photo credit, Mark Austin (view his gallery here)
The Sixth annual Lebowski Festival was held down in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend, and while I did not make it out, our live reviewer Mike was on the scene taking it all in. If you don’t know, it is a celebration of the classic Coen Brothers film, The Big Lebowski. Enjoy his report of the set from Vietnam.
Iâ€™ll start off by saying that I couldnâ€™t fully take advantage of The Lebowski Fest. With Kahlua on as a sponsor, the White Russians were flowingâ€¦as well as the milk. Much to my dismay, I am lactose intolerant and that could have made for a messy weekend. I wasnâ€™t sure exactly what to expect. I just recently watched The Big Lebowski for the first time and I didnâ€™t fully understand the extent of the cult following. Not to my surprise, I was probably the only person at the festival that didnâ€™t have an undying love for the movie. The crowd was entertaining enough and did not disappoint. There were hordes of â€œthe dudesâ€ (Jeff Bridges), Walters (John Goodman), and of course the crowd favorite â€œJesusâ€ (John Turturro) as you can imagine.
The location was great. Nestled between the Executive Inn East/West, and directly next to the Executive Bowl was the music stage. My sole purpose of going to the festival was to see Vietnam play â€“ a very appropriate band to play the festival. Vietnam was set to play the opening slot. This was my second time seeing Vietnam perform. The first was at the Southgate House opening for the Black Angels, in which I only caught the last portion of the performance. I was sure to arrive on time for this showing. The lights went down almost in unison with the sun. Sporadic cheers arose from the crowd. On the PA you hear one of Walters Vietnam rants taken from the movie â€“ again, very appropriate. Then Vietnam takes the stageâ€¦two band members short. My first reaction was disappointment. I have been a fan of Vietnam for some time and I was set for the full experience. They announce that the other two members could not make the trip. We were in store for an intimate semi-acoustic performance with Joshua Grubb on guitar/vocals, and Ivan Berko on bass. For me personally, the rhythm is normally what moves me, however, I find myself paying close attention to Vietnamâ€™s lyrics, which were great on this occasion. The performance was more spoken word, than your normal rock concert. All songs performed were from their first full length album. They did their best to play each song, however some of the songs were scaled down or left out. I would have liked to hear how they could have spun The Priest, Poet, and Pig into an acoustic rendering, but some things are better left unheard I guess.
The debut album from Vietnam is controversial in the sense that it has gotten so many mixed reviews. People either love it or hate it. If you havenâ€™t had an opportunity to listen to the album, I suggest you do so. Decide for yourself and see what all the fuss is about.