Orlando Calling Saturday Review: Pixies and Avetts and Roots, oh my!
Saturday morning started off with what was supposed to be a 35 mile bike ride before a jam packed day, but it just didn’t work out that way. It was the first really cool morning of the fall that I’ve gone out riding, and I was having a lot of difficulty getting warmed up and into the ride. Then after about 45 minutes my GPS decided go haywire and reset itself. When it came back to life it told me that my ride stats so far were thus:
Now, either my GPS was screwed up or I biked roughly to Paris in 45 minutes without knowing it. I’m betting on the former. I decided that was a sign and cut my ride back to a 15 mile fitness ride and pledged to come back out again Sunday for the 35 miler, which I polished off this morning. And I must say that I’m a bit impressed with myself for doing so, given what went on the rest of the day on Saturday.
After my ride Mrs. Lo and I set off the Orlando Calling concert at the Florida Citrus Bowl, but with a pit stop at Ravenous Pig for lunch. I had an excellent Eye Round Beef sandwich paired with an Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, which turned out to be an exceptional winter ale. Mrs. Lo got the photo worthy dish, one of the Pig’s house-made charcuterie, one of my absolute favorite things that they serve there. Thankfully, she had enough to share. This thing is so good, they even made that vile weed cauliflower edible.
While it was tempting to stay at the Pig the rest of the day and spend the boys college fund on more Winter Solstice and platters of pork fat, the absolutely gorgeous weather was calling out for some rock and roll, so we settled up and headed downtown to the concert. Now, this is important later, so pay attention. The Orlando Calling organizers “strongly suggested” that concert goers park at the nearby Amway Center (which, thanks to the NBA lockout is standing quite empty these days) and take a shuttle to the stadium itself due to the limited parking available onsite. Mrs. Lo, however, made the executive decision to try and park as close as possible to the stadium, which is rather famously located in a “not so nice” part of the City Beautiful. We found an attended lot, however, located only a few hundred yards from stadium itself and parked thinking that we had beat the system just a bit. (Duh, duh, duhhhhhh – cue ominous music foreshadowing later sinister events)
We got into the festival site just in time to catch the end of Lucero’s set, which was a bit disappointing because I had wanted to see more of them, but these are the sacrifices one makes in the name of the Pig. The festival was set up with five different stages: the main headliner stage inside the Citrus Bowl itself with four smaller stages on the surrounding grounds. Since this was the first time for Orlando Calling I was expecting some issues going in, but ended up being very impressed with the setup. There was very little sound bleed over from the multiple stages, there were ample and varied food and other vendors onsite, and each stage we went to was setup well with ample room for audiences and excellent sound. I was also surprised at the size of the crowd for a first time event, which was estimated at 25,000 for the day.
After Lucero ended on the 2nd stage (the “Authentic” stage), we headed over to check out a bit of Kid Cudi’s set on the main stage. I was more familiar with him from HBO’s How to Make It In America than with his music, and will admit to being pleasantly surprised by how good he was and how much energy he brought to the mid afternoon crowd. I have a lot of respect for hip hop/R&B artists who play with a live band, and Cudi’s is pretty solid indeed, even if his guitar player looks like he should have been working the door later that evening at a Rachael’s or Dancer’s Royale. I’d describe his music as what Black Eyed Peas could have been had they been more concerned with being good and less concerned with making truckloads of money. (Standard disclaimer, my iphone pics are awful. I’m working on an upgrade.)
After Cudi’s set, we walked back over to the Authentic stage to see Iron and Wine, an artist that my wife was looking forward to more than I was, but another pleasant surprise. Iron and Wine is the stage name for singer/songwriter Samuel Beam. While I enjoy his music, I feared it would be a little too low key to translate well on a fairly large outdoor stage. I was wrong about that, however, as Beam and his full band put on an excellent show that, while there was no danger of a riot or mosh pit breaking out, was a definitely an enjoyable way to spend a gorgeous day sitting in the grass. We were fairly close to the stage, but I couldn’t get a decent pic thanks to the setting sun just to stage right.
We cut Iron and Wine a bit short to make our way back to the main stage to stake a good spot for two bands that I was most excited to see, The Avett Brothers and the Pixies. Let me put this succinctly, the Avetts KILLLED. Just a fantastic set that had the entire crowd dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs. This was another band that I wasn’t quite sure how their set would translate on a large, outdoor stage, but in many ways they are a perfect festival band and bring so much positive energy to the performance. They played a varied set highlighted for me by Go To Sleep, Paranoia, and Talk On Indolence. Just a great, great live band that you should see if you get the chance.
This isn’t from the show Saturday obviously, but Talk On Indolence is awesome enough to share regardless:
UPDATE: Check out ReJoyce’s excellent video of this song posted in the comments section below, as well as some other great video from Orlando Calling on their YouTube page.
By the end of the Avett’s set, even Mrs. Lo, who wasn’t much of a fan coming in and was sad we missed Pete Yorn (“because he’s dreamy”) was impressed. At that point it was just a short wait until the almighty Pixies took the stage, looking as ever like the faculty entry at a high school battle of the bands, albeit one who melts faces and is one of the most influential and underrated bands of all time. Soon after taking the stage bassist Kim Deal announced that they were going to play all of the tracks from their classic album Doolittle in order, which lead to 38 minutes of solid fried gold awesomeness without much banter in between, and none was needed. After they finished, the stood around and basked in the love of the audience before launching into a four song encore featuring UMass and the always amazing Gigantic to close the show. It’s been 20+ years since I’ve seen the Pixies, and it was worth every minute of it.
After the Pixies set, we were faced with a decision for the next set to catch, either Jack White’s Raconteurs or the Roots headlining back over on the Authentic stage. We chose the Roots since we were pretty sure that we weren’t going to stick around for the main headliners (The Killers) and were definitely very happy with our choice. The Roots, even with out Questlove on drums, are just a fantastic live band, with a performance style that gives you an idea of what a James Brown show would be like were he coming up these days. (Sorry, no pictures here, it was just too dark for anything more to come out.) We decided to leave around 9:00 and head over to Redlight Redlight for a nightcap (and for one of Bruno’s awesome pork rolls for a late dinner).
Now, remember what I said before our parking situation. As we made the short walk back we were glad to see a pretty heavy and well organized security presence, that is until we got to our lot. Now, this wasn’t one of the many random, makeshift lots that surround the Citrus Bowl, but rather an officially marked lot (D2 I think) that we paid a lot of money to park in, assuming that it would be attended the entire time. Well, by the time we made it back our attendants were long gone and were replaced by a group of guys who decided to park their cars down the middle of the lot and block in all of the cars parked there, as well as a gauntlet of extremely aggressive panhandlers. (Side note, to the guy who said “I’m not going to lie to you, I need some money to go get drunk” I salute your honesty at least, if not your methods). After thinking for a minute about turning around and getting the cops, we decided, probably stupidly in retrospect, to just get into the car and ask the guy blocking us in to move. Long story short, after a couple of uncomfortable moments we made it out without incident, but not before we vowed to take the shuttle if we make it back to subsequent editions of Orlando Calling.
Parking incident aside, the inaugural Orlando Calling was a pretty impressive event, I look forward to seeing how things progress next year. It was great to get so many excellent bands together in our town and quite a welcome change from the usual parade of copycat pop singers and metal bands that provide the majority of Orlando’s major concerts.Now if we could just do something about that parking situation.
Have you had any issues parking or walking in downtown Orlando or at a concert/sporting event elsewhere? Let’s hear your best stories.
Posted on November 14, 2011, in Food and Drink, Music and tagged Iron and Wine, Kid Cudi, Lucero, Orlando Calling, Pixies, The Avett Brothers, The Ravenous Pig, The Roots. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.