So the Langerado Music Festival is here again. Hippies will flood the scene, campsites will be booked up, and the price of magic mushrooms should skyrocket all over town. But as last year's festival proved, the event isn't all about jam bands. The City of Sunrise will pulsate with the sounds of rock 'n' roll legends, Fort Lauderdale is snatching up some of that energy for intimate late-night performances of its own, and for us music journos, previewing the monster show is a big headache. Like, of the 45 kickass bands on the bill, who should be on our cover?
For those of you who didn't dig our choice, Trey Anastasio was too damned obvious. Just because the longtime leader of Phish and ace guitar player has finally decided that Langerado is worth his time doesn't mean he's worth ours. Of course, we throw him some love in this issue, but perhaps not like you'd expect. The same goes for the Widespread Panic at the Disco Biscuits machine that hits most of these jamtastic festivals every year. The music world is a diverse planet, and while Langerado may have started out as a hippie happening, other genres are stealing the spotlight. So stop being surprised to see Michael Franti's mug staring out at you on newsstands. The same goes for Brooklyn barstool legends the Hold Steady, whom you'll find after you flip this page. Not your favorites? You have 43 others to obsess over.
But where are the locals? We called Ethan Schwartz, co-producer of Langerado, to ask what had happened to the Florida Native stage, which was supposed to provide a venue for local talent. As of a week ago, our office was still running promotions for the damned thing and being flooded with demos from bands hoping to win a slot. But nobody decided to tell us it was all for naught until I picked up the phone to find out what-a-gwan.
"A lot of people thought there was too much music going on at once last year," Schwartz said, "so it's easier to condense all the music from four stages like we had last time down to three." Unfortunately, that means Florida doesn't get much representation at all. "We're trying to get the Postmarks...," Schwartz said. Yeah, right. The not-so-pretty fact about how popular Langerado is getting is that only two local groups, the Spam Allstars and J.J. Grey & MOFRO, are playing the show this year, which is a shame considering that eight Florida bands played the festival 12 months ago. But these are the concessions that come with answering the critics. Aw, the critics. Last year's lineup was seen as the most eclectic of them all: Wilco, the Flaming Lips, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! all helped give the fourth-annual Langerado festival more of an indie vibe. But as year number five rolls around, some of that indie spirit is noticeably gone.
"Last year before the show, people were saying, why are Brazilian Girls on the lineup, why is Kinky on the lineup?" Schwartz said. "And the messageboard kids were angry at that."
Schwartz didn't want to admit it, but part of his staff caved in to these trustafarians, who want 24-hour jam music, and this year's lineup reflects that. When I asked if he's heard complaints this year, his response spoke volumes.
"No negative e-mails so far," he said. "Now that we have Trey and Widespread on the show, they're pretty satisfied."
Maybe that sits well with the folks at Langerado, but I for one don't think the messageboarders from parts unknown should control the creative content of the best music festival Broward County has ever seen.
That's not to say there isn't a lot to celebrate this year. I've had Toots & the Maytals' CDs playing all week in anticipation of seeing them live, and the same goes for Mexican death-metal thrashers Rodrigo y Gabriela. This year has plenty of bands that will throw some of those Phish-loving kids for a loop, and hopefully it will turn them on as well. Because for $145 (the price for all three days), folks should find a way to dance until the wee hours of the night no matter what genre of music is on stage.
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