A single group tailgating with a beer bong and winnebago, a plaid clad audience dotted with jet black dyed hair and tattoos, the aging former lovers of late nineties alternative--all ghosts of HFStivals past that haunted a mainly empty Merriweather this past Saturday for the 2011 edition of annual music festival.
The HFStival of today is a far cry from the festival's decade-old counterparts--only 3,000 people had shown up prior to 6:30 on Saturday, paltry for an all day festival that used to host bone crushing volumes of patrons (90,000 people at its peak).
But by the time 9:45 rolled around, the tide came in for the Avett Brothers.
If you've ever read our blog, chances are you know our feelings on the Avetts. For me, it was love at first listen. Brothers Scott and Seth (joined by cellist Joe Kwon) jump 'til they're sweaty and sing 'til they're hoarse. They break strings and shred bows. They thank the audience incessantly, and have perfected the response to the audience awkwardly shouting "we love you" (answer: "we love you too"). They pump a palpable energy into their shows that gets the crowd moving every single time. Saturday's show was no different.
It's hard to select stand-outs from the set. My personal favorite was a sparse, Avett-only rendition of Murder in the City; while I've seen them do it that way numerous times, the last line always rings sweeter in my ears in that particular arrangement ("Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name").
A hallmark of a good show is having no complaints. A hallmark of a great show is overlooking them. I hardly noticed anything but the awesome time I was having.