Saturday, we found ourselves again at the Crystal Ballroom. We first had sushi in the Pearl and then walked over to stand in line to get in. The line was around the block, but when the doors were about to open, I walked up to see if folks with wristbands had to wait in that line. Nope! There was a second line for people with wristbands and I was the first in that line. Fun! This night, I smartened up some, because I knew it would be a furnace inside. I brought an empty water bottle to be filled inside. The Crystal supplies large jugs of water, but on Wednesday at the end of the night there was no water to be had. I didn't want that to happen again. I also brought a hand towel with me to mop my brow because I knew it would be another insanely sweaty night. This night, we opted to grab seats on the benches along the ballroom floor because the balcony was just too hot. We also parked near a large fan, so we could easily stand in front of it if we needed to cool off – which we did, quite often. The heat was oppressive.
Black Prairie was the first band of the night. I had previously stumbled upon them during an in-store performance at Music Millennium on Record Store Day. This bluegrass band is comprised of 3 members of The Decemberists, the lead singer of Bearfoot and also The Woolwines and the guitarist from Dolorean. Yeah, that's pretty much a super group. It was great to see Jennifer Conlee rocking a pink wig; we wish her well. It wasn't very crowded when they played, so I got to see them pretty close up. Their tango was one of my favorites. For their last song, they came down into the audience with their instruments and played.
Next up was Alela Diane. Everyone in my party is madly in love with her. We had seen her at the Doug Fir earlier in the year. Her voice is just incredible. She always reminds me of John Denver, because like him, she has a knack of singing about nature with descriptions so detailed that you can almost feel the scene. I really could listen to her sing all day long.
The third band from San Diego was pretty terrible (one reviewer called them dismal). I don't know how they were able to get third billing, especially since the other 3 bands are local darlings. Their 40 minute set felt like hours. I couldn't wait for them to finish.
Blind Pilot finished off the night with their record release party for their new album We Are the Tide. I've been waiting ages for their new album. 3 Rounds and a Sound is definitely in my top 20 favorite albums of all time. The room was packed to see them and I was glad I had a bench to stand on to have an unobstructed view. They put on an amazing show and the crowd was loud! I think they were pretty much in awe of playing a packed house at the Crystal; they kept thanking us for being there and marveling about being on stage. They were very humble. The definite highlight of the night for me was when they played a cover of Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel complete with an amazing xylophone solo. The entire room clapped and sang along. I was singing at the top of my lungs and loving every second.
Blind Pilot was our finale of MFNW 2011. Concerts continued most of the day Sunday, but there was nobody we were dying to see and after 4 days living the rock star life, we were all exhausted and needed sleep.
In 4 days of the festival I saw 16 bands (3 must sees), spent 24 hours in 4 very different and distinct music venues and slept about 12 hours. I haven't had that much fun in ages.
*All links are to videos – Take a listen!