Phew. What a day. FourFourFest 2009 had everyone playing in the rain over the course of the day and night, but the crowds turned out nonetheless to see some of the best music Springfield has to offer in a variety of genres. While Mother Nature was pretty cranky, everyone at ground level seemed surprisingly chipper and cooperative. In all, it was a 21-hour day that took months to prepare for and that, in spite of its, um, dampness, was a pretty damn good party. There wasn’t a lot of time to stop and smell the roses while in the thick of things, but I stowed away a few impressions from it all and you can find them after the break.
* To the group of people wandering through the crowd in the afternoon wearing swastika-covered gear and handing out pamphlets: You came to the wrong party. The Let’s Relive Springfield Circa 1996 party was somewhere else, far away. Notice how everyone kept trying to walk away from you? Springfield used to be a city with a strong skinhead presence and regular anti-racism concerts to counteract it; now it’s a city that, perhaps finally, has no need for such things. Also, it’s a good thing the friction between the neo-Nazis and our all-African-American security staff never went beyond finger-pointing; watching Q and the boys turn douchebags into punching bags would have been a lopsided mess, if slightly entertaining.
* Meanwhile, our plain-clothed police officers working as security during the night were impressed by how easy the crowd was to deal with. “Everyone is just here to enjoy the music,” one said. Thanks for keeping their duties down to just walking around and enjoying the show themselves.
* With the help of the Gray Family Fund of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, FourFourFest was able to donate $1,000 to Springfield Public Schools’ Music Department to buy instruments for kids. There may be no single aspect of this event I’m more proud of than that. SPS needs the help, and hopefully we can do more in the future.
* If I never stand in the rain again for so long as a minute, I think I’ll be okay with it.
* Bands, you were incredible. Thanks for being easy to work with in one tough scheduling spot after another. A three-hour rain delay was a challenge to deal with, and you all get the assist for getting things back on track.
* Kurtzender was back! The man behind The FourFour Show was out filming the day’s proceedings and ratcheting up the chaos factor a bit and dropping hints here and there about Season 2. Good to see he’s finally out of rehab; apparently, they give good haircuts there, too.
* Black Box Revue put on one hell of a dance party during the afternoon. The only thing missing was dancers. Where were all the wet-and-wild crazies from Girl Talk‘s rain-drenched set in May? At least the crowd shook it during the headlining set and afterparty.
* I finally got to sit down for a few minutes yesterday and check out our official event T-shirts. Pretty sweet. The robot from the posters and compilation CD is front and center with its arms raised triumphantly. Something about it reminds me of the scene in Rocky when Rocky Balboa runs to the top of the stairs and turns around, raising his fists in the air and looking over Philadelphia. Yo, we did it, Adrian!
* There was some extra fire in The Cropdusters’ set, I thought. They really went after it on the main stage, and the crowd ate it up. Taylor Steele belongs on the list of the city’s best drummers, too.
* Most talked-about sets among the crowd during the day: VideoVamp, Pillbox, The Short Histories of Powerful Nations and Berch.
* E.B. Cox, guitarist of Assembly Line Gods, turned 34 the day of the festival. His birthday present: Playing to a huge crowd of people on the main stage at night, followed by pitchers at Grumpy’s. He seemed pleased with both ideas.
* To our sponsors: This literally was not possible without you, and I can’t thank you enough for your contributions. Z 106.7, Mediacom, Palen Music Center, Vintage Vice/Swagbot, Moxie Cinema, Ability Transportation, American Bodyworks Tattoo, Andoro’s Pizzeria, The Albatross, Staxx, Traders Printing Company, Forever Endeavor Productions, Car-Fi, Chicago Cheesesteak Company and City Dogs all deserve a “hello” and “thanks for all you’ve done for local music” at your earliest convenience. Better yet, forget convenience and just go do it now.
* As long as I’m mentioning Forever Endeavor, it’s time to give a big shout-out and thanks to Beth from the FEP crew. The whole staff contributed throughout the day, but she was there from 8 a.m. to close, was as soaked as any of us and never gave less than a positive attitude and a lot of help directing bands on and off stage.
* On a similar note, big huge thanks to our volunteers, both scheduled (MEISA staffers, various friends) and not (Devlin Pierce). We needed the sanity.
* The Urban Districts Alliance, Community Improvement District and the various pertaining departments at the City of Springfield were tremendous in patiently working with us on getting all the necessary paperwork done and done quickly. Then, when the day came, they stood back and let us do our thing. No one had ever done an event like this without their direct supervision, and they were okay with not supervising. Incredible.
* Let’s do this again in 2010, shall we? I’ll bring sunglasses and a straw hat. Maybe Mother Nature will get the hint this time.