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Review of HORDE Festival '97 at the Meadows Music Theatre, Hartford, CT on 8/6/97

The Connecticut showing of HORDE '97 began on an excellent musical note as Medeski, Martin, & Wood wove their magical meanderings to a small but appreciative crowd at the mainstage. Boston's Mudhens followed, officially opening the festivities on the second stage, with a credible, but unspectacular, set. It was back to the mainstage for Kula Shaker, who had to overcome several technical difficulties, but still managed to get the growing crowd rocking. Their reworking of Deep Purple's "Hush" was especially noteworthy and drew even more people to mainstage area to check out the rest of their set. Cake Like, the "only all-female band on the bill", followed with a set that merely served to pass the time as the mainstage was being changed over. Toad The Wet Sprocket took the stage and managed to draw great applause from the ever-growing crowd. Their set offered nothing unusual but did deliver a good solid rocking show. Colorado's folk-jammers Leftover Salmon produced a great sounding set on the second stage and offered the first real glimpse of what the HORDE was supposed to be about. Primus took to the mainstage and offered an interesting blend of prog-metal to a mixed reaction. They stopped at one point to acknowledge some fans shouting "Primus Sucks" between songs. Bassist Les Claypool pointed out that it was actually a good thing because it made the band play much more agressively. He wasn't kidding, as Primus rocked full-blast through the remainder of their set, impressing even a non-fan like myself with their dedication. Ben Folds Five took the second stage by storm, playing to the largest second stage crowd of the day. Augmented by a four-piece string section, they did a rousing set that ended with Ben Folds doing his best Jerry Lee Lewis imitation, standing atop his piano and dropping the microphone stand on the keys. It was back to the mainstage for a set by Beck, who was actually very good for the first 25 minutes or so. He then announced it was time to slow down a bit and managed to completely loose all the momentum he had built. Even an extended version of his biggest hit "Where It's At" couldn't revive this floundering set. Beck was also greeted with a mixed reaction from the crowd, some of whom shouted "You Suck", "Go To Hell", and "We Want Neil" between songs. Morphine closed the second stage and delivered a very well-received energetic set to commemorate their last day on this year's HORDE. Neil Young & Crazy Horse took the mainstage and delivered what they're famous for, a great straight-ahead, take no prisoners rock show. Young was reportedly nursing a sore throat so long jam sessions were the catch of the day. Neil did slow down for a brief 3-song acoustic set, which included "This Note's For You" and "Ohio." It was then back to jamming with the Horse. They put in a great, albeit shortened, show do to the time constraints of the large festival schedule. Neil's fans were well satisfied with the entire day.

A special note should also be made about the management of the Meadows Music Theatre. It stinks! Fans who showed up at the announced "gate-opening" time got to watch for over an hour while the gate grew struggled to get 16 numbered turnstiles set up in numerical order. If it wasn't so stupid it would have been funny.