Fans Caught, Hash Candy Intercepted Before Electric Forest Festival 2011

hash at electric Forest festival



We always wondered how Rothbury Festival would re-emerge and evolve.  And earlier this year the Electric Forest Festival was announced with Tiesto, REO Speedwagon, String Cheese Incident and others set to headline.

EFF is produced by the same folks who put on Rothbury in 2008 and 2009. And this year, the original grounds of Rothbury were reduced, with the main stages being more centrally located around one of Rothbury’s most visually stunning and engaging hangouts: Sherwood Forest.

But as the local Michigan station Wood TV reports:

…Two Coloradans headed to the Electric Forest Festival were arrested after a traffic stop yielded about 11 pounds of hash candy bars they were allegedly going to sell to festival goers this weekend.

A search found 48 hash bars and 42 hash balls that, the suspects said, they were going to sell for $5 each to concert goers at the Electric Forest Festival. There was also more hash and marijuana the suspects could use to make more at the festival.

Sensual Smackdown with the Michigan State Police

In the Wood-TV video, the Michigan State Police talk about keeping the peace and protecting concert fans, which they do for the most part. But, as we learned during our Sensual Smackdown with the MSP backstage in 2009, the protecting and piece does come at a price.  During the collision I learned that in order to protect one concert fan, another concert fan must be sacrificed.

Drugs and Live Music?

That said, I hope everyone is safe and has a fun time this year at the EFF. And stay tuned as we explore this hash candy and other stories about how drugs influence the live concert experience in our ongoing series of shows on Concert Fan Emotions.

Step Up To The Mic

Were you at The Electric Forest Festival? Have you been to Rothbury? We invite you to share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, so we can feature them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Experiencing Grief, Joy and Community in Live Music

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Two things have been brewing in my mind lately.

1) The Community of Cathartic Mourning


2) Building Relationships in Live Music

The Community of Cathartic Mourning

A good friend of my wife and I shared this Bonnie Raitt Star Tribune review with me a few weeks ago (the video above is one she excitedly posted on Facebook before the concert).

I share this review with you because it was one of my favorite reviews I’ve read this year.  And when I finished reading the review I thought about something very important that happened to me when our friend sent me the link.

My life changed.

I was transported straight to the heart of Raitt’s palpable concert atmosphere.

I read the review and I felt rushes of  joy, sadness, hope and an overwhelming sense of cathartic connectedness with the fans at the concert that captured the essence of live blues so beautifully. And this review represented one of the aspects of live music I love the most:

I love how live music can be an unexpected yet appropriate environment for group mourning (just like it was for fans at Rock the Bells after Michael Jackson died).

And it goes both ways.

Because live music can be just as cathartic for the artists as it can be for the fans.

The review writer/reporter, Jon Bream, didn’t say it overtly, but because of the way he wrote the review and captured the emotional intensity of the moment, I could feel that he too was traveling through and expressing his own version of cathartic mourning.  I could feel the emotion in the words as he took me step by step through the emotional progression of the show.

And the progression allowed me to travel though my own internal emotions from the past.

As I read the review, I recalled similar emotionally intense situations were I’ve been ambushed by grief at concerts. One that always stands out is Lollapalooza 2007,  where I unexpectedly mourned a friend who died.  That friend loved Modest Mouse and specifically their song Float On. During that song I welled up and had a moment of grief that was unexpected and somewhat undesired (like most of us I’m still working on expressing sadness and grief among strangers).

When you read the Lolla 2007 review you’ll see that I didn’t mention the Modest Mouse moment because I wasn’t quite sure how to make it appropriate for the review.

But nonetheless that moment was good for me.

And I’ll never forget that moment.  Ever.

Judging by Bream’s review, I imagine Raitt did her own mourning during the show as she mourned her brother Steve who recently died of cancer.

And I know, too, by reading the fan comments after the review, that other fans at the show were mourning in a similar way like I did at Lollapalooza 2007.

Which brings me to my second reason for this post: connecting with others during the live music experience.

Building Relationships in Live Music

Recently my friend Benjamin Slayter–who I had the pleasure of meeting at Rothbury this summer–asked me in a Facebook comment how I write my live concert reviews. This was the first time any body had ever asked me.  It was a honor to answer Benjamin’s questions and a pleasure to share what I’ve learned about writing live music reviews. So I gave him a short version of my approach which led me to write a more fleshed out and formal rundown that I’ll be sharing with you in a future post.


The reason I mention Ben’s request is because meeting him at Rothbury was one of many relationships and connections I’ve made over the last year with other music writers, photographers, business owners and fans. And lately, I’ve been really excited as I think about how cool it is when relationships and community can be built because of live music.

So what I did was compile a list of people I’ve connected with over this last year or so because of live music.  The list is in no particular order and is a mix of artists I’ve interviewed on-site; writers and photographers I’ve met and had great chats with in the media tent; vendors and PR I’ve connected with at concerts. I’ve included links to their online work so you too can enjoy their words, music, photos, businesses and daily experiences as much as I have.

If I’ve forgotten anybody I do apologize. It’s not because I’m a jerk. It’s because I suffer from the occasional brain fart. So by all means feel free to send along your link so I can add it to this post.

As always,  thanks for reading. And I hope to see you at a show, or talk live music with you very soon!

Ann Teliczan: photographer, artist at Michigan Sweet Spot

Greame Flegenheimer: writer at Brooklyn Vegan

Mike: writer, editor at Sound Citizen

Garret Woodward: writer at State of Mind and RFW

Jesse Borrell: writer at  Jam Base

The crew at Rock for Kids

Lewis Cooper: writer, photographer at Gonzo Shots

Photographer Leigh Ann Hines

The crew Arts of Life

Dan Hyman writer at Popmatters

Jules Esh at Earphoria

Chicago emcee, producer, activist, poet Jessica Disu (AKA FM Supreme)

Jamie Ludwig: editor, writer at Alarm Press

Jen Cray: writer, photographer & editor at Ink19

Steve Wienberger: author of No Air Guitar Allowed

Chicago producer and beatmaker Radius

The crew at Pitch Perfect PR

The crew at Madison House

Sgt Tibs at GoWhereHipHop

Scott Legato: photographer at RockStarProPhotography

The Crew at Future of Music Coalition

Ben Ratliff: writer at New York Times

S.D. Green:  writer, editor at Ink19

Eric Mueller: Pirates Press

The Crew at Cornerstone Promotions

Drew Fortune: writer, editor at Popmatters

The Crew at Open Books

emcee, poet, activist Saul Williams

Ben Slayter: photographer, designer

Lily: Director of

David Miller: writer, editor at Matador Travel

Photographer: Anthony Nowack

Dean Budnick: writer, editor at Relix Magazine

Janine Pumilia: writer, editor at Northwest Quarterly

The crew at Live Music Blog

Writer David Shehi

Frank Krolicki writer, blogger at Windy City Rock

Jason Petros editor, writer at Chicago Independent Music Review

The crew at I Pledge Eco

Wolfgang's Vault - Bonnie Raitt Live Concert Recordings

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Total Rothbury Recall



Last year at this time Rothbury 2009 was in question.  So let’s cross our fingers and hope for Rothbury 2010.   In the meantime take a trip back to re-live Rothbury 2009’s best moments with The Dead, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Matisyahu, Ani DiFranco and more.

And make sure to check out all the extra Live Fix coverage of The Green Team, My Sensual Collision with the Michigan State Police and more in the Three Part wrap-up.

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Rothbury Wrap Up Part 3: Green Team Tour



I hope you enjoyed the last sensual wrap up. And without further ado, here’s the final post to wrap up my coverage of Rothbury Music Festival featuring my behind-the-scenes tour with the Rothbury Green Team.

Rothbury Green Team Tour

The pictures and videos below will take you through our behind-the-scenes tour of Rothbury Green Team Compounds.  Like we did last year we got to see how The Green Team sorts and recycles all the waste and compost left behind from over 30k fans over four days. It was pretty amazing to see and learn about Rothbury’s  efforts to educate fans with their Green Team of over 500 hundred volunteers from across the world, with their help Rothbury continued to make Rothbury a sustainable and green music festival, even when the economy presented many challenges.  In my researching green music festivals, I also learned a lot about the sociological history of festivals reading this 8 Green Music Festivals article. And once you’re done checking out the videos below, I also encourage you to check out the links below to get more info on Rothbury’s Green mission.

Think Tank


Nectar 9

Nicer News



You can also see more of Colleen’s photos from the Green Team Tour here.

Director’s note:I’d like to apologize for the video quality. I really enjoyed the tour, but I didn’t necessarily have all the right equipment with me. So I recorded these two videos guerrilla style with my Blackberry Storm so the sound isn’t the greatest and in some parts it a little dark and shadowy.  But nonetheless you’re still able to get a great idea of what it was like to go behind scenes and explore Rothbury’s Green Team Biodiesel and Sorting Compounds. Before each video I’ve included notes and links to where you can get more information. While I love to write about live concert experiences, I’m still learning about all what it means to be “green” so if you were on the Green Team, this year or last, I welcome any feedback, questions or corrections on any of the videos, notes or pictures.

Rothbury Biodiesel:

Tom Beals of Haymaker Biofuels and Sarah Haynes of Spitfire Agencyexplain how Rothbury uses biodiesel. It was interesting to hear them talk about Rothbury’s commitment to use various mixes of biodiesel to adjust with the economy’s many challenges this year.  

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The Sorting Compound(Part 1 & 2):

Led by SpitFire Agency’s Sarah Haynes, The Rothbury Green Team explains what goes on at the sorting compound.  As you’ll see,  it was really loud and clanky in the Sorting Compound as the Green Team sorted through all the bags of recycling, compost and landfill. While I held the camera I managed to fire off a couple questions asking the Green Team how many volunteers returned from last year (around 30%), how the Green Team is trained and what they do with 75  roll offs. 

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Concert Review: Rothbury Music Festival 2009


Rothbury 2009 Odeum Stage

Each concert experience we have is measured against those that came before it. And it was nearly impossible not to compare Rothbury 2008 with this year’s festival, which almost didn’t even happen.

Last October, questions of whether or not there would be a 2009 festival began began circulating when the owners of the site’s location on the Double JJ Ranch filed for bankruptcy forcing them to put the land on the auction blocks. It wasn’t until January 6, 2009 that a federal bankruptcy judge approved a deal between promoters Madison House and AEG to lease the Michigan property until August 2009. Once the deal was reached rumors about possible headliners Phish, AC/DC or the Foo Fighters started flying around. When the official line-up was finally announced, none of those acts were on it. Instead it was more of a headliner line up anchored on rock, folk, and country canon featuring The Dead, Bob Dylan and his band, and Willie Nelson. This year’s bill also included artists spanning jams, reggae, rock, and hip hop, but there was still one key obstacle that Rothbury had to overcome in order to put on the festival.

In a tight economy, and with a short timeline, Rothbury faced the challenge of maintaining its mission to be a sustainable and green festival. For the most part it was successful with only minor changes if you looked closely and went on a behind the scenes Greet Team tour, which I did (more on that later).

The Dead @ Rothbury

From the return of Think Tank workshops to the informed Green Team volunteers stationed throughout the festival grounds, Spitfire Agency’s Sarah Haynes was determined to still maintain Rothbury’s “green” festival status. During the Green Team tour on Sunday afternoon, Haynes explained that one of the biggest obstacles was to still use biodiesel as a fuel and power source even after the company they used last year to process the biodiesel on site had frozen their operations because of the current recession. By all accounts, and without any final numbers at the time of this review, I would say Haynes was successful in maintaining Rothbury’s green integrity.

Rothbury 2009’s music menu might not have been as varied or plentiful as last year. But this opened up the chance to explore the other strength of Rothbury: its strong focus on art installations featured throughout the grounds. To name a few of my discoveries, there were half-buried buses sticking out of the ground, giant boots made out of recycled metal, tree decorating contests, zen nature walks, and nightly burlesque shows that challenged my thoughts on feminism and female empowerment.

My musical adventures at Rothbury began on Friday afternoon by soaking up the positive vibes of Brett Dennen. The singer-songwriter injected tenderness and soul with tracks from his latest Hope for the Hopeless. His set of warm folky grooves flung me onward as I voyaged to the next set.

Walking through the tall, slowly swaying pines trees of Sherwood Forest was one of Rothbury’s most beautiful experiences. During the day it was a spacious and peaceful place where fans could chill out in hammocks or lay their tired heads on the floor of pine needles for a quick afternoon nap. At night it transformed into a glowing visual spectacle of stimulation filled with floating orbs and flashing strobe lights. It was also home to the Speak EZ theater where fans could take in a nightly burlesque show.

In Sherwood Forest I also discovered the silent meditative wonder of Reincarnation, a zen nature walk filled with mini-monuments, statues and shrines designed for reflection and rejuvenation from a weekend of rock. Each creation was made with an extremely detailed mosaic mix of pine needles, fruit bits, bottle tops, and other recycled machine and gear parts. The exhibit’s leader, who calls himself “Nature,” showcase his, and his team of artists’, ability to use the terrain as art. Most of the exhibit was built into the trees and natural ground of Sherwood Forest, creating a weekend sanctuary for those looking to rest their senses from the continuous rock. After my stroll through Reincarnation, it was off to see if this would change my perspective on seeing Nas and Damian “Jr Gong” Marley twice in less than a week.

But sadly, not much had changed since I last saw Nas and Damien Marly showcase their Distant Relatives collaborative album at Rock the Bells hip hop festival just six days earlier in Chicago. I did, though, see more hula-hooping than break-dancing during the reggae hip hop fusion “One Love/One Mic” medley. Nas and Marley successfully mined the collective one love vibe that flowed throughout Rothbury the entire weekend. But no matter how many blunts were puffed in the crowd or how many Michael Jackson tributes Nas tossed out, he still didn’t win me over or convince me that he’s a true live emcee.

It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I was able to wash away Nas with the help of John Butler’s solo set. He “fought off the sound gremlins” and squeezed ripples of electrified country-folk blues romps. Butler bent chords and notes with waning effex pedals sending surges of electrified emotion through the crowd. Fans stomped along on every beat turning the grass area at the Ranch Stage into the skin of a kick drum.

As the sun began to sink in the Michigan sky, the funky makeshift freaky flags flew high as all the tribes of Rothbury assembled to take part in sixty minutes of pleasure shrieks, surly screams, and lurching led by Les Claypool. He took his flock of happy freaks deep in to his mythical underworld filled with lyrical stories of magic mushrooms and other down-rabbit-hole adventures. While Claypool slapped and plucked his bass, his green-masked cello player grinned and reveled in the glory of the tripped out scene.

Until Saturday night, seeing, hearing, feeling, and experiencing the vibe of a Dead crowd had escaped me. But underneath a blanket of sky filled with fireworks celebrating our nation’s independence I finally got my dose of The Dead and melted into the heart of inspiration of the quintessential jam band. I have reviewed many jam bands before and it was a revelation to finally experience live the sweet sounding “Sugar Magnolia,” and see the beauty of “Eyes of the World” even if the Leader of this legendary sub-culture was not there in person; for his presence was truly felt in the collective spirit. As The Dead filled the hearts of legions of Heads, I sat at the top of the hill at the Odeum stage and I wondered, when the time came, who would be the one to fill The Dead’s shoes and the hearts of its faithful followers who spinned, twirled, and relished every last note, soaking themselves in two sets of synchronized satisfaction that carried on into the night.

Sunday began with a bit of local flavor via Michigan quintet the Ragbirds. Their leader, singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Erin Zindle, flashed bright smiles using her friendly spunk to get the crowd swaying and grooving. Zindle sweetly crooned over a gentle, albeit aggressive, purr of folk, salsa, and rock. She beautifully pondered the meaning of “little things” in life as she told her lyrical story unfolding chapters from their forthcoming album Finally Almost Ready.

A few hours later, it was time to enter the holy realm of bearded and baseball-capped Hasidic Jewish rapper Matisyahu. He dropped my jaw instantly with his awe-inspiring beat boxing performance using his mouth as a nimble multi-instrument to bridge together a set of spiritual transcendence. Everyone in the crowd seemed to be lifted up off the ground in some way — even the naked couple who danced freely in the afternoon sun and wore only large grins and fuzz patches. As Matisyahu continued to play tracks from his forthcoming album Light, those festivalgoers who saw the couple watched with a sense of awkward pleasure and a sense of deviant and peculiar enjoyment. The couple seemed like a stark contrast to Matisyahu’s worshipful performance. But when I thought about it, I wondered if we were actually getting an unexpected insight into what it might have looked like to see the Bible’s King David dance around in just a skimpy loincloth entranced and praising the Lord.

Strolling back over to the main Odeum stage, country, rock, and folk legend Willie Nelson took me on a ride through music history. Donning his southern Texan cowboy subtle swagger, cowboy hat, and braided locks, he bathed the afternoon crowd with his sweet weathered croon mixing his classic storytelling songs with new ones. Since I split time between Matisyahu and Willie Nelson, I thought about how summer festivals set up like Rothbury, even when the prime might be past some artists, allow us the chance to celebrate music’s past, present, and future simultaneously.

At first glance or listen, she might appear to only promote female solidarity but from a guy-who-knows-a-great-poet-when-he-sees-one’s point of view, it’s nearly impossible to not get electrified or inspired by her passionate pursuit for self-expression. Ani DiFranco’s set was pure poetry. From “Fuel,” “32 Flavors,” “Manhole,” and tracks from her latest Red Letter Year, including “Napoleon,” she laid on us one gigantic and gorgeous set of verse. In between songs, with a wide grin of pleasure and deep unashamed satisfaction, she explained that “I’ve struggled with monogamy for awhile but when I met this guy it became really easy.” The crowd cheered DiFranco’s honesty and discovery of love and companionship. And when a fan shouted for an update on DiFranco’s motherhood adventures, she smiled and said, “The baby’s great, thanks.” Then she nearly pulled the strings off her guitar, setting off her own fireworks, with a political and proud song for her country dedicated to President Obama.

Wrapping up Rothbury’s headliners, Bob Dylan and His Band brought the rhythm and blues in the way only Dylan can. As I expected, it was like a two-hour episode of his Theme Time Radio show. The sly and dapperly dressed Dylan pressed keys from a few Time Out of Mind songs and then tossed in others from his massive catalog, twisting them into strange melodic explorations like he usually does live. Then he continued to transform rhythms, switch up melodies, and sing-mumble his way through cuts from his latest Together Through Life.

After Dylan, we packed up our tent and hit the road. Rolling down the road back to Chicago, I felt like I was back where I started. Last year I left wondering if Rothbury would live to see another year. And I found myself wondering the same this year, with even more doubt and uncertainty about the festival’s future. I know there are a lot of fans who hope they will return. But we’ll have to wait and see.

See more Rothbury 2009 Photos at Colleen Catania Photography

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Rothbury Wrap-Up Part 2: A Sensual Collision with the Michigan State Police





I hope you enjoyed Part One of the Rothbury Wrap-Up.  Now here’s Part Two. It’s about my sensual backstage collision with the Michigan State Police.

On Saturday night, I was enjoying a nice juicy cheeseburger and the rest of The Dead’s set from the backstage area by the media tent at Rothbury.

Then I heard someone running at us in the darkness ahead of us. It was past 11:30pm so I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of us to see exactly who or what was coming our way, until he was just  a few inches away.

The next thing I knew I was thrown down – hard.

I never intended to actually taste the sandy Michigan soil while at Rothbury. But that’s exactly what I did. I went down to the ground in a blurry hurry.

In an awkward torque…

my left shoulder pushed back at an angle not intended for that part of my body. I felt something muscular pull. The rough gravel scrapped my knees and legs as I hit the ground. It feflt as if an NFL linebacker ( let’s say, Brian Urlacher) had just ran right over me  on his way to sack the quarterback, grab the football and keep on hauling to the end zone without looking back.

The lack of light kept me from seeing who it was. I had to rely on my wife Colleen’s post-smackdown play by play. She was still standing after getting sideswiped by the same the Michigan State Police officer flew through us like a seven-ten split.

But as I went down I held on tight to my half-eaten cheeseburger. I wasn’t going to give that up.

The kind security staff at Rothbury helped me to my feet and asked if  I was okay.  I brushed off the dirt from my clothes, gathered my barrings and told them I was okay.

I took a bite of my hamburger

and rolled my shoulders back. I felt a second awkwardly painful pull. The soreness was already setting in.

Colleen and I looked each other over for any other cuts and scrapes. We then got some freely offered legal advice from the security staff who thoughtfully recommended that I sue the Michigan State Police.

I chuckled at the idea because I didn’t think that it would be worth my time.

And I really knew that the officer was just doing his job. I just happened to be in his way.

The next thing I did was

jump on Twitter (see my tweets below). It’s what any self-respecting social media live concert experimenting guy would do, right?

With a soar left shoulder and scrapped up left leg, I did my dramatic real-time tweet as we headed back to our tent which was also conveniently located right by the Michigan State Police Rothbury Festival Headquarters.

I stopped the first MSP officer I saw and told her what had happened and asked what the officer  that ran over was responding to.

She calmly told me that there had been an incident in Sherwood forest involving a  downed camper and the perpertaor  was then on the loose in Sherwood Forest. (see map: top to bottom starting with MSP arrow path through the red “x” smackdown to the blue “x” incident call)

I was surprised that she didn’t seem to care that there was also another man down in the backstage media area.

But then again, I wasn’t really surprised at all by her nonchalant response to my story.

Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for the MSP as they kept all of us safe at Rothbury.

And I have no hard feelings as I know the officer was just doing his job by running me over so he could help someone else.

Let’s talk about Twitter for a moment

I was sadly surprised by the non-response I got on Twitter. And as the Dead finished their set that night, I thought how all of this was actually foreshadowed in a book I had been reading over the last few months, too. (more on than in a minute.)

Sure, Twitter is suppose to be a quick response real-time social media tool. And I understand that many stars and scenarios have to be aligned for it to work perfectly as an agent of help in a situation like mine. But I’m a little concerned that the only response that I got that night (or since) was a weird automatic spamish @reply from “wickedtweets” because I had said my shoulder pain was “wicked soar.”


To say the least it was a twist in my Rothbury Live Fix Twitter experiment that I didn’t see coming. And I’m a little disappointed in all my 600 followers who didn’t seem to care that I was run over by the Michigan State Police.

I appreciate all my followers interest, but for the sake of this collision conversation I’ll say this.

If my followers don’t care about my physical well-being then what does that say about anything else I send into the Twittersphere?  I’m scared to even ask that question. But I can now say I’ve experienced one of Twitter’s greatest flaws first hand.

Should something happen where you need a quick response or you’re in danger, you’d better hope some of your followers are logged in and looking for your tweets. If not, you might end up like me, or worse.

But I hope you suffer not and never have to tweet that you just got run over by the police at a concert or anywhere else.

Diane Ackerman’s Natural History of the Scenes

The second takeaway from my smackdown by the Michigan State Police was that my encounter, although painful, was a magnificent sensual collision. I keep replaying the painful moments in time because it was the first time in my concertgoing experience that all five senses converged with such great force and vitality, all at once and in a matter of minutes.

And all of it was unplanned and completely spontaneous.

I’m amazed when I recall all the individual sensory elements to the collision because it reveals much about how we experience concerts.  It only takes a matter  of minutes, but I encourage  you to take a moment to do your own sensory recall of your last concert experience.

To give you an example, here’s my sensory breakdown of the collision. I was eating a juicy hamburger (Taste), not able to see (Sight) or hear (Sound) the MSP coming at all. Then wham! (Touch) the collision. I also remember the  odor (smell) of the officer’s musk as he blew by us.

In hindsight, I realized that this sensual collision was actually foreshadowed because I had been reading Diane Ackerman‘s excellent book A Natural History of the Senses. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about how our body’s sensory system is designed and how it has evolved. It’s a great book that I’ll be referencing many more times on Live Fix.

It’s a fascinating revelatory read that takes you through all the 5 senses. Ackerman makes several analogies to music so its easy to insert the live music experiences in to many of her examples.

Looking at the live music experience through Ackerman’s exploration of the senses has helped me better understand what makes concerts such powerful and memorable moments in our lives.

Our Own Hierarchy of the Senses

Reading Ackerman’s book prior to my collision with the MSP brought to mind an interesting thought.  Is there a hierarchy of the 5 senses? If so, does each individual concertgoer have their own personal sensory hierarchy during a show?  Meaning, when when we go to concerts is Taste at the top of the sensory list, followed by Sound, Sight, or is it in reverse? Does it change with each concert? What is the most common sense we rely on for concerts?

Though I don’t have any official scientific research, I think that, yes, we all do have some type of regular sensory hierarchy when we go to concerts.

And I also believe that we all have varying degrees of sensual collisions at concerts that probably changes or evolves in some way with each concert we go to and what band is playing.

That said, what fascinates me about this idea of us all having a personal sensory hierarchy, is that all of us are having many different sensory experiences during the same concert.

And I often wonder what it would be like if we were to somehow be able to share them among each other.

I’m not talking about swapping beers or drugs or whatever. I’m talking about sharing or communicating with each other what the final sensory result was like.

Similar to what I did by telling you my sensual collision story. If you’d like to share it, I’d be interested to know what your personal sensory hierarchy is when you go to concerts.

Since my sensual collision with the Michigan State Police, I’ve re-read many parts of Ackerman’s book with greater insight into what it’s like to have a intense multi-sensory experience at a concert. But I’d to wrap this post up by focusing on one sense: Touch.

I now know  how big a role Touch can play in helping us remember  our favorite live music experiences.  Though I enjoyed the Dead’s set before the collision, I don’t think I would have remembered it as vividly without the bulldozing help I received from the MSP.  I can say with great assurance that I was truly “touched and moved” during The Dead’s set.

A Marvelously Quick  Skin Experiment

Take a second to hold up your hand, look at your forearm or any fleshy spot on your body for a quick moment. Look at that spot and marvel at the relationship between your skin and live music. I did this many times at Rothbury while I read Ackerman’s book in between sets.  But it was this passage specifically, from the chapter on Touch, that became even more real to me ever since my sensual collision with the Michigan State Police.

…but the skin is also alive, breathing and excreting, shielding us from harmful rays and microbial attack, metabolizing vitamin D, insulating us from heat and cold, repairing itself when necessary, regulating blood flow, acting as a frame fro our sense of touch, aiding us in sexual attraction, defining our individuality, holding all the think red jams and jellies inside of us where they belong.


Have you had a sensual collision lately?

Is one coming your way?

Coming Up…Part 3: Behind The Scenes with Rothbury’s Green Team

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All Wrapped Up At Rothbury Festival: Part 1


Rothburyballon1 All technical difficulties  aside, we had a great time at Rothbury this weekend.  It’s always hard to leave a place like Rothbury.  But it feels really good to be back home so we can share all of our live concert culture adventures with you (and take a shower and sleep in our own bed).

Rothbury’s music line-up this year wasn’t as stacked as it was last year but it still had its memorable moments(more on that later in the full music review–The Dead, Ani DiFranco, Brett Dennen, Nas, Matisyahu, Bob Dylan, etc.–on Ink19.) But where the music line-up might have lacked, it  was the other exciting non-musical moments that picked up the slack. I had myriad moments of visual stimulation and creative escape via the art installations. And I also had the pleasure of going on an exclusive tour to learn more about Rothbury’s greening efforts. From my unfortunate steamrolled encounter with the Michigan State Police to seeing a naked couple express their love for live music in all their glory during Matisyahu’s set on Sunday, it was four days filled with loads of  multi-sensory experiences and deep reflections in to the wild wonders of live concert culture.

But I don’t want to pile all the fun on you all at once. I’ve decided to space out all my fan concert culture observations over the next few weeks.  We’ll start with this 3 part Rothbury wrap-up here on Live Fix.  

Rothbury Wrap-up Part One:

  • Emotional Recall: An unexpected response to our Rothbury arrival
  • Photo Gallery and video trip through “Reincarnation”
  • A special mini-concert video by Canadian collective Broken Social Scene captured on my Blackberry as members of the band displayed the intimate beauty of simple melodies and stripped-down songwriting.  The mini-concert took place in the media area backstage and I thought you’d enjoy it, too.

Getting to Rothbury

Every festival road trip always has a few unexpected turns that can put an interesting twist on your overall emotional experience. Ours had a bit of drama of it own. We got turned away by Rothbury main gate staff when we arrived. Unexpected traffic kept us from making the 12:00am media check-in so we had to stay in a hotel for night.  But I once we return the next day and rolled onto the festival grounds on Friday morning many of the same memories of Rothbury 2008 came rushing back. The tall slowly swaying Michigan pines and cotton candy fluffy white clouds made the previous night’s drama melt away as a mid-morning sound check  thumped from the main stage filled. It was a perfect backdrop to set up camp. 

After a few bands it was time to explore one of Rothbury’s gems: Sherwood Forest.

IMG00351-20090704-1701Located in Rothbury’s Sherwood Forest was “Reincarnation,”  a zen garden sancutary of sorts made of recycled items and nature’s goods that were built in to, around and extended from the existing pine trees and dusty floor of Sherwood Forest.  After seeing a few sets of music on Friday afternoon, my trip through the naturewalk was one of my favorite experiences at Rothbury. 

I marveled at the impressive and inspiring detail created from the mosaics of unlikely and otherwise mudane and ordinary things we use, eat and throw out everyday. After looking closely at the sculptures made of pine needles, fruit bits, bottle tops and gears, I ventured to the music with a different perspective on the little things that make live performance so special and unique.  Giving my ears a break also made the rest of the day’s music experiences that much more enjoyable and fresh. Having an opportunity to take a break from the music is something Rothbury festivalgoers where blessed with had they taken the time to stroll through Reincarnation. And it wasn’t hard to find or stumble upon.

It’s location was expertly placed in a high traffic area of Sherwood Forest (with a double ended exit/entryway) so fans could see it and walk through it from both directions on their way to the next set at the main stages. Reincarnation’s outside wall was designed in a way that kept it sheltered enough so when you walked along its serene dusty path most of the outside passerby-er traffic noise sounded like a peacefully blowing wind.

Reincarnation’s visionary is a California-based artist who goes by the name “Nature.”  A proper moniker I told him during our brief chat about his work.  Nature also expressed thoughts about the culture of the summer music festival. But we didn’t have enough time to have a full discussion as other festivalgoers were waiting to talk with him. He did, however, agree to set up a time to talk after Rothbury.  And I’ll be sure to share our chat with you once it  happens.

Like a lot of the various art experiences throughout Rothbury’s grounds this year, Reincarnation provided an excellent alternative to the music which gave you a chance to switch senses and give your hearing and touch sense a rest from the pounding  drums and bone-rattling bass.  As I left the exhibit, I chuckled to myself at the bit of recycled wisdom that Reincarnation was speaking to me from the ground in front of me, telling me to “Go with the Flow” a bit more should I ever encounter another unexpected festival arrival situation like I did on Thursday night. 

You can see more photos of the various creations along Reincarnation’s path below and on Colleen’s Flickr site.

And to give you a better idea of what the vibe was like on the path, I also shot a brief impromptu video on my Blackberry Storm. 

A video trip through Reincarnation:

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  Backstage Mini-Concert Video With Broken Social Scene:

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Coming up in Part Two & Three:

How I survived a backstage smackdown by the Michigan State Police: A Touchy Twitter Live Fix Experiment

A Behind-the-Scenes look at Rothbury’s Green Team Compound

Reincarnation Photo Gallery Preview:





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Live Preview: Rothbury Festival 2009


I wonder if Robert Plutchik was a live music fan?  And I wonder if he would’ve enjoyed going to Rothbury Music  Festival this weekend.

For the sake of this post I’m guessing he probably was a live music fan to some degree. 

And I’d also say that he would’ve loved to go Rothbury this weekend if  he had the chance.


Why would I assumed this?

Well, Plutchik was a psychologist who “developed the psychoevolutionary theory of emotion in which he considered there to be eight primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, curiosity, acceptance and joy.” So I’m pretty confident that he would have loved to be able to study all the emotions that will be running about the festival grounds this weekend in the hearts and minds of fans and artists. 

Now why the heck would I talk about a psychologist who died three years ago, at the age of 87, when I’m suppose to be  “previewing” Rothbury?

Two reasons:

 1. The summer musical festival is a fertile breading ground for expressing and observing human emotion.

2. This past year I’ve traveled all the way around and through the complexity of Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion as I’ve followed the story of Rothbury 2009.

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotion

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotion


Cycling through a full year of emotions

When I think back to my emotional experiences at Rothbury 2008 I’m amazed at how much can happen in a year emotionally. If I were to use Plutchik ‘s wheel to quickly recall and describe a few basic and complex emotional experiences, I would start with awe, joy, ecstasy, apprehension and curiosity.

Here’s why:


Awe was one of the very first emotions I experienced. As I walked on the main festival grounds spinning above me on a gigantic art sculpture were flying mechanical monkeys. They rattle, whizzed and girated strangely and fantastically above my head. And then the following day I stood in amazement gazing at a Guinness World Record-sized canned sculpture.  

Joy, ecstasy & apprehension

From Snoop Dogg  and Dave Matthews to Secret Machines and Atmosphere, the artist line up last year had me running around the grounds blissfully. But I remember moments (and this always happens) where I had to make hard choices (frustration, apprehension, annoyance) since I couldn’t be everywhere, even though I would have liked to.  (A word of advice to fans and other music writers covering large festivals. Don’t kill yourself trying to see everything.  You’ll make yourself sick and end up like those crazy spinning mechanical monkeys I mentioned earlier. It’s best to enjoy the Wheel of Emotions one  emotion at a time if possible.)


Rothbury’s greening initiatives had me extra curious during the behind-the-scenes tour as I talked with volunteers and with festival organizers during the media round-table discussions. (See Live Fix Daily Wrap Ups: Day  1, Day 2 , Day 3)

The fear, anxiety & uncertainty of Rothbury 2009

Beside giving me insight into my own personal emotional journey, following the story of Rothbury 2009  has given me an idea of how dramatic and uncertain things can be for festival promoters. And I imagine everyone on the Rothbury crew and staff (and the rest of the concert industry this year) has felt, or is in the process of feeling, varying degrees of fear, anxiety, sadness and anger. 

I became aware of the situation when I read a news story last Fall telling me that Rothbury 2009 might not  happen. And if it were to happen, the festival organizers would have to overcome serious legal issues involving the owners of the Double JJ Ranch and their lease of the festival’s site . 

Then in January, thanks to a deal approved by a federal Bankruptcy court Judge between AEG Live and Rothbury’s Madison House Publicity, Rothbury 2009 lived on. 

A new revolution of emotions has begun for Rothbury

362 days later, I’m still curious because of what I read in the above Bankruptcy stories. And my level of anticipation has begun to rise again as I look forward to my second behind-the-scenes greening tour, more media discussions, and of course, the new line up of artists including The Dead, Bob Dylan and others.  

And then Muskegon Chronicle reported Monday:

“An army of 1,140 volunteers — about 80 more than last year — already has started flooding festival grounds, with most arriving mid-week. Many will work on the festival’s “Green Team,” helping concertgoers properly recycle containers and other litter at the four-day event, according to Madison House Publicity, which is overseeing communications and public relations…”

“Communications could be a big deal: More than 400 reporters and media representatives from across the country will attend, including writers from Rolling Stone, SPIN and USA Today.”

Let’s spin that Wheel

I’m expecting a weekend full of emotions and I look forward to talking with more fans and festival organizers to get their emotional perspective.

And as I mentioned on Sunday, I’m going to pay attention to see how Michael Jackson’s death impacts our collective  live concert emotional experience.  

Been to Bonaroo, Coachella, Sasquatch  or other music festivals already this summer?

Where have you traveled on the Wheel of Emotion?

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Rothbury Festival 2009 Lives On


If you haven’t heard yet Rothbury 2009 will (likely, supposedly, hopefully) happen. Though it doesn’t necessarily show on the festival’s website, it’s been a long road for Rothbury festival promoters Madison House, but together with AEG they struck a deal that was approved by a federal Bankruptcy Court Judge on January 6th as reported in the Muskegon Chronicle.

I’m still curious because of what I read in the above stories.

And I wonder how these types of leasing arrangements will affect the local real estate market and other festivals affected by the nationwide real estate meltdown.

“AEG would pay $285,000 to lease nine parcels of land in the 2,000-acre resort in Oceana County’s Grant Township through Aug. 30. The only buildings the festival would use would be the Art Barn and the Rodeo Arena, according to the proposed lease.”

“The proposed 2009 lease does not include a $50,000 bonus and a payment based on 10 percent of all food and nonalcoholic beverage sales during the event, provisions that were in the 2008 contract signed by resort owners Bob and Joan Lipsitz.”

But in the meantime let the rumor mill start turning for possible headliners: Phish, AC/DC and Foo Fighters.

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Is Rothbury 2009 Sustainable?


It saddens me to share this news but I must do it. On Oct 30th, the site of Rothbury Music festival went on the auction blocks. Will Rothbury recycle itself or just head to the music festival landfill?

Back in Sept, as reported by Susan Pollack of the Detroit news, Double JJ Ranch, the site of the 2008 Rothbury Music Festival, closed and went up for public auction because the owners could no longer afford the lease, “owing creditors an estimated $22 million,” with the property “valued at $33 million.”

So on October 30th, the site headed to the auction block, and I’m wondering how many other festival sites or festival’s will face the same fate. Though I’ve had tons of fun at the festival I’ve covered in the last few years, I always wondered when the bubble would burst. And by the looks of Rothbury’s situation the frantic and tragic state of the ecomony has now been felt and seen by the live concert industry.

Well, we’ll just have to see how the Double JJ Ranch situation turns out but right now a 2009 Rothbury festival doesn’t look likely. I’ve dugged around some and haven’t been able to find out any more details on the Double JJ Ranch since Oct. 30th. If you have any details please let me know.

I’d also like to hear your thoughts about the bloated struggling state of the destinaton festival market. Do you care or not?

If you know any more details about the Rothbury please send them along.

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