The area directly in front of the main stage at Edgefest was fenced off, and you needed special access to get in. So the kids pressed against its boundaries all day, standing against the gate and designated lines to get a few feet closer to the stage, still a third of a soccer field away.
A hole opened in the gate at the start of Paramore's set. I don't know why the security guard pulled it apart -- he did it just for a moment and turned his head and the kids started pouring through in one solid mass like a lake through a crumbling dam.
On stage, Haley Williams, who at 24 still possesses the stature of a school kid, bounded to the red cordless mic. She can't be more than five foot nothing, but her voice is a towering thing. She uncorks it effortlessly, in motion at all times, and it fills arenas.
The security guard took action after 20 seconds and hundreds of people through the gap in the fence. He spread his arms wide into oncoming shirtless jocks and girls who changed in the bathroom because no way their parents let them leave the house looking like that. There was a kinetic energy at that gate hole. The spirit of rock & roll hates both barriers and authority and it smiled at that breach.
Paramore marked the turn in the Edgefest lineup from appetizers -- no one is paying $60 to see A Day to Remember -- to main courses. After that it's Deftones then Bush then Phoenix. All day the bands alternated between the two stages and there was little dead time. But Bush and Phoenix were back to back on stage one, and they turned the bright lights on during the set break.
For half an hour there, people filed out while vendors folded up their tents. Maybe this was by design, to help overall traffic flow or something, but it had the effect of turning Phoenix into a coda. Maybe people would have left anyway. On a day filled with disorienting shifts in sound that are nevertheless consistent with The Edge's daily programming, no back-to-back pairing was as much of a contrast as the growl and flex of Bush with the hum of Phoenix.
Still, Phoenix never in a million years expected to end up on bills like this. Then Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix hit sounding perfect at the perfect time for meaty synthesizer pop and here we are at Edgefest. Dessert, I guess.
All day the crowdsurfers came crashing toward the stages like whitecaps to the beach. Security guards stood straight-faced at the end, reaching out to pluck people off the cradle of hands. And the surfers find themselves standing in a forbidden zone, in the pit between crowd and stage. Some followed the ushering of security dutifully out the sides. Some stood around, pleading their case for staying, waiting for a friend or simply testing the limits. They got a firm rebuff and a hand to the small of their backs. Some of the surfers were ebullient, high-fiving the front row. One girl wearing a cut-up oversized t-shirt and converse sneakers stumbled toward the exit fighting back tears.
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When the weather's good, there is no better set tim than sunset. Paramore had it, had the long shadows and the relief from the heat and the warm light. The crowd within the enclosure sang along and raised its arms rapturously. They cheered the old stuff, they cheered the new stuff. The band was loud. Every band at Edgefest was loud -- distorted guitars echoing in the bowl of the arena with crash cymbals and roaring bass notes. The Gaslight Anthem, a few sets earlier, lost all its quiet valleys to the din and had nowhere to build.
But Haley Williams blew right over the blare. She sang about the fight and they fired off cannons of blue and green streamers. The paper hung in the air forever and crumbled onto upturned faces and grasping hands.
Some kid who didn't come with front-row access but sprinted through that gap went home with a blue paper souvenir. He'll hang onto it and it will last so much longer than whatever he just scored on the state-mandated STAAR tests he just finished.