- Key Arena Thunderdome
Nothing about a midweek music festival starting at 3 in the afternoon particularly makes sense, but the great(ish) thing about 107.7's annual Deck the Hall Ball is that, like yesterday's weather, if you're not into what's happening, stick around and it'll change. Nine bands were scheduled to play in the span of about eight hours; so the first half of the program flew by with the opening bands barely having time to warm up and play their big crowd-pleaser before being shuffled off to get the next act on stage while water and snack vendors roamed the floor to keep everyone in the giant bunker hydrated without losing their prime real estate.
All of the quick changes made for a lively start, though it was hard not to feel a little bad for the bands that had traveled a great distance across oceans and continents (the Joy Formidable, Of Monsters and Men) or through time (The Grammy nominated Lumineers) just to play three or five songs to an early afternoon crowd. But one has to hope that commercial rock radio and arena show piles of cash make the jet lagged sprints worthwhile. Even the bands at the top of the bill with more time got more time to stretch their legs still played pretty compressed versions of their usual sets. Part of the breakneck pace was all of the actual jumping around on stage (I suspect this was a term of the contract) as well as the impressive genre-hopping (within the framework of modern rock music).
As a fan of bands (shutting up and) playing the hits (at festivals), I have to say that what was essentially full day confined inside an arena without time to hunt down food or drinks turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable survey course in a year in pretty-well-deserved hits: from neo-folkwave, various flavors of international rock acts, emotionally resonant pop, embarrassingly altest alt-rock, synthy spacedream nostalgia, and slick arena ambitions.
- A weird choice was that the between-set house mix was a combination of songs that bands had performed mere minutes ago and radio-type alt-rock (with the same song — e.g., "Radioactive" — often repeating during the course of the evening).
- Whoever booked the event did an admirable job of balancing out the gender balance on stage. In addition to all of the talented women, they managed to dig up a few Men Who Rock.
- The whole thing kind of felt like a summer festival flashback/compilation album: aside from the Killers, all of the bands played at Sasquatch, Capitol Hill Block Party, or Bumbershoot.
Photos of bands and fans after the jump. Tell us who "blew your mind" in the comments!
The Joy Formidable (deserve better than an opening spot):
- The Joy Formidable Salute You
- The Joy Formidable: insert cliche of starting festival with firecracker performance.
Of Monsters and Men
- Fun fact: Approximately 1 of every 30,000 Icelanders play in Of Monsters and Men.
- Of Monsters and Men: What's the Islenska for "... and the Magnetic Zeros"?
- Of Monsters and Men appreciate a great sweater.
- Grouplove: a parrot on her shoulder, saying everything while she talks
- Grouplove pro-tip: when you get tired of playing your commercial hit, pour one out for Whitney and transition the ending into "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" .
the Lumineers (would like to tell you about a little thing called "call and response"):
- The Lumineers wish you would put away your cell phones and just, like, be here with them.
- The Lumineers
- The Lumineers' drummer is a belt-and-braces kind of guy.
Passion Pit (are, like, my favorite band of 2012. For real.)
- Passion Pit have the BEST spazzy anxiety sound effects. Now let's dance about the global financial crisis!
- Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos's voice is some kind of miracle.
"This is" (not "We are") AWOLNATION
- THIS is AWOLNATION
- wondering about the visa requirements for a visit to AWOLNATION
- Metric demonstrate their NW love by dedicating a ballad version of "Gimme Sympathy" to Bear Creek Studios.
- Metric can't stop, won't stop.
- Metric, raising a tambourine like antennas to heaven.
- M83 alien welcomes you to retro-futuristic nostalgia interstellar voyage, picked up some Party Rats at Archie McPhee's (for night blogging).
- M83 don't care about your eardrums
- M83 are just very pleased to spend this evening with all of you.
The Killers are better enjoyed on record than in person. (not pictured)
the fans (who mean more to us than you'll ever know).
- Front row fans, not studying for their 8am exams.
- Passion! Pit!
- are we all AWOL nationals now?
- came for the Lumineers, staying for the Killers.
Even more pictures in this Deck the Hall Ball 2k12 flickrset