030708 Beastie Boys/Umphrey’s McGee/Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars/Sound Tribe Sector 9, Big Cypress, FL

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On March 7th, 2008 I hopped on a plane nice and early and landed in Ft. Lauderdale shortly after noon, and with barely any effort whatsoever I found the shuttle that took me to the Langerado Festival in the middle of the Everglades.  I arrived onsite with my backpack and my small tent ready to throw down for the weekend – but first I had to find my friends.

Anyone that knows me knows that I have a thing against cellphones.  I’ve never owned one for personal use (though I did carry one for a time when I was road-managing and to this day I have a cheap phone in a drawer that I take with me when I deliver musical instruments in Africa) and I hope I never do.  My reasons for despising cellphones are long-winded and varied (I could go on and on about the horrors of cellphones but I’m teaching myself not to) but mostly: they are serendipity killers.

Think about it…how often do things just ‘happen’ nowadays?  I love, love, love life’s random comings together of happenstance – frankly I live for them – and it’s been my observation that cellphones (for the most part) eliminate the opportunity for countless notable coincidental occurrences.

So anyway, there I was standing on the edge of a vast sea of tents (the festival had actually started the day before but not being much of a fan of the first evening’s main headliners – Dark Star Orchestra and The New Deal – I was happy to skip it) with no way of contacting the crew of a half-dozen southern-Ontario friends I was seeking.  All I knew was that they were camped in there somewhere.  

“Ah well,” I thought as I started trudging randomly through the campground.  “If I don’t find them that just means I’ll end up making new friends this weekend.”  I ended up walking pretty much the length of the camping area when I decided I was done looking.  I dropped my pack and turned around, ready to introduce myself to the nearest campers.

But I didn’t have to.  As I turned around I found with much serendipitous surprise that I had in fact dropped my bag right in front of my buddies’ campsite.  “Hey Todd, how’s it going?” 

“Great lads!  What it is?!?*”

In short order I had my gear set up and had caught up on the previous night’s shenanigans and in no time at all it was time to find some live music.  

The festival had several stages set up, all of them a reasonable walk from the camping area and each other.  We bounced between a few stages catching bands like the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Umphrey’s McGee but for me the night was all about seeing the Beastie Boys.  Don’t get me wrong, Umphrey’s is a group of seriously talented musicians and I’ve really enjoyed every show of theirs that I’ve seen, but I absolutely cherish the few Beastie Boys concerts I was fortunate enough to witness.

I really can’t believe it took me so long to get into them.

So What’cha Want, Pass the Mic, Sure Shot, Body Movin’, Root Down…it was all so fantastic, and under a starry sky on a beautiful night in the ‘glades taboot.  They even closed the show with Sabotage.  So, so good.

What wasn’t so good was the posse of sketchy nitrous oxide merchants who used our campsite as a distribution site for the evening.  I mean, there was a lineup of wooks circling my tent.  I’m not a fan of the nitrous mafia at the best of times, but spending the night next to those hissing tanks was a bit much.  Luckily I can sleep through almost anything; I suspect my snoring is what eventually drew them away.

The next day I was cleaning up a plethora of spent balloon casings when the tribal police came by on horseback.  They accused me of leading the nitrous ring and I let them have it, throwing my tiny tent open for them to see and strongly encouraging them to step up their patrols of the area.  

We never saw the dreaded NO2 crew again. 

*For reasons unknown even to myself, for about a decade my standard greeting was “What it is?!?”  Nobody ever, ever knew how to respond.  I can’t imagine why I stopped.

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