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Pornography and Golf Carts: A Band’s Eye View

You have to have two different wristbands to do this. One’s made of cloth and says, “Main Stage 2007.” The other is orange and has little sketches of fireworks blasts in white and navy blue. The cloth one gets you on a golf cart, behind all the stages, on a dirt path lined with small palms. When you sit on the back of it, facing backwards, there’s a handle because the speed bumps could easily topple you into the dirt at a brisk-feeling 18-22 M.P.H. The orange one, with the tiny explosions, allows you to stand on stage, to the side, while the band is playing.

“Please do not touch the piano.” This is one of the many people hustling about behind the stage. She’s saying this to three blonde-haired girls who have leaned their elbows and placed their handbags atop a covered baby grand. A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers is gesturing to the screen behind the band, depicting their new album’s cover art. (It’s a sort of cartoon sketch of a Freddie Mercury-looking boxer/wrestler with green arrows going through his torso.) “Bow before our new album cover. We will be playing nothing from it.” The band then begins “Spanish Techno” from their last record.

From this perspective, you understand why bands love playing here so much. The blue-grey mountain ranges miles away look as if they’re corralling the mass of people who remain gathered up front, then move in jet-stream weather patterns all over the distant lawn. When a fan yells a blessing or a request, you can hear it up here. There’s a blonde-haired beach-going type guy front and center, leaning over the barricades air-drumming and mouthing every word. A.C. Newman looks pleased, but not as pleased as the thousands in front of him. They’re all smiling while he seems to be getting progressively sunburned right in front of our eyes.

“How can you people stand it?” he says, laughing. The crowd laughs with him and by the time they play “Twin Cinema,” there are people bouncing. Two girls hug each other. It’s actually better out there than it is up here. GREGG LAGAMBINA