10,000 Lakes Festival 2009
On Wednesday, January 21st, 2009, the people at 10,000 Lakes Festival unveiled their “biggest announcement ever”. Being a fan of the festival, I waited patiently for the news to come across the wire and when it did it left me scratching my head. The biggest announcement ever was that Dave Matthews Band, Wilco and Widepread Panic were to headline the 7th annual festival held at Soo Pass Ranch in Detroit Lakes, MN from July 22-25.
In the past this festival has ebbed and flowed with its artist selections and it’s been my experience that the closer the genres, the better the festival. Take for example the 2004 festival which mixed powerhouse jambands like String Cheese Incident with MTV faces John Mayer and Maroon 5. This festival was a disaster and it’s no wonder the gods rained on us for three straight days in the middle of July! In 2005 the festival seemed to have learned a lesson and booked Trey Anastasio, Widespread Panic, the Black Crowes, Les Claypool creating a much more fluid festival. In 2006 and 2007 they stuck to that notion which resulted in even better festivals. Those festivals were a blast! Unfortunately the lineup for the 2008 festival slipped again when they mixed as headliners the artsy space rockers the Flaming Lips with political hip-hop musician Michael Franti & Spearhead. The attendance was way down and I sat this one out for the first time.
So that brings us to 2009 and the “biggest announcement ever”. Obviously the festival is banking on the fact that Dave Matthews Band has a huge following and has never played the festival, but I believe they didn’t look past that to the fact that Widespread Panic has an equally devoted following who for the most part are Dave Matthews Band haters. Oh snap!
When I first read that Dave Matthews Band would headline a night, I envisioned thousands of bros slapping high-fives, giving chest bumps and chugging beer cans while thousands of Widespread Panic fans gritted their teeth with suspicion. It’s been my experience that most (not all) hardcore DMB fans have a hard time seeing past the pedestal they have put this band on and have relatively closed minds to other musicians. This is unfortunate for a smaller festival like 10,000 Lakes Festival whose crowds in 2009 will certainly be dominated by DMB fans. I’ll be one of few sitting on the fence with one of the best rock bands in America, Wilco.
The super-awesome band Guster gave a great first-hand example of a Dave Matthews Band concert. In the summer of 2004 Guster opened for Dave Matthews Band during a string of ampitheatre performances and in their road journal as written by drummer Brian Rosenworcel, they documented their experience at Alpine Valley ampitheatre in East Troy, WI.
“After our performance on Sunday, I needed to know some answers. Who were these people blowing off our 43-minute set, and what were they doing that was so much better than watching me beat my hands to a bloody pulp for their amusement? Two beers and one golf cart acquisition later, me and Joe and Chris set out to find out.
The parking lot is all gravel and grass. There’s a section full of chartered busses, a section full of limousines and their bored-as-shit drivers, and endless cars parked in a vaguely linear fashion (but not linear enough that there weren’t a few near-disasters on the cart). There are people in the parking lot during Dave’s set. Not just limousine and bus drivers, but people like you and me, only drunker. There was no chance of being recognized as a member of Guster out there. Afterall, these people not only blew off our set to hang out in the parking lot, they blew off Dave’s set to hang out in the parking lot. Two girls who flagged us down for a ride (not into the concert, mind you, but to another part of the parking lot) asked “where’d you snag the cart?” The assumption, because we were doing donuts in the parking lot with a golf cart, was that we were not super-official, but thieves. Even when they noticed the credentials hanging around our necks, all they could think to ask was “where’d you snag the laminates?”
The grounds were in pretty bad shape… they looked not unlike the Hatch Shell after The Last Dispatch concert, not unlike some parts of Afghanistan, and not unlike our Earth Day Concert in 2000. There were bottles and crushed cans everywhere. It wasn’t easy to navigate around these obstacles, and a few times I had to use the brake. But as we were making our way into the corner of the lot, by a fence near the woods, things began to look uglier and uglier. Ridiculous amounts of bottles and cans. The quality of the beer was getting worse too. Did someone actually drink thirty cans of Keystone Light!? There were the remnants of ripped up lawn-chairs obscuring our path and random spatulas strewn about. It was darker in this corner than in other areas of the parking lot. I slowed down. Chris said “this is where you buy the crack.”
For someone that’s been on the road for nine years, I’ve been on the wrong side of the tracks a few times. Chicago, East St. Louis, Washington DC. Once I got chased by a kid with a baseball bat while riding my bike through a neighborhood I probably shouldn’t have been in in Des Moines, Iowa. So at this point, I am 31 years old, and I think I have my street instincts pretty well intact. I put the golf cart in reverse, and I drove us the hell out of there.”
With an eclectic mix of big-name talent this year’s festival will probably have its largest attendance yet. I will be there with as much optimism as I can possibly muster and hopefully I’ll make it out without repeating the lyric that Kurt Cobain once sang: “Take a look at where you are, it’s pretty scary!”.
The complete initial list of 2009 10,000 Lakes Festival performers can be found here.