Note: This is part of a series of posts from Andy Moore, who is in Lafayette, Louisiana, this weekend to attend the Festival International de Louisiane where he will find and book artists to perform at Madison festivals. He'll be filing updates through Sunday, April 26.
Part 1: On the plane to Lafayette
Part 2: Belly up to the buffet
Part 3: Early in the morning at Lafayette's Blue Moon Saloon
Part 4: Exposure at the Louisiana International Music Exchange
Part 5: Festival International de Louisiane takes full flight
The drums sounded all night out by the pool. When I closed my eyes for good at 2 am, that made for a nice, round, 12-straight hours of live music.
This morning the pool area and parking lot is empty of people and the only sounds are the whir of the room air conditioners and the whizz of the cars out on Highway 10. The Festival grounds bordered on ugly crowded in some places Saturday. Bottlenecks where people pulsed through like blood cells through a damaged artery. The sun was hot but Gulf breezes blew continuously and even the performers said it cooled them down until the night came with a coolness of her own.
I was sprawled out on the grass in the sun taking a break when Dengue Fever bassist Senon Williams nudged my foot with his own. They had just arrived from shows in Tallahassee and New Orleans. With less than 30 minutes before their performance here, Senon was dropping off merch at the artists' tent. After hellos he said, "We're sorry, man. We got over booked." He was referring to last week's cancellation from this year's La Fete de Marquette . That smarted, and created the hole we spent yesterday trying to fill. I followed Senon over to the main stage where Dengue Fever, sans sax player, played a solid set before about 10,000.
We had some confidence that Chic Gamine (French slang for "adultress") would fill the slot. The four-women acappella act is from Manitoba. They're joined onstage by a drummer (a dude) who lays down sonic energy beneath the Roche-like harmonies. Their show took place in my favorite part of downtown Lafayette--right in front of the gorgeous, gothic court house and on the skirt of a wide lawn. The crowd grew restless three songs into their set. The a cappela was amazing but it's simply too one-dimensional for an outdoor festival audience. It looks like a pass.
Later in the day we trolled Malajube's set as another prospect to cool our Dengue Fever dilemma. Malajube is a speed rock Quebecois garage band in the tradition of Les Breastfeeders. In fact the bands share a road manager. This may be the fix.
Given Louisiana's hard earned reputation for partying you'd think that the crowds here would be shit-faced from morning to midnight. It's not the case. The festival attracts lots and lots of families so that's part of it. But people don't lurch into their drinking here the way they do in Wisconsin and at outdoor Wisconsin events where alcohol is served or allowed to be carried-in. By 11 p.m. there's some seriously smashed patrons staggering around here, including one who popped a volunteer shuttle van driver in the face for committing the crime of putting his head out the window to back up. But facing the crowd from the stage at any given show here at any time of the day, you can see those who party pace themselves, like pros. Plus there's an unvarnished appreciation for live music here that surpasses any other impulse.
I've got to fly out of Lafayette in an hour so I need to bring this post to the curb. Before I do let me give Rupa and the April Fishes a shout out. They played their Argentinian-tangy-gypsy swing on the main stage yesterday and we have them for the Waterfront Festival second weekend in June. The enchanting Bonsoir Catin will also be coming to the Waterfront and the female traditional cajun ensemble had the locals here two-stepping and sweating yesterday afternoon.
A man can only take so much live music and I admit I'm ready to come home. I also admit that I could eat cajun food forever and never miss another strand of pasta. If you kept up with these dispatches, thanks. Thanks also to David Hecht for the photos. We have a summer of Madison festivals ahead. I'll see you there.