This is the second in a series of daily reports from this year’s Outside Lands from KQED Arts’ newest reporter, Kevin L. Jones. This is the first time Jones has attended the festival.
This morning I woke up twice as exhausted than usual, knowing fully well that just after I spent an entire day walking to and from a music festival that I would have to do it all over again. But no matter how tedious the exercise was becoming, I made sure that when the Dum Dum Girls started up, I was right there at the front of the stage.
Dum Dum Girls: They might look like a goth band, but there’s no heavy chorus-tinged gloom coming from the Dum Dum Girls. Nope, they share more with the crop of loud, psychedelic shoegazers of the ’90s. (Doesn’t help that their male third guitarist bares a striking resemblance to the Kevin Shields.)
To be perfectly honest, I’m a huge fan of underground garage rock, and the Dum Dum Girls really remind me of a more-rockin’ Slumber Party. But really, they are just the newest band to fill the role of providing the perfect soundtracks for makeout sessions between two people still in or just out of college. In the ’80s it was the Cure; in the ’90s, it was Mazzy Star; and now it’s the Dum Dum girls.
Though I would’ve loved to hear earlier hits like “Jail La La,” the group cranked out a solid set of tunes. Instead of a chorus pedal for their melancholy tracks, the band relies somewhat heavily on tremolo pedals, which add a sepiatone-like color to their sound. Highly recommended, especially if you like surf guitars, haunting melodies and making out.
Chris Gethard Show: Poor Daniel, who had been taking edibles for days before attending the Chris Gethard Show, didn’t realize that when he admitted to his partaking of pot food that he would be agreeing to being subjected to an improvised psychedelic experience. Daniel handled it in stride, smiling while Gethard’s friends put on Eyes Wide Shut-masks and sequined cloaks, and danced around him like he was a maypole. At one point, Daniel was asked to examine another man’s soul, which he described as “fine.”
And that was just one of the several insane things that happened during the perpetual chaos that was the Chris Gethard Show. For another example, search for the hashtag #cumjugintheeye on Twitter. Also, definitely see this show next time.
Improv4Humans: Improv4Humans is one of my favorite podcasts of all time and the brains behind the show, Matt Besser, brought with him to San Francisco some all-stars of the show: Gethard, Seth Morris and Lauren Lapkus (of Orange is the New Black). In the middle of an amazing set of improvised sketches about YouTube comments (and a vulgar grandma), Jesus and Egyptian Mike, and the Dewey Decimal System, I found that my eyesight was getting blurry. Turned out that I had been laughing so hard I literally had tears running down my face.
Deer Tick: Turns out that indie country-rock really gets the kids moving. Though I have a feeling the dancing I saw during Deer Tick’s set was probably the same that I would see at a Phish show (though no funky sun grope.) But the band could jump from songs that would be fitting for wine tasting to real rock ‘n’ roll tracks based on Chuck Berry-style riffs and pounding drums.
Haim: I wanted to see Haim so I could get shots of the infamous Este Arielle Haim’s bass face, which garnered a lot of attention after their set on Saturday Night Live; and I was not disappointed. But despite my pre-conceived notions, the bands really kicked ass and took names, especially when they covered “Oh Well,” a ripping track from the first version of Fleetwood Mac, which featured blues master Peter Green. But the girls killed that and their own tunes, which truly stand out from the current crop of ’80s throwback synth pop, thanks to the sisters and their staccato singing styles. Definitely an acquired taste but they ruled the Polo Fields that day.
Big Freedia: Wow, and I really do me WOW. Hands down my favorite set of the festival. There was so much booty being shaken that I thought all the butts would begin to boil over the edges of the festival. Ladders were pulled on stage for booty shaking and even Big Freedia’s dancers were so emboldened by the rumbling bass that they climbed the rafters in order to shake their booties from great heights. In short, there was truly “Ass Everywhere.”
Besides the booty shaking, the whole reason to see Big Freedia is to experience rap at its most base — the beats are practically pounded into you. Pretty much the punkest set at the festival and so successful that I’ve become a dedicated fan after one show.
So concludes my rundown of day two of this year’s Outside Lands. Will I survive the final day? Be sure to read my rundown of Day 3 on Monday and follow @KQEDArts on Twitter as I’m live tweeting from the festival.