I'm not sure if it was the beautiful weather this weekend, the crazy convention in town, or purely what music and arts the festival had to offer, but this year's Artscape was by far the most crowded I've ever seen. Even getting on the Woodberry Light Rail Satruday evening, I realized it was going to be bad. There was a long line at the ticket kiosk and standing-room only on the train. Once we got to the festival, we wanted to scurry over to the main stage to check out Cake's set. Easier said than done.
Hordes of people were surrounding the main stage for the band's entire set, so even getting a glimpse was impossible. So we just listened as Cake sailed through all their radio-friendly singles like "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" and Fashion Nugget gems like "Frank Sinatra." They played a very pleasant, predictable set, but to a very intense and dense crowd.
After Cake I walked around checking out some of the drink selections. $8 margaritas and sangria were really not in my budget, though the spiked lemonade (for the same price) was tempting. I found the shortest line I possibly could for beer (in the $5-7 range) and waited for about 10 minutes. When I got to the front, the vendor said that all they had was Coors Original. In a can. But I succumbed, for fear that I'd have to wait in another line. We went back to our spot on the grass to the left of the main stage and by the time Robert Randolph was about to come on, the sun had gone down, the crowds had cleared, and we were all feeling a little more sane agian.
I already knew that Robert Randolph & The Family Band was awesome live, but they really proved it Saturday night. The soul and funk group jammed for two-plus hours keeping the crowd happy and dancing the entire time. They paid huge tribute to Michael Jackson by covering "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "Man in the Mirror," and "I Want You Back," among others. Towards the end of his set, tons of women got up on stage and were dancing all around the famous frontman, pictured. The show was a perfect, feel-good way to end the evening.
I also stopped by Artscape Sunday to check out some of the local crafters and artists (it's really hard to do the festival in just one day). Sunday was definitely less crowded, but still teeming with people. A lot of the artists said they did at least triple the business that they did last year, which is awesome! But it made we wonder, why this year? Cake is cool, but you can't attribute the numbers to them alone. Weather? Recession? A combination of things? What do you guys think?
[Image: courtesy of flickr.com/photos/leahmiller]