First up was Kandle and the Krooks, an amazing discovery I had made when I was researching this year’s Rifflandia line-up. Wrapped up in the dark, bluesy music, we all sat enraptured at Alix Goolden Hall. This is an example of a type of show Alix Goolden is a fantastic venue for. Any show at this venue has great sound, but it’s best for music that really sets a mood and has stirring vocals. It was the perfect venue for Kandle in the same way it was the perfect venue for Cold Specks at Rifflandia last year. The thing about Alix Goolden Hall though is that it’s very warm and cozy, and there’s no alcohol served, providing the perfect environment to fall asleep. So it was off for a quick glass of wine, and then I nipped back just in time for the highly anticipated Half Moon Run.
The venue filled right up for Half Moon, as they have created quite a name for themselves. They played an amazing set which absolutely blew my mind. The crowd was not letting them get away without an encore, and when they came back out for said encore, they all gathered together at the front of the stage, with only one instrument, and sang together, sans microphones, “Vampire” by the Pink Mountaintops, a song I had been obsessed with when it first came out years ago. I never understood why the whole world wasn’t obsessed with that song (perhaps a bit egotistical of me), and it was just so wonderfully surprising and gratifying to observe that this amazing little band, Half Moon Run, clearly loved this song as much as I did. I didn’t need another reason to love Half Moon Run, but now I have one.
Sunday. The last day of park festivities. I’ve been to Rifflandia a couple times before, and the feeling of burnout on Sunday is almost palpable. People have a bit less patience with each other. In fact, there are a lot of people with full passes that never even make it out on Sunday because they’re too exhausted. Sunday always ends with a big exciting act though, so you know the people who are there are ready to muster everything they have for the good times the last show will surely bring.
I unfortunately wasn’t able to get there early enough to catch Dear Rouge but arrived just in time to catch the last few electronic beats of Lightning Dust. By this time I was already feeling the need to forage in the food truck park. After satisfying my hunger, including trying some deep-fried avocados from Taco Justice, I became aware that there was some awesome sounding dance music coming from the other side of the park. Curious, I looked at the schedule to see who it was, and lo and behold, it was the Funk Hunters! Why lo and behold, you ask? Because although they had played many times around town before, including previously at Rifflandia, I had never felt compelled to see them based on what I encountered online when I researched them. It had gotten to the point when I basically rolled my eyes just on hearing their name. (I know, what is my problem?) But here they were, bringing the park alive! The lesson is, everyone deserves a second chance? Sure, why not?
Then I had a little repeat viewing of Half Moon Run across the park, where they did exactly what I hoped and covered “Vampire” at the end again. Yes! And on to Girl Talk, the last show of the festival. The stage was set up in a rather eclectic style, complete with gigantic upside down inflatable shoes and basketball. He started the music, and we all partied out the rest of the festival together. Tons of people went up and joined him on the stage, making the whole place feel like some kind of fantastical party commune. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “Communist Party.” And with that, Rifflandia was over. Until next year: rest up!