In many ways, this year’s Pemberton festival turned all of us concert-goers into experimental subjects for how a festival should be organized. During the past week, I’ve read several reviews in many of the local papers, but none of which captured the entire sentiment of the three-day gongshow than the headline for the 24hrs magazine which read: “traffic, dust, fun,” succinctly describing the order of the weekend’s most memorable elements.
After waiting in line for about 14 hours in a hot, inland dustbowl, I finally caught the Metric show on Friday afternoon. Emily Haines was decked out in a shimmery, almost space-age sliver minidress that reminded me of a futuristic Kubrickian vision. Later on that evening I enjoyed Wolfmother’s metallic rampage as the band ravaged Zeppelin’s hits and left the crowd begging for more distorted violence. Come nightfall, the Mount Currie stage ushered in Nine Inch Nails, the day’s headliners, and the shit hit the fan. I was about 40 feet away from the mosh pit but still got tossed about and burned by rogue cigarettes as the show peaked at “Closer.”
On Saturday morning we had a lovely omelette breakfast at the campsite and went back to see Black Mountain, The Tragically Hip and of course, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. During the show, Gordon Downie during entreated the crowd to his iconic shifty-eyed, but strangely friendly smiles while pretending to be an ape who didn’t comprehend the electronic capacities of his own microphone. Tom Petty at twilight was smooth and enchanting as the crowd metamorphosed into middle-aged rock veterans who didn’t have the heart to block your view of the stage. The Flaming Lips showed up with these big fucking balloon things full of confetti that complimented the band’s eccentric lyrical component. To add to the confusion, they had a chorus of Teletubbies on the left side dancing and singing, a bizarre combination of weird music and even more strange scenery to make a fantastic show. The verdict? Black Mountain offered far more energy live and attracted an exodus of smelly but chill hippies and modern bohemians. Man I just love that stuff way too much.
The downside of this all is that I had to leave and miss the entire last day due to complications and major pooning out by some of my companions. I don’t have anything else left to say except that getting to and from the show was a fucking nightmare, but the music was fabulous and a remedy for it all. If Pemberton hopes to be an annual event it better shape up its over-idealistic view of checking 10,000 people’s personal bags to see if they snuck in booze after they’ve been waiting around for hours. You just can’t treat people like that.