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Show Journal: Rosewood Crawfish Festival and The Restoration at NBT

Last week David assigned me preview articles for both the Rosewood Crawfish Festival and The Restoration’s show at New Brookland Tavern on Saturday, though he told me I didn’t have to cover either event if I didn’t want to. After my trip to Atlanta for the weekend fell through and left me with a complete blank schedule Saturday, I decided I’d fill my day with as much music, good food and hanging with friends as possible by attending both events and maybe work in Olympia Fest as well. I dubbed the day ‘Festivalmageddon’ and marked it on my calendar.

My plans to attend the Crawfish Festival started Wednesday night, when I got the feeling Atlanta wasn’t going to happen. While perusing the festival’s website, I saw that they hosted a

Chillin' with some meats. You know.

5k run in the morning and that running the race got you admission to the festival and a free t-shirt. Knowing that my friend Bobby, who ran cross country in high school like I did, couldn’t resist the idea of competing after not having done so in three and a half years and getting a free t-shirt in the process, I roped him into running and attending with me. Rosewood Crawfish Festival was officially a go.

After getting five hours of sleep, finishing my Restoration show preview after I woke up, picking up Bobby, receiving no help from cops or festival employees about where to park, and doing regrettably minimal stretching, the horn sounded to start the run at a bit after 10 a.m. Knowing full well that this run was going to suck, I was still kind of excited to participate. It’s like having an affinity for insanely spicy foods – you know it’s going to hurt, but you accept it willingly. Anticipating a crowd replete with fit, attractive female runners, I wore the most stylish and flattering running outfit I own (see picture). Nothing says “do me” like a sweaty dude with yellow shorts and pale upper thighs as the sensuous odor of boiled crustaceans wafts through the air.

My happy mindset quickly disappeared as I started moving my arms and legs forward in the motion known as running. I had run more than a mile consecutively maybe twice since Fall 2007 and by mile two I felt like utter shit. To give you an idea of how out of shape I am compared to high school me – my high school best 5k (3.1 miles) time was 18:15; my time Saturday was 22:00 flat. My body continues to let me know how upset it is with me anytime I try to sit down on the couch.

The before. No after pic though, too graphic.

Bobby and I took a quick chill break in the meats section at Publix (only spot in the store that sufficiently cooled us down) and then headed into the festival. We walked around a bit to get an idea of the festival layout and subside the urge to puke, then decided to get adventurous and try some crawfish. Neither of us had eaten them before, so we watched a YouTube video on how to do so properly – oh, the sad but convenient world we live in. The crawfish were delicious, though they’re quite the chore to eat. A lot of ripping and pulling shell for not much meat per critter; the aftermath was a scene of pure, cajun seasoned carnage.

The music portion of the festival kicked off at noon with Jahson and the Natty Vibes Band on the Landshark Stage and Tom Hall and The Plowboys on the First Citizens’ Stage. Bobby and I started off listening to Jahson; they were initially entertaining, playing a reggae version of the Mission Impossible theme, though the roots-rock-reggae quickly became repetitive and we headed across the festival grounds to the First Citizens’ Stage. We caught the end of The Plowboys’ set and they were what their name suggested – good ol’ country rock pickin’ (letters left out for emphasis). They were marginally more exciting than Jahson, but Bobby and I stuck their set out and posted up for Elonzo to take the stage next.

The throngs of people at Elonzo. Shame.

I’d never seen Elonzo and had only heard a few tracks off of their Myspace, which I liked, so I was excited for their set; honestly, they were the only band I really cared about seeing at the festival. They more than lived up to my expectations for them, as the quartet was extremely tight and had a great stage presence. Guitar work is a big part of how I evaluate bands, and Jeremy Davis’ guitar was minimal when other parts were supposed to shine and took the lead with extreme energy when it was time to solo. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, though the sparse crowd for their performance was a bit of a downer. I look forward to seeing them again in a club venue setting.

By the time Elonzo finished playing at 1:45 p.m., the 5k, food and sun had taken their toll on us and we knew there was no way we’d make it all the way until headliners Eve 6 finished around 8 p.m., nor would I want to swing by the Olympia Festival. With our heads hung in defeat and disappointment, we left the festival and made the painful walk back down Rosewood to our car. Sorry Rosewood Crawfish Festival, maybe next year I’ll be more in shape and can survive an entire day standing around listening to music.

After dropping Bobby off at his place and taking a solid two-hour nap, I woke up and started trying to find people to accompany me to The Restoration show. With only slight bribery involved, I was able to coax my kemp ridley bandmates Thomas and Trey into attending. I know I accurately speak for the both of them in saying we’re glad that we went.

Opening acts Efren and The Lovely Few laid down solid sets (for descriptions of each band check out my show preview), though there weren’t many patrons at NBT there to see either group. It was obvious that this night was all about The Restoration, with the majority of people not showing up until 10 p.m. when they knew the headliners would go on.

Members of kemp ridley and I had seen The Restoration once before, at this past year’s Free Times Music Crawl, and enjoyed their music for the most part, but Trey and I found them to be a bit gimmicky. After reading up on them to write my preview Saturday morning, talking to frontman Daniel Machado before the show and having them completely floor me with their music and energy Saturday night, I willingly eat my words. If the metaphoric Restoration bandwagon ever needed a driver, I pray that they would call me.

Their songwriting pays so much attention to detail both musically and historically, as their chord progressions are perfectly arranged and the story that the songs depict falls perfectly in line with the progression of the South during and after the Civil War. After two songs, I was already eating out of the group’s hand; the fact that they played a snippet of the Jurassic Park theme and ended their set with a killer “Come Together” made me fall absolutely in love with them.

Below is a video I shot of one of the group’s newer tunes, “New South Blues.” Thanks again to all members of The Restoration for the awesome set; it was a great way to cap off my marathon of a day. Festivalmageddon 2011 = success.

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