This past Saturday morning began the odyssey that will be known as Download festival 2005, A.K.A.-Festivus (in honor of the Seinfeld episode)

The day began nicely enough, I drove to Paco’s house at about 7:30am, we drank some coffee, and departed for SF, and Shoreline amphitheatre. We had tickets to the download festival, which consisted of The Killers, Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, Doves, British Sea Power, Ambulance Ltd., and a few other bands.

The drive down was fine, we listened to music, chatted, and even had time to stop at Williams for a Coors Light break.

The plan was to get to the show, and tailgate before the event. Tailgating, while normally reserved for sporting events, was going to be our ticket to saving money at an all day concert, which we knew would have exorbitant prices. We figured things to go like this:

1. Arrive at the show, cook sausages for lunch.
2. Sit in the parking lot for awhile eat our own food, thus saving high priced stadium food.
3. Drink beer we brought from home, thus saving outrageous beer prices.
4. Come out to the lot between bands, to have more beer, and save more money.

The plan sounded good. We got to the show, parked, and set up the stoves. We JUST finished cooking the first lot of sausages when 5-0 rolled up.

“Hey guys, sorry, but you can’t have stoves like that around here, sorry…”

“Really? Why?” We asked.

“Something about the CO2 levels being too high here; I’m not making that up either…”

“Oh…well we’re done anyway, so we’ll put them up.”

“Thanks.”

The cop drove off…so we had 1 sausage a piece, but still saved ourselves from the fee of lunch inside…things were working out. The next thing we planned, was drinking our white trash Coors Lights, and waiting for the band we wanted to start playing.

The minute we poured our first real concert beer (that wasn’t used in the cooking of the sausages) the 5-0 rolled up AGAIN, this time on bikes.

“Hey guys, what’s in the cups?”

Now everyone knows that it’s not wise to lie to a cop, so we didn’t…

“It’s beer.”

“Ok, pour it out…there’s no alcohol in the parking lots.”
Reluctantly, we poured out our beers…and with no food or beverage to occupy our time in the parking lot, we headed inside. At this point I think Paco and I still both thought that we’d come out later, when the bike cops were gone, and try and drink some Coors…between bands

That plan was quickly doused when we saw the sign saying, ‘No in and out privileges.’

Great, now we were stuck inside the festival for its duration, regardless.

Within a few minutes of being inside, Paco and I wandered to the side stage, and awaited Ambulance ltd’s performance. We spent a few minutes inside the Napster tent, checking out their ultra slow internet connections, and watching two weird girls nibble on one another. I thought one of them may have had a candy necklace, and the one was eating off it, but I could, and probably am wrong.

While we were standing in the sun waiting for the band to play, Paco and I noticed something quite disturbing; we were old. We were some of the oldest folks around that weren’t taking their own children to the show.

When one becomes confronted with their extreme age it’s never pretty. Paco and I spent the remainder of the day discussing our age in relation to our surroundings.

“Wow I can’t believe how old we are?” He said

“Me neither…man…OH Hey, That guy is older than us!”

“No, that guy is with those kids there…”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

We decided that after Ambulance Ltd, being as we were the creepy old people in the place we would go to the beer tent, and consume some big bombers in honor of Tony and Julie. The big bombers were pricey…$7.75 a piece, (roughly the price of the entire batch of Coors Lights sitting in the back of my car, ice cold.) But we managed to consume a couple. After the Bombers, Paco and I continued wandering around festival to see what else they had to offer.

The festival, being as it was centered on technology, had a lot to offer in that field, specifically, music technology. There were booths that had AOL instant messenger set up so one could IM the bands, or your friends, and say “LOL OHMIGOD I’m TOTALLY AT DONWLOAD FESTIVAL T.T.Y.L.” There were booths where you could win MP3 players (Paco even thought he won one); they had a myspace.com booth, where you could watch an annoying 9-year old dance. There were lots of different booths, almost all of which were all annoying. But, Paco and I had several hours to kill that we had previously planned on spending in the parking lot; we got to see it all.

Finally 4:30 came, and bands began to take the main stage. All the bands were good. I could go into depth on each one, but it would take too long, so I’ll paraphrase.

British Sea Power- They were good, and some guy in the band ran around dressed as a bush, and beat a drum.

Doves- Very good, they were not overly enthusiastic performers, but very good sound wise.

Arcade Fire- Really good, better than I expected, it could’ve been a bit louder, but it was a very good set.

Modest Mouse- The sound of the vocals was a little low, but they played very well, and even played a few older songs that we weren’t expecting.

Killers- Well, it was 10:30 when Modest Mouse was finished, and that was plenty late enough for us to be there, considering we had to get to our hostel at some point and check in. We left before the Killers came on, and headed out on the 30 minute drive to downtown SF.

Paco guided us to the hostel, and I waited in the alley while he went to check in.

He came out and mumbled some discouraging words as he entered the car

“We have no reservations…”

“What?”

“Yeah, I guess their computer system isn’t working, and they never got it….but the guy gave me the address of another place, and called ahead for us…”

So Paco and I got back on the road and headed to find the next spot. To make things more interesting we decided to pump up “la ballad of Lady and Bird” a song which really can’t be described in words…but it has two characters with animated voices discussing life; at one point in the song they began to scream.

At this point in the song we were at a stop light, being approached by a panhandler…when he heard Lady and Bird screaming at full blast he took off in a fright, nearly getting himself hit by a car. It was very funny

Paco and I found our hostel, checked in and went to see our room. This wasn’t the cleanest place I’d ever slept in, but it certainly wasn’t so horrible, I’d run away screaming. We went in, picked our bunks, put on our sheets, and then quickly went to the nearest pub to waste the remainder of the evening.

We spent the next 2-3 hours in the pub, drinking pabst blue ribbon, and various other ales. At one point we sat out on a small trek to try and find an Irish pub Paco knew of, but quickly realized he had no idea where it was. We saw some girls who were WAY too drunk to be breathing, and one of them walked into a ditch, and nearly broke her leg.

“Do you know where we’re going?” She asked.

“Uhm…no…can’t say we do.”

“Well we’re looking for a club. Where’s Market and Mission.”

Paco pointed them in the right direction, and they staggerd off to get their grooves on, and we headed back to the safety of the pub near our hostel, to wind up the evening.

2:00 came, the pub closed, and Paco and I headed back to our “pad” to get some rest. The room we stayed in had 10 beds in it, originally we thought nobody else was staying there, but upon entering, we noticed that there was indeed a body in one of the bunks, right underneath mine.

We quietly climbed into beds, and went to sleep. I was awoken in the morning by the sound of someone gasping for breath, and in the midst of a painful snoring attack. I thought it might have been Paco, and I later discovered he thought it was me, but I snuck a peak over my bunk, and saw that another person had entered the room at some point early in the AM hours and was emitting the painful noises. I vaguely remember hearing the door at about 5:30am.

9:00am Paco and I woke up, and set out to find a sports bar to watch the morning football games. After a bit of driving, We settled on Green’s sports bar, wandered in, found some seats, and sat down to watch football. The bar quickly filled up with displaced fans from various cities who took a seat nearest the television showing their teams game. In our area of the bar we had a few Falcons fans, and a large group of Patriots fans, highlighted by one woman in her Troy Brown #80 jersey.

My initial thought about her was the only good one I had…it went something like, “oh wow, a girl football fan, who comes to watch the games…that’s kind of cool.”

Then she opened her mouth, and I spent the rest of the day wanting to jab an ice pick in my pee hole.

She was the epitome of super fan. She called players by their first name as if they’d grown up together, but somehow she only knew the big stars of the team. She tried to impress her friend by throwing out random comments like, “That guy is so F—ing fast,” Which honestly could be said about 90% of the NFL players.

She clapped, made touchdown signals, and danced around like a cheerleader every time her team came through. She sat there paralyzed, hands gripping head when her team was on the ropes. I’m not a Falcons fan in any way, but watching super fan #80 made me one for 3 hours. For that duration of time nothing would make me more delighted than the Patriots losing the game, and/or Tom Brady tearing every ligament that ends in CL.

I wanted her to cry. She was so obnoxious, it made me less interested in watching my favorite team blow their game, and more interested in watching the game she was…just to root against her, as loud as possible. Sports’ is funny that way. The only things that temporarily sidetracked me was some bitchin’ Thai food Paco brought back from a nearby restaurant.

Sadly the Falcons lost, and super fan made a hasty exit, I’m sure to avoid being bludgeoned with a bar stool.

We watched a portion of the afternoon games, and the seat once occupied by Patriot and Falcon fans were occupied with Bronco fans, Redskin fans, and a fan of 45 year old men.

Paco was sitting next to this lady who was obviously high, drunk, or both…who was in town on business and she was talking to him about looking for a 45 year old man…I think she hoped Paco would help her scout the area, but he seemed pretty disinterested once she opened her mouth and began talking. I sent Paco a message simply saying.

“Lady….”

“Yes Bird,”

And he knew instantly the situation was worthy of screaming, and we quickly paid our tabs and left for home.

The ride home was leisurely, and nice…not too hot or cold, and we stopped occasionally to have one of the Coors Lights that had been left in our cooler from the previous day.

So the lesson learned is that you can still have a fun weekend even if you are the creepy old guy at a concert, not a Patriots fan, or 45 years old.