Today was the cold day. Which was fine, because there were more than enough excuses to dance! Special thanks to Carl Pocket, Emily Anderson, and Paige Parsons for additional pics!
My first band of Day 2 was The Kooks, part of the second wave of Brit pop bands. A scene that included bands like The Rakes, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, and the like. They had one single that I really liked, but pretty much forgot about them. However, I when they took the stage, I instantly forgot at about the fact that I forgot about them. (Did that sentence make sense? Dunno. It’s staying in.) Their energy levels are ferocious, and the kids that were simply trickling in started literally running to the stage from the the two entry points. They did play their hit, a song called “She Moves In Her Own Way,” and I decided to join the kids in their dance party for this one. A great way to start the day!
Beignet & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia
I am a firm believer in gonzo journalism. I could have watched this performance, where Big Freedia did a short version of her regular set, and then invited a group of people to come on stage and attempt to “twerk” in exchange for a fresh beignet. But would that have been truly “experiencing” the festival? I think not. So I jumped on stage and did my best rhythmic flexing of my glutes for the crowd in front of the brand new Gastromagic Stage, a place where food related performances took place. So, I did it, and I was handed both a freshly fried beignet, which was delicious, and a bandana, which came in handy when concealing my face from folks that observed my embarrassment. I wish I could say that I remember the rest of the set, but being on stage for 30 seconds is kind of a rush. The sort of rush that prompted me to run over to the Local Edition booth to by a Mango Lassi with Rum, also known as a Kashmir Swizzle, in order to take the edge off. It was delicious, and went nicely with my beignet.
I was pleasantly surprised by Local Natives. They come from the same Silverlake folk scene that introduced the world to Fleet Foxes. I was expecting something mellow, with the accent on harmonies and acoustic guitars. Instead, we were treated to some pretty blistering electric guitars. It was a pretty intense set, and the crowd was really into it.
It’s been a really, really good year for Haim. Days Are Gone was a big hit that landed on nearly everyone’s 2013 year end list. This set was basically their victory lap, and they proved to be the perfect festival band. They managed to play a set that consisted of the harder versions of tracks off that debut album, sounding more like Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and less like Buckingham/Nick’s Fleetwood Mac. They even played a cover the Green-era Fleetwood Mac blues rave up “Oh Well.” The audience was totally in sync, and even the older fans waiting for Tom Petty were impressed with Haim. They managed to get a unison fist bump going with the sea of 20,00+ fans during the bridge to “The Wire.” They closed with an epic jam on “Let Me Go” that included a massive drum solo that put all three ladies on drums in addition to the kit drummer. It was a thrilling performance!
Change Your Mind
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac)
Honey & I
My Song #5
Don’t Save Me
Let Me Go
Though it’s only been recently that Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy has come onto my radar, it was a perfect chilly afternoon choice for sitting in the grass and enjoying some lovely, mellow tunes. In addition to the acoustic set, complemented occasionally with the ukelele, Joy told a fantastic story of his journey through the festival to a radio event on a “golf buggy.” He detailed having seen a young man jump a “floppy fence,” flopping on the fence as a guard tried to grab him, and then retreat back “into the forest.” Moments later, however, the same guy somehow managed his way, sprinting in front of Joy’s ride with wild abandon. I must agree with Joy’s sentiment, that for all the effort, I hope he made it in and enjoyed himself. “I hope he’s watching this set,” Joy admitted. “I’d recognize him. I don’t want to blow his cover, but he was wearing a flannel shirt… that’s pretty normal, but the back of it was completely torn off! He’s an example of what we’d call a ‘deadset legend’ in Australia.” Suffice it to say that Vance Joy was entertaining in more ways than one, and new song “Mess is Mine” was, for me, as much a highlight as was the crowd-pleasing song for which he’s best known, “Riptide.” (Stacy Scales)
Mess is Mine
Play with Fire
Capital Cities wasted no time getting the crowd with “Kangaroo Court,” whose lyrics create an instant earworm with “shut up, shut up, shut up.” If you don’t know it, you’ll just have to trust me. “What’s up, San Francisco? We’re Capital Cities and we wanna dance with you! You guys wanna dance with us? We’re gonna teach you a dance called the Capital Cities Shuffle…” frontman Ryan Merchant announced. For Merchant, at least, the festival was a bit of a homecoming; though the band is based out of L.A., Merchant is a homegrown San Franciscan who was excited to play for such a crowd. After a fun cover of the BeeGees’ “Stayin’ Alive” (with a little bit of Weezer’s “Come Undone (the Sweater Song)” thrown in for good measure) came “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo,” fantastic new song “One Minute More,” and finally, megahit “Safe & Sound.” During the latter, the crowd was asked to take part in a Capital Cities tradition: to take off any scarf, sweater, or similarly removable item of clothing and wave it around while dancing. It was quite a sight to behold as tens of thousands of people jumped, danced, and waved things in the air to end a great set. (Stacy Scales)
Since I didn’t actually watch Big Freedia and her crew of dancers earlier in the day, I decided to watch the spectacle from the audience. It’s one amazing show! She was supported by a crew of dancers, and performed an epic set of frantic dance music. Freedia might not be the best rapper on Earth, but she knows how to make a spectacle happen. She can move, and her dancers are all the more impressive. There was twerking, there was popping and locking. There was all sorts of epic movement, including twerking on a ladder, and on the rafters, and bringing 25 people from the crowd onto the stage just to dance. That last one was for a song called “Azz Everywhere.” Which, really, isn’t that what we are all looking for?
BBQ & Drank with Lewis Black
I really wanted to see Lewis Black to stand up, but there were music events that interfered every time he played. So, when they added this bit to the Gastromagic stage, I decided to walk over and check it out. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it was one of the most entertaining sets of the festival. One of the main chefs at Southpaw BBQ discussed how to properly do a rib rub. Yes, it was really dirty, and I wish I got the name of the chef, because he was quite the humorist. Black mostly added brief quips throughout the demo, and then he enjoyed a rib sampling while also indulging in different alcoholic beverages while eating the food. This all seems like it should’ve been boring, and Black ribbed us (pardon the pun) for taking the time out of our day to watch other people eat. That being said, Black was on fire with his quips, and it was a sufficiently entertaining set.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
People love to hate Macklemore. Sure, he’s a white guy from Seattle doing hip hop. He does hip hop with hooks and a bit of a sense of humor. He doesn’t wallow in the dark. He’s a happy guy, and he does happy music. Which, of course, automatically means that you are a fraud. People don’t like artists that are positive. I find that to be frustrating. However, there are more than enough people that have embraced the joy that it Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. So, really, who cares what the critics think? (I mean, other than me)
This set was a non-stop piece of explosive energy. He is well aware of the fact that people only know the one record, and that there were three big singles off the record. He wrote a setlist that spaced those tracks out perfectly. In addition to Ryan Lewis on decks and laptop, the band featured a string section, horn section, bass, drummer, and a small squad of dancers. He brought many of the guest vocalists from the record, including the dapper Wanz singing the hook to the inescapable “Thrift Shop,” reprising his role from the video, and doing some clever interplay with Macklemore on stage. Mary Lambert came out for “Same Love,” which was proceeded by a teary eyed marriage proposal between two women in the crowd. That particular track had the audience singing the chorus so loud that I’m sure Tom Petty heard it. When the show was over, the audience pulled Macklemore back on stage for a second encore, well after the 10:55 end time, and played “Can’t Hold Us” a second time.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Tonight was another night that offered a choice: American rock & roll legend Tom Petty, or current hitmaker Macklemore. Sadly, it was the second festival I’ve opted to skip Macklemore, though neither time was because I didn’t want to see him. Ultimately, I decided that I’d have many more chances to see him, whereas Tom Petty could choose to retire at any time and I’d never have the chance again. Happily, though, he made it completely worth my while! He played a fair number of tunes I didn’t know, but the set was peppered with megahits like “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” “Into the Great Wide Open,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin’,” “Learning to Fly,” “Refugee,” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” In good taste, Petty acknowledged the anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death with an excellent cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” The set also included some new tunes, including the band’s current single, “U Get Me High.”
While the music was energetic and full of brilliant nostalgia, it was Petty’s seemingly genuine sense of humility and appreciation for the wonderful crowd that struck me again and again. Great bands may be a dime a dozen, but for me this is one of those missing pieces that really makes me love one band more than the next: sincerity is clutch. “Whoa, baby, thank you so much!” Petty gushed near the end of the set. “We’re runnin’ outta time, we gotta play you one more!” The band’s final set was, he said, one they’d first played “so long ago at this place called the Keystone in Palo Alto, reaching all the way back to nineteen seventy-siiiiiiiix…” The song was “American Girl,” and of course the crowd devoured it, singing along at the top of its lungs. It was an iconic moment with an iconic band, and while I’m sad I had to skip Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to see it, I know I made the right choice. As Petty & the Heartbreakers bowed, blowing kisses and waving to the crowd, Tom himself bade a final goodbye to the audience, saying, “thank you so much, have a great weekend. God bless you, good night!” A class act, that Petty. (Stacy Scales)