Matt Forney
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A Hippie Girl Tried to Rape Me at Pondamonium

garbage

Okay, the title’s a misnomer: “rape” implies lack of consent, and hoooo boy was I consenting. But “molested” doesn’t sound quite right. Every time I think I’ve hit maximum weirdness on this trip, the universe throws another curveball my way.

Anyway, last Thursday was the first ever Pondamonium, Madison’s premiere alternative rock festival, or some crap. This one was a Very Big Deal because it was being headlined by Garbage, by far the most famous band to come out of this town. It was also Garbage’s first performance in Madison since they originally broke up in 2005. Also performing at Pondamonium was the Flaming Lips, best known for their mindfuck live shows, as well as the Dum Dum Girls. In other words, social event of the season!!!1

The Flaming Lips and Garbage were two of my favorite bands when I was a kid. I forgot where I first heard Garbage, but I remember the first song of theirs I heard: “Cherry Lips.” I was hooked by the aggressive guitars, the loud-as-fuck drums, and Shirley Manson’s buttery vocals. Same with the Flaming Lips: I heard “Race for the Prize” somewhere and was blown away. I’m not a fan of their more recent work—Garbage jumped the shark with Bleed Like Me and The Flaming Lips and Hweady Friends is a stinking turd—but seeing them both live was a dream come true for me.

The inside of the Duck Pond, where the performances took place. It’s as exciting as you’d expect a minor-league baseball stadium to be, made even more fun by intermittent thunderstorms. It rained at Pitchfork too, but it wasn’t nearly this bad; the Flaming Lips’ performance was delayed by a half-hour because it started raining buckets midway through their soundcheck.

Another interior shot of the Duck Pond. Despite the Rolling Rock signs, unlike Pitchfork, Pondamonium offered choices in beer: Bud Light versus Fat Tire. No Miller Lite for some reason, despite the fact that Wisconsin is Miller country.

For some reason, everything was differently priced at these two concession stands… that were about a hundred feet apart. Guess which one people actually went to?

The Dum Dum Girls. There were actually two additional bands performing at Pondamonium (that I hadn’t heard of), but I wasn’t able to get up to Warner Park in time to see them. Just as well, as it was literally pouring most of the day; the clouds didn’t break until midway through the Girls’ set. I’d managed to get to the park and grab a beer and hot dog just before they came on.

Dee Dee, the Dum Dum Girls’ frontwoman, with bassist Malia to the right. The guy standing in the tent off to the side is (I think) Dee Dee’s husband, Brandon Welchez.

Jules and Sandy, the band’s rhythm guitarist and drummer, respectively. The Dum Dum Girls play fast, catchy noise pop, like Best Coast with a triple-digit IQ.

More of the Dum Dum Girls. I love their 80’s style outfits.

Last shot of the Dum Dum Girls. Despite their catchy tunes, the only person who was dancing was this weird old guy in skinny hipster jeans. During the Girls’ last song, he started spastically snapping off Hitler salutes in Dee Dee’s direction. The crowd as a whole skewed older than the shows I normally go to, but since Garbage was formed in 1994 and Wayne Coyne (the Flaming Lips’ frontman) is my dad’s age, I guess it makes sense.

Shirley Manson of Garbage, with Duke Erikson off to the side. The crowd naturally swelled when Garbage took the stage, nearly all the way out to the bleachers.

More Garbage. The dude in the center is a touring bassist and not a “real” member of the band. Midway through the set, Manson had each of the other band members take the mic to talk about how great it was to be back in Madison. Or as drummer Butch Vig put it, “We’ve been making music for thirty fucking years!” (Vig, Erikson and Steve Marker have been fixtures in the Madison music scene for decades, playing in various bands and in Vig’s instance, producing numerous records. Vig’s biggest claim to fame outside of Garbage is producing Nirvana’s Nevermind.)

Another shot of Manson. Most of my Garbage pics are useless (you might even say that they’re garbage) because they’re too blurry. Near the end of their set, Manson went on a semi-righteous tirade about how the songs from their new album Not Your Kind of People weren’t getting radio airplay because they “had guitars”… except in Madison. She then proceeded to praise Madison’s “left-wing politics,” pumping her fist and chanting “Fight homogenization! Fight money!” Yes, that’s right, fight money… while you rake in millions of dollars worth of it from album and ticket sales. Still, props to Madison for being a cool enough place to buck the trend of mindless machine-made pop music.

The encore, where I nearly got raped molested aggressively seduced.

During the performance, I was standing next to a couple of hippie girls who were taking hits from a bong. Between songs, they would chant “Pussy Riot! Pussy Riot!” I was sick with the flu and cold from the rain, so I ignored them. It wasn’t until Garbage’s encore that things got strange. One of the hippies, a cute Rachel McAdams lookalike with attention whore sunglasses and a tie-die do-rag, tried to snatch my phone out of my hand.

“Excuse you,” I snapped as I shoved her hand away.

This didn’t faze her, as she then proceeded to run her hands down my chest all the way to my crotch. She felt up my dick like she was going to give me a handjob through my jeans, then turned around and started grinding on my cock. All with exactly two words exchanged between us.

I was still in a stupor and couldn’t believe what was happening, so I just stood there like an idiot while she rubbed her ass on my loins. After a little bit, she slapped me on the thigh in what was clearly a “Get with the program, dumbass” move, so I half-heartedly grabbed her hips and started returning her thrusts. She had a nice butt for a white girl, and I was starting to get into it when after a couple minutes, her boyfriend came out of nowhere and yanked her away. A small part of me was anticipating an ass-kicking, but the look in his eyes suggested that he was used to his girl coming onto strange men.

Yep, indie rock fans are pretty nutless.

The Flaming Lips’ roadies setting things up. Two confetti cannons ready to ejaculate their rainbow-colored payload in everyone’s faces. A disco ball that glows in the dark. A gigantic projector screen in the back. Yeah, you think things are going to get a little nuts?

Wayne Coyne, recognizable by his goyfro and fur scarf. Unlike most rockers, Coyne actually works with his stage crew to make sure everything is a-go.

Wayne Coyne taking the stage for the first song, “Race for the Prize.” During the song, he wielded a cane that shot confetti into the crowd while his roadies tossed out man-sized balloons.

Exploding, smoke-expelling bullhorn in hand, Coyne opens a gate to another dimension.

During “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.” Both sides of the stage were packed with go-go dancers that were, for some reason, dressed like Snow White. Don’t try and read logic into it: you need to be tripping balls to make sense of anything going on here. In fact, Coyne said before the song started that most people didn’t sing along to “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” unless “they’re really fucked up.”

It’s not enough for this guy to crowdsurf like a normal rock star, he’s gotta be the Alt-Rocker in the Plastic Bubble.

Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell.” Like you couldn’t tell.

Wayne Coyne wields gigantic zombie hands that emanate light beams that he captured from the disco ball. At this point, the crowd was getting tired. You can only get mindfucked for so long before your brain-pussy starts to get sore. Unfortunately, as we were to find out, getting tired is the worst thing you can do at a Flaming Lips concert.

The encore, “Do You Realize??” Most musicians exhort their audiences to make some noise, but the Flaming Lips are the only band I know of that will stop playing mid-song if the crowd chatter drops below a certain threshold. That’s what happened here: the album version of “Do You Realize??” goes on for only three minutes, but this one went on for ten because Coyne kept stopping and yelling at us with what ought to be his catchphrase, “C’mon motherfuckers!” Memo to Mr. Coyne: get that on a T-shirt. Hell, write a song with that title.

Confetti bukkake.

I have never wanted to be as fucked up on acid as I did during this show.

So, how did I enjoy the first-ever Pondamonium? I was down with the flu, I shouted myself so hoarse I could barely speak above a whisper, my ears were ringing for three hours after I left, I nearly caught hypothermia from the rain and cold, and I went dirty dancing with a dirty cheating whore. In other words, it fucking rocked! This is my one complaint:

Long lines for the bathroom, apparently the only one in the stadium. The womens’ one literally curled around the building, it was so long. Suggestion to Pondamonium organizers: drop some cash on Porta-Potty rentals next year. I’m not a fan of their general uncleanliness, but it’s an alt-rock festival, not a high-society get-together; I’m willing to make sacrifices.

In three months, I’ve managed to see a shocking number of my favorite musicians and bands live: St. Vincent, Feist, the Olivia Tremor Control, Best Coast, and now Garbage, the Flaming Lips, and the Dum Dum Girls. None of these acts would ever come within spitting distance of Syracuse for any reason other than to get the hell away. If nothing else, the trip was worth it for this alone.

Read Next: To Live and Get High at Pitchfork

  • Kim

    Wow….all these years I’ve been reading your blog and we live in the same town. Can’t say I’m surprise! Madison is full of liberals, but man is it full of the independent thinking crowd too.