Beale Street Music Epicness

WARNING: This article is extremely long. Get a cup of coffee (or, if you don’t like caffeine, just some water will do) and a snack, curl up beside the fireplace (If a fireplace isn’t available, turn on a stove-top burner and pretend you do. If you’re parents/roommate/significant other ask you what the heck you’re doing, just tell ‘em gally told you to create your own fireplace. _), and enjoy. Also, don’t gripe about spelling/grammar mistakes. I think I did enough writing just doing it once. :P

Last weekend, I ended my first year of college with a major bang. I went to the Memphis is May Beale Street Music Festival with Jason Groves, and one of his friends from LaTech (who is a pretty cool guy, I must say). So, in what may possibly turn out to be the longest blog entry to date (which is probably saying something, because on my old blog on Xanga, I had at least two entries with 9,000+ characters), I will describe in all the gory details of what happened that fateful weekend.

It was basically the most epic weekend EVER. And I kid you not. It was possibly more epic than “THIS IS SPARTAAAAAAAAA!

So, you may first be wondering, “What would make you and some other people want to take a trip of such epic proportions?” Well, to tell you the truth, so would I. But I think the basic premise is that Jason jokingly said something about going to the BSMF (as the fest will now be called), I looked at the lineup, and I think my response was something along the lines of “HOLY SHIT! Fuck yeah, I’ll go!” So, the idea was firmly planted in our minds, now to make plans. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past month or two of working all the kinks out for this trip it is two things: Number one is to make sure that you absolutely know that a person is going to go with you on the trip. I can’t tell you how many people Jason and I went through to find a person who would actually go through with their plan. I know of at least eight people who had interest in the idea at one time, but as time came closer, they decided that, for sundry reasons, they couldn’t make it. That threw quite a kink in our plans. Number two is to be sure to reserve a hotel room at least a month in advance. Though we did find a room (and it was quite nice), it would have been easier had we not tried to reserve the room roughly two weeks before the festival.

Now, onto “The Event”. It all started out on Friday. I had just finished my last Final Exam for college on Thursday, and I had moved out of my dorm room on, so I was at home. The same cannot be said of Jason and Sean (the friend of Jason, he’s been basically everywhere, and he’s Asian and Canadian). Due to the weird Quarter System of LaTech, they were still in school. So, their trip started about 4 hours earlier than mine. When they reached my house (which is on a street that shares my last name [pretty awesome, dontcha think?]) after much direction-giving over the cellular waves, there was much introduction-giving between Sean and I.

With my suitcase in the back, we began the long trip to Memphis. The trip was pretty uneventful scenery-wise (you tell me something to look at in Eastern Arkansas. Yeah, that’s right, there basically is nothing. We did pass an “Adult Superstore,” though). However, in the car, things were much more awesome. We jammed to tunes via iPod/Creative Zen/Transmitter/Radio (metalcore [especially Dragonforce] for the massive win). We joked around, and, as Jason put it, other “anecdotal stories” were shared. There was this one town on the way called “Galloway” (and if you’re familiar with IBO, you’ll probably get a chuckle out of that like Jason and I did). Another thing we noticed was the massive amount of police cars on the way to Memphis. I suppose they caught wind of the BSMF, and decided that it would be a good chance to re-supply their coffers.

So, after much driving, we finally arrived at out Hotel, the Ramada Inn in Horn Lake, Mississippi. “Mississippi! Memphis isn’t in Mississippi!”, you may say. However, Horn Lake is just across the Tennessee/Mississippi border, and was only about 12 miles away from Tom Lee Park (the area that contained all the epicness). It turned out to be a pretty new hotel, and the room was surprisingly nice, and the beds were good for a hotel.

Now, we continued driving, but this time our destination was for the park to enjoy some amazing concerts. We did have a couple of problems getting there (mainly because Jason can’t follow basic verbal instructions :P), but we were able to find it thanks, in part, to Jason’s cool little GPS navigation device. It was a Garmin of some form, and we were helped drastically by it. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to get lost in Memphis.

Finally, we were at our destination. But one problem: parking. We basically had no idea where we were going (besides what directions the GPS could give us), so how would we find some parking? Luckily, right near the final waypoint directed to us by the GPS unit, there was a parking lot. It was $10 parking, but it was literally right next to a park entrance, and it was much closer than a lot of the other ones were that were charging $15-20. We marked the lot in the GPS unit, and made our way to the gate. Our passing was not hindered much by the guards, mainly because we didn’t have a bag or something similar to search. Our tickets were scanned, and we descended the stairs into the park. So, now it’s that time for a large chunk of this entry: the concerts themselves. (As though the intro itself wasn’t a large chunk of text :P) A quick note on the location. It’s very long, and not very wide. There are three main stages for shows, and a (semi-)small tent used for Blues performances.

Day One – Friday, May 4

Concert One – Plain White T’s

Our first concert of the day was of the Plain White T’s. Sadly, I have to say that I was disappointed with it. Now, I was really surprised at this. I personally love their studio albums, but it just didn’t have the same… effect live. I don’t know exactly what it was, but it just didn’t “click” with me live. It saddened me greatly.

Concert Two – Jerry Lee Lewis

Yes, I know. He’s old. And by old, I mean… really old. However, it was kinda fun. Sean was really wanting to see him for some reason (I can only guess as to why… I guess he just wanted to see “The Killer” live before he croaked). I wasn’t expecting much (read: I was expecting to do the concert equivalent of falling asleep), but it was neat. First, they had a little into thing for the band, where each of ‘em had a song they would sing (even the drummer! H4X). The bassist was pretty cool for an old guy. He kinda reminded me of Christopher Lee, in a way. After that, Jerry came on the stage. He had some troubles getting on the stage, due to health problems, I assume, but he got to the piano and started to sing. The songs were rockabilly style, and not to my taste, but I suppose I enjoyed ‘em. Various times during the performance, some people near the stage got into a brawl, and Jerry just stopped the concert all together until the problem was sorted out. However, Jason and I were wondering if this were staged or not, because it would happen right after the guitar solo in every song (there was another common thread to the stoppages, but I don’t remember that one). Overall, it was pretty good.

Concert Three – The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

The third concert of the day was The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I don’t really remember anything outstanding about this concert, except for the fact that we were right in front of the column of speakers (and by speakers, I mean there were probably about 30 speakers being hung from a column on either side of the stage. We were on the right side (looking towards the stage). Basically, it was amazingly loud. One thing I do remember though, was the lead singer mentioned that they were touring with the Plain White T’s, and he sang a line from a PWT’s song, and Jason and I were really excited and hoping they were going to do a cover of the song, which would have been amazing. But alas, no such cover came to being. I did think it was good, but I’m not sure I’d go to see them (by themselves) again.

Concert Four – The Allman Bothers Band

Basically, what more can be said about this concert other than it was EPIC! ? If you answered, “nothing”, then you would be correct. This show was amazing! I was ready for a treat (It’s the fucking Allman Brothers Band, for fuck’s sake!), but their show completely blew my mind. A basic song would be about 30 seconds of lyrics, then 6 minutes of guitar/organ/drum wankery. And by wankery, I mean amazing solos. Man, it was awesome. Not much more to describe it than that, so I bring this portion to a close.

That was how our first day of concerts progressed. After the Allman Bros., we packed up, and proceeded to head to the hotel room. We did make a minor food stop at the local Taco Bell for late-night Fourth Meal replenishment. Afterwards, it was bed to prepare for the dawn of a new day, and new concerts.

Day Two – Saturday, May 5 (Cinco De Mayo)

Yup, it was Cinco de Mayo, and that was quite possibly the best Cinco de Mayo celebration I have ever been apart of. If I had though the first day was amazing, then I was in for a big surprise the second day.

It began strangely enough. We got up at about 11 AM (far later than we’d planned, but that was no biggie). We took showers, and I went to “check in.” See, for some reason, our reservations were weird (basically, it was because my mom let me use some of her Trip rewards points to stay one night for free, and we were paying for the second night ourselves, which caused problems with the booking system. Heck, we were originally going to stay in a smoking room the first night [thank goodness we got that changed].) So, I had to check our room “in”, and then immediately check “out” again. Thank goodness the same manager that checked me out the first night was on duty again, and she knew what was going on. It went pretty smoothly. But then, we ran into a little problem. See, apparently, the room service people only know enough English to make it by (they were Indian, and I don’t hold anything against them [nor do I any other race]). Basically, what happened was one of the room service people asked me if we’d like a clean room (they were doing their rounds), and I told them “Yes, but later, please.” (This was right before I checked out.) Apparently, then only thing they caught was the “Yes”, because when I returned, they were cleaning out the room. Jason and Sean couldn’t really do anything, because they had no key to the room, and I didn’t even know if we’d get the same room, so they couldn’t exactly leave the room to allow room service to clean, as they might not be able to get back in with our stuff. So, there was profuse apologies offered, and they left. The male room servicer didn’t exactly seem happy that we were in the room while they were doing their job. Not much we could have done about it, though.

So, after the room cleaning fiasco, we turned to Jason’s trusty GPS module to find us some grub. Eventually, we settled on a Chinese restaurant (wasn’t a buffet, though). I got the General Tso’s Chicken, and it was really good. The lunch special was only like $4.99 or something, but it was jam packed with food. I was also really good. Also, Sean can pack the fried rice in with the chopsticks. =P After the eating, we made our way back to Tom Lee Park for some more musical goodness.

Concert One – Companyia El├ęctrica Dharma

When we first got to the park, it was semi-late, and the first concert we were going to hit (in order to get a good position for the concert after that), so we walked around a bit, and finally settled near the stage that this band was performing at. I think that it was the surprise band of the day. Now, when you hear of “Companyia El├ęctrica Dharma”, what do you think of? For me, I thought of some sort of Techno/Industrial kind of music. Nope, none of that here. Think Spanish folk songs mixed with modern rocki-ish elements and throw in a Soprano Sax for good measure, and you basically have CED. I was pretty cool, actually. Good ambient music. Stuff to chill to. We needed chill, because the next five concerts were about as intense as you can get.

Concert Two – Hawthorne Heights

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “LOLemo”. You would be incorrect. I hated this concert. Just a lot of poser “hardcores” screaming at the top of their lungs and generally being “emo”. I did not enjoy it. The only reason I was here was to get near the front for the next performance. Jason commented that “every 15 year old ‘hardcore’ girl in the mid south was at this concert.” And so it seemed. However, I was surprised at the number of adults at the concert. I could have sworn that being “hardcore” was the sole domain of 14-16 year olds…

Concert Three – Jack’s Mannequin

Forget everything you know about Jack’s Mannequin’s studio albums. This is not what you’ll find in their live performance. I was expecting this one to be a fairly calm piano pop act (which is not a bad thing). Instead, this act was so full of energy and amazement, if you didn’t know of J’sM before the concert, you’d probably have no idea that it’s a piano pop group. The show was amazing. I enjoyed the studio album the group put out, but holy crap, the live version is a million times better. If you get the chance to see them live, DO IT.

After the clearing of the hardcore people, there was a mass surge of people towards the front of the concert area for the next group. For us, that meant we became very familiar with the people around us. We met four people in that sea of chaos. Two females, and two of the male variety. They were basically awesome, and we spent most of the night with ‘em.

Concert Four – Taking Back Sunday

This and Jack’s Mannequin were basically the reasons we came to BSMF, and man, were they worth it. The TBS concert was a mangled sea of chaos, where there was basically no standing room, people packed very tight, and crowd surfing to the max. And this was not just crowd surfing to crowd surf, but so that people could get out of the crowd. They would crowd surf to the front of the crowd area, where there was a little cordoned-off section where the bouncers would stand to remove them.

This was another amazing concert. Moshing, crowd surfing, singing along. TBS was how a “punk” concert should be. And to top it all off, for the last song, the lead singer climbed up one of the support girders (the one on the side we were on :D), hung upside down, and continued to sing the song. Did I mention that there was no “crew” below him to catch him were he to fall? Nope, unless you count the one whose job was to make sure that his microphone cable didn’t get tangled up in something.

The concert was EPIC. That’s all that really needs to be said.

Concert Five – Wolfmother

Wow, will the epicness never end? It seemed that it wouldn’t on this Cinco de Mayo. You may be thinking “who the hell are Wolfmother”? Don’t worry, you know them. You know that song “Woman”, that plays on the Guitar Hero II commercials for the Xbox 360. That’s Wolfmother. Now, whenever someone brags about their accomplishments on “Mother” while playing Guitar Hero II, I can rebut with “Oh yeah? I saw ‘em live! Eat it.” The concert was amazing. That guy can play the guitar.

Concert Six – Godsmack

I though TBS was a mass of crammed people. Hell no, it wasn’t Godsmack was worse than fucking sardines. At the end of Wolfmother, there was the “surge” of people like at TBS. At first I was like, “OK, just another TBS crowd.” Fuck no it wasn’t. They just kept pushing and pushing. At one point, we were so packed in that I could lift my feet off the ground (and not fall :P).

I didn’t enjoy the enjoy the Godsmack crowd, I didn’t really like Godsmack, but I sure as hell survived Godsmack!

That brought us to the end of the concerts. Our male friends left us, but our female friends stayed. We talked for a while, and we finally decided that we’d go somewhere to eat (either that or to a park, I don’t remember which…). So we drove through downtown Memphis (which is basically not driving, but more of parking, waiting, moving for a few feet, rinse, repeat). We finally ended up going to a gas station somewhere on the fringe of the ghetto, where we had the most random conversations imaginable, we were accosted by a beggar for some money “for gas”, and we worried about not getting shot or knifed (it wasn’t too bad, though, I’m just being overly dramatic).

At was late:30 when we got back to the hotel room where showers were taken, and beds slept in.

Day Three – Sunday, May 6

So, compared to Saturday, Sunday would turn out to be rather ho-hum. We checked out of the hotel (with no run-ins involving room service), went over to the local Target to browse their fine selection of wares, and ate at Arby’s. We sat at Arby’s for a while (Jason played the demo for Tetris on his phone forever. How he did it and not got fed up with it is beyond me), and finally made our way back to Tom Lee park for a final day of concert-going goodness. We kinda just mulled around a bit for the first hour or so (whatever the hell was playing at the Budweiser stage at that time sucked), until we made our way to the Egypt Central concert.

Concerts 0.5 and 1 – Egypt Central and The Lee Boys

So, we started out at Egypt Central. It was hard rock, and not something I was expecting from a band with the name “Egypt Central”. The lead singer had apparently broken his leg, and was in a wheelchair, which was kinda cool. The music was good, I guess, but i really don’t remember much about it, to tell the truth, except is started raining.

At this point, we decided to eff Egypt, and start heading towards Guster. We made a short pitstop at the Blues Tent to get out of the rain, and I’m glad we did. We came in on the middle of The Lee Boys set, and they were really good. Their lead guy played the lapboard (sometimes called the dulcimer). He was amazing at it. In fact, you could say that he was so amazing that he set a speaker on fire. Yes, a speaker caught on fire. I assume it was from an electrical short, but it’s so much more satisfying to say that the instrumentalist was so good that he caused the speaker to blow. It was actually taken very well. The band just continued to play while the singer smothered the flames with some type of cloth he was carrying around (what it was and why he was carrying it, I have no idea, but I suppose it was a good thing). I think the singer effectively handled the flame, and no roadies had to come out and extinguish the fire with foam. It was near the end of their last song, too, so I guess that’s a good way to “go out in flames” (pun intended).

Concert Two – Guster

Our first “real” concert of the day was Guster. By this time, the rain had quit, and the weather was pretty nice. I really liked Guster. They’re… a really “laid back” sound. It’s hard to describe. Something you’d listen to to get you calm or something. I enjoyed it.

Concert Three – Barenaked Ladies

Our final concert of the weekend was BNL. To tell the truth, I wasn’t really expecting much for this one. Basically, we just wanted to hear that “one song” (One Week) that we knew, and then start on our way home (Jason and Sean had a seven-hour drive ahead of them, remember). But we decided to stay for the whole thing. And boy am I glad we did. BNL in concert is amazing. They have section of the concert where they basically do improv comedy, and it’s hilarious (“Jesus only eats pulled pork on a Sunday!”). We got a guy on one of the houses above the park (there’s a small bluff-like thing on the edge of the park that isn’t on the Mississippi) to moon us. BNL is definitely a show to see live. I was really glad we did stay to see them the whole time.

So, after BNL, we started our trek back home. Jason drove until somewhere just past the Arkansas border, where I took up driving duties until I got home. More Dragonforce was played, as was a ton of Brand New. nothing major happened along the way, so I suppose this is brings us to the end of this epicly massive blog post.

According to Drupal, I started this article on May 9. Today is May 15. Yes, it really did take me 6 days (mainly nights) to write up this monstrosity. The research on and Wikipedia alone was probably enough to last a single night. I’m just glad that I got the chance to go to BSMF, and if Jason and Sean (or others) are up to it, I’d definitely go again next year.

So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… how many freaking words did you just read? Well, according to Word, this novella was 3,710 words with HTML markup. That’s nine pages, and 17,512 characters. That’s a lot of writing/reading. If you seriously read it all, I give you a cookie. Congratulations.

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