The Dude abides: 11th annual Lebowski Fest in review [Movies]

The Dude abides: 11th annual Lebowski Fest in review [Movies]

The festival continued on Saturday back at the lawn of Executive Strike & Spare with the Garden Party, featuring musical performances, lawn games, and what-have-you. The lawn games were hosted by Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and without the context of the film, these games would surely seem quite bizarre: toss the blow-up doll over the caution tape, launch the stuffed marmot into the tub, throw the coffee mug at The Dude’s forehead, lob a bag of dirty underwear out of a car window at the target (no word on whether the bag actually contained soiled unmentionables).

The sun beat down hard, keeping most people in the shaded area near the lawn games while the intrepid few braved the heat to get up close to the opening musical act: local bluegrass group The White Russians. The appropriateness of their name is no accident; they told of how they have always been Lebowski fans and cycled through several film-related names before landing on the current choice. They started with a rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” continuing on with various bluegrass standards and original works. Those who missed this performance need not worry – they perform every Thursday night at Dark Star Tavern.

The White Russians were followed by a comedy set by Derby City Dating Scene Improv, who can be seen regularly at The Bard’s Town. Louisville is a city which loves its improv comedy, and they gave several reasons why that love is deserved, with improv games such as a birthday song made up on the spot for a man named Scoop and a “slide show” of an Iraqi vacation utilizing a young volunteer from the audience.

Continuing the showcase of local talent, the stage was next occupied by The Deloreans, a unique rock band which wonderfully captures the hipster vibe of our local music scene – and I mean that as a compliment. Their set was woefully short for my taste, but the crowd was treated to fantastic songs such as “Starfish” and “Leviathan,” as well as a song they wrote specifically for the festival: “Shut the F*ck Up, Donny,” during which they encouraged parents to stop up their young children’s ears with earmuffs. They closed with my personal favorite, the hyper and energetic “Buffalo.”

Americana/country musician Todd Snider headlined the Garden Party, delighting the crowd with his energetic music and affable stage presence. As he informed the crowd, “The more noise you make in between the songs, the better we play in the middle. And the more you move around during the songs, that helps a lot, too.” No one really took him up on the suggestion to get up and dance – the sun was far too draining – but they certainly obliged him on the noise factor, cheering him on and shouting out encouragement. The crowd favorite was clearly his anthem known as “Beer Run,” a quite silly song about adventures in beer-drinking. The crowd was not quite satiated following his performance, and so were graced with a double encore by Mr. Snider and his band.

Now into the evening, the crowd headed indoors for some bowling. Executive Strike & Spare boasts 52 lanes, all of which were promptly occupied by those eager to throw rocks. It was here that one could really feast on the crowd-watching: costumes, costumes everywhere! Countless Dudes wandered around holding White Russians (which had been pre-mixed in large batches in anticipation of great consumption); the occasional Walter and Donny could be seen strutting around; groups had come dressed in matching bowling outfits, one decked out completely in pink and wearing white wigs; even a Saddam Hussein or two could be seen in bowling attire (from one of the particularly strange dream sequences in the film).

The night concluded with the “nearly historic” after party in the bowling alley’s bar, hosted by the Monkey Wrench. I, unfortunately, was unable to attend, and thus cannot report as to whether the party finally crossed the line into completely “historic” – although I suppose only time can tell.

In the meantime, Lebowski Fest itself has secured its place in history, with offshoot festivals occurring around the country as well as being discussed in several books and the subject of a documentary. It even has the official stamp of approval from Jeff Bridges, The Dude himself. One can presume the festival will be around for a while, so be sure to attend next year and witness all the craziness for yourself.

Photos: Ryan Armbrust

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About Allan Day
My "real" job is bartending, but I'm a writer and a filmmaker, owner of Monkey's Uncle Productions LLC. I am also a single father, avid reader of books, watcher of movies, and listener of music. My idols include Kurt Vonnegut, Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Kaufman, Lloyd Kaufman, Lars von Trier, Ingmar Bergman, Thom Yorke, Jonsi, Don DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace.
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