The crowd seemed sparse as the showtime approached, but appearances can be deceiving. Locals Mathias & the Pirates took the stage to open the night, and by the close of their first song, the wallflowers had emerged from the booths and shadows and the influx of returning smokers filled the gaps to stuff the floor with a crowd even headliners could appreciate. By the time Dessa took the stage, there wasn't a straggler in the room and all eyes were fixed on the Firebird stage.
"Thirty years of sludge" may sound like the villain of a cleaning product infomercial, but it is actually a testament to just how long the Melvins have been making music.
In front of heavy beats and a spartan stage graced only with a few lone microphone stands and a how to write a personal essay table reserved for the ubiquitous laptop, five rappers filled the remaining empty space with their quick-fire poetry. In the words of one of the headliners, Killer Mike, this was church. So we paid attention and exalted.
The backdrop pinned onstage consisted of a nude Josh Tillman standing in a golden arch encapsulated by a rainbow, in space. And that is Father John Misty: Irreverent, free-spirited and probably, while not on stage, hanging out in his birthday suit.