Sarah and I flew to Memphis a week ago to catch Gonerfest 8, a four-day music festival that I’ve wanted to see but never could because either I was too busy during the semester or there were softball playoffs to play. However, this year I let my teammates take care of business in the playoffs (they won in the semi-finals!) and go see some rock music for a change.
The experience was familiar, although I haven’t been to any live show of these bands for many years. There was a lot of people I swear I have seen in the past, maybe even from New York, there was loads of cheap beer, and everyone was dressed in what you would expect at an event like this. There were some surprises, however. There were people, both fans and bands, from as far as Australia. There were a TON of people snapping photos with pretty good SLR cameras, although I didn’t feel like brining in my camera to a night club.
As for the music, I have to admit to have been unfamiliar with most of the specific bands, but I was most impressed by the Straight Arrows, the Gories, the Mean Jeans, Midnight Snaxx, the Outdoorsmen, the Shirks!, the True Sounds of Thunder, Human Eye, the Alarm Clocks, the recently reunited Brides, and Black Sunday. Both bands at the free Sunday Afternoon show, Two Tears and the Jam Messengers, were worthy of playing a full show at any of the other revenue shows.
The city of Memphis seemed to be caught unaware about the scope of this festival, even if remains rather small. No one at our hotel or at the car rental counter knew about it. The cab driver—curiously, we had the same one for the shows on Friday and on Saturday nights—was puzzled about the high number of calls coming for the Hi-Tone, where all of the night shows took place. However, my friend Ives assured me that all the BBQ places ordered extra pork for the occasion.
The constant flow of shows, and the attendant recovery periods, made it hard to see much of Memphis. Sarah and I did get to trek out to Mud Island River Park to see the scale model of the Mississippi River, from the Kentucky Dam to the Gulf of Mexico. You see the bridges that span, the towns that surround, and wade in to the water of Ol’ Man River. It was certainly worth a trip on the monorail to reach Mud Island River Park.
We toured the downtown area on Sunday afternoon, including a detour into the Peabody Hotel to see the famous ducks in the lobby. The most striking building we saw downtown was the abandoned Sterick Building, which caught my eye when I was driving through the downtown region looking for our hotel. I took a few pictures of the building, but none of them do the spectacular building any justice.
We missed a lot of dining options, including the BBQ from Cozy Corner, Payne’s, and a biscuit sandwich from Bryant’s Breakfast. That’ll have to wait until Gonerfest 9, I suppose.