Knee Jerk Reactions to the Beale Street Music Festival Lineup 2013

Today the lineup for the annual Memphis in May Beale St. Music Festival was announced. And like most years, it’s a hodgepodge of artists from every genre imaginable. Some great, some good, some bad, some pathetic.

To see the full lineup, click here.

Here are a few brief thoughts.

(Relatively?) Excited to see:

Friday – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Shannon McNally, The Wallflowers, Don Trip, The Joy Formidable

Saturday – The Black Keys, ZZ Top, The Roots, Dwight Yoakam, Patti Smith, Mavis Staples, Star & Micey, Ryan Bingham, Big Boi

Sunday – The Flaming Lips, The Smashing Pumpkins, Phoenix, Gary Clark Jr., Deer Tick

Every year, there are bands that inevitably play at the same time causing festival goers to make a choice. Here are a few scheduling conflict predictions:

Friday – I see Don Trip playing on a stage before The Deftones and Alice and Chains, likely interfering with The Joy Formidable or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as they will probably go on before Bassnectar closes that stage down. The Wallflowers will probably also play at that same time before Sheryl Crow and Hall and Oates finish up on their stage.

The Black Keys

Saturday – The Black Keys will close down a stage after a set from ZZ Top. The Roots will close down a stage after Big Boi. Mavis Staples will hopefully play before ZZ Top, but I could see her and Jerry Lee Lewis getting their own stage. Gonna have to choose between quality rock n’ roll and quality hip hop that night.

Sunday – Flaming Lips and Phoenix will close down a stage. Hopefully they won’t put The Smashing Pumpkins on a stage with Public Enemy and Papa Roach but instead will opt to put them with The Black Crowes. Either way, you won’t be able to see The Smashing Pumpkins and The Flaming Lips/Phoenix. The Pumpkins will interfere with one of those two acts. Odd that there’s a solid metal feel on Sunday, a day reserved for more laid back acts. Interested to see where they stick Gary Clark Jr. Will he be with The Flaming Lips and Phoenix or with The Black Crowes and Deer Tick?

Overall, I’m pretty apathetic towards this year’s lineup. If you go back and read my thoughts after last year’s festival, you will see that the whole process frustrates me year after year. We can’t attract (read: pay) enough big name/up and coming acts to compete with the other major summer music festivals, so we get what quality acts we can and then rely on people whose careers have been in the crapper for years to attract some die-hards and sentimental festival goers (see Cracker, Gavin DeGraw, Papa Roach, Public Enemy, The Deftones, Alice in Chains…). Then the festival gets loaded down with teenagers and people who don’t know how to behave in public and it ends up creating what I would equate to a war-zone. Not the ideal situation, but if you want to see some decent music, sometimes dealing with all the riff raff and mud and vomit and drunk folks can be worth it. And it is very inexpensive compared to other festivals nearby.

If I had to make a prediction for my attendance, I will probably say I’ll go at least one, maybe two of the three days with a heavy lean towards Saturday and Sunday. I’ve never seen The Black Keys live and the fact they will likely play on the same stage with ZZ Top is enough to merit me buying a ticket for at least that day. Sunday will be interesting with Phoenix and The Flaming Lips, but I could see the draw of an afternoon nap being more enticing than seeing The Lips for the umpteenth time while also knowing I will probably get a chance to see Phoenix for the first time later on down the road.

Here are what I would consider the don’t miss acts:

  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: great live show, lots of energy, tons of fun, very weird.
  • The Black Keys: have to assume they know what they are doing as they are arguably the biggest rock band to hit the mainstream in the last 10 years.
  • The Flaming Lips: prepare to be amazed/completely freaked out at their shenanigans.

Here’s to hoping for next year…

Grade: C-

Update – 11:14 AM

The Black Keys and ZZ Top will be playing on different stages at the same time. In my opinion, this is a horrible decision. Those two bands need to be on the same stage. It’s a no-brainer.