Let me begin by saying this: Minerva was a highly anticipated festival by little old Tupelo, and the majority of the crowd was not let down. However, the people who the festival seemingly channeled towards were a little downtrodden at the outcome. The cover price was a whopping $30, which is not bad considering the amount of bands and time you would spend there, but it was pretty terrible considering how the festival actually went. Everything can be looked at in two different ways; for the sake of the argument we will be using the “cup of water” metaphor: it can be half empty, or half full – depending on how you take it.
To expatiate the metaphor, there were both upsides and downsides to Minerva. One of the upsides was seeing Underoath. This was my first time seeing them since Aaron Gillespie said adieu, and I was curious as to how that would affect their sound. The answer? It had little impact. They did an incredible job, and were very professional despite the minor setbacks with sound, and of course, the mediocre crowd that was filled with a handful of actual Underoath fans. Spencer Chamberlain was very energetic, dancing about from stage left to stage right and using many things as props: the microphone cable, a megaphone – which was a clever way of creating the voice effect in the song- and even whipping out a guitar. Besides Chamberlain, the other members were equally energetic and spot on with all notes to be hit.
The only other band that was worth seeing (in my opinion) was New Found Glory. So I figured out what stage they would be performing at and set off to find it- which instead led me straight to another frustration of the fest. The “Minerva Stage” was the one stage you could not see from one spot. It was also the smallest stage there. But once I found it, all was well- besides having to bear through Corey Smith’s country twang and a crowd of drunk country bumpkins, that is.
Alas, Smith plays his final song and packs it up. The crowd dissipates, leaving only maybe fifteen pop-punk-ers standing among them, waiting anxiously for their favorite band. The crowd slowly grows as time goes on, and finally the band walks on stage. They commence immediately with “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down” and then go into a cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” that was cut short by the power being pulled. The cops make a surprise entrance and say NFG is no longer allowed on stage. Why? Because the promoter decided to 1) not pay the sound guys who went on strike, 2) run off with the money that was to be donated to a children’s fund, and 3) tell the cops that his mom was threatened – a rumor, says guitarist Chad Gilbert. Throughout this entire conversation, Gilbert kindly keeps the crowd (who, by this point is singing NFG songs a cappella) informed, and they eventually are able to persuade the security into thirty minutes. It was a thirty-minute performance that made everything that day seem worth it. Everyone in the band was genuine in every sense of the word. They were kind, down to earth people, and their talent was everything you hear on the records.
For me, without New Found Glory, Minerva Festival would have been a waste of time. But they showed the utmost talent, patience, and musicianship that did not let a single audience member down. If I had any lack of respect for them before, it is most certainly not there now. Minerva Fest: 2 stars for the attempt. New Found Glory: 5 stars.