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H.O.R.D.E. Back for Summer's Biggest Fest
by Greg Gadberry
Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME
Aug 10th, 1995

The H.O.R.D.E. tour rolls into the Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach today, bringing its noisy, funky, patchouli-laced groove to Maine for the fourth year in a row.

And while the H.O.R.D.E. show playing Maine isn't as big as the H.O.R.D.E. show in larger markets, it almost certainly will be the biggest - and perhaps the best - concert experience in the state this summer. The show sold out late Wednesday afternoon.

H.O.R.D.E. - short for "Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere" - began four years ago as a traveling experiment. Instead of offering just a couple of bands on a single stage, H.O.R.D.E. would package concerts into a traveling culture carnival.

H.O.R.D.E. festivals then, and now, include two stages and a midway full of artisans and political-types trolling for converts.

The scene is as important as the music. You can check out the headliner on one stage, cruise by the tables promoting world peace or vegetarianism, dodge the frolicking neo-hippies, grab some chow and slide over to the second stage.

While the H.O.R.D.E. festival is certainly different from the average rock show, it's not unique. The better-known Lollapalooza festival has a similar design and, like H.O.R.D.E., celebrates new rock.

But there are differences this year.

H.O.R.D.E. is fronted by three bands known for their friendly, lively and approachable music. By contrast, Lollapalooza has become famous for its experimentation - and its rough unpredictability.

For example, patrons of Lollapalooza this year get to watch Courtney Love, lead singer of the band Hole, self-destruct on stage. It has often been an ugly experience.

The main mover behind H.O.R.D.E., by contrast, is Blues Traveler, a talented and genuinely likeable band. Blues Traveler, which puts a modern spin on 70's style southern boogie, helped create the festival. Although the band is popular enough now to have its own big summer tour, it has stuck with the H.O.R.D.E.

Another boogie-style band traveling with the H.O.R.D.E. this year is the Black Crowes. The group has a number of prominent influences - The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Marshall Tucker - and a loopy, driving musical style.

Although critics love to diss the band for its lack of musical originality, audiences seem to like the Crowes for their devotion to danceable grooves.

The last of the three big bands for this year's H.O.R.D.E. is Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

Ziggy, son of the reggae pioneer Bob Marley, until recently recorded pop. His newest work shows real maturity and depth. And Ziggy's voice has become so much like his father's that it is almost eerie. Yet what made past H.O.R.D.E. shows so cool were the unknown bands. Past festivals, for example, have introduced artists such as Sheryl Crow and the Aquarium Rescue Unit to Maine. Some of the lesser-known acts coming to Maine this year include God Street Wine and G. Love and Special Sauce.

But H.O.R.D.E. fans here won't get all the goodies available to fans in Los Angeles and other big cities. Many artists, including Sheryl Crow, have passed on the Maine show - and others in smaller states - because of touring conflicts.