Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Primavera Sound Wrap-Up (Friday, May 28th)

After Thursday's unexpectedly salvage ending, I was left wondering if my body could withstand another two days of increasingly exhausting abuse.  A few pots of coffee later and enough junk food to sink a small boat, I was set for Round 2!

The New Pornographers (18:15)
Nothing dampens the day as much as finding yourself watching a band that you've seen enough times to know exactly what to expect from their live performances.  The only thing which made this set strikingly different from other occasions, was the noise level in which they decided to play material from their new album Together. Approaching these songs more aggressively was perhaps a strategy in trying to make up for the lack of not having Neko Case and Dan Bejar on stage to contribute their unparalleled voices to the giant wave of sound that is a New Pornographers show.  The absence of fan favorites from Mass Romantic and Electric Version was a big let down, but Carl Newman and company still managed to throw together a decent enough set to kick off the evening.

Best Coast (19:15)
Oh the risks of seeing a hype band!  One's personal expectations can sometimes be so high that you're pretty much setting yourself up to be disappointed, but Best Coast's brief and dry set didn't seem to conjure up any sort of marked emotions from the mostly watery public.  The Balearic and low-fi feel of their material seemed to be washed out in a quite standard sound and instrumentation, which choose to concentrate more on lead singer Bethany's disinterested delivery than in creating even a drop of vibrancy or variation.

Condo Fucks (20:30)
After hearing Condo Fucks' clamoring take on garage classics, I finally understood why some people actually choose to go to concerts with earplugs on.  This drenching live experience was at first hard to associate with the familiar faces on the stage, but the excellence of Ira Kaplan's ear for making the most of analog feedback effects was one of the most distinctive features of the set.  Cleverly choosing a wide array of different rhythms and approaches to a more or less straightforward genre, helped keep the mood fresh and engaging throughout this electrifying indulgence.

Beach House (21:40)
Front woman Victoria Legrand has managed to turn herself  -with only two albums worth of exquisite material- into one of the most distinctive voices and forces in indie pop.  Drawing from the 60s orchestral flairs of groups like The Zombies and Nico, this perfectly sounding translation of moody and intimate dream pop onto the big stage was one of the definite highlights of the entire festival.  Gems like "Used to Be" and "Gila" glided through with a mastery that made each rise and fall more climatic than the next. By filling in all the empty spaces of the densely packed amphitheater with the softest of nuances, Beach House demonstrated their expertise and how they have pushed themselves musically in so many ways with so little time.

The Pixies (1:15)
The idea of getting excited about a reunited band that hasn´t released any new albums for more than a decade, and that has said on numerous occasions that their reasons for touring are purely financial, may strike some as pathetic blind devotion, but when you´re talking about a force as imposing and influential as The Pixies, all preexisting ideals get thrown out the window.  Yes, Frank Blank and company may have labored through a greatest hits set and there was definitely still some visible tension in how the band members interacted with one another, but the punch and determination behind each one of the their classic songs was exactly what the crowd wanted and received.  Free from any sort of spontaneity or originality, the set list centered on keeping within the boundaries of the original recorded material but I guess we should be content with just having been witnesses to such a display of potency and drive.

Joker (2:45)
Massively thick and saturating bass, served with a dash of melodic trills, and a stale MC on the side that you tried to forget was there, were the basic elements of Joker's intensely satisfying set which included few departures away from the roaring dub-step we've come to love from this up and coming urban star.  Though the crowd may have seemed confused at times with how to react to the darker moments in his mostly upbeat performance, Joker's crafted and pronounced mixing kept most of his listeners captivated and wanting more after a set that seemed to cruse through every transition with increasing ease.

Mujeres (4:00)
This local band's take on indie punk might not have been the most innovative music of the evening, but they indubitably showed that they could enliven big crowds- who for the most part had not heard them before- with little effort.  A beaming cover of "Run Run Run" which included a barrage of audience members joining the group on stage, was a memorable end to an evening which featured very little in the way in the way of disappointment but faltered in not delivering any fresh surprises.

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