Despite the early hour, a substantial crowd filed onto the grass field to see Portland’s
STRFKR on Saturday. In typical fashion, sound check pushed them past their scheduled start time of 4:10pm. They were worth the wait. From the look on their faces, they weren’t too happy with their slotted time, but they warmed as they played and ended up delivering a solid performance. In my opinion, this band belongs in a dark, crowded, sweaty-elbows venue, and while they were a bit off the standard electronic Snowball Fest fare, their coy and catchy tunes, like “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” got the crowd hustling in no time.
Two words: Trippy Turtle. This guy must drink his Red Bull with a shot of juiced kale and seaweed. He exudes vitality. And I might have a crush on him. Apparently, I’m not alone. People loved him. On three separate occasions, people grabbed my arm and emphatically pointed at Trippy Turtle, shouting variations of “this guy is the shit.” I couldn’t agree more. Go see him if he ever comes to your town. Amend that – go see him wherever he’s playing, wherever the town. And, oh yeah, his music. If there’s an electronic dance tent in heaven, this is what they play. They call it Jersey Club with a splash of hip hop/RnB? I don’t care what it’s called; sign me up.
Another bouncing, crammed tent housed West Coast duo Caked Up, who, no surprise, admitted to being (oh no!) drunk and high while shredding away on their laptops. Watching Caked Up – correction – watching Caked Up’s crowd – is like watching a python eat a baby rabbit. There’s something wrong about it, but you just can’t look away. Full disclosure: I’m a 35-year-old introvert with a five-month old baby at home. However, had I not been carrying fifteen pounds of expensive camera equipment, you would have found me in the middle of this twerking, surging throng, rehabilitating my post-pregnancy core.
Kill the Noise. No killing involved, the noise was very much alive. They were loud and the beat was deep. Pacemaker deep. I think my heart stopped and restarted about fifteen times. I felt like I was standing in front of 747 engine at takeoff. It doesn’t really matter if this isn’t your favorite sound, you will be taken over. Possessed. Sorry, but them’s the breaks.
I want to hang out with Aidan Kennedy. The genius behind Bagheera, named after the panther in the Jungle Book, played in the Heat Hut at 5:40pm. The crowd was small, but happy. Very happy. No pretense, no drama, just good dance tunes spun right.
Minneapolis-based hip hop artist Brother Ali took the main stage at 5:30pm Saturday and the captivated the crowd with his self-deprecating banter, tight lyrics and powerful stage presence. He referred to himself as an “ambassador for albinos” – Ali was born without pigment in his skin and hair and is legally blind—and joked, “I’m cool with having unpopular opinions,” in reference to the fact that he doesn’t smoke weed. He’s no newcomer to the big stage, having played with the likes of Guru, Mos Def and De La Soul. Consider me a follower of Brother Ali.
Jeremy Malvin’s Chrome Sparks provided a nice respite from the bass-heavy twerk tents and blaring main stage speakers. His mellow, complex rhythms would make a good traveling partner while driving some desolate highway at night.
As night crept in and the temperature started to drop, Yeasayer took the stage. By the time they finished opener “Sunrise” they’d won the band-most-likely-to-win-you-over award. Their sound was crisp and professional while maintaining a gritty, raw heart. Vocalist Chris Keating is a charismatic performer and while his voice isn’t quite my style, it sounded like a good friend by the end of their set. Energetic and passionate, their music just feels good. If I could go back and see one performance again, this would be it.
Pretty Lights sounded amazing no matter where you were on the festival grounds. I enjoyed the show from the press pit as equally from the taco stand line on the other side of the festival. The light show was especially noteworthy. He, Derek Vincent Smith, killed it—up, down and side-to-side.
Unfortunately, they also sounded pretty good from the tent where Twin Shadow, aka George Lewis Jr., was gearing up to begin. This was the tragedy of the evening—that he was slated to play at the same time as Pretty Lights. When I first scanned the Lineup for the festival, Twin Shadow was my must-see set. I love the guy. However, when he took the stage in the Ballroom Tent at 9:15, the crowd subsisted of about ten people. I made eleven. There was a collective cringe when the eleven of us realized what was happening. I was afraid Twin Shadow would bail altogether, not just because of the small turnout, but because the pavement in the Ballroom Tent was shaking from Pretty Lights even though they were playing on the opposite side of the grounds. But Twin Shadow appeared unfazed and took the stage with a red cup full of gusto (or vodka) from the get-go.
All in all, a fantastic time despite the occasionally dreary weather. So when it comes around again next year, don your neon get up, faux fur, Mad Hatter hats and stick a daisy behind your ear. Guaranteed good time.
- Mariah Raymond
Created with flickr slideshow.