It only takes a few glances around the Louisville Lebowski Fest to figure out why this is one of the coolest festivals to take place in the city. Everywhere you walk you can see Jeff Bridges look-a-likes, the dude does abide, and not only is there long-haired hippies, tailgating parties in the parking lot and a remake of the famous, rusted 1973 Ford Torino, but there’s great music flowing throughout patron’s ears as well. Opening act Mesiko, a new experimental band formed by Louisvillian Ray Rizzo, who now resides in New York City, fit right in with the slacking achievers.
To start with Mesiko, a four piece ensemble of veteran musicians, walked onstage dressed ready for the occasion. Lead singer Raquel Bell sported a Cowboy hat and mustache that would make anyone take a second look, while Louisville Frank Zappa doppelganger Chris “Roadie” Rodahaffer sported a fleece long coat and neon orange 90’s spectacles. From the opening number, Swamp, Rizzo’s talent definitely shines through, he not only is one of the top percussionists in Louisville but loves to experiment with electronics, which he did, playing electronic bass sounds with his right hand while sprinkling jazz funk linear patterns underneath with his traditional left. Oh and let’s not forget he sings too! On top of the masterfully created rhythm section, Chris Rodahaffer finger picks string patterns that interlace with David Marshall’s guitar playing, helping to complete a song that feels like a flashback including a rolling tumbleweed in an old western dual scene. Front vocalist Raquel Bell’s voice is a mix somewhere between Dolores O'Riordan and Grace Slick; it has a fresh, interesting and unique quality mixed with a delicious vibrato. Special guest musician, Brian Schreck eventually joined Mesiko on stage with his saxophone that featured a mounted tambourine and helped to add in tasteful multi-metered flavors to the semi-experimental, dream state chill groove. Mesiko definitely did not disappoint, in fact they came back for a catchy encore tune, Hampton’s BJ which featured Raquel and the rest of the band aggressively singing to each other “I’m believing, I’m believing,” lyrics that would remind anyone of a tormented lover standing up for themselves during a heated battle. The crowd definitely seemed to enjoy the music and the entire vibe throughout the set was groovy.
Overall Mesiko was a perfect fit for the strange and crazy Lebowski Fest, which also seemed mesmerized with the follow up “circus punk marching band” Mucca Pazza, whose members were laughing, pretending to be run over by the driverless Torino during Mesiko’s set. Dude, the entire event reeked of the famous Coen Brothers’ movie, The Big Lebowski. From men dressed like bowling pins, to neon blacklight bowling sandals, the Lebowski Fest party, which fatefully happened to fall during a break in the heat under an overcast sky was a great one to attend.
photo courtesy of stefperri photo