Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Song by The Wild Feathers "The Ceiling" (Debut Album Out & Four Free Songs Download Link)

The Wild Feathers (photo from ACL Music Festival website)
In a classic festival moment, I passed by the very end of a set by The Wild Feathers on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Austin City Limites Music Festival. The band was simply killing it, as they say, with the crowd loving what they heard from these five musicians in jeans and flannel shirts owning the stage. (Relive it here in our ACL Music Festival Day Three Highlights at the 2:00 mark.)  They were wrapping up with "The Ceiling," a soulful romp that doesn't loose too much of the raw energy in the official video below.  I'm just smitten by the husky vocals and shiny bright guitars, plus the way the song fades out only to return with roof raising harmonies and solo calls for redemption.  Hearing the tune getting airplay on WFUV and WXPN's "World Cafe" made me proud for witnessing their rise and sent me digging to grab it for my own collection.

This group is based in Nashville but has roots in Texas and Oklahoma, embracing country blues, folk and rock all at once. Tellingly, most of the band were lead singers before coming together to produce songs that have a full frontal sound with powerhouse singing and dense instrumentation. It definitely harks back to when songs like this were a part of Top 40 radio in the 70s, and The Wild Feathers list such influences as Neil Young, Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin.  Their self-titled debut album was released in August with a deluxe edition boasting two bonus tracks. Fans can also snap up a free download of four songs performed live in Portland by visiting the band's website, including this epic closer, "The Ceiling."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Arcade Fire's New Album Reflektor (NPR Live Session Link & Video for "Afterlife")

After all the hype over the past few months, a non-descript email arrived in my inbox last night with a download of the new Arcade Fire album, Reflektor.  It may be old school, but I always like to give a full listen to the whole thing before hacking up individual songs. At first glance, I was concerned that I didn't get everything since thirteen songs seemed low as a total for a double album. Disc One contains seven songs and Disc Two holds six, but most of the songs are over five minutes with the contemplative final track, "Supersymmetry," clocking in at 11:17.  Several tunes are now familiar by all the airplay on KCRW, KEXP and WFUV, performances on SNL, and that Brooklyn Warehouse fiasco I witnessed but could not see much of anything. Plus NPR streamed a live session with the band last night on the eve of the release, listen to the archive here. This new material simply comes alive, whether in performance or during the carefully ordered, produced version.

However, I was surprised at all the ambient noise of crowds and live concert banter, a different approach by this powerhouse indie band. Much has also been said about Arcade Fire's connection to dance music, as mastered by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and founder of DFA Records (one of the producers of the record along with long-time collaborator, Markus Dravs).  The synths certainly predominate, but there's also plenty of hand percussion and congas, as trips to Haiti and Jamaica influenced the band as well.  Plus the heady themes of mortality keep the listener thinking about the bigger issues beyond dancing at a party. Along with the solid single/title track with a cameo by rock legend David Bowie, "Afterlife" continues to be my favorite song from the album -- take a listen in the official video below.  And be sure to check out the entire effort, it's definitely well worth your time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moby on WNYC's "Soundcheck" October 21 -- Link to Interview & Live Session

Photo by Michael Katzif/WNYC
I was at my desk Monday when an alert came over Twitter that Moby would be appearing on WNYC's Soundcheck that afternoon -- the perfect salve after being spurned by Arcade Fire over the weekend. As a fan across the decades, I also take great pride that he grew up in my current hometown of Darien, CT.  So I was thrilled about the opportunity to interview Moby out in his new home turf of L.A. before releasing his last album, Destroyed, in 2011. (For a nice update, visit this recent interview by my PopMatters colleague, Sachyn Mital, at the link here.)

Listening in to Soundcheck, Moby chatted with host John Schaefer about composing his latest work and life in the year-round warmth of sunny California -- even mentioning how he was East to attend his high school reunion this weekend.  He also talked about growing up "poor white trash" in Darien and the music scene back in the early 80s, with nostalgic nods to influences and what it was like being a music fan back then, without 24/7 access to bands.

I currently have his new album, Innocents, on heavy rotation (his eleventh!)  It is full of interesting musical collabos, Cold Speck's Skylar Grey, Damien Jurado, Mark Lanegan and my favorite, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. But for this live studio appearance he brought along his usual powerhouse vocalists, the very dedicated Kelli Scarr and Inyang Bassey.  Violinist Claudia Chopek and Daron Muphy's harmonica rounded out the stripped down arrangements of songs old and new, with Moby leading things on guitar.  For "The Perfect Life," Moby encouraged the small audience to join in, even his baby goddaughter.  Of course, I couldn't help singing from my home office too.

Listen to the entire show at the widget below.
Set List:
1.  A Case For Shame
2. Almost Home
3. The Perfect Life
4. Natural Blues
5. The Poison Tree

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Arcade Fire @ 299 Meserole Street, Brooklyn October 18

Lining up early outside the venue
Arcade Fire has been tops on my concert bucket list forever, so it seemed unreal that I actually got through on Ticketmaster with a fan code on the presale for a secret show this week.  With costume or dressy duds mandatory, Paul and I chose a middle ground with a bit of both.  During the evening we saw plenty of everything, and there were so many guys in suits that Paul actually told me, "This is your kind of crowd!"

However, getting there hours early did not pay off. We were in line for hours to place ourselves close to the stage, only to have a curtain rolled back on the side to reveal the real stage.  Of course, now that we think about it how could they have all fit on the tiny set up we camped at, leaving only once for a quick break and beers.  

At least I got to see my musical hero James Murphy up close, as he introduced The Reflektors in his humble way. (This founder of DFA and mastermind of LCD Soundsystem served as a producer for the new album, Reflektor, due out October 29).  Three bobble-head performers like in the video for the title track came out, strumming a bit until the big reveal. Then it was a mad dash when the crowd mentality took over in a crush of people charting a new course for the evening -- so much for fan loyalty or basic concert etiquette.

The Reflektors from our original spot ~6 feet away
Since I was favoring stage left in order to be in front of Will Butler, energetic brother of frontman Win, we were at a total disadvantage for the whole thing. Plus, the new orientation did not allow great site lines with such a low platform (even my music pro hubby Paul says raising it a few feet would not have compromised the sound in the empty warehouse). The first song, "Reflektor," exploded with the new dance-oriented layered sound and Will Butler took over the vocals for the David Bowie cameo on the produced track. It was indeed an appropriate song with the lyrics "we all got things to hide." This lame prank brought out an apology from Win Butler, who said how "It won't be the last time we'll do something that no one thinks is funny." Ugh, really?
Crappy new spot after being punked 50+ feet away 

I usually go see a band after exploring their latest work, so to hear "Joan of Arc" and other new songs for the first time was an unsettling, although novel, experience.  Everything sounded great but I was just catching glimpses of band members through people's shoulders in front of me, mostly of altitudinous Richard Reed Parry.

Sadly, only two older songs were presented as covers of the Montreal band Arcade Fire. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" brought out a joyous bounce in the audience, even on a cement floor.  I was surprised at the ecstatic reaction to "Sprawl ll (Mountains Beyond Mountains," one of my favorite songs that I didn't know it was for others, mainly because it highlights the shaky voice of Régine Chassagne.  And their new song "Afterlife" will soon be added to this list.

Win Butler and Richard Reed Parry
Party anthem "Here Comes the Night Time II," ended the just over one hour set with Win Butler wading through the crowd before exiting, as did the rest of the band.  Dance music started to play over the sound system but everyone remained in place, looking for more.  But Arcade Fire chose the DFA mantra of no encore, so Win Butler came out to explain himself yet again.  He clarified that they would be out to "dance the night away" as he would soon assume the role of DJ.  Most took off into the night, but others remained to get another drink and hang out or dance a bit on garbage strewn, beer soaked floors.  There were no sightings of other band members, they were just hanging out backstage with VIPs such as Aaron Dessner of The National and Chris Tomson of Vampire Weekend.

It's like Arcade Fire wanted to be a smaller, hip DFA band for the night, throwing a warehouse dance party into the wee hours.  The midnight curfew wasn't the only thing holding them back from this goal.  They are a huge, famous, Grammy-winning band -- you just can't go back in time. Of course, we wish we could co back in time too. We're kicking ourselves for not figuring out the ruse and furious that the band would enjoy such careless mayhem. I've now been to an Arcade Fire concert, but I certainly didn't get to see the band.  Here are two videos from a full band vantage point that I never got to view during the show.

Friday, October 18, 2013

YouTube Playlist of Fall 2013 New Music Songs

Here's my Fall 2013 New Music Playlist in YouTube form for those of you who enjoy visuals while listening to this next compilation.  I was surprised to find Superchunk's "FOH" did not have any tour footage to accompany the song about life on stage as a band -- how easy would that be? Plus as the founders of Merge Records, you'd imagine they'd be hip to the idea of YouTube videos as a promotional tool (plus you wouldn't even need to film anything, just dive into the archived decades of these road warriors!)  

After that, the rest of the list mostly have official videos for each song. I enjoyed getting to know the Generationals on the screen in their natural habitat of New Orleans, since I know little about them. But I opted not to use the one for of Montreal's "Fugitive" since it had more than I ever needed to see of frontman (a very appropriate word in this case) Kevin Barnes.  Sigur Rós has a lyric video for “Ísjaki,” which is handy for all those wondering what Jónsi is singing about, if you know Icelandic anyway.

And I'm not sure what TV On the Radio was thinking with the intro scene before the song, but this band deserves all the creative freedom they want as long as they keep making such amazing music. Plus check out the drawings for Moderat's "Bad Kingdom" as imagined by Pfadfinkerei, credited as Director and for Production. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall 2013 New Music Playlist

New music releases have been dropping like fall leaves, filling up another playlist ready for consumption. There are selections from albums by steadfast indie bands such as MGMT, Yuck and of Montreal plus iconic masters Sigur Rós and Moby. New bands HAERTS and Generationals impress with debuts while Gauntlet Hair unfortunately call it quits.  Plus check out teaser singles from Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio while waiting for full releases to appear in the coming months. Link to listen here, enjoy! 

1. “FOH” – Superchunk
This veteran indie rock group was founded by Mac McCaughan and Laura Balance back in 1989, along with the beloved Merge Records in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to provide a vehicle for their songs and music by friends.  They just released their tenth studio album ironically called I Hate Music, since this group clearly still loves the band lifestyle as detailed in this raucous tune. 

2. “Your Life Is a Lie” – MGMT
This sardonic song is from the self-titled third album by American psych rock band MGMT, formed by Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWygarden during their college days at Wesleyan University in Middleton, Connecticut.   

3. “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
“Reflektor” is the title track of the upcoming fourth studio album by this indie rock band based in Montreal.  The intertwining vocals of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne create swirling layers, until a cameo by music legend David Bowie.

4. “Rebirth” – Yuck
This U.K. indie rock band released its second album, Glow & Behold, with guitarist Max Bloom taking over vocal duties for this young band.  The dreamy “Rebirth” is the single for the new collection.

5. “Put a Light On” – Generationals
Generationals is an indie rock duo formed by New Orleans natives Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, who have a fondness for vintage dance music recorded on analog 24-track equipment. The lush soundscape of “Put A Light One” is from their third album, Heza.

6. “The Perfect Life” (featuring Wayne Coyne) – Moby
This collaboration is just one of many on Moby’s eleventh studio album, Innocents. “The Perfect Life” channels the feel good sing along mantra of The Flaming Lips, as Moby joins forces with congenial frontman Wayne Coyne.

7. “Pagiaccio” – Barbarossa
London’s James Mathé croons over an old Casio keyboard, drum machines and analog synths for a sound inspired by 70s soul. (He is also a touring member of Junip.)  The pulsing “Pagiaccio” is from the artist’s third album, Bloodlines.

8. “Wings” – HAERTS
This indie synth pop quintet is based in Brooklyn, with roots over in Germany.  The powerhouse single, “Wings,” is the single off their debut EP, Hemiplegia.

9. “Confidence” – The Dodos
Indie rock duo Meric Long and Logan Kroeber continue a percussion-centric musical journey in their fifth studio album, Carrier.  Long’s self-assured yet laidback vocals warmly introduces a melodic element in “Confidence.”

10. “Bad Apple” – Gauntlet Hair
Before Gauntlet Hair called it quits, the group released its second studio album, Stills (produced by Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra).  Founded by high school classmates Craig Nice and Andy Rauwach, this noise pop band concocted a funky groove for “Bad Apple.”

11. “Fugitive Air” – of Montreal
of Montreal is an indie pop band from Athens, Georgia, was founded by frontman Kevin Barnes in 1996. With a wavering creative trajectory for each release, this lead track off the twelfth studio album, Lousy with Sylvanbriar, presents a country twang.

12. “Little Moments” – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
“Little Moments” is the title track off Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s new EP, rebooting the band with vocalist Alec Ounsworth and drummer/music producer Sean Greenhaulgh. This duo based in Brooklyn and Philadelphia added electronic instruments into the mix, as they prepare a full album for next year.

13. “Ísjaki” – Sigur Rós
Icelandic band Sigur Rós has released its seventh studio album since 1994, Kveiker.  The new songs are being described by the group as more aggressive, but the haunting falsetto of Jón Birgisson (a.k.a. Jónsi) adds a familiar sweetness.

14. “Million Miles” – TV On the Radio
This single from an upcoming album from Brooklyn indie rock band TV On the Radio, swells with emotion led by Tunde Adebimpe’s vocals. The sextet’s diverse influences, from soul to electronica, serve as only a starting point for the song.

15. “The Truth” – Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog just released its eighth studio album, B-Room, recorded in a newly built studio outside of Philadelphia. The band delivers their trademark fusion of 60s psych rock and lo-fi 90s in this lead off track for the collection.

16. “Bad Kingdom” – Moderat
Moderat is the electronic music project of a trio of artists based in Berlin: Sascha Ring (of Apparat), Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary (of Modeselektor).  This pulsating single is from the group’s sophomore release, II.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

ACL Music Festival 2013 Oct. 4 - 6 Top Performances & Afterthoughts

Returning home (reentry if you will) after a trip is never easy, but my head is still swirling after going to the ACL Music Festival 2013. We didn't even make it far from the hotel to park and back, although we had plans and grand visions to do so during our long weekend in Austin. Since it was my first time to the state, there was much to take in, from the fossil like rocks on the ground to the unusual bird calls from the cedar elms above. I especially loved the mid-century modern buildings in the city, with their neon signs and funky details. At times it definitely felt as hot as Texas, as my sunglasses heated up just by sitting on my head and I was "glowing" as my Southern mother would say.  Yet who can really complain, when the sunny sky made such a cheery backdrop to the park venue.

The festival fare was just amazing -- the food truck mentality is definitely my kind of noshing.  These delicious, quick bites available at booths were easy to fill up on until the next break in your schedule: tacos/tamales, BBQ, and fried chicken (yum y'all!) I also learned to truly enjoy a frosty, cold beer from a can and that water can come from a carton (as it says on the side here, boxed water is better!)

Yes, the crowds were crazy large at times. We knew that would be the case but it's different to be in the middle of all of it.  A quick walk could turn twice as long, in order to wade through the throngs. It certainly made for interesting people watching, as people came in capes and costumes donned in Mexican Sombreros or Panama hats. I was surprised at all the band t-shirts, a decidedly uncool thing up North, although I love merch of any kind. There were bands of all genres and level of hipness, worn by proud fans of all ages. I also spotted plenty of Star Wars references and clever sayings ("Keep Calm & Chive On" and "Pluto: Never Forget" for example). We even saw two gals in Giants football jerseys, to which my camera guy Paul said, "Way to stand out in this crowd" since we were in Dallas Cowboys territory.  With all the music going on, there was a tent full of people in front of the TV with that team playing what turned out to be a heart-breaking loss.

Scaled Down State Capital
As far as concert watching, it really was an embarrassment of riches all around us.  For the first time, I actually found having Jumbotrons useful in the big outdoors. But maybe because I performed as a dancer so many times, walking by musicians pouring heart and soul out on stage wasn't easy for me.  Choices were made and I'm still contemplating whether they were even the right ones. The schedule was simply jam packed with favorite bands, which was also why we were so game to finally travel to Austin. At the top of my list are the shows where I caught the entire set, as I found it far more satisfying, but these were also incredible performances. Phoenix, The National, Vampire Weekend, Toro Y Moi, Arctic Monkeys and Divine Fits included could have easily been on the list if I was able to see more of them. Of course this is no big reveal to my indie leanings, as there were so many other types of artists at the festival.

Here's my picks:
1) Franz Ferdinand (my longing to see them helps but what a great show, start to finish)
2) Okkervill River (somewhat of a discovery for me, so thrilled to dig into something new)
3) Atoms for Peace (huge fan of Thom Yorke's solo work as well as Radiohead, love his voice too plus this group was absolutely incredible live -- you could feel the earth shake with the bass)
4) The Cure (such a pleasant surprise to find these 80s hits standing the test of time)

Austin is an amazing place full of people who really treasure live music -- what a wonderful thing. They came to listen and chat with each other whether local or not, it just did not matter as everyone was so friendly and outgoing. (Without provocation I actually heard that line about how Austin is not part of the rest of Texas, even though it's the state capital!) Below are a few more videos from the archives and the second weekend features some live feeds, check the schedule here. I know I'll be happy to tune in again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

ACL Music Festival 2013 Day Three Highlights - October 6

Bikes Galore Across From the Entrance
We arrived for Day Three of ACL, I could hear the powerhouse vocals of Lizzy Plapinger of New York band MS MR. Heading towards that stage, the group began the teasing percussive intro of LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean"  (major bonus points in my book!) They made the song their own by adding pauses and backing off the chorus -- it was a thrill to hear this fave song covered in the wide open space of Zilker Park.  With the heat already baking the field, Plapinger told the crowd to have a "face melting good time" for the rest of the day before ending the set with their first single, "Hurricane."
Grabbing some Stubbs BBQ, we sat under a tent across from Twin Forks doing a cover of "There She Was," by another fave band the Talking Heads.  (Maybe it was covers day - more bonus points!)  This alt/folk outfit has a similar sound to The Lumineers, as led by Dashboard Confessional vocalist Chris Carrabba.  We did two flybys by just walking place to place -- the country rock of Nashville based Wild Feathers and then Paper Diamond, an electronic music producer from Colorado known as Alex B.  

Getting to the Franz Ferdinand stage early for a decent spot, it felt so good to be a devoted fan again.  There's just something about seeing a band for the beginning, middle and end of their performance.  I found that the festival mantra of catching bits and pieces of a set adds up to a very difference experience musically.  Since I've loved this Scottish indie rock quartet through all four albums, I didn't want to miss a thing.

Singer Alex Kapronos sauntered on stage to huge cheers in a bright red shirt and black jeans. He picked up the mike and said merrily, "Hullo Austin!"  They launched into "No You Girls,"a the tale of romance from a male's point of view, which created instant audience participation especially with the guys in the audience.  Next up was the single, "Right Thoughts," off the new album Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action. It showed the band back in their finest form, with an infectious mix of blistering fast guitars over a dance beat with lyrics that have repeated lines or simply vowels for singing along to Kapronos' commanding vocals.  New songs such as "Evil Eye" and "Bullet" fit right into older song "Do You Want To," "This Fire," and their breakout hit, "Take Me Out."

Franz Fans
Kapranos was quite the showman, with his Bowie-esque lunges, kicking and gesturing to the audience.  When he put down the guitar, he caressed the mike and allowed himself to be quite the crooner.  But this is a band, as guitarist/background vocalist Nick McCarthy and bass player Robert Hardy joined him at the edge of the stage and everyone took turns visiting with Paul Thomson at the drum riser. To illustrate the connection to dance music, the group broke into a cover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (another cover!)  The set ended with a blazing version of "Let's Get High."
Alex Kapranos

It took a while for the large crowd to disperse as we kept will the flow like cattle.  It took us past another large gathering in front of the stage with a fave chillwave musician Toro Y Moi.  I would have loved to linger but wanted to catch some of the Divine Fits way across the venue.  The band was on their last song, the smoldering "Shivers," but it was still worth it to bask a bit in local guy and Spoon frontman Britt Daniels' rock aura.
Britt Daniels
Within a minute Brooklyn based band The National took to the stage next door.  These indie road warriors seem to be everywhere lately, rolling out new songs from their album Trouble Will Find Me.  They began with the opening track, the plaintive "I Should Live In Salt" before the more moderate tempo of "Don't Swallow the Cap." Many in the crowd knew the words already and were even happier to add audience participation when their hit "Bloodbuzz Ohio" was rolled out.  Older songs "Alligator" and "England" were added in the set, which continued in the  backgound I went to check out a few songs by Phosphorescent.  Although I saw this band back in April, Alabama native Matthew Houck was under the weather so I thought take another listen.  His voice is raw and emotional anyway, finding a way under my skin whether in studio produced song or any concert performance.
Aaron Dessner & Matt Berninger 
The National
Singer Matthew Houck
Afterwards it was a quick run over to Australian psych rockers Tame Impala in time to hear my favorite songs back to back, "Elephant," and "Apocalypse Dreams." When not busy with his guitar, singer/songwriter Kevin Parker took to holding a stuffed tiger aloft to the delight of the rabid fans up front. Then I took another dash to the Phoenix stage to see the French band enter the stage to begin "Entertainment," their single off their latest album, Bankrupt! Even far from the stage, I could hear singer Thomas Mar count off their hit "Lisztomania" in French, "Un, deux, un deux trois!"
Tame Impala
A few songs later it was time to grab a good spot for the Atoms for Peace show.  Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke did not disappoint, rolling out the multi-layered compositions with collaborators bassist Flea from the Red Hot Chillipeppers and Nigel Godrich, long time producer for Radiohead. Yorke came to the mike center stage to begin the show with a greeting, "Hey, we're called Atoms for Peace. Pleased to make you acquaintance." With his ethereal voice, facial whiskers and stubby pony tail, he really appeared to be of another world. Plus, he really does dance like the videos!  For the encore, Yorke asked the tremendous crowd in the dark, "Guess what?" "What?" Everyone replied in unison. He said how they had two more songs, "If you want them." Yorke said with an impish smile. The audience roared with conviction as the set continued into the night, well worth it to the very end. Enjoy video highlights of the day at the end of this post.

Atoms for Peace

Atoms for Peace

Sunday, October 6, 2013

ACL Music Festival 2013 Day Two Highlights - October 5

Back at ACL, Day Two started early with a noonish set by Dan Croll.  His song "From Nowhere" was one of my top twenty of 2012, so I made sure to get there in time.  Backing up this Liverpudian singer/songwriter was a full band at Croll's command added volume to his eager pop aesthetic. He asked "How we doing ACL?" And alluded to the day's heat by saying how since they were British, the band was "really, really, really hot." They played songs off the EP (also called From Nowhere) and along with some new songs, including a sweet nod to their home to end their time on stage with "England."
                         Dan Croll (at left w/my favorite instrument!)
Afterwards, it was time to find shade and food.  Since Austin basically invented the food truck culture, the offerings at this festival are simply amazing.  From BBQ to tacos galore lined up in booths, there were some tough choices here too just like deciding what band to catch on the packed schedule.  There was also a market for shopping and even a mini-post office with picture post cards to send at the ready for $1, stamp included.
Arriving crowds  w/an umbrella for shade
Mirror for shopping only - no selfies!!

Next up music-wise was Junip, a Swedish duo appearing as a six-piece with a full folk rock sound.  Mid set they brought out a swirling rendition of "Always" and newer songs from their second self-titled album released last spring (including "Line of Fire" which was recently used in Breaking Bad!)
Junip Singer José González
At the larger stage next door, a crowd was already in place for Portugal. The Man.  I caught this Portland band headlining Terminal 5 for CMJ Music Festival  back in 2011 after the sixth album, In the Mountain, In the Cloud, was on my heavy rotation.  The band has just released another album, Evil Friends, a strong collection continuing their quality alt-rock tinged with soul via John Gourley's vocals.  The set began full tilt with the heady new song "Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue" along with "Evil Friends," before heading into the past with an old-time fave "So American." Their epic arrangements with a stage full of musicians seemed better suited to the unlimited outdoor venue. The weather had cooled down and a breeze sent the festival flags in motion, the music had an added grandeur that wasn't quite allowed in the confines of an interior of any building.
Portugal. The Man.
A few flybys (Nashville's animated Wild Cub, Welch arty folk rock of Joy Formidable, indie rock from Ireland Little Green Cars) followed with a gem found on the stage with L.A. blues rock band Vintage Trouble -- frontman Ty Taylor was totally bringing it, as they say.  His energetic R&B swagger converted listeners into fans who sensed they found an up and coming star.  
Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble
Heading over for Passion Pit, I could hear Canadian artist Grimes' high pitched vocals over a synth interplay in "Genesis" floating over the grounds.  Going stage to stage made for some long walks, but it's a treat letting the ears pick up whatever is playing at the time. In fact, most locals we met didn't even have a firm schedule of who they wanted to see but were there to hang out, meet people and hear good music.  Almost like attending the annual 4th of July fireworks display,  they seemed to be gathering simply in order experience some musical magic.  

And with the strobe lights flying at the Passion Pit stage, there really were pyrotechnics.  Newly bearded Michael Angelakos led the Boston area band through catchy synth pop tunes such as "Carried Away," and "The Reeling." He said, "Last time Austin, it was pretty loud." But he implored the fans to take it even louder, which they instantly did so Angelakos added "Austin, how we love you!" During their hit "Talk A Walk" I did just that, heading over to catch a song by Chicago's band pride Wilco.  I plunked myself down in the grass and just happened to hear one of my faves, the lilting tune "Impossible Germany." It was a nice contrast to what was going on across the way, evidence of how one's own musical taste can encompass many emotions.
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco
Later on The Cure came out in darkness, all wearing black with frontman Robert Smith in a sequins and full makeup. He surveyed the enormous audience before beginning another gig through the decades,  his wiry hair surrounded his head like a halo.  Smith's voice was strong and the band were ever the polished professionals, churning through hits such as "Just Like Heaven," "Love Song" and "Pictures of You."  Hearing the songs back to back after such a long time, I was reminded how romantic these classic 80s hits were and was glad I wasn't alone in the crowd.  I actually went to see the band early on at The Ritz in New York City, when we all gasped at the percussive synths coming from newly introduced drum machines.  With everyone singing along to "Friday I'm in Love," the night created a love fest of fans old and new connecting to this music, which no one really knew would stand the test of time. Check out The Cure and more in the highlights video below.