My review of what I saw at COMFEST 2010:
Friday, got there pretty late after the whole day-job thing, eating, parking and filling my 2008 beer mug:
Caught some of the Obviouslies, and most people seemed to be into it, but it really wasn't my mug of beer. Not much more I can add to it, cause I was also being too social to say anything in-depth at this point. Plus, I needed my second beer already.
Headed over to the main stage to see yet another Foley debacle. I really don't understand why they give this guy any attention at all nearly every other year. Someone needs to tell him that he may have played with Prince, Miles Davis, Sly Stone and George Clinton...but he's not actually any of those people. Every set I've seen by him at any Comfest is a ridiculous ego-fest tribute to Foley, by Foley. Wankery abounds as he just keeps trying to get people to 'give it up' while he chugs through stale renditions of soul and pop classics. He keeps filling his stage with other great players, plus a full horn section, and a string section whose arrangement was written mostly like the horn section. Nearly 30 people standing up there on stage to watch people wonder when the set was supposed to get fun or exciting. No thanks.
Caught some of Flypaper as the park was closing down early. It was strange, I wasn't nearly drunk enough to be okay with hearing Flypaper just yet, and then they were done. Then like the bartenders at last call, herds of bike police took to the streets yelling to people that the park was closed. Just weird. That was it for Friday.
Saturday was destined for something...but I got there early enough to see some of the Tin Hearts on the main stage. They're a real-deal bluesy bar band, through and through. Some twang here and there, but they're legit and fit pretty well within the whole outdoor semi-hippie fest vibe.
I stuck around for the Super Desserts, who topped out at 27 people on stage. They're great at what they do, to be sure, but it's so much sweet sweet candy and innocent posturing that I just can't stomach too much of it. I felt like I was watching Hip-Ster Glee. I'll admit that there were a few goosebump worthy moments with the whole choir, and Foley could take a few notes from these guys on how to appropriately outfit a large band with the right instruments/people. But really well executed overall. I just wish it didn't feel like I was watching a presentation at somebody's school.
Next up was The Main Street Gospel, who definitely caught me by surprise. They were tight, loud, and everything rock is supposed to be. These dudes do it right, and it's a shame that they weren't swapped time-slots with Church of the Red Museum (COTRM) who followed, because the park definitely started to look crowded by 2PM. COTRM isn't bad, but I'm just not buyin' the singer/organist's voice. You know how certain singers have real grit to their voice, and you know their bodies produce more testosterone around their vocal cords and hair follicles than most humans? (see Joe Cocker, Merle Haggard, Cher) Then there are people who try and make themselves sound gruff on purpose, but it's not real. Some people are fine with it, but to me it just sounds ingenuine, and what's weird is the dude is the bass player for Nick Tolford & Co. who genuinely has that Joe Cocker thing. But more on that later.
Wandered from the main stage, grabbed a pile of smoked meat, and caught a tiny bit of Megan Palmer giving her all in a barefoot country rompin' tune that I swear I heard three other acts play that weekend as well. Good as always, but I never walk away with anything in my brain after seeing Megan's Comfest performances. Not intimate enough of a setting? I dunno. Seen it too many times? I dunno.
Layed down by a tree to hear Eric Nassau for the first time with a band. (A rather talented one at that with Megan Palmer, Jim Volk, some Andy Shaw band members and maybe a Flooorwalker?) Anyway, I can't stomach it. It's too Comfesty for me. This is the type of music that happens when you leave the drum circle and become a solo artist. I did proceed to get some decent sleep in possibly the safest environment in the park.
I wandered past the main stage, looking for delicious vegan pastries and whatnot at Pattycake, and heard some of Donna Mogavero's band. She's got a great voice. She's the genuine husky Mellisa Etheridge type singer that does best with a great band, and she had that for sure. They're old, but seasoned, and while the Lillith-Rock style doesn't really speak to me, she's definitely a gem in Columbus Music. Seriously fantastic voice.
I was able to catch the last of Trains Across the Sea over at Offramp, and it was phenomenal, as I'm sure anyone who was witness to it can tell you. Dude gets frontman of the weekend award for sure. Over-the-top energy and the crowd was right there with it. I'm gonna keep an eye on what these kids do in the next year, because they've got something special here, and the crowd knew it. Lead singer was a grinning fool, who gave back just as much as he got from the crowd. He was eatin' it up, but so were they. Awesome, and with a cover of "WIth a Little Help From My Friends" ...this is what you hope to experience at Comfest.
Next up was Flu Faker, who I had heard nothing but great things about. Unfortunately, I didn't really agree with any of those great things after seeing them. Was it an off-performance for them? or was that basically what they do all the time? It's probably just one of those things that I don't get, and probably never will.
Luckily I was entertained by more beer, and the Receiver. These guys are flawless, and should be a Main stage closer one of these years. And by one of these years, I mean that it should have happened any time in the past three years, or next. I swear, just let Comfest go late like it used to, let these guys close, and you're not going to have bromancing frat boys date raping each other on the way home in people's yards. The music's too smart to act that stupidly afterwards.
Had to trek across the park for some things, and caught Miss Molly on the Gazebo stage. Ouch. How does someone get excited enough to put that band with a 6PM Saturday time slot. Like...that took like a whole committee of people to make that decision right? I mean, if they were looking for a motive for that kid who stabbed himself last year...I have a pretty good bet that it was something like this that drove him to it. I don't say that out of disrespect for the poor kid or his family, I say it because I considered it myself but thought it would be undignified to go out on such an off-note. (get it...off note?)
On my way back, I caught a tiny glimpse of New Pollution on the main stage. I was surprised, that their Hip-Hop Funk Jazz was pretty decent, and far more entertaining than anything I've seen Prince's sideman do. Not bad, funksters with a band name from a Beck song.
I grabbed myself an up-close spot for Nick Tolford's main stage closing act. Super fun, great voice and Dane Terry on keys was a nice addition. That dude just kinda spills charisma, even just as a side player. Tolford seemed slightly uncomfortable to not have an instrument to hide behind, but he had the balls to just go for it anyway and be a frontman for a night. I have to say that I appreciate that they didn't do anything special for their important closing set. They just got up, and played the best set they could, and it was worth it. There was no one-upmanship of trying to do anything more memorable than just being great, which they were, and it was smart.
Then, once again it was oddly still daylight out and Comfest was done, over and closed. The cops were telling people to leave the park and it just felt wrong. Not that it's hard to find somewhere else to drink, for cheap.
As for Sunday...I slept like a mutherfucker and missed the whole thing.