Raving in the Rain: All Things Go Fall Classic

October 15, 2016

Photo: All Things Go Fall Classic

This year’s All Things Go Fall Classic was full of promise: star headliners like Passion Pit and Empire of the Sun were sure to give amazing performances, and a killer lineup of foodie favorites was ready to feed the masses.

Unfortunately the weather had other plans. The rain killed the mood of the afternoon, and the lack of hot coffee or shelter made waiting between the first few acts rather miserable. Things picked up considerably for the show’s headliners, but by then the festival grounds were one big slop of mud.

Before the first act, no more than fifty people dotted the sparse and muddy festival grounds. A light rain fell as dance music boomed over the mostly empty field. A few booths for the festival’s sponsors were set up inside the entrance – with the pink Lyft banners standing bright against the gray sky. An enticing array of food vendors lined one side of the field, yet the mood was subdued as the festival slowly stirred to life.

There were few options to pass the time. Dancing alone to the DJ set in the middle of the empty field seemed like the best way to pass the time. There was also spray paint for a community art wall or free tarot card readings at the Milk Cult stand. After a quick and quirky reading, I was back to waiting in the muddy field once more.

Finally, a little after noon, Maryland rapper Ace Cosgrove took the stage. Taking advantage of the small audience, he jumped off the stage to rap and dance among the concertgoers. He wasn’t going to let a little rain ruin his raging, and he managed to inject a little bit of energy into the shivering crowd.

To kill the half hour before the next set, I set off in search of food. It was a tough call, as superstars like Buredo and Shake Shack were featured in the mix, but Takorean won out in the end. My crunchy pork taco was a fab fusion of Mexican and Korean flavors, but the tofu taco left a great deal to be desired.

During the afternoon, Sofi Tukker’s set began. Standing between Sofi and Tukker, the band’s two performing members, was what looked like a hipster art installation – a round sculpture they later called their “book tree.” However, it was more than just an artsy decoration; it was somehow set up as an instrument, playing different sampled sounds as the performers hit it with their drumsticks.

This cool, artsy instrument, along with their coordinated dance moves and smiley, energetic performance, made for a fun and interesting show. The crowd finally began to wake up, and the duo’s final song, “Drinkee,” got everyone dancing.

After that lively set, the half-hour wait for Pop ETC felt even longer – especially as the rain continued drench the crowds. And, oddly, each band did their soundcheck on stage immediately before their set. The men of Pop ETC fiddled with their instruments for several minutes before they finally started their set. All the while, the audience stood watching in the drizzly cold.

Coming immediately from soundcheck seemed to slow the momentum of Pop ETC’s set and, though the crowd danced along to the group’s indie pop jams, the band lacked the energy that Sofi Tukker had offered up so freely. It would have been a great set for a night at the 9:30 Club, but it just wasn’t explosive enough to rock a festival stage.

By the end of this set, I was soaked and shivering, and not a single vendor was selling coffee – a major flaw for an October festival. With no hot beverages to be had within the festival grounds, I gave up and ventured across the street for Starbucks.

We returned, refreshed, a little before 4, ready for Christine and the Queens but found a message on the stage’s massive screen saying they’d declined to perform. With nothing to do for over an hour before the next set, we ventured back into the city to find a dry place to entertain ourselves, since the festival had little shelter and not much to do.

Sylvan Esso performed a set worth returning for, as Amelia Meath’s smooth indie voice fit the rainy mood just right. “Coffee” was the perfect soundtrack for the gray afternoon, and the flashing stage lights complemented Meath’s energetic dancing as they closed with “Hey Mami,” leaving the crowd eager for the festival’s headliners.

By this point, the rain had stopped, and I stopped by farmer’s market favorite Timber Pizza for dinner. With some warm mozzarella in my stomach, things finally started to look up. By now, the crowd had swelled to a few hundred people, and the much-anticipated Passion Pit set was minutes away. I made my way toward the stage, my shoes almost sucked off my feet by the mud, and settled at a comfortable distance from the massive speakers.

After a beautiful post-rain sunset, Ace Cosgrove came out for a reprise performance to get the crowd warmed up. He rapped a few songs before taking a minute to talk to the crowd, starting a chant of “F*ck Donald Trump” that got people riled up for Passion Pit.

I wish I could describe how fun and upbeat Passion Pit’s set was, but by that point I was so tired it went by as a blur. Still, I couldn’t help but feel frontman Michael Angelakos’s energy as he danced around the stage like a maniac, offering his characteristically high, passionate vocals. They paraded out all of their big hits, “1985” soared as the opening number, and “Take a Walk” got the whole crowd singing along.

Then another wait, another forty-five minutes of grooving to the DJ who played an assortment of throwback remixes and modern pop hits. Finally, the last act took the stage. Empire of the Sun’s opening sequence involved a cinematic soundtrack, dramatic projections on the big screen, and four dancers in bizarre, futuristic costumes with special crowns. It would have been entertaining from the production value alone, but the band’s indie-inspired electronic sound kept the crowd dancing late into the night – even as I snuck away a few songs early to catch a cab and get some well-needed sleep.

The All Things Go Fall Classic had potential, with its star headliners and tasty vendors, but the poor pacing of the sets was made even more tedious by several hours of rainy, gray weather. Getting there exactly on time was a bad idea, as the long day sapped my energy before the headliners even took the stage, but the influx of people before Passion Pit reenergized the crowd. Though there wasn’t much to do between sets, the headliners still gave quality, high-energy electronic performances that were worth waiting around for. As Empire of the Sun’s booming finale faded and I drove away, I found myself underwhelmed by the day –unless next year’s headliners are equally incredible, I doubt I’ll be returning.

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