D'Anne: First of all I'd like to say Fucking Awesome Fest is a great name because I love swearing.
Laura: And I like things that are awesome. When we arrived on Thursday, things were in full swing with Fidrych rocking out in the bar, Sisters Lucas on the main stage upstairs, and the Juliets getting ready to play on the new café stage.
D'Anne: The Juliets were the highlight for me that night — chamber pop goodness. I can't wait for their album. It was weird seeing them on the café stage since that room was a restaurant the last time I was there.
Laura: The first thing I noticed when we walked into the café was the odor — a strange mixture of booze, cigarettes and freshly cut lumber. It smelled like drunken camping.
D'Anne: Speaking of drunken camping, when we walked in on Friday, our skulls were immediately crushed by Bad Medicine at the Campfire playing in the bar.
Laura: Going from that to the Decks downstairs was like walking into another world.
D'Anne: It was like stepping from an episode of Tales from the Crypt into an episode of The O.C.
Laura: Right — the crazy musical variation was part of the fun. Javelins played on the lane stage, which was literally set up across several bowling lanes, with people still bowling on either end while the show was going on.
D'Anne: It was cool to stand on the lanes and watch the show, though definitely a hazard. You could tell that Charlie Slick had played there the night before because the lanes were covered in glitter.
Laura: And glitter doesn't lie.
D'Anne: After Javelins, we rushed upstairs to see esQuire.
Laura: He's like if Waiting for Guffman's Corky Sinclair had a penchant for rap and '70s pop culture.
D'Anne: Marcie from Silverghost performed with him as "Mimi Lovelace," his backup dancer and singer.
Laura: The lighting for that side stage was really bad, though. It's a crime esQuire had to perform in the dark, but an even bigger crime that Marcie's hair had to. Her 'do was a cross between B-52's Cindy Wilson and Bride of Frankenstein, which is to say it was amazing.
D'Anne: I loved his song "Linda Lovelace for President" which isn't actually as far-fetched as it might seem, since Lovelace denounced her porn work and made herself a decent woman. It wouldn't be hard to imagine a Palin-Lovelace 2012 ticket if Linda Lovelace hadn't died, that is!
Laura: esQuire would have had to play that inauguration. If Linda were still here, that is … One complaint about the bar stage: It was impossible to watch a band without feeling like you were in someone's way.
D'Anne: It's right in the middle of the building's overall traffic pattern!
Laura: To ease congestion, I suggest they investigate a tube system that sends people above the space, kind of like those tubes when you make a deposit at the bank drive-through. Anyway, we caught some of Lightning Love's super pop set in the café.
D'Anne: That room was really crowded and everyone knew all of the words.
Laura: Except for you.
D'Anne: True. I thought they were singing, "Everyone I know's a smoker, everyone is smoking, no good at all." I thought it was the cutest anti-smoking song ever. Juiceboxxx was also fun.
Laura: If Lightning Love is fun in a "dance and sing along" way, Juiceboxxx is fun in a "dance and hope he does not inflict harm on himself or others" way.
D'Anne: He should totally wear a helmet during his shows. He reminded me of Pete Doherty as a rapper.
Laura: It was Juiceboxxx and a guy on the laptop and occasional guitar. Thumping '90s hip-hop beats and rapid-fire delivery.
D'Anne: Like a Capri Sun mixed with lighter fluid.
Laura: Um, Capri Sun? That would make him, "Juicebaggg."
D'Anne: You're right — that does not have as good a ring to it.
Laura: Juiceboxxx does not fuck around, though. When he says clap, you'd better or he'll physically make you.
D'Anne: My favorite part was when he almost head butted you in the face.
Laura: Well, my favorite part was when Ryan Allen put his crotch in your face during Thunderbirds Are Now!
D'Anne: I wouldn't go so far as to say he "put" his crotch there. I just happened to be right at the front of the stage and there was an unfortunate confluence between his short stature and my facial location.
Laura: Well, the Thunderbirds Are Now! finale was the epitome of fucking awesome. Their set was so good that I hardly minded being hit right in the face with a basketball.
D'Anne: TAN! fans were so excited when Ryan invited folks up onstage at the end of the set.
Laura: Scott and Ryan's mom. Ryan's wife… It was an indie-rock family jamboree!
D'Anne: They invited rapper Smoke up on stage too.
Laura: It was a re-creation of their finale at Blowout 2008.
D'Anne: Ryan and Smoke had a little rap battle, complete with Ryan busting out "The Humpty Dance."
Laura: Yep, TAN! set a high bar for fucking awesome.
D'Anne: Saturday's first objective was to see Chicago's Lasers and Fast and Shit.
Laura: Based on band name alone, how could you not go see them?
D'Anne: They clearly pride themselves on intensely introspective lyrics. Like, "I have a lemon bar" and "I have a brownie."
Laura: Yes. It was like Wesley Willis meets Minor Threat. I loved it.
D'Anne: We then spent much of the evening stalking your boyfriends.
Laura: They are not my boyfriends — but I do love Plain Dealers, New Grenada and Copper Thieves, three bands that share some members.
D'Anne: Yeah, Monday Busque played a hot 'n' heavy set with Plain Dealers and rushed upstairs to do it all again with New Grenada.
Laura: Plus, he announced that he'd planned and orchestrated his 2-year-old son's birthday party earlier that day! And [New Grenada frontman] John Nelson solved the side stage lighting problem by bringing his own lamp from home.
D'Anne: We saw Copper Thieves next — John Nelson's other band.
Laura: They played the lane stage — which had better sound than Friday, but now with no lights to speak of.
D'Anne: It was kind of cool, though, to have the stage lit entirely by the red neon Garden Bowl sign behind them. Sunday's highlight was the Big Mess — both the band playing downstairs and the literal big mess Deastro was making upstairs.
Laura: It's sad that those two acts overlapped. I didn't want to miss parts of either sets but had no choice.
D'Anne: The Big Mess reminds me of Whiskeytown.
Laura: They seem really comfortable with each other and have good chemistry. Just a bunch of laid-back guys playing no-frills rock 'n' roll.
D'Anne: Maybe Deastro could take a page from their book. I mean, Deastro's festival closing performance was fun, but I'd hate to be on clean-up duty after that set.
Laura: One of the first things Randy did was squeeze an entire container of blue paint directly on his face and smear it around. He did assure us it was "washable paint," though I kinda doubt the box says, "Perfect for crafts, art projects, classroom activities and applying directly to your face."
D'Anne: The combination of spilled beer, gummy bears, silly string and paint all over the stage made me nervous. Not only did Randy slip at one point, but I was also worried he was going to short out his equipment or something.
Laura: Oh, go put on your mom jeans already!
D'Anne: Shut up. Is it possible to love someone and yet desperately not want them to get paint on you?
Laura: Yes. Though you have no right to complain — he handed you a can of silly string, and you wasted no time in spraying it directly at him.
D'Anne: It's what he wanted!
Laura: When the people directly behind me started to light sparklers and wave them around, I knew my love of not being burned by drunken hippies was greater than my love of being up front at a Deastro show.
D'Anne: I think that's fair. The burn unit is no place to rock.
Laura: Fucking-A.D'Anne and Laura Witkowski are music critics for the Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org