I ended up back in Memphis on Oct 19 and took the opportunity to go to day one of the 2019 Mempho Fest.
After some confusion that led to having walk a long way from my car but get free parking I made my way to the box office to buy two tickets but was stopped by a girl who said she had two extras and would just give them to us. We made her at least take $40 but that was a steal for us. Huge thanks to the unnamed girl for sharing her extra tickets, I wish good karma on you wherever you are!
After getting the lay of the land we went over to the stage that Margo Price would soon be playing on. This was my first Mempho Fest so the obvious thing to do is compare it to Memphis’s Beale Street Music Festival which I’ve attended many times in the past. There were far fewer people at Mempho Fest, but that made for a better experience. Less trash everywhere, no mud slicks from the rain that always, always shows up during BSMF, and did I mention less people? The price of the tickets is higher with a smaller lineup so maybe the smaller crowd was by design.
Margo Price was the main reason I wanted to go. I don’t listen to country that much so it’s an easy call to say that Margo is my favorite country singer. She put on a great show of songs from her most recent album All American Made with some new songs, covers, and older material mixed in. We heard Janis Joplin and Dolly Parton songs but as someone who’s recently moved away from Tennessee the highlight for me was, of course, Tennessee Song, I may have gotten a bit choked up when she began it. Her two new songs both sounded very promising and I’m looking forward to the next album already.
The band Reignwolf was next, I was unfamiliar with them and took the opportunity to get food and drinks. I did sit back on a hill eating while watching most of their set though. They made me think of the time Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon called The War on Drugs beer commercial rock because he could hear them playing from another stage while he was playing a festival. Sorry Mark, The War on Drugs is not beer commercial rock. Now Reignwolf, that’s beer commerical rock. Also The War On Drugs are much better than Sun Kil Moon or Red House Painters.
Next up was the Wu Tang Clan! However I soon noticed that Method Man was not with them which was a bit disappointing but they were still fun to see. They had Young Dirty Bastard who did a good job of sounding like OBD and they had probably the biggest crowd of the night.
Next up was DJ Paul of Three Six Mafia. I love that just part of Three Six Mafia plays after Wu Tang Clan in Memphis. There are far too many songs to pack into an hour set for DJ Paul so he did shortened versions of most of them, obviously focusing on his part the song. He played clips of several recent hit songs and then played the Three Six Mafia song they were copying. Maybe the best part of his show was when he said, “You remember that Will Ferrell movie The Campaign? That little girl is sitting there listening to headphones? they paid us $500,000 to use this song . . . AND I SPENT IT ALL ON COCAINE!!!” That was funnier than anything in that entire movie.
Immediately, and I mean immediately, after DJ Paul finished The Raconteurs started playing on the other stage. It was a bit of whiplash going to a totally different kind of music. For most people, including me, The Raconteurs are that band with Jack White that isn’t The White Stripes or The Dead Weather. They had one album a decade or so ago and have returned this year with another one which is apparently enough for them to headline festivals. I wonder if they get paid the same as if it were Jack White solo, he has to show up either way but his name would probably be a bigger draw. Anyway, all that said, they put on a good show even if I was unfamiliar with most of the songs. Jack White got to show off his guitar skills more than with The White Stripes where he is playing the only non drum instrument. The songs there other singer did were good too, there was no, “Oh no the other guy is doing one” that you might get when one band member is by far more famous. The whole set was good and I didn’t even have to lock up my phone in a pouch like Jack White likes to make people do.
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