Finally! The second half of our belated FreeFest photo roundup. Check out the first installment here.
The evening portion of this year’s Virgin FreeFest was bookended by two equally cool events. It started with randomly meeting Mark Ibold, bass player of Pavement, and ended with making out with M.I.A. (really!sorta!) But more on that shortly…
After I met Ibold and gushed like a school girl about how great it was to finally see a band I’ve loved for so long, I headed to the Dance Forest for Chromeo. Lots of people had been dancing about all day here so by 6:30 p.m., it was more like the Dirt Forest. But Chromeo’s funky synth beats were addicting, so no one was really bothered by it.
My next stop was back to the West Stage for Ludacris, who deserves mad props for how well he works a crowd and holds it in the palm of his hand.
Pavement’s current reunion tour, even if it is to pad the band’s 401Ks, could very well be a one-time thing, so I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. Having just been blown off my feet (almost literally because of the wind during the downpour/thunder/lightning storm) three days earlier at one of the band’s Central Park shows in NYC, I was looking forward to seeing Pavement a) without wiping the rain out of my eyes; and b) capturing the group on film. Happily, I got to do both.
In true Pavement fashion, there were messed-up starts and do-over and a fizzled-out ending on at least one song. Whereas the set in NYC was all thrashy power, like a wall of sound coming at you, this set was filled with more of the slower songs in the Pavement repertoire (“Heaven is a Truck,” “Stop Breathing,” “Spit on a Stranger”). However, the mood onstage was playful. Lead singer Stephen Malkmus, never one for lots of stage banter, was downright chatty. He took suggestions on which Baltimore Oriole player he should dedicate a song to, finally deciding on Brian Matusz, and commented on the Baltimore Ravens (“The Dirty Birds,” he called them).
Maybe the laid-back set had to do with exhaustion from playing so much recently. Malkmus was playing with his forehead against his mic during one song, and the always-hyper Bob Nastanovich was quite a bit calmer than he was during the NYC show (except during “Unfair” and “Fight This Generation,” of course).
As much as it pained me, I had to miss Pavement’s last song to get over to the West Stage for M.I.A. And she was late going on by like 15 minutes. As this was the first time I’d ever seen Ms. Maya live, she wasn’t gaining points with this.
But once she got started, the girl won me over. I know many other reviews said her performance just OK, and that may all be true. But holy hell-fire, as someone who has never seen her live before, let me say this: M.I.A. knows how to put on a performance visually.
And I don’t even say that because she kissed me…through my camera lens. I was shooting her up close when she suddenly leaned, grabbed the hood around the end of my lens, and brought it up to her mouth, close enough to fog the glass.
More photos of Virgin FreeFest 2010 are available here.