Holy Ghost!, Solange, Washed Out, !!!, No Age, Poolside, the Orwells, Fear of Men
- ||| Photos by Carl Pocket
After the jump, more photos and capsule reviews:
You Should Have Been Here Because: At 11 p.m. Sunday, the dance floor was covered with club kids who weren’t ready to surrender the night. It was face paint and glitter cape central. Holy Ghost! was the last band to play the festival and they had a whopper of a job because they had to compete with the might of My Bloody Valentine next door. However, the New York-based, leather-clad disco kings were up to the challenge. Combining the powers of live vocals, guitars, a drum kit, keyboards and two mammoth striped DJ consoles that lit up in time with the beat, Holy Ghost! understood the power of a live band even if a lot of their sound was electronic. The set was focused on raw human drama behind a very funky beat. All of their songs had refrains that were a delight to shout into the night air. “It’s not over!” or “Shake it off! No time to waste!” or “Hold on! Hold tight!” that were instantly adapted as if it were their own thoughts by the crowd. Rolls of toilet paper fluttered in the air like comets in the night sky, while the dancers trampled paper plates, crushed cigarette butts and the rest of the detritus from the festival into the dirt. Not a single group of dancers wandered away from that party without a spring in their step, as if their brains needed them to go home to bed, but their feet wouldn’t fully comply. There’s something really special about dancing until midnight on a Sunday night in an open field. The end of a festival is always a reminder that life is fleeting and you need to grab the good times while you can.
Downside: The constant noise from My Bloody Valentine between sets made one constantly worry that they were missing out.
Postscript: Shout out to the Off the Wall graffiti man who was dancing shamelessly on the table of his booth by himself.
— Molly Bergen
You Should Have Been Here Because: So what if she’s 9 minutes late to the stage? Solange does come from the Knowles lineage, after all. There’s some inevitable diva attitude that runs through her veins, but it didn’t matter in the end. Once Bey’s younger indie star sister pranced on stage in a pink and blue zebra-striped sweatshirt and a mini-skirt, it was time to get down. It was as if the crowd immediately heeded her instructions while she crooned the lyrics of “Don’t Let Me Down.” Funky bass lines and Solange’s smooth R&B vocal riffs meant serious business, and if you didn’t know it then, you knew it once she and her bass player went into tandem dance moves. After cruising through “Some Things Never Seem to F–king Work” and “Bad Girls,” she amped up the crowd even more: “I used to live in Los Angeles. I know how Los Angeles can grind. Let’s turn this festival into one big grind session.” And grind, her fans did. Jumping down to the monitors and singing the lyrics “I just can’t help myself,” Solange sounded honest … and naughty. “How many of you guys wore your dancing shoes for tonight?” she asked before the crowd roared back at her. “I usually wear 4-inch heels but I wanted to boogie tonight. … Let’s put down our phones and enjoy this beautiful moment together. Let’s lose it.” And with that, the crowd went berserk during the opening measures of “Losing You.” Then the most peculiar thing happened. She walked off … and came back for an encore. As far as this writer knows, no other non-headlining FYF act has done an encore before. But all seemed glad that she did when she slipped into her cover of Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is the Move” and an oldie, “Sandcastle Disco.”
Downside: Only that Dev Hynes was missed on bass during those tandem dance moves.
Postscript: Tina Knowles was in the house.
— Seraphina Lotkhamnga
You Could Have Missed This Because: Whether people were saving their energies for Solange, MGMT or My Bloody Valentine, the crowd just wasn’t getting hyped up enough to satisfy Washed Out — aka Ernest Greene. Although a sea of people turned up for the set, the new songs weren’t translating as well as his old chillwave hits.
Downside: Kudos to Washed Out for evolving past a drowsy bedroom project to a full band with more organic components, but a few of his new songs — like the cheesy “Get Up” — didn’t measure up. A slew of encouraging comments such as “You guys still with us?,” “Sing along. Come on!” and “All right, guys. I want to see some action out there” were thrown out to no avail until Greene and his band played more synth-driving tunes like “Eyes Be Closed” and of course, the moneymaker, “Feel It All Around.”
— Seraphina Lotkhamnga
!!! (CHK CHK CHK)
You Could Have Missed This Because: As likable as the Sacramento party-starters are, their disco-punk sounded strangely past its expiration date on the festival’s second-biggest stage. “Of course it does,” said a friend who also witnessed the proceedings. “Their high point was what, 2004? They’re retro now.” Try digesting that concept while watching a modest scrum of dancers go off to a man in short shorts.
Downside: I’m still wrestling with the idea that what happened in 2004 is retro.
Postscript: That was the year “Funeral” came out, y’know.
You Should Have Been Here Because: “Apparently, we’ve played here more than any band ever.” So began the set from L.A. duo No Age, kicking off their two man audio assault with “No Ground,” the first track from their latest album “An Object.” As they alternated between the drum/guitar combo to a double guitar thrashfest, the crowd did their best to kick up as much dust as possible to reward the rowdier numbers like “C’Mon, Stimmung.” Guitarist Randy Randall kept up the theatrics too, leaping from the drum riser and pulling moves worthy of Eddie Van Halen. Though the set heavily relied on material from the new release, singer Dean Allan Spunt at one point proclaimed, “You guys really earned this one,” and launched into fan favorite “Teen Creeps.” With brief moments of dreamy buzz and occasional Superchunk style rollicking melodies, No Age pretty much kept up with the straightforward screamy punk the kids up front wanted to hear so badly.
Downside: The thrashy set was perfect for the moshpit crowd, but got a bit samey for anyone else.
— Mo Herms
You Should Have Been Here Because: If you enjoy a band who takes their name seriously, then Poolside did everything to make you feel like you were hanging, well, poolside. They even had Very Be Careful’s Rich Panta (also of Boogaloo Assassins) playing as a fifth member on the congas to give their set an extra tropical vibe. Going back and forth between funk and electro-pop, tunes like their first hit “Slow Down” went down as smooth as your Sailor Jerry cocktail. (I’m just guessing on that one, I managed to avoid Sailor Jerry all weekend.) By the time the band played their take on Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” the foot traffic all ended up at their stage for a nice cool-down during the middle the day.
Downside: Although an enjoyable set, Poolside’s chill tunes might have gone over better at the Standard — or anywhere with shade — rather than a dusty outdoor park.
— Seraphina Lotkhamnga
You Should Have Been Here Because: Perhaps it was too hot of a day for Mario Cuomo, but you’d think frontman of teenaged terrors the Orwells would have put on pants before he walked out on stage. Strolling out like he was just heading to his living room couch, in just a Chicago Bulls jersey and a jockstrap underneath, the Orwells ripped into their signature anthem “Mallrats (La La La)” and put more energy into their set than some bands do throughout their entire tour. Tight, raucous and positively rambunctious, the quartet roared through more punk anthems like “Other Voices,” and even as they went into more blues-oriented jams, Cuomo’s stage antics became increasingly deranged. Borderline demonic, the whites of his eyes could be seen as they rolled to the back of his head and his knees suddenly dropped to the stage beneath him. There were a few moments when Cuomo would lift his jersey to reveal his bum, but nothing was mentioned of the jockstrap. Go figure.
Downside: Immediately after they finished, Cuomo took his jockstrap off and threw it into the crowd. Eww.
Postscript: Kids will be kids.
— Seraphina Lotkhamnga