Outside Lands: The Music

Even though flight delays meant I only had 2.5 days at Outside Lands instead of the full 3, I still saw what felt like more music than I typically do at a festival. Here are some highlights.

Counting Crows
To be honest, I’m not really a Counting Crows fan. My friend and I spent the whole set laughing at the ridiculousness of Adam Duritz’s famous and ridiculous hair, saying it looked fake. Shortly after the festival we found out that a) he shaved his head and b) his dreads were extensions. EXTENSIONS. Stop it.

Flying Lotus
I do not understand Flying Lotus, and I cannot express my thoughts on his work more clearly than I already did in this blog post from 2 years ago.  I was really excited for this set, but the same element of weirdness that made me love his performance 2 years ago just did not connect with me this time around. I still think he’s brilliant but I could not get on his wavelength at Outside Lands.

NoMBe
I wish I remembered how I started listening to this guy. His music is so mellow and soulful but somehow actually felt very energetic at the same time? I was so glad I made it to the festival grounds super early for his Saturday set; it was perfect for a sunny festival afternoon.

Goldfish
This South African duo does not disappoint. They played inside the Heineken House, an indoor stage that was basically like a mini club, complete with a long wait to get inside. But it was 100% worth the 30 minutes in line because once inside, it was surprisingly not crowded, and had this amazing setup where the DJs played on a rotating stage in the center of the room. It was so incredible to be in this environment where everyone was dancing like crazy and there were fog machines and amazing house music complete with live sax and bass.

Childish Gambino
I struggle to find words to describe this set except to say that it just felt…special. I don’t really listen to Childish Gambino and was only planning on staying for about 20 minutes, but he has this incredible stage presence that draws you in and makes you feel like you’re witnessing something truly legendary. I ended up staying for about 40 minutes, then leaving to go see RL Grime, and then after half an hour at RL Grime I had to come back to Gambino. What I will also say about him is that I’ve never seen someone with such intensity behind their eyes. Every time the camera showed a close-up of him he just looked straight up crazy like a wild animal about to attack. It was honestly terrifying but also intriguing. I spent a long time trying to find a photo of this look but failed. How he looks in the video for This Is America is a pretty accurate representation though of how he looked during the entire Outside Lands set.

Nahko and Medicine for the People
This is one of those artists that I had heard about for years and years and knew that many of my friends liked them but I had never really paid much attention. I was truly blown away by the funkiness and overall feel good attitude this set brought.

Puddles Pity Party
Oh my goodness, what a treat this was. Puddles is a super tall clown who dresses all in white and does a combo comedy routine and amazing covers of popular songs. His covers range from Celine Dion to Sia to Metallica and his antics were cracking up the entire audience of the little indoor stage where he was performing. I am so so so glad my friend suggested we go to this.

The Funk Hunters
Was this the best set of the festival? Quite possibly. These guys crush it every time and the crowd was the best of the whole weekend. Everyone was dancing like nobody was watching and it was just pure joy. My friend said she was going to join me at this set for only a few minutes before heading over to see Anderson.Paak but she ended up staying the whole time.

Paul Simon
Much like my friend was planning on leaving the Funk Hunters for Anderson.Paak and couldn’t, I was planning on leaving Paul Simon for Kygo and could not. Even though I had seen Paul Simon live before I did not anticipate being as completely enthralled with this set as I was. The music is much more low energy compared to the other headliners, Twenty One Pilots and Childish Gambino, but it was equally incredible. It felt like the perfect close to the festival. He brought out Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead for a duet on “The Boxer” and people absolutely lost their minds.

Sets I Missed
This is a new section I’m adding to my festival recaps. It feels relevant to mention which artists I wanted to see but didn’t make it to because of conflicts or whatever other reason.

  • Wax Motif – The last time I saw Wax Motif was 5 years ago at a series of parties at a Brooklyn spa where you walked in the door, they gave you flip flops and a robe, and you could alternate between dancing around in your robe and going in the hot tub. It was the strangest thing ever. I didn’t make it to the festival in time on Friday to catch Wax Motif and I don’t think it would have been the same anyway.
  • Toro Y Moi – he is everywhere and nowhere. Just kidding, he’s actually everywhere and I just never see him. One day though, I will. That one day might be a week from today if I snag a ticket to Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival.
  • Kygo – as mentioned, I couldn’t leave Paul Simon to go to this set. I love tropical house and didn’t really think Kygo was doing much these days until I saw him on the lineup. I do not regret skipping this. There will be other tropical house in my future.

Outside Lands was the only full festival I went to this summer, which saddens me a little bit but it was so, so wonderful. And with the recent announcement of the return of winter’s Hijinx Festival in Philadelphia, festival season is never truly over.

Advertisements

Outside Lands: The Experience

I didn’t know what to expect from Outside Lands in San Francisco, but the lineup was so good and I had a free place to stay within walking distance of the event so I absolutely had to do it. California is now the furthest I’ve traveled for a music festival and it was 100% worth it. Here are all the details.

Check-In/Security
Even on the most crowded day of the festival, apparently the largest crowd Outside Lands has ever seen, in fact, there was still never a line to get in. We had to go through metal detectors which isn’t super common in festival-land but honestly makes me feel safer and I wish more events would do it.

Crowd
Looking around at the Friday crowd vs the Saturday crowd, it felt like 2 completely different festivals. Friday was full of chill older people and Saturday was a more standard group of teens and early 20-somethings who were dressed in insensible outfits and lacked spatial awareness. Sunday was a mix of the 2. Saturday’s lineup was full of electronic heavy hitters like Flume, RL Grime and Justin Martin which I imagine was the reason for the severe drop in average age, but even though it wasn’t my ideal crowd it was honestly fine because I am more than used to it at this point. Friday really did feel like a treat, though.

Fun Stuff
Outside Lands had a small wooded area covered in lights, with food and drink vendors, sitting areas, art, and even a small semi-secret stage where you could dance to fun DJs among the trees. It was like a teeny tiny fraction of Electric Forest and it just made me so happy.

Outside Lands is also the first festival in the U.S. to actually sell marijuana! I didn’t participate in that but I did visit that area, called Grasslands, which had tons of weed-related sponsor booths, presentations, a “consumption area,” and budtenders to help you with your purchases. It was a pretty large area and really offered so much more than just the marijuana equivalent of a beer booth. This is a really exciting development in the festival industry and as more and more states have legal recreational marijuana I think we’ll start to see more like this.

One final cool thing they featured there were billboards of the festival lineups from all previous years. It was fun to look at them as you walked the path between stages and to think about which years you would have loved to attend, which artists have since risen or fallen in the festival ranks, and sadly, which artists have since passed away (RIP Tom Petty).

Water
Summer weather in San Francisco isn’t all that hot so I wasn’t particularly desperate for water. They did have lots of free water stations though and lines seemed pretty short.

Layout
Outside Lands is not huge but is one of the larger festivals I’ve been to recently. Getting between the 2 main stages is pretty straightforward but it really did take me the full weekend to get a sense of the rest of the space, which includes 2 side stages for music, an indoor area for comedy, the cooking demo stage (which I never visited), and of course the middle ground with the forest. There are multiple pathways between some of the areas which is super convenient but it can be easy to lose your bearings.

Transportation
I was thankfully able to walk over to the grounds, but they did a great job of setting up Uber/Lyft areas, plus there are a number of public transportation options. My transportation to San Francisco itself, however, was a huge shitshow and it took me 2 extra days to get there, thanks to some thunderstorms on the east coast. But that is unrelated to Outside Lands.

Price
This festival is EXPENSIVE. I bought a cheap-ish ticket on Stubhub but the standard ticket price for the 3 day pass was about $425 which is just unheard of for a festival that doesn’t even have camping. Definitely something to plan for if you ever want to attend this event.

Bathrooms
There were a ton of port-a-potties but I still think it wasn’t quite enough, particularly on Saturday, the day that was sold out. There were some solid lines at times and I was thankful that I was drinking neither water nor alcohol. I have a theory that every festival has “secret” bathrooms that are always being underutilized, but even my secret bathrooms had a line on Saturday. I’m convinced I just hadn’t found the right group of bathrooms and the true secret ones eluded me this time.

Misc.
This festival takes place in Golden Gate Park and the grounds smell like pine trees! It was so wonderful and delicious. I’ve been to a number of city festivals and this one felt the most like you were NOT in a city.

Stuff I Sacrificed to the Festival Gods
Nothing!! I didn’t lose, break, or toss any of my belongings. I think the only thing would be shreds of my sanity when I was supposed to arrive in SF on Wednesday and didn’t make it until Friday, but 3 days of good music was able to restore that.

Overall, Outside Lands is a really well-run festival and I’m so glad I made the trek. While I don’t know if I would go if I had to pay for the festival ticket, a flight, and a hotel, I would 100% go back if my friend is still living in San Francisco next year and I could stay with her and have her as my awesome festival buddy. I’m already sort of hoping the 2020 lineup brings me back to California.

Camp Bisco: The Music (2019)

I really didn’t know if it would be worth it to go all the way to Scranton for one day of Camp Bisco. There are music festival days where you feel like you see everything and music festival days where you manage to only see one artist of note. Despite the 95 degree day keeping me in my hotel room longer than originally anticipated, I still had a really full day of music and have zero regrets about this 24 hour adventure.

SunSquabi
This funk band was my first set of the day, and my first Squabi show ever. It was a little jammier than I anticipated but still a nice kickoff. I’m not the biggest fan of jam bands because I don’t really have the attention span for it, but over the last few years I’ve really become accustomed to the music.

Jaenga
I follow Jaenga on Facebook, although I have no idea why because I didn’t know anything about him. I guess I must have at some point in life, though. This set turned out to be pretty heavy dubstep which isn’t usually my thing these days, but I really enjoyed it…for about 15 minutes until I thought I was going to pass out from the heat so I had to go to a different stage with more shade.

Umphrey’s McGee
Umphrey’s is really a standout in the land of jam bands because their music is so all over the place in a really great way. This was a particularly heavy rock set from them which my friend and I were both pretty into. It wasn’t too much of a stretch for me because the only other time I’ve seen Umphrey’s they ended their set with an incredible Pantera cover, but my understanding is that usually they’re a little less intense.

Walker & Royce
Camp Bisco never really has much house music, which manages to surprise me (but not disappoint me because I don’t care) every year. W&R was the only house set of the weekend, and it was one of those times where I was completely indifferent to all the music going on at that time so I went because that’s where my friend wanted to go. I actually really liked it?! Goooo house music.

SoDown
This set was one of those blissful festival moments where you know that everyone is at a different stage because some other much more highly visible artist is playing elsewhere. SoDown has live sax which gives him immediate bonus points in my book. He’s very reminiscent of GRiZ but somehow is both more mellow and a lot more bass heavy. The contrast was really nice and this was easily my favorite set of the day. So glad we skipped Liquid Stranger for this one.

Odesza
I’ve officially overdone it on Odesza. I enjoyed this set but I’ve seen this same exact set already a few times this year, plus I listened to their Electric Forest set just a few days before Bisco. So I hit the Odesza wall and I hit it hard. I have no regrets, but I’m no longer sad that as of last weekend they’re done touring for the moment (they’ve been touring this album for TWO YEARS) and are heading back into the studio. I’m ready.

P.S. I am still very much of the opinion that artists can play the same set as often as they want to. Even though I’m tired of this set from Odesza, that fault lies 100% with me for seeing it too many times.

The Disco Biscuits
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve really come a long way on jam bands and specifically on the Biscuits, who play 6 sets over the course of each Camp Bisco. I saw more Biscuits on one day of Bisco this year than I did in 3 days of my first Bisco in 2015, and have come to even really look forward to their final set of the festival, which always has the most pew pew trippy laser feel to it. We were watching this set from way back on the lawn and I remarked how it was more chill than usual, until I went down into the pit for the last 15 minutes. The change in energy was remarkable. It seems obvious that yes, of course the energy changes as you get closer to the stage, but this was like a completely different concert to the extent where I briefly wondered if they were just playing completely different music than when I had been sitting up on my lawn (they weren’t). It was really eye-opening.

Less than 2 weeks to Outside Lands in San Francisco!! Super pumped to head out west to experience a new festival with one of my OG festival buddies. Gonna be a good one.

Camp Bisco: The Experience (2019)

For the first time ever, I went to a camping music festival and did not camp. In fact, I made a pretty last minute decision to go to the final day of Bisco, so I got a bus up in the morning, crashed at a hotel, and took the bus home the next day. So while I only got to experience one day of the event, I still have some thoughts about how it all went down. I think Camp Bisco is now my most blogged about music festival, and it’s interesting for me to reflect upon how it has changed since 2015, 2017, and 2018.

Check-In/Security
Non-campers use a separate entrance into the festival, so this was my first time going that route. It was super quick AND as a little bonus, they were handing out free bottles of water at the info booth right before the ticket scanners. Hugely important for a 90+ degree day.

The Crowd
I arrived to Bisco on Saturday, and Bassnectar had played the night before. Which means, I think, that a lot of Nectar fans had peaced on out after their man was done. Bassnectar die-hards are just…not always the best people to have around at a festival so it was nice to have a sort of less intense crowd.

Fun Stuff
Still a water park there, but didn’t utilize it this year. Every year I say, “Next year I’m going on the zipline!” and never make it on the zipline. So…next year I’m going on the zipline!

Water
The free water situation continues to improve. I refilled my bottle multiple times at the same water station and it never really had a line. They’ve come a long way from the first year at this location (2015) when the water stations were completely unmarked and one even had a giant “BEER” sign near it that was a remnant from Montage Mountain’s other life as a resort.

Layout
Man, there is one hill on those grounds that’s killer (aside from whatever hills others may have had to navigate to get to their campsites). I did not remember this hill being particularly bad but I wrote about it in last year’s recap so I guess I had blocked it out of my memory. Only going to the festival for one day though meant I only tackled that hill once, and…once was enough, in that heat.

One dumb thing I will happily point out is that one of the stages at Camp Bisco is called the Office stage. It took me until this year to put 2 and 2 together and realize that this stage is called the Office stage because Bisco takes place in Scranton, PA, where the Office TV show takes place. It wasn’t that I didn’t know that the Office took place there, I just…never made that connection.

Relatedly, only one artist that I saw yesterday used the Office theme song in their set. This is pretty much a Camp Bisco staple (in 2015 I think I heard it…4 times?) so I was glad that I got to experience it at least once.

Transportation
For the first time this year I took a Greyhound to Scranton and Ubers after that. It was remarkably easy. Even leaving the festival in an Uber was really organized.

Price
My single day pass was $125 which is standard but still pretty nice. A lot of other festivals are closer to the $150-$160 range for a single day pass so…this is AOK with me. Especially because I had a really fun and full day. I got to Bisco a little later than I was originally intending but was still there for about 10 hours.

Bathrooms
In 2015 I discovered the indoor bathrooms. In 2017 I discovered more indoor bathrooms, and in 2018 I discovered yet ANOTHER set of indoor bathrooms. I am sad to report that I did not discover any new indoor bathrooms this year, but who cares because I did not have to use a port-a-potty even once. 3 huge sets of indoor bathrooms is a magical festival treat that you can really only appreciate when you’ve spent multiple festivals just trying to find the one port-a-potty that isn’t overflowing with poop.

Misc.
Honestly, as much as I love camping at festivals because there’s this wonderful community element to it, doing the hotel thing was really nice. My post-event shower was just heavenly. Even just walking into the air conditioning of the hotel was heavenly.

Stuff I Sacrificed to the Festival Gods
This is a recap feature I’ve been forgetting to add to my posts but it appeared in last year’s Bisco recap because I mentioned how I broke my [thankfully cheap] sunglasses and had to replace them with another [thankfully cheap] pair from the festival general store. Well, those sunglasses have been with me for an entire year, but did not make it out of Bisco 2019. I had them hooked onto my shirt collar once the sun went down and at some point they probably just fell off. I hope someone else finds them and loves them. They were a $5 well spent.

I also sacrificed my water bottle to the festival gods. I had brought with me a smallish collapsible water bottle with a carabiner attached to it so I could hook it on to my fanny pack. The carabiner mechanism broke and the water bottle itself was not worth saving (it’s small and it was free) so I just left it in the grass somewhere. It had a good life.

I’m a little (a lot) sad that I didn’t go to Bisco for more days, but doing 1 day over 3 really enables you to pack super light and generally cuts down your pre-festival stress and prep, so it was a nice, easy, and quick trip. While it doesn’t look like I’m going to get to do any proper camping at festivals this summer, next month I am going to a brand new festival for me – Outside Lands in San Francisco! Cannot wait.

Governors Ball: The Music (AKA An Ode to Gesaffelstein)

Governors Ball this year was about one artist and one artist only – the man, the myth, the legend, the Prince of Darkness, Gesaffelstein.

Usually the music portion of my festival recaps are a highlight reel of my favorites, or possibly of memorable disappointments. But while I saw a good 6 hours’ worth of music at Governors Ball last Friday, only one artist matters.

I first heard of Gesaffelstein in pre-blog 2014. I went to Spring Awakening festival in Chicago and ended up on a group chat of roughly 30 people, all of whom had connections to some others in the group (and no one had connections to everyone) and various subsets of the group met up at different points in the weekend. One woman in the group was remarkably quiet every time I hung out with her, lurking around during our meetups, not being particularly chatty. But then in the late nights, when everyone was on their respective ways home from the festival and our group text lit up with talk of favorite sets of the day and favorite artists in general, she came alive.

“I love anything dark, deep and dirty. Like Gesaffelstein.”

Gesaffelstein, for the record, was not playing this festival. But she repeated this phrase countless times over the 3 days. Dark, deep, and dirty, like Gesaffelstein. It was a little creepy.

When I got back to New York, I felt compelled to check out this producer I had never heard of, after a weekend of not-so-subliminal messaging burned his name into my brain. I did this despite the fact that dark, deep, and dirty are not words I ever use to describe my taste in music.

To my surprise, I liked it. It sounded like the score to a horror movie, with someone about to meet their end in an abandoned warehouse. But…in a great way? It tapped into this dark part of my soul in an oddly delightful way. Dancing to Gesaffelstein felt like an upbeat exorcism. It is unlike anything else I listen to.

I saw Gesaffelstein live a number of times over the years, including on New Years Eve 2016 with my friend Cody who I didn’t know back during Spring Awakening but who shares a love of this producer. Each time I saw Gesaffelstein live, he had the same sort of stoic presence. He would stand still, wearing sunglasses and chain smoking cigarettes, never speaking. None of the, “Hey what’s up New York how y’all doin tonight??” between-song banter of other producers. Just silence and cigarettes. I chalked it up to him being cool and French.

At Coachella this year, Gesaffelstein was one of the sets that was live-streamed over YouTube, so I crawled into bed at 11pm on a Sunday night and pulled up the stream on my TV. I texted Cody – who wouldn’t be able to watch the set himself – with my excitement. And then the set began, and I continued texting.

He’s covered in glitter.

Even his face and hair.

I don’t know what’s happening but I like it.

He looks like a glitter statue.

IMG_20190414_234241

I tried to take photos of my TV. I tweeted about it incessantly for days. I couldn’t get over the transformation. He of intentionally minimal on-stage personality all of a sudden had this jarringly incredible re-brand. I later learned that his outfit was not glitter but a reflective black, and he was standing in front of a monolith made of vantablack, a highly expensive material so dark it absorbs all light and causes confusion for the human eye.

This was the turning point for me that made me go from never wanting to go to Coachella to proverbially yelling, “COACHELLA 2020” from the rooftops, like a campaign slogan. If this was the kind of thing artists do at this festival, I am all in (Beyonce’s “Homecoming” movie also had a lot to do with my mind changing).

We bought tickets very shortly thereafter to the day of Governors Ball that Gesaffelstein was slated to play. I joked that if he didn’t wear the glitter outfit, I was leaving. But I knew that he wouldn’t wear it; that outfit was a Coachella special.

As we waited for his set to start, the anticipation was through the roof. We hadn’t seen Gesaffelstein live since New Years 3.5 years earlier. He recently put out a sort of poppy album, and we speculated whether his set would be intense or upbeat. I said, yet again, that my fingers were crossed for the glitter suit, even while knowing it wouldn’t happen.

Except it did happen. The vantablack monolith parted, and out walked Gesaffelstein, in his full sparkling glory. I was overjoyed. His set was incredible but short; it was scheduled for 75 minutes but he both started late and ended early. It was both intense and poppy, and appealed to both the light and the dark (and deep, and dirty) within us.

I think this contradiction is one of my favorite things about this performer. This is a man who makes music that is honestly a little bit frightening but is also creating a custom soundtrack for a high-end men’s fashion show in Paris later this month (for designer Balmain, who created his glitter suit). He never speaks on stage but he has collaborations with Kanye West, Pharrell, The Weeknd, and other huge names. It’s weird, but it works.

The best part is, I don’t have to wait 3 years before seeing him again. There’s a 2 night run coming this November in Brooklyn. I hope the glitter suit comes with him.

Governors Ball: The Experience (2019)

This year marked my 4th (!) time attending one day and only one day of Governors Ball. Last year’s post mentioned how the logistics don’t really change over time, and upon re-read that’s definitely still true, for the most part. But I will recap it anyway because this is what I love to do.

Check-In/Security
This year was new for me actually because I took the ferry instead of walking (more on that later). Security was before you got on the ferry, and then once you got to Randalls you just scanned your wristband and waltzed on it. I have no idea if it’s always been like that or not,  but I can tell you that the only other time I’ve taken a ferry to Randalls, for Electric Zoo in 2013, security was most definitely after, not before, the ferry. The line was long and I had to pee the worst I’ve ever had to pee in my whole life, and it sucked. The lesson here (or rather, there) is – don’t meet your friend for drinks before getting on a 20 minute ferry ride to a place where you won’t have immediate access to a bathroom. But that was then, and this is now. 6 years ago me was not the seasoned festival expert she is now.

The Crowd
Ever so slightly older than last year, which seemed to average out at about age 16. This year…19? 20? To be totally honest, my friends and I mostly stayed away from the crowd and kind of hung out towards the back of every set except one, so we generally didn’t get all up in anyone else’s space. It was definitely an Instagram fanatic kind of crowd, posing pretty much any and everywhere, but…what festival isn’t like that at this point.

Fun Stuff
I loved the mini golf they had last year but I didn’t see that this time around. They had an area to get your hair done which I also didn’t use, although I LOVED SO MUCH the similar thing they had at Panorama last summer. If you had a Citi card (which I do) you could access a nice viewing deck for the main stage, so we briefly went up there to shield ourselves from the sun. There were the same large tri-fold kind of artistic billboards around, the huge bust of the Statue of Liberty with sunglasses that they always have, and a mini maze of reflective colored plexiglass that some idiots later smashed when they were angry that Gov Ball evacuated early on Sunday due to storms (I was there Friday). People are idiots.

My Panorama space bun from 2018

Water
I brought a water bottle with me but every free water line I saw was longgg and if there’s one thing I really try not to do at festivals, it’s lines. I mean this. When I went to Lollapalooza in 2013, Jess asked me, at the end of each day, what delicious food I ate. And each day I answered with the same thing – steamed buns. Because it was the only food vendor at Lolla with no line. Anyway, we bought water at Gov Ball. Had to do it.

Layout
Gov Ball is basically a big blob. They cut it off in the middle and create a narrower pathway between the 2 ends of the festival than I think necessary, but honestly, it’s fine. It works, and I guess that’s the only place they can put that row of vendors? Not sure, and no one cares.

Transportation
I said last year that I would never pay for the bus or the ferry when walking across 125th Street is so easy. I stand by that. But this year I bought a pass off StubHub and my ticket came with a free ferry wristband! So we ferried it up, and it was actually quite nice. Until the moment when my friend and I went to the front of the ferry to check out the view, and a giant wave crashed on us and we got soaked. It was nighttime and IT WAS COLD. F that ferry. Just kidding, the ferry was still a delight.

Price
As I said about Boston Calling, city-based festivals are just more expensive than it feels like they should be. But considering I saved $15 by buying a resale ticket AND I got a free ferry pass, I’m pretty happy about my 2019 Gov Ball pricing.

Bathrooms
Here’s a tip that you, whoever you are, should take with you if you ever go to a music festival. When you arrive, do a lap. Check out the surroundings. What you will find, a good percentage of the time, is the road less traveled. Namely, a bar with a short line and a much under-utilized area of port-a-potties. We found what we called the “secret bathrooms” which truly did feel secret even though they were technically right there next to some much more popular bathrooms. They were great. Go forth and find yourself your own secret bathrooms.

Music recap, on the way soon!

Boston Calling: The Music

Boston Calling was, logistically, a very well run festival and totally worth the 4 hour bus ride up to New England for just one day of the event. But festivals aren’t just about the logistics, are they? (Sometimes I feel like I get excited enough about festival details to be able to attend one and not even have any music there…kidding, but only kind of.) So let’s talk music.

Mitski
I had only heard this name before but didn’t know anything about her. She’s kind of pop/rock, which makes for really nice daytime festival music. What really sets her apart though is her slow, meticulous and quirky choreography. This video isn’t from this festival but it gives a good sense of what she’s about.

Denzel Curry
Stumbled on his set by accident but stayed because I loved it. I don’t like rap that much anymore and I think it’s particularly hard for me to get into a rap set where I don’t know the music, but he had such great stage presence. And as it turns out, I do know one of his songs, from this amazing video that makes me laugh every single time despite the sheer volume of times that I’ve watched it.

Jenny Slate
For the first time ever, I saw comedy at a music festival! I love the characters Jenny Slate has played on the TV shows I’ve seen her pop up in but her comedy was…okay. It was an extended story about meeting a guy from a dating app and how he showed up to the restaurant wearing a full suit of armor.

Lil Nas X
I was walking through the festival grounds when a staffer driving a golf cart started coming down the road in my direction. Following the golf cart were hordes of festival goers screaming and taking video on their phones. As the cart drove past me, I saw a cowboy in the backseat, smiling and taking it all in. I did not know who he was.

Later on, during Anderson.Paak’s [really great and funky and upbeat] set, he started singing a song I didn’t know, which was totally normal because I don’t really know A.Paak’s music that well, but everyone around me started buzzing. “Oh my god, he’s coming, this is it, he’s going to come on RIGHT NOW I KNOW IT!!” And then A.Paak left the stage, and the cowboy walked out. The thin crowd around me (I was pretty far back) turned into a mob, everyone with their phones out, and the cowboy sang some song for about 2 minutes and then left.

This, I now understand, was a special guest appearance from Lil Nas X, the man with apparently the biggest song in the world right now, passing Drake for most streams on a song ever. This factoid comes to me from my friend Cody and I did not fact check it, so if it’s wrong, go tweet him. His song, “Old Town Road,” has apparently been THE SONG OF THE WORLD for the last 2 months, and I’ve had no idea. It was in this moment that I realized I Am Old. Anyway, if you are also Old and don’t know this song…here it is. This is the Boston Calling performance so you can see the transition from Anderson.Paak singing it to Lil Nas X singing it and everyone loses their minds.

Odesza
I don’t have anything new to say about how much I love Odesza so instead I will say this. I saw Odesza play in New Jersey on Thursday and then play an identical set in Boston on Saturday. I loved it both times. A lot of people in the electronic scene give artists shit when they have multiple nights in the same city and play the same set over again. This was obviously not in the same city so I don’t think anyone would be mad about this,  but I would have been just as deliriously happy about both of these sets if it had been a 2-night New York run. I flat out do not understand why you wouldn’t relish in the opportunity to hear all your favorite songs twice, and in fact, Gramatik played the same set on Saturday and Sunday in NYC back in March, and it was wonderful. So this isn’t really about Odesza at all but…cut artists some slack, y’all. Planning a new set is hard. Let them repeat stuff, because it’s still great the second time.

Tame Impala
Tame Impala is so weird and the visuals behind them were just as trippy as I thought they would be. The lead singer has this really interesting sort of brooding voice, so it was such a delightful surprise to me when he was so chipper and friendly to the audience. I didn’t stay for this whole set because I was cold, tired, and my lower back was really killing me (see: Old), but the first hour was really something else.

It took me awhile to get this recap up and I’ve already gone to my one day of Governors Ball, so, more festival updates soon!