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Beale Street Music Festival 2016 Day 1


Beale Street Music Festival 2016 Day 1

Nathan Armstrong

It all started with my math class final exam. Well that and rain, a whole lot of rain. But what could you expect? It’s Memphis in May! Of course it’s going to rain! So I went to my local TSC (Tractor Supply Company for my civilized folk) and snagged some $16 rain boots to make the trek. 

Traffic on the way to the festival was well managed and when I finally walked in, it hit me. You know that feeling when you go home and you haven’t been there for a while? Or when you walk into a place and all of a sudden you just feel welcomed. Well, that’s what hit me. Maybe it was the smell of fried everything, or the feeling of mud squashing beneath my feet, but I felt home. 

As I arrived, I walked past the Gin Blossom’s as they performed their number one song, “Follow You Down,” which served as a pleasant surprise. I made my way past their stage and on to see Young the Giant. Sameer Gadhia, the lead singer, was dressed in a bright, gold, paisley print jacket and I promise it HAD to be a Prince tribute. At this point, the rain had stopped and the weather was actually cooperating for once. As for Young the Giant, they did not disappoint. Gadhia spoke about how much he loved Memphis and acknowledged the fact that there was a giant Bass (he actually pronounced it base) Pro logo on a pyramid and that he didn’t know why but he loved it. They played the crowd favorite, “Cough Syrup,” and my favorite, “My Body,” and all of my Indie Rock dreams came true. But, all good things must come to an end, and so it was on to the next.

I was feeling a little rumble jumble in my stomach and so I talked myself into buying festival food. I know this could easily turn into a horror story but don’t worry, I did not get a Pronto Pup. Instead I went to the corn on the cob stand and may have had the best corn of my life. She asked me if I wanted butter, but I’m convinced she put liquid perfection on that thing. Moral of the story, get the corn on the cob. Only $4, worth a million.

As I was on the way back to see Panic! At the Disco, I overheard a couple conversations. I actually heard someone say they were excited to see PATD because they were, “still in seventh grade.” I think this sold them short, because PATD may have been the best show of the night. They have evolved their sound in to more of an EDM Rock brand, but don’t worry, they played to their old tunes as well. Performing hits like “Nine in the Afternoon,” and “Hallelujah,” they continued to impress in their Beale Street Music Fest debut. Then, the coolest part of the night, just as the rain started to come, PATD performed the greatest cover of, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” that I’ve ever witnessed. It felt like a movie, rain drizzled down in dramatic fashion as they finished off the night with everyone’s (except Brendon Urie) favorite, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” Oh yeah, throw in some back flips from Urie. All around great performance, which exceeded a ton of expectations. 

This is where it got difficult, Neil Young was set to perform at 10:40 and Weezer at 10:50. I had a choice to make, classic rock icon or the everyman’s stoner rock band that I grew up with? Well, to be fair, I tried both. I power walked to Neil Young’s set and caught the first fifteen minutes but I had to cut my losses so I wouldn’t miss too much of Weezer’s set. 

On the way to Weezer, I came across a diamond in the rough. They have implemented a, “Blues Shack,” in between the FedEx Stage and the Rockstar Energy Stage where local Memphis Blues is played all day. I had the pleasure of hearing Terry “Harmonica” Bean. Just a cool little piece of Memphis snuck into the business of the festival.

Now, for Weezer.  I really have no words. They came out, they played, and they were awesome. With the same look on their faces from start to finish, Weezer looked like they had been there before. I didn’t have the time to write too many notes because I was so busy singing the words to every song. And I wasn’t alone, as EVERYONE was screaming the lyrics back to the stage. It was back-to-back too, from “Say it Ain’t So,” to “Hash Pipe,” to “Trouble Maker,” to “Beverly Hills.” And what else would they end on than “Buddy Holly?” I feel like this was the show I have been waiting for since freshman year of High school. Great show, great people surrounding me, and I’m excited to do it all again tomorrow.

- @StonePannell