Day: Tuesday 7/8/14
Review by: JohnnyKassab
Genre of the Day: Alternative Rock
The Venue. At first glance, Common Ground just looks like a construction site smack dab in the middle of our great state’s capitol. There are metal fences and bright orange neon signs everywhere to help with that visual. As soon as you are inside the deceptively boring walls of Common Ground, you are staring at a sea of concert goers of all types. Since the festival was held in Adado Riverfront Park, there are slight rolling hills throughout the venue which made for interesting foot traffic.
The Stages. Since this festival lasted for only the evening portion of the day, there wasn’t much need for more than 3 stages. The stages seemed to have unmentioned ranking that I could determine just by who was on each stage. The Sparrow Stage was the smallest stage & was reserved for those that are local and/or have less major appeal. The next step up was the GM Pavilion Stage, which hosted some of my favorite artists, including Say Anything. Without question, the biggest and best stage at Common Ground was the Auto Value Stage. This stage took up a considerable chunk of the park and was host to the more widely-appealing artists, Brand New is a great example of this.
The Performances. Now, I am a huge hip-hop fan and that’s primarily what I listen to. I went to the Alternative Rock day of Common Ground because I liked Brand New and Say Anything in high school, but haven’t listened heavily to them since. I was thoroughly impressed by how captivating their performances were, from both bands. Due to traffic and terrible scheduling on my part, I wasn’t able to catch much of any other performance. I did get to see the end of Circa Survive’s performance, although I didn’t get any shots of that. Another artist that impressed me was Kevin Devine and the Goddamn
(can I say that on this website?) Band. I think that Kevin Devine was a perfect fit for the Sparrow Stage; the Sparrow Stage was a large cement bowl with stairs leading downward carved into the park and it made for a more intimate experience, there wasn’t even a photo pit! Say Anything destroyed the GM Pavilion Stage with performances of their classics from …Is a Real Boy all the way up to some of the songs of off their newest addition Hebrews. Brand New sealed up the night, which was quite appropriate. With flowers blooming on their mics and mesmerizing lyrics, Brand New had every female fan’s attention within a 2 mile radius.
So, all in all, I had a fantastic time at the Common Ground Music Festival just week. Check in with me Hip Hop Oakland on 7/16 to hear me talk about my Common Ground experience live on the air at 8 pm here on 88.3 FM WXOU!
Day: Friday 7/11/14
Review by: JohnnyKassab
Genre of the Day: Hip-Hop/Rap
The Venue. As you can see from the previous post I made regarding Tuesday’s Common Ground line-up, I was already used to the layout of the festival and navigated it a lot easier this time around. This made for better opportunities for pictures as well faster transitions from stages, all insuring better coverage of that event. Arriving earlier on in the evening gave me a chance to really soak in the venue while the sun was still out, and I actually like it very much as far as festival venues go; tons of free space, easy layout to find your way, and concessions were plenty as were restrooms.
The Stages. Amongst the three stages mentioned earlier, the same format stood for the Friday line up. Meaning, each stage had a different caliber artist than the other and each stage had an artist performing at the same time; the Sparrow Stage with acts such as L Soul and Ill Natured, GM Pavilion Stage with bigger yet not mainstream artists like Taylor Gang’s Chevy Woods and Machine Gun Kelly, and the Auto Value Stage hosting the mainstream large scale artists such as Ace Hood, Juicy J, and Big Sean. I didn’t know any of the artists at the Sparrow stage, but I checked out L Soul when I passed by. One thing about L Soul that peaked my interest in his music was the fact that unlike most rappers, he is sporting another artist’s merch on his shirt. The thing that makes this interesting is the fact that Bring Me the Horizon is a hardcore rock group, which is odd for a hip-hop artist. All in all, he had a good set.
The Performances. As I mentioned earlier, I am a big hip-hop fan. Going to this show was almost too good to be true. Seeing Big Sean is as close as I can get to witnessing a performance from a rapper that’s made it out of Michigan without having to pay for high-price Eminem tickets (Remember, I am still just a college kid). With the way the line-up was scheduled, and due to my diverse taste in rap music myself and another DJ from the station were bouncing between the Auto Value stage & the GM Pavilion stage. With the way Common Ground utilize the park, stopping by the Sparrow stage from time to time was made easy, thus making it easier to experience the whole of Common Ground without stressing about missing any 1 performance.
For the second time, Common Ground has shown me an incredible night, but you’ve only heard my opinion on Friday’s line-up. Check in with Zip on The Snafu Show on 7/17 to hear my fellow concert goer talk about his Common Ground experience live on the air at 6 pm here on 88.3 FM WXOU!
Day: Sunday, 7.13.14
Review and Photos by Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb
Genre of the Day: R&B
Earth, Wind and Fire
“We’ve got 42 years of music we want to lay on you in about 72 minutes, are you ready?” asked Earth, Wind and Fire lead singer, Philip Bailey.
Three of my favorite elements made a stop in the capital city on Sunday as they headlined Common Ground. The band commanded the Auto Value main stage from 9:30-11pm and opened with hits, “Boogie Wonderland” and “Sing A Song.”
Immediately following, they went into “My Promise,” which is a single off of their most recent album titled, “Now, Then and Forever,” and also my favorite Karaoke Revolution song to sing, “Shining Star.”
It was during “On Your Face” that the video screens on each side of the mammoth stage showed old concert footage from the 70s and 80s.
Things slowed down when the eerily similar Michael Jackson “Bad” sounding song “Can’t Hide Love,” began. Unlike the song tempo, it quickly turned into a rendition of “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. It was hard to miss the numerous fans behind me, for lack of a better term, moaning and screaming “Sing it baby.” Was it a concert, or an adult film? In any setting, Bailey had every single person in attendance wrapped around his finger.
Arguably one of my favorite parts of the show was when the infamously enthusiastic Verdine White strolled the catwalk dancing, kicking, and everything in between.
When I interviewed White the week before, he had told me to be careful during encores “September” and “Let’s Groove” because if I wasn’t standing I would get trampled. Boy, was he right. I secured my front row spot very early in the evening, so I didn’t have to worry about standing up. As the commotion occurred behind me, the words “Do you remember” flowed out of Bailey’s son’s mouth as a gasp simultaneously slipped out of mine.
It was here. The moment I’ve waited 20 years to see: One of my all time favorite songs, September, played live. I must say, I was a little disappointed that he let his son sing both of the encore songs. A nice thing to do? Yes. But for fans who have waited so long to see these classics, a bummer. Regardless, it was a moment, and a show, I’ll never forget.