Everything seems different this year.
Not so much the music, of course; the bands still came.
And watery beer was distributed in aluminum cans.
But the weather was hotter and stickier,
the ticket prices higher, the crowd sparser.
Less shoving and bumping and jostling for position,
but also a lagging spirit, as if the energy had drained;
so many inattentive, not really listening to what
they were hearing, drifting into idol chat
or onto social networks, changing venues
frequently before the sets were done;
and the VIPs secluding themselves
in costly air-conditioning rather
than mingling with the commoners.
An uncertain kind of fog, formed
from humidity, nostalgia, mild
excitement moistened with mile
disappointment, hovers over
the festival district, limiting perception,
augmenting distance, even between
old friends, as if, by some alchemic metonymy,
the center of the universe has become
its isolated periphery.
T. Allen Culpepper