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Nestled between the red brick roads of John McConnell Blvd. & West St. in the downtown Columbus' Arena District
lies McFerson Commons, the several block long grassy area that was host to the first PromoWest Fest. The low
humidity, gentle breezes and lots of shade trees added as the perfect backdrop for this three-day music fest.
While checking into the festival, I was graced with hearing Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on the Pepsi Stage,
which was one of the two main stages all weekend. In addition to his solo material, he treated the crowd to a few
Oasis favorites, including "Wonderwall."
At the other end of the park was the Columbus Makes Art Stage which soon became home to Fitz & The Tantrums for
the next hour. The six piece high energy soul-pop band from Los Angeles had the crowd hopping (and hand-clapping
of course) along with them in no time. They ended the performance with just as much enthusiasm as when they
started--setting off confetti canons into the crowd while co-lead vocalist Noelle Scaggs strutted her stuff down the
entrance path to the photo pit.
Complaining of the hot weather, the flannel-covered-vintage-Ozzy-shirt-wearing Ryan Adams, dare I say, delighted
the crowd for the next hour. Fans seem to indulge Adams with his chastising and almost-ridiculing remarks. He told
one lady to “calm down and not have an enthusiasm baby. Don’t you know all my songs are about cynical
As fans yelled out song titles they wanted to hear, Adams picked up on someone yelling “Cotton Candy.” Asking the
crowd, “Cotton Candy? Have I ever written a song called Cotton Candy? I’ve forgot a lot in my life and I’ve paid a lot to
do so, but I’m sure I’ve never written a song called Cotton Candy!” He then breaks into a very improvised song, paying
homage to being bored, eating cocoa puffs; the group of folks watching the show from their apartment balconies and
the security guard with questionable apprehension to Adams intent... cue the chorus: “Life’s an invisible psychedelic
bottle of brandy. Fuck that, give me Cotton Candy (Candy) Give me Cotton Candy. What are you looking at security
guard? (Candy) What are you gonna do about it...?” I have to admit, I’m one of those ‘likes-the-abuse’ fans and was
pleased to hear a few of my favorites too: "Trouble, Gimme Something Good" and "When the Stars Go Blue."
I was able to cross an item I didn’t even know I had off my bucket list when I read that Q Magazine dubbed this band
as one of the Top 50 Bands To See Live Before You Die. The Flaming Lips ended the festival’s first night with such
dynamic and energetic stage theatrics that a couple concert goers described it as “life-changing.” That’s pretty darn
powerful if you ask me.
From the start, huge--and I mean enormous, gargantuan, monumental--cannons shot confetti in such excessive
amounts, spanning the crowd east to west and north to south, while at the same time shooting out colossal sized
balloons of all colors into the packed crowd.
As fans exhilaratingly responded, I found myself captivated and hypnotized by it all. Wearing a suit made of various
stuffed toys--bear head shoulder pads, colorful caterpillar arms and a flower covering his crotch--the enthusiastic
smiling front man Wayne Coyne later draped himself in colorful rope lighting, rode a Yeti and danced with the sun.
A giant silver 'Fuck Yeah Columbus' mylar balloon floated around the stage while another band member showed his
Cowtown support by wearing a Blue Jackets jersey. The band definitely showed their Columbus appreciation to the
crowd and appeared humble to be the top act to finish off the first night, closing the set with the word "LOVE" flashing
on stage in unison with a hypnotic robotic voice repeating the word "love" through the speaker system.
PromoWest Fest : Day One
McFerson Commons : Columbus, Ohio Arena District : July 15, 2016