All words: Jeb Gavin, Farrah Skeiky — All photos: Joy Asico
first up, some memories by Jeb: Oh sweet music festival life. That’s not me waxing poetic about the name of the Sweetlife Music and Food Festival, presented by Sweetgreen at Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Saturday. I just generally love music, and love any day I get a whole lot of it live.
These are heady days for music festival goers. In the past couple of years, everyone’s started their own music festival, and most are average to middling. That seems to happen. Gone are the days of Woodstock ’99. Now there’s always enough water, and while you can still get a crap-ton of fried food at exorbitant prices, now gourmet food trucks show up, satiating my every desire. In fact, now that I think about it, Sweetlife was a pretty solid say for me in general.
First off, most music festivals, you set some absurd schedule to see all of your favorite bands, running back and forth, missing opening and closing numbers to make it to every stage. Me, I had no agenda. I don’t think I saw a bad show, but then again, I wasn’t desperate to see any of them. I arrived in time to see Fun, a band whose name I can never seem to adequately stylize.
Their set was shockingly high energy power pop, reminding me for some reason of Barenaked Ladies shows from back in the day (probably just a thought planted in my head by a Canadian flag on the guitarist’s sweat shirt.) I decided to hang out at the pavilion stage the next show, rapper A$AP Rocky.
Aside from them being 20 minutes late, they put on a hell of a show. And an audience whose childish behavior would normally piss me off was mostly endearing. I watched the show from the pit, with a crowd of stoned, multi-ethnic teens who weren’t alive the first time I saw a live rap show. It was a blast, even if the squirrely looking kid swigging vodka from a water bottle kept staring at me like a narc (granted, I was wearing my narciest-looking fishing hat, and rocking a non-ironic fanny pack holding my rain poncho.)
Opting to stalk the food court for a bit, I took in a fried chicken sandwich from Jose Andres’ food truck Pepe. That sammich was stunning, though way too tiny, and perhaps a little more heat is needed. Next up were popsicles from Pleasant Pops. Let me tell you, those things are addictive.
There is a good chance I will camp outside their new store just south of Adams Morgan until it opens and I can stock up on Carolina Sweet Tea pops. Over the next eight hours, I managed to house pulled pork sliders, some cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar up in New York, and the Shake Shack’s latest burger creation, the Smoke Shack, which is their standard shack burger, with cherry pepper relish and bacon. There is a better than average chance it will be the death of me, and I’m OK with that.
Heading back to the pavilion to see a ripping, though largely ignored Fitz and the Tantrums set, I ran into a friend and her sorority sisters, and opted to hang with them as they rolled away the next few sets on the lawn. All agreed, Fitz pulled out all the stops, though it felt like the audience didn’t even care.
Luckily, next up was Explosions in the Sky. I don’t know that words can adequately describe the all instrumental art rock sonic explorations that went on that day. I choose to believe the people gazing up at the liquid gray sky were moved by the music, and not hitting that mid-afternoon lull that comes from an afternoon full of recreational chemicals.
All I know is, I love Explosions in the Sky, and will, from time to time, lie on the floor listening to them, and completely clear my mind.
At this point I opted to run back to the Toki Underground booth to house a pho dog. In this case, a half smoke boiled in pho broth, dressed with Sriracha and hosin, topped with a bit of slaw, sprigs of cilantro and fresh squeezed lime. Well, that didn’t last long. I ducked into the press booth to flirt with cute volunteers and get out of the rain. Or vice versa. Towards the end of the rain, Zola Jesus took to the tree house stage for a quick but intense half hour.
As things around the food truck court wound down, I took the opportunity to indulge in a massive, New Orleans sandwich known as a muffuletta. A concoction of sliced capicola and sopprasseta, topped with cheese and a chopped and marinated olive salad full of carrots and pickled cauliflower, akin to a spreadable giardiniere, layered on a big, dense wheel of bread, all compressed and magical. I’d like to think I made love to that sandwich, but truth be told, it made me its bitch.
The Kid Cudi set which followed was crazy, intense and amped up. I’d heard his music, I’ve enjoyed his music, but I never quite understood. Seeing it live, you get this sense of the point live music, which is as high a compliment as I could think of for a performing musician.
Avicii followed a few minutes later, but I was tapped out by then.
Much as I give people crap for Avicii, I tend to forget how much I enjoyed his work on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. His visuals were killer, and the crowd was completely on board to rock out, but I was exhausted by this point, and every beat simply reminded me of seeing LCD Soundsystem two years prior on the same stage.
After wandering aimlessly and loving it, abusing my dignity stomping from haute cuisine booth to haute cuisine booth, and seeing some unexpectedly awesome concerts, nothing could get to me. It was a great day, which is saying a lot for a day at a music festival.
And-more from Farrah: