AREA: ONE FESTIVAL
(featuring Moby, Outkast, Paul Oakenfold, Incubus, Carl Cox, The Roots, and Nelly Furtado)
July 11, 2001
Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater
Ah, summer is back and with it must come the monstrous summer music festivals. Techno monster Moby is the mastermind behind this latest event and Atlanta was chosen to be the first ever stop for Area: Ones eclectic roster of artists. With heat indices well over 100 degrees, 15, 000 or so people trekked back and forth between the air- conditioned DJ tent and the broiling main stage. Pop princess Nelly Furtado kicked off the proceedings. People danced and returned her smiles, setting the positive tone for the rest of the day. She led her agile band through a tight, breezy set that showed her music off much better than on record. After a sing-along version of her hit Im Like A Bird many of the assembled headed for the cooled DJ tent where French techno-rockers Rinocerose layered Frampton-esque dueling guitars over a trance-like foundation. Using a myriad of guitar effects including two talk-boxes and note sustaining e-bows, they relaxed the sweaty crowd as holograms and video screens danced around them.
Back on the main stage, Philadelphias The Roots were preparing to spray their soulful rap on to the masses. ?uestlove laid down the beat and the crowd grooved as the Grammy nominated act did their thing. Up and coming diva Kelis surprised the crowd by sitting in on The Roots last two songs. She did a great visual impersonation of Tina Turner as she shouted out Caught Out There.
Back in the tent, the hypnotized youth were really packed in now. Super DJ Carl Cox spun records and smiled every time the audience screamed their pleasure toward him. Giant silver vents pumped in cooled air onto 1,000 or so people crammed into the small (and seemingly getting smaller) place.
Incubus were the obligatory rockers of the day. Out in the heat, they played a lighter set than their new metal albums would suggest, instead choosing to focus on the groovier sides from their catalog. Girls swooned every time the singer looked moody or beat on the drum he occasionally slung over his shoulder. Guys yelled in approval with each power chord. They leaped around and put on a satisfying show.
Then it was back to the tent one last time for legendary Brit (by way of New York) Paul Oakenfold. There was now a winding line that snaked out of the tent and most of the way back to the main area. Pounding, deafening beats were rattling skulls and vital organs into a trance like state of relaxation inside. The (not even) standing room only tent was maxed out. Glazed eyes gazed up at the strange new age psychedelia on the giant screen stretched over the stage. The music here was even louder than on the main stage. There will certainly be a generation thats hard of hearing to come from this.
Nothing, however, could compare to the madness that hometown crew Outkast unleashed. They owned the place and everyone in it for the duration of their set. Like a rap version of Sly And The Family Stone, they led the bobbing bodies on a trip of sleaziness that could only be born out of church. Arms waved and everyone danced and sang along blissfully. One of the two rappers looked like a bizarre combination of Dennis Rodman and Bootsy Collins while the other chose more traditional oversized athletic apparel. Their backing band ruled all things funky and right this evening. All creeds and colors were represented in this party and they all appeared to be having the time of their lives. By the end of Outkasts set, even the security guards were dancing. In a day full of strong performances, these guys were the best.
I actually knew nothing about Outkast when their set started. The crowd was absolutely insane throughout Outkast's hour onstage. It was like a super decadent church revival. They owned the place. All the dour security guards even broke character and danced along. I still haven't gotten "Ms. Jackson" out of my head. That's why I chose this performace as my #3 favorite of 2001.
Just after the sun (and temperatures) went down, the ringleader himself, Moby, appeared as the wanderers settled onto the lawn. Decked out in an Outkast t-shirt, he came across like a modern Pink Floyd. His dazzling light and laser show was in perfect sync with the swirling, trance of the music that would suddenly blast into a flurry of activity whenever one of his relentless rave classics was churned out. Oh, how they danced. The crowd waved green glow sticks that imitated the lasers shooting into the clear Atlanta sky. Moby ran tirelessy between keyboards, percussion, octopads, guitar and the lead vocal mic. He seemed indefatigable as he charged through tunes like Go and Body Rock only slowing down a couple of times in the course of the show for beautiful versions of Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad and The Sky Is Broken. Nelly Furtado returned to duet with Moby on South Side, but the highlight of his set was an amazing version of Feeling So Real. This really showed off his band and proved that techno is a valid live music form. Stars shone and changed colors on the backdrop as the spastic leader ran up and down stairways and to each wing of the stage. The jubilant crowd never ran out of energy either. Going since two in the afternoon, they didnt appear the least bit weary as eleven approached. After thanking the crowd for supporting his dream, Moby ended the first Area: One show ever with the fastest song ever played. He pushed buttons, triggering samples and beats that got faster and faster and faster as blue storm clouds of smoke poured onto the stage as strobe lights provided lightning. Eventually the music would slow down before getting faster again. As the tempo increased for the final frantic time, Moby stood up on top of his keyboard with his arms outstretched as the storm blew around him, looking like a shiny-topped Moses about to part the Red Sea. With a flurry of light and sound, the show ended with theatrical (but not overdone) flair. The sea of people parted and got back to reality. This show was not to be missed.
Moby's performance at this show was chosen as my #5 favorite performance of 2001 for delivering proof that electronica is not only for the dance floor. Moby staked his claim as a modern Pink Floyd with a visually dazzling show that breathed life into the usually stagnant nature of his genre.
Be sure to check out the exclusive behind the scenes pictures of Moby during soundcheck and rehearsal with Nelly Furtado the night before the first Area:One show. Click here!