Virgin Mobile Freefest Part II

After Temper Trap wrapped up their show with “Sweet Disposition”, we moved onto see Jimmy Eat World.  Some of us went over to Trombone Shorty and you can read about that act here at Dwain Smith’s blog in his “Media Binge” section (I heard it was quite an excellent performance).  Of all the performances, Jimmy Eat World was probably the least exciting.  I’m not saying that they weren’t good, because they were.  But as far as early 2000’s bands go, they weren’t exactly the go-to band that everyone had targeting on the day.  They just played a relatively vanilla show, but it was fun hearing “Sweetness” and “The Middle”.  It was actually kind of funny because most of the crowd responded like they were listening to it on the radio.  People got into it and were happy to hear it, but still kept their conversations going, milled around, etc.  I’d give Jimmy Eat World a “B-“performance.

As Jimmy Eat World wrapped up, more people started coming over to see the next band: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.   Edward Sharpe is a new band that has just recently gotten popular with their hit “Home”.  You’ve probably heard it on the radio or seen the new NFL commercial featuring the song.   The band looks like what the Arcade Fire might look like if they came out of the woods of West Virginia.


Alex Ebert, lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Yes, his name isn't Edward Sharpe.


But their music hits that perfect combination of folksy, bluegrass catchy tunes that have been a hit on the airways.  They played “Home” as well as their other popular song, “Janglin”. (See the Ford Fiesta commercial).   B+

Joan Jett came on after Edward Sharpe.  Now I must admit, I knew who Joan Jett was, but I really honestly couldn’t tell you before the concert a name of a song she sang.  I also have to confess that it wasn’t until around the time of the concert that someone had to tell me that the Sunday Night Football song on NBC was actually a Joan Jett song that Pink/Faith Hill reworded.  Joan Jett did in fact play “I Hate Myself for Loving You” as well as her other hits, such as “Love Rock n’ Roll” and “Bad Reputation”.  The fact that this was probably the only time I’ll see Joan Jett was the only reason why I actually skipped Thievery Corporation for her performance (those guys tend to play a lot of shows in the D.C. area), but I don’t regret the decision. Because even though she looked a little old to be up there, she was actually still rocking out like it was 1981.  Joan and “The Blackhearts” get a B.

Next to come on the main stage was a band that I was looking forward to seeing and was one of the highlights of my day.  Matt & Kim comprises of married, dance, punk duo Matt Johnson (on keyboards and vocals) and Kim Schifino (on drums) and easily win the prize for cutest musician couple I’ve ever seen on stage.  Their enthusiasm, humor, and pure joy was intoxicating.  I’m not sure if they were on something, but they both had smiles from ear-to-ear throughout the show.  Their biggest hits to date are “Good ‘ol Fashion Nightmare” and “Daylight” – both can be heard on the first episode of NBC’s “Community”.  They performed those hits as well as a few covers (such as their rendition of “Let Me Clear My Throat”) because it seemed like as much as they wanted to play their music, they really wanted to get the crowd going and just plain have a good time.   Matt & Kim get an A-.

From Matt & Kim I moved with a group over to Ludacris.   Now you’d have to be living under a rock to not know who this guy is.  Even if you can’t name a song of the top of your head that’s his, you more than likely have one of his songs on your Ipod and don’t even know it.  That’s probably the biggest reason why I went over to his act.  To a lot of people at the concert, Ludacris probably should have been the headliner for the day and of all the performances I saw, his may actually have been the most packed.  While I enjoyed his performance a lot, I don’t listen to much hip-hop so I wasn’t as caught up as most of the crowd.  The one complaint I heard from most people was while he performed well, he actually only performed parts of a lot of songs, rather than a few whole ones.  But what can you do, it’s a free show.  Luda gets a B.


That's right, Yous a ho.


I actually left Ludacris before the end of his set in order to catch Sleigh Bells.  As day turned into night, it was a little tough to find my way to the “Dance Forest” where they were playing.  The “Dance Forest” was a stage on the edge of the pavilion where there was a thick grouping of trees (Obviously. I have no idea why I just bothered to write that last sentence).  It was hot, it was dusty from all the dirt kicked up, and it was really, really f**king smoky.  The trees trapped in all the dust and smoke and it was pretty difficult to see/breathe.  That being said, Sleigh Bells broke through all of it.  They were another boy/girl duo, but unlike Matt & Kim you got the impression these two had a lot more angst and they tore through your ears with hard, electronic rock.  Think Evanescence meets the Insane Clown Posse meets any European DJ.  Their performance was easily the most intense of the day, and maybe even that I’ve ever seen.  The sheer volume of the electric guitar, while rocking, also felt like you were getting hit by a train.  Apparently, there was something of a mosh pit going on up front where two of our group got sucked into inadvertently.   And although Sleigh Bells only had 30 minutes, they made the most of it.  Most of their music hasn’t hit the mainstream yet (although I just saw the new commercial for Honda that features they’re song “Riot Rhythm”), but I’m guessing songs such as “Rill Ril”, “Tell ‘Em” and “A/B Machines” will make Sleigh Bells a household name soon.  They get an A-.

The finale will be next.

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