Written by: Michael Truxton
Photo: Lance Skundrich
Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment did it again! In its eighth inaugural year, the duo brought together an eclectic mix of electronic, hip-hop, and indie artists to the balmy Bay Area last weekend and they did not disappoint. With the gorgeous skyline of the City acting as the backdrop for the aptly-named Bridge and Tunnel stages, it was an oddly relaxed and serene sight; made even calmer knowing that you’d never miss an act, with times staggered for each set. In typical fashion, organizers set up each day as they have in the past; Saturday with more electronically-driven artists, saving Sunday for the “true” musicians and actual bands.
We made our entrance during the golden hour of the first day, coming in just in time to set up shop for Janelle Monáe, right after taking some pics of Bliss Dance, by local artist Marco Cochrane). The 40-ft sculpture was just one of a plethora of Burning Man influencers at the event, which is becoming more pervasive and ubiquitous in festival culture, even though the piece has been a mainstay on the island for the last couple years. Following her set, the electric energy continued with Classixx and then onto Zedd, whose outstanding visuals stood out for the evening (and likely the weekend).
Like many of his male audience members, Jean-Philip Grobler, frontman for St. Lucia, was decked out in a tropical-printed shirt, and his outfit certainly embodied his vibe and energy, for arguably one of the best sets of the evening. (We couldn’t stop humming “All Eyes On You” for the rest of the weekend). That being said, the first night’s headliner, Outkast, lived up to the hype. Although the hip-hop duo of Big Boi and Andre 3000 have been at practically every single major music festival this past year, their hour and a half set gathered everyone’s attention and was a solid finish to the first night, as we heading to the shuttle lines a bit early, opting to keep the buzz going rather than waiting in bus lines.
Learning from our mistake from the prior day, we showed up much earlier for day two–namely to catch local duo, (and recent Neon Gold signees), Cathedrals. The next band that really caught our ear was Icelandic singer-songwriter, Ásgeir, providing a peaceful calm between the sets of White Denim, (who’s guitarist was ironically dressed in a Canadian tuxedo made with NO white denim) and newcomer Banks. With the except of Alt-J, the best acts for this day proved to be on the Tunnel stage; Chet Faker, Poliça, and Washed Out. The Australian singer-producer seems to be more and more comfortable in front of the decks (and behind the keyboard) than in shows past, belting out his classic cover of “No Diggity”.
However, Minneapolis-based band, Poliça, proved to be our favorite set of day 2. Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh’s eerily haunting vocals, combined with heavy bass riffs, made for an ethereal experience at twilight, even if we don’t know how to pronounce their band-name. The highlights for the Bridge stage were British bands Alt-J and Massive Attack. The former, fresh off their release of their second studio album, played both songs familiar and new, including many of which had never been played at a festival prior. Massive Attack, not to be outdone, finished out the festival in style, also pulling up TV on the Radio’s frontman, Tunde Adebimbe, for the band’s first ever performance of Pray for Rain. Before heading back to City proper for the evening, we finally wandered over to the Silent Frisco area to dance and people watch for a set of another SF-local; Lights Down Low’s own MPHD. There’s something to be said for hundred people raving in silence, invoking playa-vibes and not wanting the weekend to end. And we were right there with them…