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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 3: Sasquatched

posted by on May 27 at 12:12 PM

Whew. I’m spent. I couldn’t even make it through to the Flaming Lips. I feel destined to never see that band play live, although I really wanted to yesterday.

Say Hi were a pleasant surprise. I’m not always in the mood for Buffy-ready power pop (“This is a song about vampires,” was the first thing I heard of their set), but Eric Elbogen was charming and fun and cute. He reminded me a little of Hefner and Figurine, although he doesn’t really sound a lot like either of those bands. I know that’s not terribly helpful, but my synapses may have been a little misconnected by this point in the weekend.

Built to Spill weren’t surprising. They aren’t really a surprising band at this point in their career. What they are is reliably awesome, and perfectly suited to the summer festival scene, equal parts oddly poppy and classically jammy. You cannot fuck with songs like “Dystopian Dream Girl,” “Big Dipper,” and “Nowhere Nothing Fuckup,” whose closing refrain of “In America / every puddle / a gasoline rainbow” seemed especially poignant. At one point, the Jumbotron caught Doug Martsch, mid instrumental solo, playing guitar, eyes closed, beads of sweat on his brow, just looking totally beatific. I overheard some guy say of them, “They’re no Hives, but that was good.”

The most giddy, satisfying set of the day (maybe the whole fest) came from Battles on Monday evening. To borrow from a friend: The band really does speak their own language, both in terms of incomprehensible elf vocals and in terms of their tightly shifting fourth dimensional instrumental rock; for much of their set, they seemed content just speaking to each other even if it went over everyone else’s heads. But the epic, unfurling “Tonto” and the mad, marching stomp of “Atlas” were understandable and crowd-pleasing enough, inspiring wordless sing-alongs and swirling pockets of dancing. The only intelligible words: a loop of the word “Battles” on the opening song, and the minimal between song banter of, “Oh boy, Sasquatch.”

conchords1.jpgFlight of the Conchords photo by Christopher Nelson

From up on the hill, Flight of the Conchords were all but drowned out by Kinski rocking the neighboring Yeti Stage. (Can’t someone from Sub Pop sort this stuff out?) Battles conflicted with most of the Conchords’ set, but I managed to get there just in time to hear them announce, “We’re a Christian band. It’s not just me and Jemaine up here. It’s me and Jemaine and Jesus.” Then they played a hilarious, brilliant (like all their songs) number about angels “doing it” in heaven that included lines about how “no one knows what goes on under those robes” and angels “making it rain.” Making it rain! Jesus, that is one funny motherfucking band.

Futurist soul crooner Jamie Lidell was the last set for which I still had any stamina, but when the late set finally started it was worth it. Lidell, sporting vertically striped pants and a gold jacket, played with a full backing band—drummer, keyboardist, guitarist, and a berobed, Jesus-y looking figure playing two saxophones plus some kind of vocoder flute. The first two songs were pretty straight live numbers, and they made Lidell’s soul singer schtick seem more serious than ever, although, I suppose it’s always been simultaneously serious and silly. Lidell is for real; he’s also a funny motherfucking freak.

Lidell-1-sm_Piper-Carr.jpgphoto by Piper Carr

For “When I Come Back Around” and “Little Bit More” Lidell worked the live sampling/looping/beatboxing/scatting magic that made his Bumbershoot set two years ago such a revelation. This time though, instead of just sampling himself, Lidell had his whole band to work off of, stealing loops from different instruments and remixing/effecting them on the fly, pointing what looked like a super-8 camera prop at the source to be sampled, like some kind of music-sucking ray gun. His banter is, of course, great. He asked the crowd who had heard the new record, who had paid for it, who had downloaded it for free (saying, “music is free; you know that”), replying to each round of applause with a genial, adorably British-accented, “Sweet as candy.” He asked the crowd to picture a piano keyboard, full of notes, and think of a note, any note, then, on the count of three, hold that note. He described the result as “some kind of amazing chord,” noting that a crowd in Holland hadn’t been able to come together quite so harmoniously, possibly due to phlegm. They played the new single, “Little Bit of Feel Good,” and it really did sound sweet as candy.

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Jamie Lidell is seriously funny. He played for kexp at 10am this morning. listen to him on the kexp streaming archive. -

Posted by Nicky | May 27, 2008 2:45 PM

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