By Jeffrey Lee Puckett
Friends, it was not a great day for an outdoor festival. I'd like to say that the rain that fell for hours at the Bourbon & Beyond fest created a bonding moment for the 30,000 in attendance, but mostly it was just cold and wet.
Still there was a lot of fun stuff, from the music on three stages to the perfectly informal bourbon workshops to the dude wandering around in a Col. Sanders outfit. Here's a look at what you missed if you stayed home and stayed dry.
DAVID BYRNE DELIVERED
David Byrne gave a riveting set that was equal parts theater, ballet and drumline. It was unlike any other performance on Saturday, at Bourbon & Beyond and most likely anywhere else.
He and his 11-piece band, all dressed in matching steel-blue suits, were a living, perfectly choreographed art installation. They moved around an empty stage, most of them barefoot, at times echoing a college drumline and at others a line dance.
The show, part of Byrne's "American Utopia" tour, was also musically compelling. Percussion drove the music in a way that was both intense and playful — Byrne in a nutshell, in other words — and the new material flowed beautifully into a batch of Talking Heads classics, including a glorious "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)."
REIGNWOLF BROUGHT ITS A GAME
Reignwolf arrived with all of the hype and left with all of the love. The band, led by Jordan Cook, essentially assaulted a very happy audience of a few hundred with their blistering rock 'n' roll stomp.
Cook and his band put on the tiniest arena rock show ever on a small stage in the Courier Journal's Big Bourbon Bar, bringing clouds of dry ice and bottomless charisma. You got the feeling Cook would perform exactly the same way to an audience comprised only of his cat.
Although Reignwolf performed inside a tent, Cook left the stage just as drenched as anyone who played in the rain.
Well, almost anyone.
DOWNPOUR FOR BRIAN SETZER
Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot drew the short straw by playing during the day's most torrential downpour. The former Stray Cat wound up looking like someone had thrown him into a swimming pool, and his trademark hollow body guitar must have had a 1/2-inch of water inside it.
The skintight band didn't play like they were under duress, however, ripping and swinging through a boisterous set of old-school rock that ended with "Rock This Town," the Stray Cats staple that has aged remarkably well.
JOSEPH BROUGHT THE LIGHT
Joseph played an early afternoon set just as the rain began to pick up steam, bringing a welcome jolt of virtual sunshine.
Sisters Natalie Closner Schepman and Allison and Meegan Closner are kind of folk, sort of not, and their family harmonies are killer. Some songs had a dreamlike quality as their voices floated above the drizzle while others where bracing and direct, such as the pop-friendly "S.O.S."
The Portland, Oregon trio performed with only an acoustic guitar and electronic kick drum but made a big sound when they wanted to. Those harmonies are their calling card, however, and they anchored an ethereal version of the Rolling Stones' "Moonlight Mile."
OH, THE RAIN
You're lucky you missed one thing: a mud pit the size of Champions Park. A hard rain and tens of thousands of people made short work of the park's turf, creating the world's biggest, filthiest and most soul-crushing slip and slide.
By the time Byrne came onstage, we had to deal with the threat of mud sucking the shoes right off our feet. Maybe it was cool at Woodstock, but not so much on a cold September night in Louisville.