By Amrit Singh & Brandon Stosuy
After a night of “classic” recreations, it was nice to dive into the current state of the indie landscape. Yesterday’s lineup was stacked, and we spent the day scissoring back and forth catching as much as possible, right through to Animal Collective’s relatively ornate light show to close. (That’s Panda Bear, trickled in green beams.) Here’s how the day broke down, word-and-photo style:
Like yesterday, the weather situation seemed hopeless — downpour conditions successfully piloted by Jay Reatard — but after a damp opening to Caribou‘s set, the sun peeked out by the second track. Dan Snaith & Co. sounded more powerful live than on record yesterday, maybe because of the positioning of their drummer, who made like a retrofitted Chippendale. Or maybe because of the way the group positioned themselves tightly in the center of the stage, forcing you to take them all in at one time, this concentrated node of airy and pastoral psychedelics.
At one point during Fleet Foxes gorgeous set a friend turned and said it was almost creepy how perfect they sounded: The woodsy Seattle harmonizers definitely nailed it, maybe most movingly on “White Winter Hymnal.” The Foxes seemed taken by the size of the event, checking themselves in the JumboTron, making silly thumbs ups to either side of the stage when the sound was set and they were ready to play, but they had no problem adapting to the quarters, turning Union Park into a cozy campfire sing-a-long in the middle of the afternoon. This year’s folk is more enjoyable than Devendra’s year’s folk.
Fuck Buttons‘ Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power did justice to Street Horrrsing, creating those slow-build grooves capped by witch-y hardcore vocals, but the non-fans weren’t converted. The kids in front of us thought it was “pure white noise,” and others couldn’t figure out what they were doing with all that knob-twiddling, but even though this wasn’t the strongest we’ve seen them, it’s hard to figure out how you could not like the prismatic psychedelics of “Sweet Love For Planet Earth.” These guys are a pop band, they just take time getting to their hooks/payoff. Part of their charm, too, is that they never full explode. We were talking about what it might sound like if they had a full-time drummer of some sort, but that would likely release too much of the tension, a push-and-pull that keeps these guys engaging.
Dizzee Rascal had problems with the sound, asking for the backing tracks to be pumped up, and generally letting us know things weren’t tweaked to his liking, but his more interesting complaint was Fleet Foxes, saying “fuck that folk shit,” and letting us know he was here to make us dance and that “by the time I leave here you’ll known my name.” True. This is also the set where the sun shown the brightest.
The kids were dancing for Vampire Weekend, maybe the most broadly appealing band at the festival. Overheard: “This wasn’t on Graceland? Are you sure?” Probably not, but it’s eerie how quickly these songs have grown to sound like tunes you’ve known half your life. There’s something so clean about VW — not just their boat shoes and sweaters, but the spacious minimalism of the sound, like there’s nothing extraneous left to gum up the works. !!! may not have much new material, but they have become a seasoned festival group, and had the crowd dancing and chanting like they were at Lollapalooza. Nic ended the set by slagging his host, talking about how his band was the lowest rated or read or something, yet drew the biggest crowd. “Just goes to show you, the kids know something the critics don’t.”
The Hold Steady fittingly opened their set with “Constructive Summer,” one of the best summer (life) rock songs in recent memory, but the crowd got even more excited for Boys & Girls In America tracks. Atlas Sound hypnotized on the far away, muddy stage: One man solo with a table of effects and his voice, cycling into great grooves. Jarvis Cocker? Didn’t want to play Pulp songs, so he played Jarvis Cocker songs. No Age were, of course, a huge draw. Dean and Randy did their thing to a large, excited audience, the kids in the front row having to soak-in “My Life’s Alright Without You” while getting their ribs crushed.
And that led up to Animal Collective‘s headlining set. It was hard not to think about how amazing it is that the little band behind Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished and Danse Manatee are headlining a festival with a Coldplay light show. Hypnotic set, including Panda Bear’s “Comfy In Nautica” and someone shooting fireworks (or caps) during, yes, “Fireworks.” They said they wanted to play all night, but curfew shut it down.
After the festivals proper, we headed to Schubas to see Abe Vigoda, Pit Er Pat, and High Places. Public transportation issues led to arriving the second Abe V. finished, but the other sets were good fun. High Places sounded especially great, the new songs more organic and warm than their usual live sound, the shared islands more tropical.
OK, hard part’s over. Now you may scroll.
THE HOLD STEADY
[Photos by Amrit]