EVER-FERAL: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Tweeter.
There was no right-clicking last Saturday at the Tweeter Center Download Festival, one of four such events occurring this month across the country, this one featuring Modest Mouse, Guster, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neko Case, Wolf Parade, Band of Horses, Bang Camaro, and Apollo Sunshine. Indeed, it remains a mystery just what this “computah concert” (as one grizzled scalper in the parking lot called it) had to do with its name.
But if there weren’t banks of computers from which fans could insta-blog to the indie masses or fill their flash drives full of live tracks, there were plenty of other diversions for a decidedly less-than-capacity crowd. One could line up for free screenprint T-shirts at the Volkswagen garage. Or have a digital photo taken at the Nikon booth. Or grab a totally sweet Nokia beer cozy. Or noodle on a Gibson guitar. Or paint a custom environmentally aware slogan on a canvas tote bag at the Natural Resources Defense Council booth, barely a hundred yards from where Gulf Oil was trying to give away free swag.
And one could swat off bees. Dozens of dive-bombing bees. (Reports of impending apian extinction have, it appears, been greatly exaggerated.) “I think this festival is sponsored by large, stinging insects . . . made by Volkswagen,” quipped Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell in the midst of a powerful set that transcended the shabbiness of its parking-lot locale.
All the performances were good, from Bang Camaro, still living the rock-and-roll dream, to Neko Case, with her honey-dipped twang, to the ever-feral YYYs. But on the main stage, the corporate omnipresence did not go unremarked. Guster’s Ryan Miller wondered aloud whether any of their college-age fans knew that the venue used to be called Great Woods. And he ribbed one enthused fellow for sporting a VW headband. “You’re a corporate shill . . . but you somehow make me want a Volkswagen.”
As Miller introduced headliners Modest Mouse, the diverse, day-long fest reached full efflorescence. Isaac Brock and company turned in a tight, impassioned set: lighting into the hit “Float On,” Brock called on fans in the cheap seats to descend toward the sparsely populated premium area. And so they did, en masse, overrunning the ushers like a swarm of bees bedecked in corporate logos.