Friday, August 31, 2012

Outside Lands, Day 2

* * * * 1/2

Prior to the festival I’d only just started getting into Tame Impala’s music, thanks to an earlier recommendation from Handshake’s Sam Forester.  The Australian psych-rock outfit’s excellent 2010 album Innerspeaker goes best with a bowl of weed and a snack, and at a festival where the quantity and quality of those two things may be unsurpassed, Tame Impala’s music fit perfectly.  But after a few minutes, I forgot all about any peripheral distractions, from the bowl of Indonesian noodles in my hand to the tens of thousands of people making noise around me.  Though seeing a band at a festival is generally not an immersive experience as a really good club show can be, no act at Outside Lands (with the exception of Sigur Ros later that night) made me inhabit the music as much as Tame Impala did.  

* * * 1/2
As with Tame Impala, I saw Father John Misty after a recommendation from a member of Handshake--in this case, Evan Greenwald, who has recommended this particular act’s new album Fear Fun in my search for decent music this year.  The solo project of former Fleet Foxes member J. Tillman, Father John Misty was more uptempo and rock-oriented than the harmony-led folk of Tillman’s former band.  Even more lively than their grooves was Tillman’s stage presence, which had a certain awkward charisma that suggested he was new to being a frontman and thoroughly enjoying it.

* * * *

Big Boi’s set at the Twin Peaks stage at Hellman Hollow felt every bit like a main-stage set, with the Atlanta MC’s larger-than-life personality replacing the Jumbotrons.  Though not dressed any more remarkably than the various hypemen onstage, Big Boi completely dominated his set, tongue-twisting his way through OutKast classics and solo cuts alike with power and passion.  The best moment by far was “Ms. Jackson”--though Big Boi seemed to go for the nostalgia angle by screening the song’s video in the background, his rhymes were so tight and locked into the groove it was difficult to focus on anything else.  Without a doubt the best live hip-hop performance I’ve ever seen.

* * * 1/2

I saw the first half of Metallica’s pyrotechnic-filled set, and though Metallica is an unbelievably tight live band with an obvious flair for performing, their set didn’t thrill me quite as much as it could have, likely for similar reasons as my experience seeing Justice the previous day (see the entry on Day 1).

* * * * 1/2

Sigur Ros was a different story altogether.  The Icelandic band’s set found them using the medium of live performance to augment the scale of their sound, projecting their biggest ideas across a suitably massive space.  Throughout their set, it felt as if a bubble had been cast over the stage and the audience, creating an isolated space where everything was reduced to inconsequentiality except for the music itself.  The band members themselves were barely visible, mere shadows against the giant projections of organic landscapes that dominated the stage.  But nobody came to Sigur Ros’s set just so they could behold Jonsi and company with their very own eyes--the music was, truly, the only thing that mattered.

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