Around 12:30 a.m. outside the Brick on Saturday, a leather-clad woman with a crew cut affirmed that she had had it with the youngsters’ rock and roll: “The older I get, the less I wanna play with douche-y slackers.” She wasn’t talking about the Crossroads Music Festival. The proud woman’s point was that she wanted to play with aged, learned musicians — like the ones there.
The CMF is a musicians’ festival, a staycation resort for the local community of aging metalheads, huskers and loungers, many of whom are probably just trying to, you know, hold down an alienating corporate job the rest of the week. There are no stale, 20-year-old delusions of celebrity, no palpable stage fright, and no aggressive experiments in hormonal noise. The audience, too, seems to reside in calm, cruise-controlled waters - probably a fair representation of the city’s largest and most committed listening and playing audience. At a moderate pace, my relatively young legs (the youngest there?) walked back and forth between the fest's venues. I came at 9 p.m. and timed the walk to each venue — no more than five minutes from Crosstown Station to the Brick, the longest distance (though longer if you’re drunk or high).
I caught the last bits of the Columns
, led by CMF organizer Bill Sundahl. The trained and true musicianship of their steady blues cleared huge spaces for guitar, trumpet and sax solos.
Faster Than Hell
drew a crowd of robust middle-agers to the Mercy Seat alleyway. Turns out, hell isn’t all that fast — a semi maybe, a “Crazy Train” or a “Slow Ride.” They don’t bullshit the hell though — over the fat, blazing, gain-laden guitar-bass-and-drum ballads about inertia and devastation bounced the band's cannonball, spit-screaming leader, jumping and grabbing at the just-out-of-reach power line leading through the alley and to the lights projecting his shadow over the H-bomb explosion graffitied on the alley wall. The geriatric Cigar Box patrons strolled by with their hands over their ears, blocking out the bloated shredding.
played a set of straightforward, twangy power pop down at the Brick an hour later. The band's outfit of vintage instruments oiled up its jabs — like the Jam if it gained a little weight, turned up the distortion, and listened to more Alex Chilton. Call me old-fashioned, but Gretsches and Rickenbackers are too damn bright and brittle to be mucked up by that silly, noisy distortion.
Back at Mercy Seat Alley, Cherokee Rock Rifle
echoed the gasoline metal of Faster Than Hell, except faster and more hellish: “Any chance we get red lights?” The answer was no, unfortunately. Dutch Humphrey's growl gargled like a primordial shit spring — an even graver post-Vedder drawl.
Next door, in the back of Czar, the brick walls buzzed with Rock Rifle as Dollar Fox fought for acoustic air space in the tinny shotgun bar. The Antiques Roadshow-channeling, honky-tonk pop of Dollar Fox gave the audience a line-dancing itch, which one tiny woman triumphantly tried to scratch. The mood rose, and with it, Jauqui Craig on the shoulders of the audience. A hand-clap breakdown brought her to the stage, where she gave Dollar Fox’s main man a big kiss on the cheek.
At the Brick, Sons of Great Dane
echoed the Safes, playing some vanilla rock straightforwardness, but with, I hate to say it, more cowbell. The bottom dropped out neatly from their long, stiff-but-shapely songs that were as safe and radio-ready as anything the Foo Fighters did in the ‘90s.
I climbed the steps to Press Bar and caught the noir-ish Tron spinoff vibe of the Latenight Callers and then I crashed through Czar and headed home.