This year's line-up was simply daunting. Friday's roster was an epic schedule with conflicts every which way. Starting shortly after noon with Gomez, The Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, Galactic, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold, Grizzly Bear, the legendary King Sunny Ade, Al Green, Ani Difranco, TV on the Radio, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Phish, Phoenix, Public Enemy and Girl Talk.
And that's less than half of the bands performing that day. I'd been gearing up for this day for a few months: wind sprints, stomach crunches, lunges, binge drinking and lung work-outs. A 14-hour marathon.
Rolling into Centeroo just past 2 pm I was sad to miss Vieux Farka Toure's set at the Other Tent, instead heading to grab a good spot for Animal Collective's early afternoon performance. Many were griping at the timing of the placement of AC set, but the band rolled on, wasting no time, tearing into their big songs "Lion in a Coma," "My Girls" and "Summertime Clothes."
It was the inverse of their set at the State Theater earlier in the week where they took their time with the first half of the show before letting loose. After raging to the set closer "Brother Sport" we stopped in to briefly check out Grace Potter and the Nocturnals where else can you just stop off for a taste of such amazing artists?
I would have loved to seen her whole show up close as I've still yet to see a full-on Grace Potter set. We headed to That Tent to get ready for the Santigold dance party. Unfortunately the party was beset by sound issues for the whole first half of the set even causing Santigold to stop during "Lights Out" to politely ask the sound guy to fix the issues. It got better, but never perfect. Regardless, the young crowd continued to throw down as she played almost all the tracks from her self-titled 2008 album, saving "Creator" as the set closer. Only slightly fatigued, I made my way to The What (main) Stage where Al
Green was in the midst of the longest intro I've ever seen.
He paraded around the stage with a dozen roses grinning ear-to-ear before finally getting down to business with his classics. It was a sing-a-long lovefest as Green rattled "Let's Get Married," "Let's Stay Together," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" and "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)."
It was a great time to lay down for a rest and take in the sun and good vibes. But we weren't even half-way done with Friday and my first time to catch TV on the Radio was about to take place. Though disappointed with the mix from The Which Stage, I was happily caught off guard by lead singer Tunde Adebimpe's energy he paraded around the stage commanding the crowd's attention. Highlights were "Halfway Home," "Golden Age" and "Red Dress."
Jumping back to the main stage, a bottleneck occured around the entrance and we were shuffled into a bad position for the start of the Beastie Boys' set. It didn't matter too much, though. I think I could karaoke almost any of their tracks, and I went into full teenage nostalgia, rapping along with "Sure Shot" and "Shake Your Rump." The Beasties went back-and-forth from mics to instruments, playing tight versions of "Gratitude" and "Sabrosa" then the annoying "Egg Raid on Mojo."
We chose to leave early and catch the entire David Byrne set. It turned out to be a good call. Despite some sound issues still persisting on The Which Stage, Byrne turned in a powerhouse set including a nasty version of "Crosseyed and Painless" into "Born Under Punches," followed by the timeless "Once in a Lifetime." Byrne even gave a nod to Al Green with the Talking Heads' version of his "Take Me to the River."
Phish took the stage just after 10 p.m. and I still had another 6 hours left to go. I was definitely feeling the pain of an already full day's worth of music but this was no time to stop. Phish was scheduled for a long, late-night set and they did not disappoint, playing straight for almost four hours. A Phish marathon is simultaneously a journey with the band, with yourself and everyone around you. That sounds cheesy, I know, but in an environment where improvisation is often the basis for a song, being free to the moment is the only way to make it through such an exhaustive set. Highlights were "Stash" and the Stash jam, then the "You Enjoy Myself" > "Wilson" > "You Enjoy Myself" sandwich.