By Ryan Sexton, Assistant Entertainment Editor
Music fest this year was a sonic cornucopia of tasty hipsterdom, hip hop and ska. Providing something for everyone is not typically the surest means to success for a musical production, but it seemed to work for Music fest, which drew over 5,000 students, according to Samantha Snow of Hofstra Concerts. Many clubs came together, with strong presence at tables around the event. Concertgoers could score free barbeque and shop at a veritable bazaar of tents.
On the main stage, momentum gathered as the time for the main acts approached. Both Find Vienna and Your Sisters Canary were certainly worth a second listen (both have an interesting sound aesthetic- Find Vienna take some cues from Jeff Buckley and Your Sisters Canary are surprisingly organic rock). Things picked up when The Bad Rabbits, a band from Boston, took the stage. Students disproved their reputation for apathy when they got off the lawn and crowded around the stage for the Rabbits odd alchemy of Muse-like rock and Ohio Players disco. It was a treat.
Kevin Devine took the stage next, something of an icon within the indie music community. His music translated incredibly well live, a mixture of clear rock influence and years spent listening to the likes of Pavement. The important thing was his sincerity. "I spent so much time on my hair this morning" he quipped cooly. Uncharacteristic of some indie rock, Devine used effects pedals heavily on his guitar and wasn't afraid to get loud- it's nice to see guitar adventures in this age of music. In an interview, Devine was candid and courteous. Devine has faith in the download generation: "I'm 30, I think the kids who are 16-21 are pretty savvy. I think they like music for real-but maybe they're overwhelmed with choices. We are doing something a little more idiosyncratic than Ghostface, but people were open minded and willing to listen."
Ghostface Killer, the most hyped act of the show, drew the densest crowd. But 20 minutes into the set, the strained, mildly dissonant, redundant vocals got old. Hip-hop is great, but performers have to be careful when they try to make a living off being a badass. Talk of Tech-Nines (a cheap, semi-automatic firearm used by many gangs) and "wave the hands back and forth" created more of an idiotic atmosphere than a sharply honed, thematic hip-hop performance (a la Tribe Called Quest or Public Enemy, people doing something similar to Ghostface but sharper). Ghostface certainly enjoyed performing though, and seemed impressed with the crowd reaction. "We'll come running back to Long Island, Hofstra. Thank you, we love you Hofstra," he said at the end of his set.
Streetlight Manifesto was the last act and provided a long set of ska and plenty of smug humor between strums. "Hello Staten Island," barked frontman Tomas Kalnoky, attempting to insult the sizeable crowd but instead elicited hearty chuckles. Characteristic of many ska shows, a "circle pit" manifested itself in front of the stage quickly after Streetlight got rolling. Many students ditched their flip-flops and sacrificed their feet to the dirt to participate in the exhuberant dancing. The poser factor was minimal, and the dancing was incessant. Streetlight Manifesto did not draw the largest crowd, but they may have attracted the most dedicated cadre of ska soldiers. The band played as the daylight dwindled and the ochreous sun melted away. All in all, most kids got what they were looking for: the funnest event of the year, replete with free food and temporary tinnitus.