Another excellent year of Beale Street Music Festival wrapped up on Sunday in Memphis' Tom Lee Park on Sunday. Special shout-out to the skies, which graciously refused to let any rain fall during the usually muddy weekend. Aside from that bit of luck, here are our Top 10 Moments, from Primus (above) to Wiz Khalifa to Little Richard to Michael Franti (below).
10. Michael Franti Spent Half of His Set in the Crowd
The genre-bending Michael Franti & Spearhead unleashed their frontman into the audience multiple times throughout the set. This tweet from @KenzieBlink summed up the crowd's response: "Absolutely obsessed with @michaelfranti. You just can't not be the happiest person in the world when you hear his music. #BSMF12"
9. The Civil Wars Started Laughing During Their Set
Joy Williams—who announced her pregnancy in February—unexpectedly cracked up while the folk duo performed "Dance Me To the End of Love." After taking a playful swipe at guitarist John Paul White, she laughingly explained: "He just called me fat." And after that diversion, they seamlessly returned to the song at hand.
8. Herbie Hancock Played "Watermelon Man" on Keytar
The 72-year-old pianist/jazz fusion legend has never been afraid to embrace technology. For Beale, he brought an enormous Mac onstage, jammed on a keytar for 10 minutes to and even sang a number using a robotic voice modulator, explaining, "You wouldn't want to hear me sing with my normal voice—trust me."
7. Marines: The Few. The Proud. The Pull-Ups.
The Marines erected a pull-up bar next to their promotional tent and challenged fest-goers to show their mettle. I saw someone do 25 reps, but I think you needed to pull off 50 to be drafted on the spot. He did get a "pain is just weakness leaving the body" t-shirt, though. And no, that's not a joke.
6. Alison Krauss Brought Out the Soggy Bottom Boys
The bluegrass singer closed her set (pre-encore) by bringing out the men who sang as the Soggy Bottom Boys on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? They sang "I Am a Man Of Constant Sorrow," she fiddled, we swooned.
5. Coheed and Cambria Covered Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"
The metal prog-rock band turned Gotye's sparse indie chart-topper into a defiantly hard-rocking kiss off. To hear what it sounds like, check out the video below from when they began playing it on tour last week.
4. The Head and the Heart's Love Fest
After a troublesome soundcheck, Seattle's indie folk-pop outfit played a near-perfect set that made fans out of the uninitiated. The love fest wasn't one-sided either: The band declared the lineup for their stage at Beale (they were preceded by Old 97's and followed by Little Richard, The Civil Wars and Alison Krauss), made it their "favorite festival stage ever." They loved it, the crowd loved it... smiles all around, people.
3. Wiz Khalifa Crooned to the Crowd
The 24-year-old hitmaker brought out Memphis rapper and collaborator Juicy J (who performed some of the Three 6 Mafia songs we heard on Friday) and Pittsburgh MC Chevy Woods, but the highlight might've been when Wiz threw his glowing LED mic stand into the pit. No, the highlight had to be when he finished a raucous crowd sing-along to "Young, Wild & Free" by gently crooning the chorus himself one last time. Hell, the whole thing was awesome.
2. Little Richard Rocked Memphis Despite Hip Problems
The 79-year-old rock progenitor battled a broken hip and the hot sun to deliver an incredible set that reminded the crowd how a screaming piano player from Georgia changed the history of music.
1. Primus Gives Props to Memphis Children's Hosptial
During the band's funky, freaky set, Les Claypool took a moment to pay tribute to the workers at St. Jude Children's Hospital, a local non-profit whose research has an international impact. Claypool mentioned his nephew's leukemia, which the hospital helps to treat, and said this to any hospital workers in the crowd: "I wish you the best of anything life can give you, because you're doing amazing things." Awesome.
What were your favorite moments from Beale Street 2012 Day 3? Who played the best set overall this weekend?