The second installment of Bunbury had a slightly different feel to it, mainly due to the forecast that called for rain. This called for some preparation (in the form of a poncho and CamelBak) so that I could stay hydrated and dry when the rain came sweeping in.
I headed toward the madness, then channeled my inner Spongebob Squarepants by shouting "I'm Ready!" before heading into the gate. I caught the tail end of the Worn Flints, with their long beards, long hair, and flannel shirts. It felt as if the band from Almost Famous was back on stage with pure energy in the form of guitars and drums. Jack White, Rage Against the Machine, the Black Keys, they all come to mind as the band gives the audience all their energy.
I moved down the path and managed to get a good spot for the Neighborhood. The crowd crept up, trying to get a good seat, and the sound check got a roar out of the crowd. With all checks done, the concert was set to go. They came out and proceeded to rock it down, dancing through their two albums. The crowd grooved along, and I had a chance to abscond so I could get a chance to hear what this Cal Scruby dude is all about.
Unfortunately for Cal, the rains decided to come right as he was getting into his second track. The DJ had gotten the crowd gathered by the river stage in a hype with Jumpman by Drake, but the weather caused his microphone to lose power. With the technical difficulties, I tried to make my way back to see if the same fate had befallen the Neighborhood, but they had finished their set.
With the rain dying down, I went back to see if the other stage had remedied their problems. No equipment was necessary because they settled on using an Aux cord and iPhone! Cal rapped over his studio produced tracks. It's awesome to see an artist who does whatever it takes to put on a show for the people gathered to listen to their style. Then he straight killed it, crowd mobbing and thrashing. It ended with Cal throwing himself into the crowd to surf as he dropped the mic. Truly a cool scene.
Next it was time to set up for a bucket list artist of mine -- Big Boi from Outkast, who has hooked up with the techno wizardry of Phantogram. Before that could happen though, I soaked up an hour of G. Love and the Special Sauce. The funky band gets everyone feeling a good vibe and positive mind change after being rained on.
Then I army marched myself to get a good seat for Big Grams. The attendants on stage teased the crowd several times by raising and lowering the plastic covers on the equipment as the rain struck again. But then the sun came out, the light structure went up, and Big Grams came out to thunderous applause. Almost immediately, they raised the bar. Donning a Red Cincinnati hat, Big Boi won over the crowd with deep, low beats, a smooth delivery, and the melodic voice of Sarah Barthel. They went through their record released earlier in the year, hitting all the songs on my personal checklist, and then gave us a sing-along to "Ms. Jackson."
Umphrey McGee, Grizfolk, and Diarrhea Planet did not really blow me away. Granted they are on lower level than the remaining musical acts, but did give some gusto. Umphrey McGee had the best overall performance, but they all paled in comparison to the last two acts of the night.
The sun went down, the lights come on, and the crowd had amassed to see a true O.G, the heart of the Gangsta rap era, Ice Cube. Earlier in the day I had overheard a 20-year old worker telling someone that he didn't even know Ice Cube rapped. All I can hope is that the young man was able to see what went down. It was as if Ice Cube had gone through a time machine to when he was banned from performing in Cincinnati in 1989. He brought all that pent-up angst, anger, and energy back to form. It wasn't all of NWA because MC Wren had to cancel his appearance due to a death in the family, but we were treated to seeing his son come out and go back and forth for a track. Then it was down through the NWA tracks that Cube rapped on, and the crowd filled in all the blanks. F*** the Police complete with middle fingers in the air? Check. 1989? Check. Straight outta Compton? Check. Back in too it, check. He brought it all and showed that when it comes to stage presence and pure energy, none can compare to a fully invested Ice Cube.
Which leads to the craziest, loudest, most mesmerizing stage show my eyes have ever seen. Deadmaus! WOW! They had the loudest beat drops, lights coordinated with the music, and a beat that grabs you and compels you to dance. The iconic mouse head had glowing eyes, akin to being a bug zapper that draws us closer. He moved frantically from soundboard to switch, all to keep the beat moving until the next change in rhythm. The chaos was organized and catchy. Each trail he made with new sounds led to more people throwing their hands up and sitting on each other's shoulders. Glow sticks and beach balls were flying; all of it continuously building until the lights go went for the night.
With the long day over, and my shoes soaked in mud, I headed home to rest up for the flower children that will surely be enveloping the area for Florence and the Machine. After having run my ears through the heavy bass drops today, I will welcome her siren voice to close down a truly epic weekend.