Upon arrival to the dormant old coast guard landfill by the Bay I made my way to the Tunnel Stage to hear Wallpaper's brand of indie dance whatchamacallit. Upon first glance there was a small battalion of percussionists getting their proverbial groove on before leaving Wallpaper to a two piece formula of drummer, frontman and prerecorded dance jams.
Holy Fuck confused me for a minute by way of a mental faux paux that had me thinking, “So is this Matt Fishbeck's other project?” But no, these nob twiddling noise poppers were having themselves a ball making some warm analog buzz and creative microphone swallowing.
Then finally some rock n roll, compliments of France's Jamaica. They were a tight three piece making a racket with studio sheen. No joke, must be the results of a good soundman, the virtues of focused practice seshes and possibly some of that Kronenberg 1664 they got across the pond. (or Heineken as was the sponsored order of the day) But wait, they got a tape playing along with them so I guess that puts them in some other running. I was tipped off by the tell tale “oh oh ohs” that weren't being sung into the mics. Frontman Antoine Hilaire said “This is our first time in San Francisco so thank you very much.” A bit on the Phoenix tip, but inoffensive all the same.
Die Antwoord took to the stage draped in their baggy white body suits with Daniel Johnston looking doodles of random creatures and scribblings of “fok fok fok” accompanied by depictions of a well endowed Casper the Friendly Ghost looking caricature with the caption “evil boy.” (The same is tattooed on Watkin Tudor Jones’ right shoulder.) I had heard chaotic things about their set at the Independent last Friday as well as a riotous instore performance at the Haight Ashbury Amoeba Records and sure enough they came through. Out of a set full of energy and the occasional flesh flash by Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the highlight was an incredibly aggro version of “Wat Kyk Jy” that proved Ninja and Yo-Landi are too “zef” to be captured on either the interweb or recording. Live they are something real. See them, somewhere, anywhere. Boy did Phantogram had a tough act to follow. They looked pretty.
!!! put on a full energy show that turned the north facing Bridge Stage into a Hacienda rave. It made me happy to see a band so dedicated to dance music with the common decency to still have a full band and forego the almost obligatory Macbook reliance. Leading man Nic Offer hammed it up proper with plenty of banter for the good people in the photo pit. “Take a shot of my trench coat blowing in the wind!” Oh don't worry Nic, we got you covered. Then after the second song, the photographers took their mandatory exit cues while Offer said, “I hate this part of the show when the photographers leave!” He pleaded for them to stay, took on a series of different poses, a Coppertone flash before continuing his brand of dance.
Four Tet performed a chill, yet big beat set that was grooving enough for an almost forty minute set. I even saw one of the festival’s organizers/director personnel frantically waving at him to cut his set so Kruder and Dorfmeister could explain what the hell they had been doing for the past decade. And when that answer came it was in the form of wonky, dated house interjected with some “can’t stop the bass” plot allegedly surrounding the island in some encroaching apocalyptic fashion. But let me attest from my proximity to the subwoofer that the bass was there, the whole time, all along and did not stop for nothing. The unnecessary concepts and three tiered lighting effects couldn’t save what could have easily sufficed as an enjoyable DJ set.
Little Dragon was fun with front woman Yukimi Nagano dancing in dramatic step throughout the entire performance. In a day filled with electro hubris and phoned-in beats aplenty, their charm, synth craft and electro arrangement assemblage was the gem of Saturday’s performances.
Then it was time for a light show to rival Disneyland’s gratuitous parade of electric illumination. Deadmau5 so-called progressive house sound blended into the background beat of a monotony that could have been played at this year’s canceled Love Fest as the incidental “bootcha bootcha bootcha” ambience. Miike Snow could only follow up the dazzling display of lights with music slightly more interesting than Deadmau5.
Then came the main attraction that aging hipsters and ravers came to see; James Murphy’s tired out LCD Soundsytem schtick. Honest to goodness the man should have left good enough alone with the “Losing My Edge” single followed up by the kinda interesting “Beat Connection.” No albums needed, no self-titled, no Sound of Silver and certainly no This is Happening. In fact, This is Happening has me asking is this really happening? And with the crap live rendition of “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” let’s all hope Mr. Murphy keeps true to his promise of retirement by the end of the year.