

Categories: Columns

radio-flyer.jpg As the old saying goes, you should always be careful what you ask for – because you just might get it.

Last weekend, on the heels of my column about finding ways to include kids in the world of live music – and just after catching the life-changing, rule-shattering live show of Girl Talk – I took my daughter to Longmont’s Rhythm on the River, an annual festival of eco-friendliness, community awareness, kiddy chaos and, of course, live music.

The music, which included jazz, reggae, acoustic pop and an Elvis impersonator, started at the ungodly hour of 7:30 in the morning on Saturday, and my daughter and I (along with her mom, mom’s husband, and my parents – a 21st-century nuclear family) arrived promptly about nine hours later.

As we rolled my daughter’s wagon onto the festival grounds, beautifully settled along the banks of the St. Vrain River, I heard something vaguely resembling rock music and began to zero in on it. As it turned out, this was the “World Beat Stage,” which had hosted jazz-jam trio 3Ology, African blues player Dan Treanor, Hopi reggae from Casper and the Mighty 602 Band, and actual Jamaican reggae from Prezident Brown. Currently on the stage was Madahoochi, a quartet that has repeatedly won “Best Jam Band” from this publication’s sister paper in St. Louis. Anyone who knows me at all knows that jam bands are my chalkboard fingernails. This one, like most, seemed to have very good instrumental chops and even a few funky riffs. However, the lack of structure, melody and hooks sent this pop music lover scampering to the festival’s other music stage.

We rolled into the gigantic tent known as the “Grove Stage” in the middle of a set by Boulder soul cover band, Girls On Top. I used to watch this act play on the Pearl Street Mall, mostly because I knew two of the members. I was somewhat surprised to find no one I knew on stage last weekend, but the sound of the group was basically unchanged. A quartet of solid session players, essentially, lay down perfectly respectable party music that the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy, while the trio of sexy frontwomen abandoned all subtlety and wailed through each number. All three were clearly talented vocalists, but they seemed more interested in one-upping each other with volume and melisma than in tapping into the real heart and soul of their songbook. I was struck, however, by the throng of folks at the front of the space, dancing with free spirits and light hearts. That’s something I can never get enough of.

I was completely unprepared for what came next. The crowd greeted Face – an outfit that bills itself as “an all-vocal rock band” – with the kinds of shrieks, squeals and whistles that typically greet actual rock bands. Having never seen Face perform, I expected the usual acapella nonsense, but just as the outfit has always claimed, this was very different. Most notable was Mark Megibow, the beatbox of the group. At one point during the set, he actually single-mouthedly produced a rather impressive rendition of Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It.” Not exactly my cup of tea, but the effect on the crowd was undeniable. People absolutely ate it up, along with their funnel cakes and corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick.

And where was my daughter throughout all of this? Not paying much attention at all, in fact. While she did stare in apparent wonder at Megibow’s performance, she didn’t offer much in the way of commentary or excitement about the experience. She was more interested in the bouncy castle and ice cream on offer than the live music. She was thrilled to run into a friend of hers from preschool. She liked having her grown-ups pull her around in the wagon. But she hardly noticed the music.

Maybe I should have taken her to Girl Talk.

– Eryc Eyl

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