Anything that isn”t “NSYNC, or one of the other purveyors of pre-pubescent pop, is seemingly labeled alternative but alternative can be extremely popular. In what may have been the most acceptably hip “alternative” concert of the summer, Area: One parked its traveling circus of electronica, hip hop, rock and pop within the confines of DTE for a sold-out show last Tuesday.
Area: One, the phoenix rising from the ashes of its defunct festival predecessors, may be of the same genus as H.O.R.D.E, Lillith Fair and Lollapalooza, but certainly is its own species. While hordes of hippies happily hacked at H.O.R.D.E, loads of ladies loved the Lillith Fair and gaggles of greasy grungers grunted gratefully for Lollapalooza, Area: One exudes electronica. While the bike rack fences and long lines resembled the wait in front of the Millennium Force, Cedar Point has never seen a dance party the likes of the one the Ford Focus tent hosted. The tent housed DJs Carl Cox and Paul Okenfold among others, along with the eye candy of psychedelic spider webs on large TV screens and of course a slew of rabid ravers. The air conditioned tent provided a welcome break from the sweltering sun and the main stage.
The action on the main stage kicked off at 3:50 p.m. Nelly Furtado performed to a sparsely populated pavilion as many fans were still lined up outside waiting to get in. Furtado became the most familiar face of the day making multiple appearances, guesting on the Roots track “You Got Me” and filling in quite admirably for Gwen Stefani on Moby”s hit single “South Side.” Her radiant smile and ebullient performance started off the show on the right foot.
The Roots took the stage next and thoroughly impressed the still paltry crowd. The group is well known for its live performances and much respected for their musicianship. It is rare for a rap group to have a backing band, but The Roots forego canned booty bass mixes in favor of their supertight band. Perhaps the most impressive part of the set was Roots member Scratch. In the middle of a festival which featured many expert turntable-ists, Scratch outperformed many of them without the turntables. Eyes scanned the stage looking for the hidden DJ, but rest assured there was none Scratch the human turntable put the finishing touches on a great set by The Roots.
The momentum was building and Incubus was not about to drop the ball. Lead singer Brandon Boyd was the focal point of the show with his disjointed movements and powerful voice. Boyd even donned a drum for a few select tunes and added to the already powerful percussive force of Jose Pasillas. Boyd”s staccato delivery on the verses of “Pardon Me” and “Stellar,” along with the soothing yet powerful drone of “Drive” and “Miss You,” propelled the band”s set and likely will propel them into the mainstream.
Outkast took the stage next then stole the show. The Stankonians from Atlanta had no trouble working the crowd into a raucous dance frenzy. Both the pavilion and lawn were getting down to the bootylicious grooves of Outkast”s hits. Not one booty rested during the set and many rapped along, which is no easy feat. The band rolled out familiar tunes such as “Elevators (Me And You),” “Rosa Parks,” “Ms. Jackson” and “So Fresh, So Clean,” and finished off their set, to the delight of everyone”s collectively quaking booty, with a song they described as “Hip Hop on crack,” the favorite “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad).”
After Outkast left the stage, everyone was left to swim in pools of their own sweat which had gradually accumulated over the day. DTE felt like the bayou because of the unbearable humidity and like Texas for the forceful, unforgiving rays of the sun. Those without the funds to fend off dehydration ($3.50 for 20 oz. of water) were left to slump in their chair after expending their last few electrolytes for Outkast.
For many, the festival was long over by the time Moby took the stage. While Moby may have put the festival together, his guests (the opening acts) enjoyed the fruits of his labor. Many fans left before Moby walked on stage and more piled out at the end of each song. Moby ran back and forth across the stage playing a few notes on a keyboard and striking electronic drums, while occasionally stepping in front of a microphone to yell a few words. Although Moby writes his own music, his role in the live performance seems quite miniscule leaving his group without a real frontman. His music and performance style seem well suited for a dance hall, but not so well suited for DTE. While Moby may have named it Area: One before the show, fans will remember the show as Area: Outkast.