David Cross gets dirty. Literally (Photo: Beth Stirnaman)
Lessons learned before day two of FYF: Bring a bandana if you don’t enjoy the taste of dust, sunscreen is your friend, bringing extra Claritin can win you friends. Those three precautions towards the elements got me a long way. Day two was just as hot as day one, hovering in the low 90s but with a gentle breeze, heightened by the neighboring hills.
Los Angeles’ own retro-rocker Nick Waterhouse had an early afternoon set amid the Main Street Stage’s shade-less sprawl. His eight piece band worked through a collection of naugahyde blues, driven by Waterhouse’s crisp guitar solos and two saxophonists. Unbelievably, his band would not be the last to use a baritone saxophone on that stage.
King Khan, naked but for underwear and a cape, hit later in the afternoon with his raucous troupe. His band featured a three horn section (yep, a baritone, too!) but they were largely drowned out by the heavy beats and slashing guitar of his muscly band. Khan was both Sam and Dave, working up a soulful show that never let up for a minute.
Earlier, the lanky Father John Misty trucked out his band of rockers. They offered a pleasant straight-forward rock set that was rather hard to find on the festival grounds. They even managed to smuggle in an acoustic guitar for a few twangy gems. The only other place I saw an acoustic guitar was at the comedy tent.
Garfunkel and Oates, the charming musical comedy duo, gave a brief but raunchy, ukulele-driven routine that managed to incorporate Jonas Salk and virginity loopholes. David Cross closed out the comedy tent with an extended and intimate rant about colonics. His arrival on the stage was perfectly timed to the exploding sounds of Ceremony at the neighboring Spring Street Stage. Cross and the capacity tent had trouble communicating with many people towards the back, losing punchlines to the barrage of sound emanating from next door.
Bone-crushing sound was the special of the day on the Spring Street Stage. A little later in the afternoon Lightning Bolt, a noise rock duo from the Ocean State, blasted into the stratosphere with a jarring attack. Drummer and vocalist Brian Chippendale had on a demented clown mask with a headset so he could sing while destroying his drum kit that sounded mostly like it was underwater. He rounded out that menacing approach with a pair of shorts which seemed to lessen the impact of the mask.
The true limits of the sound systems, however, were done on the Main Street Stage. Floridian punk rockers Against Me! mightily thrashed the sound-board but it was nothing compared to what followed.
Dinosaur Jr., 90s alt-rockers, unleashed a relentless assault of riffs and the loudest electric bass I’ve ever heard. The Marshall stacks behind them trembled under the expectation. Midway through the set, despite having just leapt through 1994’s “Feel the Pain,” bassist Lou Barlow announced the need to slow things down. “We can’t take ‘em as fast as we used to.” The band then proceeded to play twice as fast as they had just played. If they had played twice as loud, planes would have fallen out of the sky. It was an amazing display of power that few bands were able to rival.
The Conor Oberst-led Desaparecidos did their best to keep the crunch going, adding another guitar and a post sunset light show to Dinosaur Jr’s charred landscape. They may not have convinced all the dads to stick around but a cover of the Clash’s “Spanish Bombs” was a nice olive branch.
Meanwhile, the moody Paul Banks summoned many Interpol ghosts with his performance. With a steady stream of flashing lights and a dour-looking band dressed all in black, the group worked through only their second gig as a unit. Banks sour drone hung somewhere between Michael Stipe and David Bowie while the tom-toms pounded menacingly behind him.
The second day made a little more headway in appeasing the rock crowd but the lack of diversity in the line-up could have been hammered out a little harder. The open-minded crowd seemed perfectly willing to check out whatever was thrown their way.
Nevertheless, the crowd was peaceful, the staff was peaceful, the barre chords were loud and thankfully, we have a full day to recover before returning to reality.
FYF: Day Two @ Pure Volume