Would you stand in the rain for four hours with no shelter, only to know that your night would be topped off with getting your car stuck in the mud, in a two-and-a-half hour traffic jam -- just to see Calvin Harris?
Most people wouldn't, but I did, and I don't really even like Calvin Harris. Harris headlined Thursday night's Super Fan Festival in Glendale, with other acts like Magic! And Alesso delivering opening acts.
The Kiss 104.7 website said Harris was slated for 7 p.m., so I headed out to the west side at 5, and this is where it all begins.
The festival grounds were set-up along Bethany Home Road, across the street from the Cardinals' University of Phoenix Stadium. It was apparent that the event organizers really wanted to go all of the way with the festival theme, by the layout of their grass patch parking lot.
Getting out of the car a stepping into mud and rain, it was apparent that mud would be an issue later in the night. But after more than an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, music and beer was needed ASAP.
Getting in the venue was easy. The grounds were covered in grass patches and cedar strips, and the entryways were formed under bridges that connected a three part house/cabin structure that also served as the back of one of the stages and an advertisement for HGTV. Walking in, Magic! Was performing, and I didn't know who they were. They all had matching red suits, it was raining and I wanted a beer. Then I heard the song "Rude," and had an a-ha moment. That was about as deep as I got into that.
By this time it was 6:45, there were not that many people in the area, and I was guessing that Calvin Harris was not actually coming on at 7 p.m. The main stage was located directly across the smaller stage, making for a small festival ground that was outlined in food and beverage vendors. Near the main stage there were cabanas and bars for sponsored private parties.
Walking towards the main stage, set-times flashed on the giant screen: Calvin Harris: 9:25 p.m. Fuck, time for more beer.
Performances altered between the two stages all night, there was literally nothing to do in between but get drunk or eat. As the rain continued there was little to no shelter available. There was a beer and food tent that offered some form of relief, but as the crowds swelled so did the availability.
Alesso was the first artist I made a conscious effort to pay attention to. Before him there was a hip-hop/pop performer who had shitty back-up dancers and looked like he was lip syncing. He basically sang the same regurgitated pop bullshit that everyone in that genre sings -- I opted for more beer.
But, since I was starting to get drunk and was feeling guilty, I decided to watch Alesso. The highlight of his performance was definitely realizing how cool rain looks in a laser light show. It legitimately looks like glitter. Alesso didn't do a bad job or anything, the crowd was into it, the sound quality was decent given the environment, and he played all his hit songs. But there isn't really more to it than that.
By the end of Alesso I was completely soaked and decided I needed to find a good spot for Calvin Harris. Insider strategy if you're too old and jaded to jump in the pits anymore: when you're in a GA festival setting where you know the crowd is going to be intense, opt for a spot along the sound and light people's barrier. You usually get a clean view of the stage, and have a solid foundation to lean on when people push and shove.
I found a spot, met some "sober ravers" from Tucson who were drunk, and then, after about an hour of small talk and 20 minutes later than the advertised set-time, Calvin Harris took to the stage. Calvin Harris' set was pretty solid, he played all of the crowd favorites like "Summer" and "Blame it On The Night," and also threw in a remix of "No Type" -- which is one of my favorites at the moment, and also a remix to O.T. Genasis' "Coco."
As much as I was a baby about the rain for most of the experience, dancing around in the rain to dance music is a pretty solid experience. The weather definitely enhanced the "fuck it" attitude of the crowd.
Now leaving the festival, was basically legalized torture. After the hours of rain, the once-cute grassy parking lot transformed into a muddy hell. Cars were getting stuck, there was a lack of direction and it ended up taking 2 and a half hours to just get out of the parking lot, and that's after driving like an asshole.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Calvin Harris at the DirecTV Super Bowl Fan Fest
Overheard in the crowd: "Whatever man, if it's Alesso, Calvin Harris, no matter what I'm huggin everyone"
Random Notebook Dump: My friend and I played a game to see how many Calvin Harris song titles you can turn into puns throughout the night -- I know, we're fucking cool. I recommend it.
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