Empty beer cans, flashing for beads and chugging whiskey out of the bottle pretty much sums up the 20th annual Country Thunder Festival in Florence, Ariz — at least, from what I saw.
The festival consisted of four days of nonstop drinking, two-stepping and listening to live music from smaller country artists and headliners, such as Toby Keith and Eric Church, alike.
Sean Caldwell who experienced his first Country Thunder this weekend hit it on the head: "There's so many trashy girls here!"
People play games from beer pong to dizzy bat, finding new and strange ways to make new friends and keep drinking. Cruising in the back of a truck isn't unusual — neither is watching people jump in next to you, despite not knowing whose truck they just jumped in.
While being drunk for more than 12 hours straight is what many people who attend Country Thunder experience, it's definitely not what everyone's weekend is like. Families attend the festival as well and enjoy camping out, barbecuing and dancing at the campgrounds and in the venue.
Gilbert Ochoa from Tucson said he was most looking forward to watching Toby Keith since he didn't get to see him while on base in Afghanistan.
"It's a lot of fun and you meet a lot of great people at events like this," Ochoa said.
Everything becomes a dance floor at Country Thunder, from the roof of an RV to the road and any part of the dirt lot venue where people enjoy the live music.
"I like how ... they have like a carnival type area with food and ... the dance floor," said Rachelle Linn. "It's just a very fun atmosphere."
Vince Thomas from Glendale has been going to Country Thunder for four years and said he enjoys partying with friends and watching the performances.
"I think they do a great job out here," Thomas said. "I think they got it down the best they can to make everybody happy."
In case you're waiting to pull the trigger on Dave Grohl's Sound City flick, let me make it easy for you: It's well worth the money.
After Thursday night's one-time-only theater debut at The Loft Cinema among about 50 other theaters across the nation, the film went up for download on iTunes with a sticker price of $12.99. Sound City provides a superb look into what is arguably one of the most iconic landmarks in rock history, Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Calif.
My word may be a little bit tilted on this one — I've been a Dave Grohl fan for as long as I can remember — but I've also seen my fair share of shitty documentaries, and this one is produced quite well.
The film itself covers the entire history of Sound City, and gives a behind-the-scenes look into all the major records that came from within its shag-carpeted walls. Records include Buckingham Nicks, the album that brought Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham together with Mick Fleetwood to form what Fleetwood Mac is today; Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedoes and Wildflowers, among others and Nirvana's Nevermind.
The story then turns to the science behind the sound, providing a detailed discussion of the legendary Neve Console, a $75,000 control board that made every Sound City record before being rendered obsolete by recording computer software like Pro Tools.
Jim Lipson reviewed last week's John Fogerty show at AVA at Casino del Sol for Tucson Weekly. But who are we to say no when Al Perry sent us his own review of the same show?
I'll admit that while I don't go out as much as I should, I've attended a few concerts at AVA at Casino del Sol lately. I am impressed with the place as a concert venue. The size is right, and the sound and sightlines are good. A few years back I was bored by good old boring Bob Dylan there. I rocked to Heaven and Hell with Ronnie James Dio (!) and Alice Cooper, and watched, through misty eyes, the transcendent historic miracle of the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour's opening show. A couple of weeks ago, I even attended the hilarious Confederate slob-fest that was Molly Hatchet. Each concert was most enjoyable.
John Fogerty breezed through Tucson the other night and provided a very pleasant, relaxing evening of well-executed rock 'n’ roll. His simple songs and presentation proved quite effective. And, hey, he had James Intveld on second guitar! How great is that? There was no opening act, and his set, just under two hours, was crammed with Creedence classics, and some material I didn't know. Later solo stuff, I suppose.
He was in good voice, though his singing is strangely thinner and higher pitched than back in the day. And his hair was a little too dark and he looked like maybe he'd had a facelift or something. You know? That weird, pale, stretched look? Energy-wise, though, nothing was lacking. The guy was unstoppable, and I'd forgotten just what a superb gittfiddle plonker he is. He Travis-picked on a red Tele, and played some devastating, thick blues solos on "Heard It Through the Grapevine." I didn't see God or anything, but I did derive enormous pleasure from his show.
There did not seem to be anyone under 30 in the crowd. In fact, I'd guess there weren't too many under 50. Which is fine, but does not bode well for the future of real rock 'n’ roll. While each generation must identify with their own sounds, their own T-shirts as it were, it seems a shame that young folks won't get to experience firsthand the great rock that we elderly folks did. Oh well, these oldsters didn't like the big band music of previous generations either.
Then...that drummer! A monster. He was like an octopus but with just two arms, if that makes sense. All over the place! Kenny something-or-other, some big famous guy (Ed. note: It was likely Kenny Aronoff). Normally, I think a drummer should simply lay down a foundation, set a groove for the other participants to build on. If you notice the drummer, then he's not doing his job (my opinion, OK?). This guy nearly upstaged Fogerty. He was fascinating to watch. A powerhouse who really propelled the band, yet never got so busy that the he lost the beat. And the show did need some visual focus. The unadorned, checkered shirt rock of the other guys was lacking in that department.
All in all, I'm gonna call it a great show and give it five stars. For pure rock 'n’ roll, it simply ain't gonna get much better than that. It's nice to see someone out there still kicking rock's withered corpse. The full house no doubt agreed.
When a pal informed me that a local band he was acquainted with had secured the opening slot for the George Thorogood/Molly Hatchet concert, I was happy for them. When he offered to get me a ticket, I was slightly dismayed. You see, I detest Southern Rock, and Thorogood, face it, is pretty darn boring. However, the date of the show fell on my birthday, and since I don't like my birthday anyway, I figured I'd just go for the fun of it. If nothing else it would be an amusing spectacle of hillbilly revelry.
I sure was wrong about that. The concert was nothing less than sheer genius and provided valuable insights into the American psyche.