I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had my doubts about Kanrocksas when I received the email regarding the press conference to announce the festival’s lineup. “A festival held at Kansas Speedway,” I thought to myself “will no doubt be a bunch a metal bands.”
Man was I was wrong. Offering a lineup featuring servings from some of the best bands in the world, Kanrocksas was the real deal and had landed right in my backyard. So, as I drove under the speedway into the VIP to catch the day’s first band, I felt as excited as I had for a festival in years. I parked, slid into the media center briefly, then bolted for my first band.
You know that groggy feeling that you sometimes will get when you wake up early for work on a day following a long night? You fumble to collect your clothes, somewhat unsuccessfully, gathering whatever laundry has pooled in piles on the floor of your bedroom. Skipping the shower, you rush to your neighborhood gas station to grab a red bull to supply whatever energy you can muster up to kick off the day.
In terms of the first annual Kanrocksas Music Festival, UME was that red bull. Taking stage early, these Austin, Texas firecrackers kicked open the door for what would be a great first day, with an energy and poise that left many bands standing in their shadow.
Rocking kind of a Jeckle and Hyde image, Lauren Larson sound checks and speaks in a shy and sheepish manner, before exploding into a large energetic ball of chaos. Sporting a great 1990′s sound, complete with swirling guitar and raspy snarling vocals, UME’s stage show is unquestionably worth mentioning. Their set left a thumbprint on me that would last the whole day, as they showed up several bands lower on the bill. I expect huge things from this band and will be disappointed if the world offers them anything less.
Fitz and the Tantrums:
There is no questioning the fact that the chemistry between Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs is real. While watching this band, every line of every song seems to be a tip of the hat to the passion that these two share for both each other and for music.
With a jazzy retro sound and soul train moves, Fitz and the Tantrums plowed through a stellar set, which included covers “Steady as She Goes” by The Raconteurs (corrected at 11:46 p.m. 8/7/2011) and “Sweet Dreams” by Annie Lennox. As if that were not enough to please, their crowd interactive set lit the Kanrocksas crew up, causing a stir I hadn’t expected in the 192 degree weather. Dancing and grinding around the pit area of the speedway, one would have to assume those in attendance put their complaints of sunburns and dehydration on hold, trading them for a prom dance throwback.
A stellar set from a stellar band.
Sadly, my streak of sets that captured my heart would stall right there. D12 seemed rack with technical difficulties and lackluster efforts in front of roughly 2,000 viewers, the group honestly serves as my biggest disappointment of Kanrocksas. Having seen D12 before (when I was like, 16) I remembered them as a high energy, wicked funny rap group, slightly out of place at Warped Tour. However, I also remember walking away both impressed and stunned enough to grab their albums off the shelves. Sadly, the D12 on stage at Kanrocksas was not the D12 I remembered loving. Flowing over beats that seemed misguided and somewhat sloppy, the set simply flopped.
However, that would not stop a large mass of fans to sit, hopeful to catch an early glimpse of Eminem. They would in the end walk away empty handed.
I was of the small percentage of journalists who skipped Arctic Monkeys set to catch former Something Corporate front man Andrew McMahon’s newish project Jack’s Mannequin. Having always been a fan of his emotional performances and energetic stage presence, I figured I would no doubt find a bit of recovery from D12′s lackluster set.
Without a doubt, I was. Busting out old favorites and premiering new singles Jack’s Mannequin left nothing to be desired. Shifting, twitching and switching between two mics, McMahon ran the gambit of emotional content, ranging from cancer, coming to age and coming to terms with breakups.
While I’m sure some people would question my choice to skip Arctic Monkeys for a band that causes 16 year old fangirls to crowd the stage with “I fucking love you Andrew” signs, I have no regrets with my decision based on one solid fact: Andrew McManon is truly the nicest man in music. That should always be supported.
Regardless, for those who desire them, here are Scott’s Arctic Monkey’s Photos:
Check out Kanrocksas: Day One, Part Two featuring Kid Cudi, Ween, Bassnectar, Flaming Lips and Eminem soon!