Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011


orlandocallingthumb 260x260 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011Florida is packed with a million things. Heck, there’s more real (and artificial) America that’s trickled down into Florida over the last half-century than in most states. That’s doubly true for Orlando, the state’s defacto central-most city. Now take that, and the amped-up entertainment precedent in the area (ranging from strip clubs to Disney World to The Holy Land Experience) and try making a music festival to compete. Imagine you have tons of money and experience in putting on festivals, but have never put on a gig in America before.

That’s the position Festival Republic was in with Orlando Calling: trying to be all things to all people. In a place like Orlando, FL, you can hardly blame the folks behind Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury in the U.K. for going big and going hard with that – it’s the only way they know. And God bless ‘em for booking stylistically diverse (you could argue nonsensically disparate) acts like The Raconteurs, The Roots and Drive-By Truckers, all performing simultaneously Saturday night.

But on the ground, it all seemed to gel nicely (well, maybe not during parking). The only obvious disconnect, obvious from the day Orlando Calling’s lineup was announced, was in terms of generational tastes. It’s unlikely the festival’s two days would have a ton of demographic overlap. And, not to state the obvious here, but the reason Consequence of Sound only covered the first day of Orlando Calling was, while many of our readers adore classic rock, our timely coverage doesn’t normally encompass Dwight Yoakam, you know? Plus, you guys, it’s the end of the festival season until SXSW 2012 and we’re all fucking exhausted. Oh wait, people are gearing up for that already? Shit.

Anyway, here’s our 10 favorite sets from Orlando Calling’s first day of its first-ever fest. Don’t say we never did anything for you.

Paul de Revere
Staff Writer

The Ettes

cap0099 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard

Main Stage – 12:30 p.m.

It’s taken The Ettes a minute to find its place. For now, at least, it’s Nashville, where the trio is peddling its brand of lean, distorted garage rock. On Saturday, the band’s fuzzed-out sounds laid in the Citrus Bowl, the same arena where lead singer/guitarist Lindsay “Coco” Hames once chickened out on singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a teenager. Too “punk-rock” to do it, she joked. You go, Coco. -Paul de Revere

Kids These Days

cap0848 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard

Authentic Stage – 1:35 p.m.

Spoiler alert: The Pixies did not play “Where Is My Mind?” Saturday night. However, Kids These Days played a fantastic cover that nearly surpassed its original source with its brass-centric on the song’s spine-tingling melody. Whether the cover was done because it shared a bill with the indie legends remains a mystery, but it was certainly a nod to the shoulders of the giants Kids These Days stand on. What isn’t a mystery is why the fantastic Kids These Days sounds so refreshing in a festival like Orlando Calling. It’s always great to see a multi-cultural, genre-twisting band at a rock-dominated festival with, well, a homogeneous crowd of white people. All the better if those multi-cultural bands are playful, mellow combinations of funk, ska, and jazz-rap like Kids These Days. Definitely one of the day’s best surprises. -Paul de Revere

Gogol Bordello

cap0226 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard

Main Stage – 1:50 p.m.

“Orlando Calling! Here we come!” Fun fact: Eugene Hutz can scream. But, he does it with such a clumsy finesse; in other words, whilst holding an open bottle of wine, splashing it all over the stage and his own body, amidst exaggerated exclamations. These days, a festival wouldn’t be a festival without Manhattan’s gypsy punk collective, Gogol Bordello. Given its inaugural status, Orlando Calling needed this band. They’re an act that changes audiences and opens up the champagne while doing it. During their set, the audience experienced the most energy seen from any act on the Main Stage, especially during a vivid cut of “Break the Spell”, which had violinist Sergey Ryabtsev and Hutz instructing their newfound fans to scream the song’s anthemic chorus. And while you can have 60 different revolutions going on within an audience, sadly enough the song was not played. Instead, “Start Wearing Purple” surfaced, offering an intimate moment for Hutz and his loving Orlando audience. -Phillip Roffman

Andy Matchett and the Minks

 andymatchett Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

 Photo by Paul de Revere

Festival Republic Stage – 1:55 p.m.

An admirable part of Festival Republic’s titular stage at Orlando Calling was its dedication to showcasing area talent, much of it from Orlando. Andy Matchett and the Minks distinguished itself from the other Florida bands that day with its signature fun house setting of kick balls, a giant rainbow beach ball (which Matchett encouraged the crowd to bean him with), cascades of balloons, people dressed as robots and, for the finale of “Too Much Happiness”, a military-grade parachute suspended with leaf blowers above the audience’s head. Indeed, it was too much happiness. -Paul de Revere

Kid Cudi

cap0605 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard

Main Stage – 3:10 p.m.

In a sea of rock ‘n’ roll, Kid Cudi’s performance offered a different dynamic to Orlando Calling’s line up. Working off his eclectic yet psychedelic sound, Cudi kept things fresh and authentic. A track like “Mr. Rager” was a certifiable risky inclusion, what with its slow paced beat and trip-induced tones, but it also called out to his original fans. That’s the crowd Cudi searched for, as he switched back the clock, and shuffled out a track like “The Prayer”. He introduced his breakthrough number by screaming out, “This is 2008 Kid Cudi shit!” Then came hits like “REVOFEV”, with its welcoming guitar licks and sticky piano fills, that recalled the R&B scene of yesteryear. Later on, the psychedelia trickled in just as the sun set on the legion of fans, drawing out some bold stage lights and heavy fog. At this time, Cudi ran through wild-eyed trip “Cudi Zone” and a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”. All in all, a success for its unconventional nature and Cudi’s ability to connect with new eyes. -Phillip Roffman

Iron & Wine

 cap0718 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

 Photo by Cap Blackard

Authentic Stage – 3:45 p.m.

For a guy that started his music career recording achingly quiet, whispering demos, Sam Beam’s Iron & Wine has become a force of nature live, careening into the psychedelic explorations of The Grateful Dead, the African funk of Fela Kuti, and, finally for Iron and Wine, pronounced loud-soft dynamics that support it all. New live arrangements on songs like “Rabbit Will Run”, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)”, and “Boy with a Coin” make them almost unrecognizable compared to their studio versions. Most importantly, the love and devotion that Beam radiates on his quiet, early work is maintained live, his voice finally lilted above a whisper when singing about God and loving one another. I swear, if church were like an Iron & Wine concert, I’d go every week. “It came like a call from the Lord,” indeed. -Paul de Revere


cap0446 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard

Main Stage – 6:10 p.m.

“We’re going to play every song off of Doolittle,” Kim Deal mildly stated to a half-filled arena. The Pixies weren’t bluffing. Black Francis, Joey Santiago, David Lovering, and Deal delivered each of the album’s cuts in fine precision. While plenty of adoring fans begged for non-Doolittle favorites (“Bone Machine”, “Oh My Golly!”, and, of course, “Where Is My Mind?”), the group stuck to the LP through and through. “Debaser” cracked the veiled tension on-stage, “Wave of Mutilation” pummeled the antsy fanatics, and “Here Comes Your Man” brought about a drunken sing-a-long. Later on, Lovering dedicated “La La Love You”, his one track to sing, to all the lovely ladies in Orlando, while an encore performance of “Gigantic” melted many a mind. In hindsight, it didn’t feel like one was watching a band; no, it felt more like a play, one revolving around the band’s history, complete with sarcasm, feigned dialogue, and even a stage bow. A great, grand experience, but only to be had once. -Phillip Roffman

The Raconteurs

 cap1010 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard

Main Stage – 7:50 p.m.

There was a slight panic attack felt by the audience during set opener “Consoler of the Lonely”. After anxiously awaiting The Raconteurs to arrive – the set times were pushed back later in the evening – the band’s sudden surge hit hard. But, what a sight to see. Within seconds, Jack White and Brendan Benson were at it, conjuring up chemistry as they traded vocal duties and guitar lines. It’s not all White or Benson, though. Take a song like “Level”, for instance. This is a song when taken apart that reveals the true validity in each member; on stage, it’s easy to break down: Patrick Keeler’s signature pauses (and highly addictive fills), Jack Lawrence’s swamp-ridden bass lines, and the aforementioned blend of Benson and White. Hell, they’re stronger now than they’ve ever been.

Some other highlights included the new chord progressions in “Blue Veins” and a sloppy yet lovable cut of “Salute Your Solution”, the latter of which had White crooning effortlessly into a dangling microphone that nearly crashed to the floor. Sure, “Store Bought Bones” or “Five on the Five” would have been far more intriguing inclusions in the encore, but “Steady As She Goes” worked fine, too. With performances like this, it’s almost easy to forget about The White Stripes. Maybe. -Phillip Roffman

Drive-By Truckers

cap0513 Festival Recap: The Top Sets at Orlando Calling 2011

Photo by Cap Blackard Stage – 8:00 p.m.

“We don’t need no Disney shit!” Drive-By Truckers front man Patterson Hood croaked defiantly Saturday night to the cheering Orlando crowd under the festival’s small stage tent. Even while skewering sacred cows, Hood didn’t exempt himself from criticism in a riff off the band’s “Let There Be Rock”. “I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, never saw The Clash,” he said, “but I did see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.” Not too far off, as Hood is the South’s Springsteen, weaving tales one song at a time with zero posing. Guitarist Mike Cooley got his say in, with a wicked extended guitar solo in a song about threesomes (“3 Dimes Down”). That says about all you need to know about the Truckers. -Paul de Revere

The Killers


Main Stage – 9:45 p.m.

For a band with only three studio albums over seven years, The Killers have amassed a lot of instantly recognizable hits: “Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me”, “Smile Like You Mean It”, and  set-ender “When You Were Young”, among them. They all hit, even in a space as over-sized for them as the Citrus Bowl. Pictures might do it justice if the band had allowed them at its set, Saturday night’s festival-closing act. But with the kind of stylistic reveal the band does, it not only deserved the headlining spot but the secrecy, too.

The band’s shows rival Coldplay and U2 in sheer size and ambition, matching U2 in the use of Warholian pop art and sheer theatrical aplomb. When they released more confetti than ever seen by the human eye into the air for its pre-encore rendition of “All These Things That I’ve Done” combined with bright flurries of light and fireworks shooting up into the Orlando skyline, somewhere Bono went, “Shit, why didn’t I think of that?” -Paul de Revere

The Culture of Orlando Calling

Gallery by Cap Blackard

[nggallery id=297]