Rock the Garden: music, burgers, and hanging with Yeasayer on the sidewalk.

So, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, last night I attended Rock the Garden, a big music festival at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis.  It ROCKED!   The weather was perfect, the crowd was cool, and the bands were stellar.

I saw local act Solid Gold, followed by Yeasayer, Calexico, and The Decemberists.  It was totally fierce!  I'd seen Yeasayer about a year and a half ago when they toured with MGMT, and that was awesome - it was at a really small venue (the 7th St Entry, a classic Mpls spot), and the energy was amazing.  This was a very different venue - big stage, huge crowd - but I still felt a great energy coming from the band.  Huge thumbs up to Yeasayer.  I had never seen Calexico, and loved them too.  I'm not that familiar with their music, except the collaboration they did with Iron & Wine, the In the Reins EP.  I love that album, so I was excited to see them, and was really pleased - they pulled out some awesome Mexican-style trumpets and twangy guitars. I was really excited to see the Decemberists; I love their sound, their lyrics, their instrumentation.  I think they make such beautiful music.  Plus, they utilize the power of the accordion, and I am a total sucker for the squeezebox.  In fact, readers, I play the accordion, and would love to play with a band someday.  Now that I'm feeling creative again, and will have time after summer classes, I hope to delve back into the world of improving my accordion skills.

Anyway, as they have been doing on their most recent tour, The Decemberists played their latest album, The Hazards of Love, in its entirety.    It is a concept album centered around an amazing and fantastical love story, and the tracks really need to be kept together.  So, that's what they do, and it was awesome.  After playing the album, they played some of their older tracks, and closed the night with the most kick-ass cover of "Crazy on You" by Heart that I have ever heard.  I"m sure there will be YouTube vids of it popping up soon; if you like The Decemberists or Heart you must find a video.

Back in the day, I used to attend a lot of concerts and shows and could power through like a freight train.  But once I got sick, and my body got very out of balance, I realized I couldn't do what I used to.  I felt awful at last year's Rock the Garden, and the concert was really hard on me.  I left the night feeling so exhausted and kind of crabby.  It was at the beginning of my quest to figure out what was going on with my body, and I was on a self-imposed super low carb, ketogenic-style diet to try to kick the suspected Candida from my system.  I didn't know what was going on, and in addition to being scared, I felt dreadful.  While that diet kicked some stuff from my system, I don't think it was the right thing for my body.  It was too severe.  I lost a ton of weight very quickly, and did not feel - or look - well.  

While a lot has changed in the last year, and I am feeling so much better, I couldn't help but be a little concerned about how I would hold up this year in a large crowd, dancing, under the summer sun, for 7+ hours.  Also, I've discovered something since I stopped drinking alcohol last year: when you don't drink at a show, and you aren't getting all those liquid calories, you get hungry.  Really hungry.  My friends will go all night, drinking whiskey after whiskey, or beer after beer, and not really feel the pangs of hunger.  Heck, I used to be the same way, drinking my dinner.  But these days, I'll go to a show and be starving half way through.  Why? There aren't a lot of calories in water, man, and when that's all you're drinking, you gotta get calories somewhere.  So, I was concerned about what I'd find to eat at the festival from vendor carts, and festival food is never allergy friendly or health conscious.  

Solution? I sneaked in my own stash of food in my purse - a couple AllerEnergy Bars, sunflower seed butter, a huge bag of carrots and broccoli, some protein powder, and a cooked SunShine burger patty.  After plowing through all that food and 4 big bottles of water by 8 pm, and knowing that I still had to make it through the Decemberists set and probably some post concert celebrations, I went for it.  I ventured to the food vendor area.  The choices were not so good for me - french fries (I'm allergic to potatoes), pork chops (I don't eat pork), corn dogs and hot dogs (all around disaster), crepes (ditto), fancy cheese stuffed hamburgers (ditto #2).  And while there was a beautiful Middle Eastern food vendor cart from local restaurant Holy Land, the choices there were limited too - sometimes gyro meat has wheat in it as a binder, and I know their hummus and felafel recipes have sesame, which I need to avoid.  


Then I found it.  The boring looking cart with shortest line: hamburgers.  Simple, unadulterated, cheap meat on crappy white buns, served with grilled onions.  Salvation.  I ordered a burger without the bun, topped with a pile of grilled onions (I asked for extra since I wasn't getting the bun).  They served it to me wrapped up in paper.  I am normally a real stickler about my meat - free range, non antibiotic, grass fed, organic, you name it.   But I needed to eat something.  And despite the fact that I'm sure the meat was not high quality or sustainably raised, that burger was delicious.  It felt like summer.  It tasted like festivals.  And I appreciated it for the nutrition it would give me.  

With a belly full of burger, I powered through the rest of the night.  And to my delight, I felt awesome.  I danced, my energy was great, and I didn't have any stomach problems.  No low blood sugar.  No crisis moments.  I was attentive and focused on my friends and music.  And I had the energy to go out with friends after the show.  Sure, I stopped home first to eat a little late-night snack, but then continued on with my night and had a great time.  

As fate would have it, some friends and I closed out the night with Yeasayer, sitting at bistro tables on the sidewalk until 3 am at a bar about 1/2 block from my apartment.  They are a bunch of seriously cool guys, very down to earth and smart.  We talked about music, National Public Radio, linguistics, and their tour, among other things.  They had a big box of organic strawberries and a bag of nuts as part of their rider hiding under a napkin at the table, which they were offering up to everyone.  According the Ahmed, the percussionist, they travel really healthy, toting kombucha and organic stuff with them at all times.  Right on.

This was the first real spontaneous, carefree night out I have had in over a year; I have missed it so much.    And while experiencing the amazing music was so fun, and hanging out with Yeasayer in the middle of the night was totally awesome, the best part of last night was the fact that I FELT GOOD.  I did it.  I went out. I met new people, I danced the night away, I had the energy to go with the flow, and I felt like my old self again.   Truthfully, I felt better than my old self - it was awesome to feel energetic and outgoing, knowing that I didn't need alcohol to fuel me, and that I wouldn't feel the drain of many beers on my wallet or in my body the next day. 

A year ago, I couldn't imagine that I'd return to feeling this kind of kind of energy and excitement, and that a carefree night would ever be possible again.  Last night I was proved wrong.  What a blessing.  

PS - SUNSCREEN RECOMMENDATION!  I tried out a new sunscreen yesterday, Organic Lavender Sunscreen SPF 30 by Alba Botanica.  You can easily find it at Target in the beauty section with the other natural products (it isn't by all the normal sunscreen).  It withstood the test of a full day in the sun, didn't feel greasy or heavy, and had a very pleasant, very light lavender aroma.  I have sensitive skin and am bothered by a lot of lotions, sunscreens, and creams, and this sunscreen did not irritate me at all - no burning, no rashes, no itchiness, nothing.  Plus, I'm very sensitive to fragrances, and found the light lavender fragrance to be pleasant and not at all bothersome!  It contains a bunch of natural botanicals, is not tested on animals, and the company is dedicated to reducing their footprint and using only non-toxic, vegetarian ingredients.  This sunscreen comes highly recommended!