Because of a typographical error, a story on the Virgin Festival in the Aug. 6 Style section referred to Girl Talk's Greg Gillis as a one-trick phony instead of a one-trick pony. The change has been made in this version of the story.
Virgin Festival, Day 2: Morsels for All Tastes
Monday, August 6, 2007
BALTIMORE, Aug. 5 -- And the bands played on. And on.
A music festival isn't a sprint, it's an ultra-marathon. On Sunday -- the second and final day of the Virgin Festival at Pimlico Race Course -- the music kept coming, from every corner of the 140-acre track. It began at high noon (higher for some than others, this being a rock festival) and moved along at a brisk pace as nightfall and rainfall arrived simultaneously.
"Feeling good!" declared Scott Weiland, the sinewy, shirtless frontman for Velvet Revolver. "Rain or [expletive] shine!"
The two-day rock bacchanalia featured countless iterations of rock-and-roll: art rock, indie rock, rap rock, electro rock and dance rock, along with hardcore, post-hardcore, emo, power pop and nu-metal. But Velvet Revolver played the sort of rock that doesn't take a qualifier. Built on power chords and driving rhythms and played in 4/4 time, it was straight-ahead rock, which was to be expected from a supergroup featuring three former members of Guns N' Roses along with Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots.
Front and center was Slash, still wearing that top hat and playing muscular, rhythmic guitar leads. He took blistering solos early and often, whether on Velvet Revolver originals ("Slither," "She Builds Quick Machines") or covers ("Vaseline," from Stone Temple Pilots). Though the Guitar Hero video game franchise had a major presence at the festival, it was refreshing to see the real thing, live and in person.
Alt-rock behemoths Smashing Pumpkins have always had a giant sound, so it wasn't surprising that the group's big-and-bigger songs translated well to the setting. Closing out the weekend on the main stage, Billy Corgan's power chords were crunchy and his solos crisp. If only he could do something about that braying voice.
The second day of the second U.S. Virgin Festival drew 32,000 people to Pimlico, according to a concert spokeswoman. (The venue could have accommodated nearly twice as many.) The lineup wasn't solely made up of rock bands. Among Sunday's biggest draws was the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, which opened with a boastful warning: "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin to [bleep] Wit." (Perhaps that explains why promoters couldn't force the Staten Island collective to stick to the schedule; Wu-Tang came on more than 10 minutes late.)
The group fought through a succession of microphone malfunctions, but with eight rappers onstage there was always someone to pick up the slack. Method Man and the RZA were most often at the forefront, with Method serving as the party man during songs and RZA dishing out instructions between songs. The most talented rappers in the Clan -- Raekwon, GZA and Ghostface Killah -- took a back seat for most of the set, but the fans weren't necessarily looking for a lesson in lyrical perfection or rapid-fire flow.
Before the rain fell, Pimlico had become something of a giant pigpen, with trash scattered all over the infield and dust everywhere.
"Dust clouds!" yelped Panic! at the Disco singer Brendon Urie after kicking out the jams -- which got the kids to kick up the dirt. "Sweet!"
Panic! dressed down for its appearance, eschewing its usual over-the-top stage show for something more low-key and streamlined. Maybe that's because it was the most misplaced band on the bill. (It's hard to imagine the young emo-rock quartet sharing many fans with Smashing Pumpkins, Wu-Tang Clan or the bevy of current hipster favorites who fleshed out the Sunday lineup.) Still, the crowd seemed to respond favorably to such songs as the catchy "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," which followed the Panic! formula of wordy verses leading to soaring choruses.
Bad Brains singer Paul "H.R." Hudson attempted to connect with the crowd by bringing a gift: At the start of the band's set, he threw a loaf of bread into the audience. Perhaps it was a preemptive peace offering, as the area in front of the stage was about to become a war zone, what with Bad Brains playing that pulverizing hardcore punk of theirs. Earl Hudson's hyper-speed drumming, Gary "Dr. Know" Miller's savage, metallic riffs, Darryl Jenifer's thundering bass lines and H.R.'s manic braying incited the crowd, particularly on such songs as "Banned in D.C."