Airport Festival: National Guard Armory, Robert H. Mueller Municipal Airport, October 1

Descriptions of live shows

Airport Festival

National Guard Armory, Robert H. Mueller Municipal Airport, October 1

Say what you will about Generation Ecstasy, but oh my God, do they love their Glo-Sticks. Right now, some Swiss chemist is whipping around the Matterhorn in a spanking-new Porsche 9000 because he had the brilliant idea of adding phosphorus to water and putting it in a colored tube. Whoever imagined a glowing piece of plastic could be so versatile? There were girls paying homage to E.T. by stuffing them in their shirts ("heart lights" indeed), would-be ninjas spinning them like nunchakus, several games of Glo-Stick frisbee, scores of luminous necklaces and bracelets, even miniature ones inserted orally, approximating the "I've just eaten at the Chernobyl buffet" look. If that wasn't enough to sate the rampaging oral fixations, there were scads of lollipops, pacifiers, whistles, and surgical masks smeared with Vicks Vap-O-Rub. Sometimes the visual smorgasbord at this Airport "Festival" -- debate raged over whether or not it was a "rave," mostly among those, like me, who wouldn't know a rave if we tripped over it in a pair of those ultra-baggy trousers -- was so overwhelming, it almost displaced the constant barrage of beats coming from all directions. The music was equally overwhelming: three dozen or so DJs spinning every imaginable variety of techno-based concoction, though not all at once, thank God. (As a relative electronica neophyte, I must confess I still having trouble differentiating deep house from speed garage.) There was plenty of time for people-watching when Biz Markie never showed, so the butterfly wings, kitty-kat ears, upside-down visors, and highway reflector vests were all duly noted (lots of Adidas, too -- Run-D.M.C. would be proud). L.A. rappers Pharcyde did make the gig, though, and rocked the hangar with old favorites "Ya Mama" and "Oh Shit," an appealing interlude of Sly's "Everyday People," and a lengthy audience-participation number based around the phrase "pack the pipe," which judging from the pungent odor, was advice several attendees rapidly took to heart. AK1200 added to the mellow vibe with at least an hour of body-rocking dancehall/drum 'n' bass, bridging DJ booth and Trenchtown like they were adjoining carrels at the dance library. Next up was Cirrus, who eschewed the familiar turntable configuration in favor of guitar, bass, and drum kit -- plus a sequencer. Wailing away onstage, they looked almost as odd as the fatigue-clad guardsmen (and women) strolling around keeping the peace, though really, the only potential security problem was running out of Glo-Sticks. Small matter, anyhow, as Cirrus' crushing breakbeats fried the crowd to the point of hyperventilation. Around this time, the pavilion behind the hangar grew popular as a place to, er, crash, and the sensory overload finally forced my chemical-free but exhausted brain to send up the white flag. So it was off, then, with three hours to go, and one last wistful look back at all the Glo-Sticks whizzing through the air like Technicolor flares.

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