Friday night, River Stages was packed, the weather was great and the Foo Fighters ran onstage and kicked ass. It was great to see the riverbank full of happy, dancing peoplemiddle-aged moms, punksters, drunken obnoxious frat boys. Frontman Dave Grohl barreled through Foo tunes for a while, urging the crowd to sing along before stopping mid-set to sip his Budweiser and talk to the audience. The band seemed as happy and excited to be playing as the crowd was to be listening.
With the bad weather holding off but not out of mind, Saturday afternoon was perfect: The sun was out, it wasn't too hot and a light breeze carried the smell of funnel cakes. It was great to be outside, and sets by the acoustic artist Griffin House and the electronica band Venus Hum each had crowds of around 300 people. Venus Hum's Annette Strean was mesmerizing; wearing a white dress over jeans and draped with a long yellow scarf, she looked like a punky Lisa Loeb and sounded a bit like a cross between Tori Amos and Björk.
Later, Shawn Colvin sang for 30 minutes, seemingly cutting her set short due to deteriorating weather. The steady rain didn't discourage the 200 or so who were waiting for Patty Griffin, though. Most had plastic ponchos, tarps or trash-bag ponchos; some ran for temporary cover; and others just endured the elementsprohibited at the gate from carrying an umbrella. While they waited, a Second Avenue apartment dweller took it upon himself to cheer up the crowd: Stripping naked, he danced around as the throng hollered below. An hour later than scheduled, Griffin finally appeared onstage and, despite a bout of flu, sounded great, easing the misery of the rain-soaked crowd.
Any hopes for better weather on Sunday were quickly dashed as an unseasonably cool wind ripped through people's sweatshirts. Flustered and 20 minutes late after dealing with a broken-down rental car and damaged guitar, Taylor Hicks busted out soul-filled jazz grooves on the footbridge. While everyone that passed by caught the groove, the wind kept them moving.
Still, the afternoon wasn't a total bust. The Indigo Girls and Chris Robinson and New Earth Mud breathed new life into the noticeably smaller crowds. Despite that lift, manymyself includedwere too zapped to stick around for The Strokes, who reportedly threw down and made the $10 parking fees worthwhile.
Marie Yarbrough, photos by Josh Anderson
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