The concert started with a bunch of heavy power chords from the first song. And crowd was into it. They weren't instantly moshing, but their heads were nodding rhythmically to the notes and some were singing along. This felt like it was going to be another hit.
This is why the crowd had pushed through the concert doors early. Why they jostled for the best position in front of the stage.
"You love the things that are made with love!" And love is all you need.
They felt like they were once again part of a larger movement. It was a range of American Blues mixed with gospel. "Yes we can!" and we did!
Then something happened. Songs that were good when played while relaxing at home didn't translate well to the big stage and crowd grew restless. They felt a little cheated. Self-referential music and a shout out to Wellington that felt like the singer looked at the back of his guitar.
Then the Hi-Fi started hiccupping and the grumbles became rumbles. The concert promoters were sweating.
The crowd broke up and went to the other stages where different flavours of music were playing. In the VJ tent the mood was good. There were even some moments of nudity as the lyrics rang out: "Where do you like to be touched?". The heavy bass-thumping rhythm (including a remix of Radiohead) changed to a more downbeat groove and the sound was like the Kleptones. How do you take a million different pieces and get something from them that sounds so good?
The crowd returned to the main stage, knowing that the hi-fi was still busted and perhaps still a little edgy. But the whole concert swung around on one talk from a rock-chick straight out of Brooklyn with a sound like Mos Def meets Talking Heads.
The first day of the festival finished with poetry. Good poetry is the hardest thing to describe, so I shall just say that the crowd was moved to fall in love with the poet (and his gorgeous green eyes).
The audience dissipated into the night, laughing and carousing to a sequence of bars and watering holes. And, unlike every other concert ever, the artists were there too. They loved it. They were bought beers, they discussed chord changes with other budding guitarists, they became enamoured of this new experience.
Bleary-eyed and stumbling in the next day, the audience was in good spirits. So it was a good idea to blast them out of their socks early. And the organisers delivered. Bright visuals and big ideas. Solid messages, reaching out to the audience and putting those big ideas in their heads.
Filled with the spirit, I wandered off to try to get backstage. The artists relaxed with personal masseuses, bowls filled with candy, and by hooking themselves into the web. They joked and were so laid back I felt bad for breaking the atmosphere.
A team of wonderful wranglers ran about trying to find me a poet. They found him and he instantly asked if we could get some cocaine for the media room (true story).
I decided to sit down with the VJs. They were like zen gurus and I was on an acid come-down
Ben Cerveny and Toby Segaran:
Back at the main stage the crowd was in good spirits again. They were cheering the crazy guitar licks and stamping their feet along to the swaggering lead singers. They mouthed the words that now seemed so familiar though they had only just heard them.
"By the end of the week/I had surfed the entire internet!"
It was a non-smoking venue but virtual lighters were being held aloft as virtual arms swayed side to side. Sure there were after-parties and after-after-parties but nobody really wanted it to end. For weeks later the conversation will still be on these singers and their songs.
Then over beers the audience relaxes and reminisces. "Remember when Attwood sang how he loved his computer?" "Seb Chan looked like he was having loads of fun up there" "Adam Greenfield made me wave my Snapper card in the air!" "I think Ries, Rives and Rose should start a super-group"
The festival ends, but the music continues.