Desdemona Music Festival – Day 1

Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo says “Hello Sun!”

I don’t know if I was weakened from Bonnaroo, or if the lack of sleep last night did it to me, but the first day of Desdemona wore me out. Fortunately, I was able to find the place without getting lost—that’s a first for any Cincinnati-area concert. I was a bit surprised with the location at first. Sawyer Point Park is almost literally right on the Ohio river, but it’s a beautiful location and it worked pretty well.

Within the first ten minutes of getting in to the park, my friend Cameron and I were spotted by Ryan of Good Hodgkins. Shortly thereafter, we were given the middle finger by a cap-wearing fellow that turned out to be Dodge. From there it didn’t take long before we’d picked up Eric (taller than I’d expected), Joe, Nathaniel, and Pete Ohs, who was doing press for the festival.

It felt good to be prepared for Margot after last night. I’m afraid that if Desdemona had been my first experience with their live show, I would have followed them around like a lovesick puppy for the rest of the day. They completely bowled over an unfortunately small crowd (I think Eric pointed out that most people were just getting off work at this point), and did away with any of my fears that the magic I saw at The Dame couldn’t be duplicated.

I’ve seen a lot of bands play, but I think that seeing Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s play “Barfight Revolution, Power Violence” ranks right up there with the best of them. Something about its energetic build-ups that completely dead end in a hushed verse gets me every time. Plus, this time around their extra percussionist started tossing his cymbal up in the air and letting it clang on the ground. Priceless.

Seeing The Apples in Stereo on a raised platform, bathed in light almost ruins the times that I’ve seen them play in dingy bars or dark lofts. Sunny music calls for a sunny day. I think Robert and the gang must have felt the same way, because they were in top form. The setlist was pretty close to their last Lexington one. As for new material, they performed “Skyway,” “Open Eyes,” and “You Gotta Play Tough, My Love.” Classics ranged from “Ruby,” and “What’s the #?” to “Stream Running Over,” which I’d never seen before.

I hate to single out one memeber, but adding Bill Doss (The Olivia Tremor Control) on keyboards was the best move the Apples could have made. And he and Robert always seem to have some good banter, since they’re childhood friends. The mood was playful, the sound was great and the crowd was receptive (the push to get to the front when the band started was both unexpected and comforting). The more I think about it, the more I’m sure this was the best Apples in Stereo show I’ve seen so far.

I joked around before the festival that they “should have just paid VHS or Beta the extra $10 to get them to actually perform instead.” Still, they did a really great job DJing. They had sort of a tag-team thing going on, and often had two members working in tandem.

Hands down the funniest moment of Desdemona was watching Ghostface’s hype guys try to get us pumped before his performance. Yes, there were a lot of hip hop fans who got pretty excited, but I think we all know how hard it is to get indie kids to act like they care. Plus, we were all pretty tired at that point. So it was kind of rough for these guys to try and get us involved (their biggest response-getter? “Where my weed smokers at?”)

We left about 20 minutes into Ghostface’s set. It wasn’t bad, just that most of us were hungry and a few of us (myself included) had some sizable headaches.

To sum up: Margot killed, The Apples played the best show I’ve seen them play, VHS or Beta are actually not bad DJs, and no matter what Ghostface pays his hype men, it isn’t enough. Day one was great, but day two looks even better! If you’re still on the fence about attending, I can’t suggest it enough.

A Few Desdemona Photos:
Richard from Margot
Five of Margot’s Eight
Emily of Margot
Richard against a backdrop of foliage
Bill Doss shakes it with the Apples
Robert says “Hello Sun”
John and Bill from the Apples
Robert Schneider from the Apples
More Robert
VHS or DJs

Other blogs are covering Desdemona as well. Ryan already has some photos up. I’m sure his are going to be the best of all of ours. His camera’s great, and he looked like he actually knew what he was doing with it. Nate from IGIF has his recap online too. Joe has some sweet Margot photos up, and I’m sure MP and MOKB are going to have sweet wrap-ups sometime soon.

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