My one and only visit to the three-day indie music festival took place on a Saturday headlined by Seattle band Fleet Foxes.
In the process, a friend and I took in parts of six bands, plus DJ Shadow, who was on the bill before sunset, which rendered his light show completely useless. Lastly, a good chunk of the crowd, in excess of 17,000 seemed to partake in the lush harmonies of the Foxes.
A festival of this modest size is a great way to see and discover new or unheralded acts. Little did I know that one of the first groups we saw, Los Angeles art punkers "No Age," would be among the best music I heard up until the headliners performed. Sonically Dean Spunt and Randy Randall crank out more as a drum and guitar band than groups with far more members.
Some of the others I saw included "Wild Nothing," "Destroyer," Sweden's "The Radio Department" (making their US debut,) "Dismemberment Plan," and "Gang, Gang Dance" who had their own personal flag waver and incense burner. None of these were bad, nor were they engaging enough to want to stay for the entire set.
I agree with several other sites that noted the DJ Shadow and his acclaimed visuals would have been better served if could have swapped slots with Fleet Foxes.
Taking a spot twenty or so yards in front of the soundboard accorded a great location to appreciate the vocal intricacies and the tight guitar melodies. At times they sounded like Neil Young, occasionally channeling Simon and Garfunkel, and as they took time to tune up between songs, were reminiscent of the Grateful Dead.
Highlights included songs from "Helplessness Blues" such as "The Cascades," "Battery Kinzie," "The Shine/An Argument," and the title track which closed their hour and fifteen minute set.
The show continues on Sunday with many more acts including North Carolina's "Superchunk" and headliners "TV on the Radio." Even though it's officially sold out, there were plenty of people selling tickets outside the venue.