On Friday, James Murphy dedicated “Losing My Edge” to Gil Scott-Heron. For the rest of the weekend, everyone should be covering “Communication Breakdown” and dedicating it to AT&T. Not being able to meet up with your friends because of long delayed texts does cultivate a certain independent spirit, though, and partying with strangers wasn’t a tough get if you chose your sets wisely. Saturday’s headliners (for purposes of this post) were the smartest calls of all: There was Major Lazer, who I figured couldn’t top their raucous showing at SXSW’s Cedar St. Courtyard. The presence of Switch (absent in Austin), Chinese dragons, and major lasers upturned that thought. It was all about charisma, and that’s what Skerrit Bwoy trades in. That, daggering techniques, and batshit insanity. If Mr. Bwoy sold an instructional DVD on those points, I’d buy — guy’s a true triple threat. Flying Lotus demonstrated remarkable presence for one man trading in Macbooks and glitchy bass-beat pastiche; Die Antwoord, for a bunch of barely dressed South Africans. Truly the curiosity/buzz factor rode most heavily with the zef rappers, who have parlayed their meme status to a deal with Interscope and meetings with David Lynch in the time it takes to post a video to YouTube. Here to stay or having a quick run on their 15MB of fame?
Their set was fairly straight forward and slight on the surreal, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a spectacle: Over 20 minutes Ninja and Yolandi performed martial arts, stripped their textual outfits for boxer briefs and gold lame outfits, stage-dived, and brought out some pudgy masked dancers, all while executing their viral raps with proficiency and presence. They have five albums and a movie in the works, and who knows if they’ll be worth waiting for, but in 2010 this is a set not to miss, whether you’re an ironic trend chaser or because you love ninjas. The xx (donning sweet summer outfits) and MGMT played to massive crowds at the Outdoor Theater, MGMT creating the biggest traffic jam of the weekend. (An aesthetic axiom: The weirdness of MGMT’s music is inversely proportional to that of their outfits.) Congratulations seemed to leave many in the desert cold, or at least those that didn’t get the memo that they’d left behind Oracular’s hooks. For those that dig the record, like we do, “Flash Delirium” and the rest came across beautifully. Andrew asked that we “please buy our album.” Not many will, Andrew. But it doesn’t matter — you made the right record.
Dirty Projectors brought some of their recent Getty Address reappraisal to the desert, opening with “I Will Truck” before settling into the more familiar live staples of Bitte Orca and New Attitude.If you want to know where all the non-performing artists were during Dirty Projectors set, they were there to see Dirty Projectors: Jay-Z & Beyoncé, Vampire Weekend, Owen Pallett, Erlend øye, Sondre Lerche, Sara Quin, and on. Beach House gave a stab at Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade,” a track they’ve adored on the record (though not on record)(yet).
And there was Faith No More, who opened with Peaches & Herb’s “Reunited,” went into “From Out Of Nowhere,” and performed “We Care A Lot,” “Midlife Crisis,” “Surprise (You’re Dead),” along with betraying their love of old Motown and R&B with teases of Stevie’s “Sir Duke” and the Jackson 5’s “Ben.” And yes, we got “Epic,” a great song with the unfortunate legacy of inspiring the insipid, limp (bizkit) rap-rock of the next decade. Of course, they’re so much more than “Epic” — Angel’s Dust remains a bizarre and engaging art-rock opus — and seeing them celebrate it in Indio was a good feeling. They were my very first concert; countless shows since, Mike Patton’s lewd stage banter was a full circle swing that warmed my adolescent heart something special. (And reminded me of my father sniffing out pot smoke in the air that day and feeling I’d tricked him into cesspool.) (He wasn’t wrong, and it wouldn’t be the last time he’d smell pot smoke in the air at my hands.)
And finally, best basketball jersey of the day honors to go Dirty Projectors’ Nat Baldwin, who rocked a Maryland #34 in honor of Len Bias. Never forget.
If AT&T lets us tweet, they’ll be showing up @stereogum, @scottgum, and @amritsingh. In the meantime, enjoy these photos by me alongside those by some more pro picture people. We’ll leave you with some video of the xx: