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Taken from MLive (July 06, 2008)

Fan's perspective: Franti outshined Matthews

by Sarah Baldry | MLive.com guest blogger

Michael Franti
Michael Franti & Spearhead prove to be a
festival highlight at The Odeum on Saturday.

When I discovered I won tickets to Rothbury, my first step was to hit the festival Web site and check out the lineup. I quickly picked out the bands I was familiar with — the must sees — then I went to my gurus of music — my friends — to ask who else they would recommend seeing. From there, I was advised that Secret Machines, Gomez, and Trampled By Turtles were acts I would want to catch. I trust my friends - and quickly built yesterday's Rothbury agenda around those acts.

But not before starting the day with Rothbury yoga. Rothbury yoga is no joke. Yoga with hip hop and R&B as the background music versus sitar-strains and Enya? Something I could definitely get on board with. Refreshed and sweaty, we began our day of music.

We started at Sherwood Court to watch Trampled by Turtles. This five-member bluegrass band is from Minnesota, and the audience seemed to be made up of a lot of Minnesota natives familiar with the group. Their harmonies were amazing, but it was a bit more twang than I like, so we decided to move on to the Ranch Area.

The first band playing was Dead Confederates. As this was a day of musical unknowns for me, I was unfamiliar with every song they played — but it was a rocking set. The Ranch Area was pretty mellow — people kicking back on beach towels and blankets catching some rest, watching the show, enjoying the sun. Many took advantage of the wide open spaces for tossing a Frisbee, or, in one case, a couple playing catch with an imaginary ball (they were quite good at it).

We moved back into the shade for the Secret Machines set. The Ranch Area was filling up and the sun (blessed by the gods of Rothbury, no doubt) was shining down hard on the day. Having been steered towards this band, I had downloaded a couple of their tunes prior to my arrival here. They did not disappoint. In fact, they were far better live.

We stuck around for the Gomez show, a band that I had heard snippets of on "Grey's Anatomy" (who hasn't?). They were thoroughly entertaining, with several extended jams, and more well-known tunes such as "How We Operate" and "See the World".

It was after Gomez our day got tricky - we knew we wanted to see Dave Matthews Band (us and everyone else!), but didn't know any of the other bands playing. My husband and I decided to employ some strategy: We hit the Odeum Stage and figured we'd catch every act until DMB. As the crowds thinned out after each act, we would scoot up. This strategy worked well in two regards as we caught some very amazing musical talent and we had phenomenal "seats" for Dave Matthews.

We arrived in time to catch the second half of a rocking set by Citizen Cope (again, an act I was unfamiliar with), we then scooted forward for Michael Franti and the Spearheads. I know everyone expects everyone to say DMB was "the show of the day" — but not me.

Michael Franti and his group were phenomenal, and not just musically — they had amazing showmanship and had the crowd jumping, dancing and singing along. At one point, Michael Franti commended the Rothbury setup, and discussed the common setup for tossing 'trash" (Recycle, Compost, or Landfill). He then asked the crowd, "Where does one put their chewing gum?" My husband and I were only too happy to shout the answer (Landfill, in case you were wondering), as we had asked that very question from "One Person Who Cares" earlier in the day.

Michael Franti
Festival headliners Dave Matthews Band
plays to a packed crowd at The Odeum.

After his set, we moved to our position close to the stage for DMB. It was cramped, no doubt, but the view was phenomenal. Seeing Dave and the band jam to their hits was an experience I won't soon forget. When it comes to musicianship, you'd be hard pressed to find an act that jams like DMB. The highlight for me was their version of Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" (and it was funny, as that was the one moment when all of our neighbors in the crowd stopped singing, as they were probably too young when the song came out).

We made our way back to the car in the dark after a phenomenal day of music. Saturday was the kind of day I was hoping for at Rothbury — the kind full of music I had never heard before, sounds and styles to be exposed to. It was the kind of day that will ultimately end up costing me a fortune downloading all my new favorites on iTunes.


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