FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://www.counterpointfestival.com/
By Liz Attaway
On the hill above a rural Georgia field is a large illuminated COUNTER.POINT sign that overlords something magical and inviting; it lures you in and takes hold of your soul. On the left of this sign in the sky is a sea of people gaggled together in front of an illuminated stage, their hands in the air, their bodies jumping and dancing in unison, their lips mouthing the words, while we stand in the back in awe of the sight. The excitement and anticipation from the crowd sends goose-bumps up your spine, touching deep inside all you want to do is join in on the happiness. That’s Counterpoint and I’ve never seen anything like it.
Let’s get right to the heart of the Counterpoint: the music. From Sleigh Bells, to Foster the People, to The Revivalists, to the headliner, OutKast, Counterpoint had wall-to-wall music, sights and sounds that kept the proverbial you busy and satisfied for three days. The scene described in the first paragraph was OutKast with Big Boi proclaiming, “It’s good to be back in the dirty, dirty.” Playing everything and I mean everything you’d wanted to hear: Rosa Parks, Hey Yeah, Mrs. Jackson, and Skew it on the Bar-B to name a few, they put it all out there for our enjoyment. They came out later than expected due to a rain delay, but it was worth the wait as the people danced and swayed to the tunes they knew so well. We loved every minute of it from the American Flag to the laser light show! It looked like Andre 3000 and Big Boi both were having a blast and that’s what it’s about: giving the audience a good time, while having a good time themselves. Now if they could just have had a big screen or two for the people in the back to see the shenanigans. Funny story: we met Andre 3000 in an elevator and didn’t even know it until later that night. He was very gracious to us and probably enjoyed a regular conversation for once. It’s good to have them back and I can’t believe they are celebrating 20 years. Now, I’m feeling a little old.
The most anticipated artist for me was Sleigh Bells. Having seen them before in a small venue, they didn’t disappoint with blazing guitar, deep base, loud drums all held together by Alexis Krauss’ smooth voice. Last time we saw them Alexis got hit in the head with the guitar but finished her performance and even made an appearance at the merch table, gash and all. If you’ve never heard Sleigh Bells, I would describe them as upbeat electronica pop rock, or as I first heard them described, noise pop. I love Sleigh Bells and on top of that their energy and humility is breathtaking. Alexis gives it 100% every song, every time and seems to love every minute of her time on stage and her performance. My only complaint was their set got cut due to a rain delay and probably had to cut my favorite of their cannon of songs: Tell ‘em from the Treats album. I need more. When’s the next show?
I haven’t seen Foster the People before and I have to say they were quite good live. With spikes of clear stone reminiscent of the fortress of solitude from superman, they came out with gusto and LEDs fluttering light in the background. They played several songs that were widely known like Pumped up Kicks and Don’t Stop, while mixing in some other songs that kept with the quality of the radio songs. Not only can Mark Foster sing, he also plays the piano and put his talent on display several times during his set. Another band we enjoyed were The Revivalists, as they were a little different than the other Counter.Point fare. With French horn and saxophone accompaniment, the lead singer, David Shaw was probably the most energetic lead singer besides Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. He jumped out into the crowd the second he could and the crowd loved it. His music reminded me of a band from college called, Dayroom and it excited me! I think I’ll be downloading their music soon from iTunes.
Beyond the music, our new friends at Heineken, cornered the market on beer and offered its flagship brand, Heineken, Heineken Light and a new beer introduced to the crowd called Desperado. Desperado is a new tequila barrel-aged Mexican lager that is sweet, cold, and satisfying for the spirit, wine, and occasional bud light lime drinker. Surprised by the taste, it was sweeter than anticipated with a hint of citrus and a smooth light tequila tart taste throughout. The beer wasn’t the only thing Heineken brought to Counterpoint, they brought what was called the Heineken House. It was a bar in a uniquely built art exhibit of live artwork being painted by the artist as the festival went on around it. At night, it was illuminated for the world to see with neon green outlines. The artwork was done by artists that were brought in from all over including big cities like Los Angeles and hometown heroes from Atlanta. Heineken will also be sponsoring two more big Atlanta shows called Shaky Knees at Atlantic Station that has a stellar line up including The National, Modest Mouse, Cage the Elephant and more is one. The other is Party in the Park on May 17th that is sponsored by Desperado and has big names like MGMT and Girl Talk. Where do we sign up?
As for the other sponsors, Zippo had a design a Zippo contest where the winner would win a guitar. I saw several of the entries and they were all very good. Next to Zippo was Cracker Jack’s and they were giving out Spicy Pizzeria snacks all weekend, which came in handy in a pinch. Also, Bed Head had a tent where attendees could get rid of that nasty festival hair and get their “hair did” by a professional. Bell’s had a draught house where they featured several of their beers including my favorite Bell’s beer: Porter.
What would a festival be without the people? Beyond the words were the poles, hundreds of poles, with anything from cardboard cut-outs to umbrellas, to glowing eyes, to trees. The most interesting were Bill Cosby and King of the Hill’s Hank with glowing eyes, while the worst and most perplexing was the literal tree. It was like the guy picked it up in the woods and said, “Hey, let’s use this as our pole.” What. In. The World. There was body paint, guys in speedos, several dozen people with fashion fur hats, and so on and so forth, so talk about a melting pot of cultures. The OutKast fans were out in force on Sunday with tailgaters in day parking blasting classic OutKast. We even got asked what our favorite OutKast album was on the way back into the festival grounds.
Where were all these people staying? There were several things you could do that included camping, Glamping, RV parking, day parking, or staying off-site at a hotel. We were going to drive home but we ended up finding a hotel the night of only 15 miles away in Adairsville, so it was entirely possible to find something last minute. The camping on the grounds of Steeplechase looked the most fun with people grilling out, taking naps and enjoying their friends. Up the hill is where the RVs were parked with their air conditioning and personal bathrooms, which would have been a good change from those Johnny-On-The-Spots. The next lot over were the nicer RVs of the VIP where we met our friends at Heineken and next to that were the Glampers. You could purchase a pre-pitched tent with anything up to four cots to an actual bed! They looked tres chic as the French would say. If you didn’t feel like playing in the mud with the masses, there were people who day parked and went home or stayed in hotels. It was very easy to get to and from the concert with plenty of car lanes and very little lines.
Overall, what a glorious weekend of good music, interesting people, exciting new connections, and everything in between at Counterpoint. We had such a good time and CAN’T WAIT to go back next year and experience it all over again. You should also pencil it in for next year, this is a can’t miss festival anyone can attend!