With one day removed from TBD Festival‘s opening day, Saturday began as a fresh start of music enjoyment and alcohol consumption that unfortunately coincided with the upward trend of a heatwave. I’m a wuss when it comes to high temperatures, which explains why I have never been to Coachella or Bonnaroo nor will I probably ever.
And considering the challenges I had with today being in the mid-90s, I think not rocking out in the desert or the humid southeast would be a smart decision. I honestly don’t know how everyone handles the heat without going insane. It was like a thirty-minute wait to use the water refill station; fortunately, beer and good beats temporarily diverted most people’s attention.
I was excited to start my day seeing Chicago-based electronic duo Autograf at the main stage. The duo’s mellow tracks were perfect for mid-afternoon, which included crowd-favorite “Dream” as well as remixes of Lorde’s “Team” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” One of the benefits of going to these festivals is that bands are eager to perform new music, and Autograf was more than eager to unleash the new track “Heartbeat” toward the end of its set.
Like Cathedrals the day before, I pushed to see New York City-based electronic duo ASTR after having missed them at SXSW earlier this year. I was not disappointed, as Adam ASTR provided the infectious beats and Zoe ASTR pumped up the crowd with her voice and dance moves. ASTR shifted naturally between old and new hits (“We Fall Down” and “Operate” to “How Did We Get So High?”) with “Activate Me” being the biggest highlight.
Manchester-native Chad Valley (joined by Pamela Martinez) took it down a few notches with his mellower dance tunes. At one point, someone in the audience shouted “play for an hour” as a dig to the thirty-minute allotted set time given to Chad Valley and most of the other afternoon artists. Big hit “Now That I’m Real (How Does it Feel)” and “Fall 4 U” were crowd pleasers.
Rapper A-1 gave an entertaining set, who started off with an instrumental-less version of “Turlian” that sounded a lot more profound as a freestyle. A-1 sampled the theme song for Nickelodeon’s old sketch comedy-variety show All That that was very unexpected despite a long story about Canadian television not offering Nickelodeon during his recent trip up north. There was even a sample of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” and the entertaining “Doin the Most.”
The best show of the day was Vérité who gave a very rousing performance at the 51 Fifty stage to a relatively large crowd. Vérité glibly apologized for using expletives, but the enthusiastic crowd quickly forgave the young singer after her performances of the passionate “Wasteland” and “Weekend.” As the sun started to set, the live versions of “Colors” and “Sentiment” produced some warm fuzzy feelings that I hope were not heat-related.
Joywave also had the honor of performing to the sunset. The indie rock quintet from Rochester, New York probably had the most energy of any music act I had seen so far, which also included conversing and interacting with the crowd. Vocalist Daniel Armbruster definitely seemed to get a kick out of getting the crowd involved and bouncing during “Tongues” and “Something New.”
Australian-natives Cut Copy put on a hits show, performing the new wave dance music to a nonstop dance fest with the outback-tinged “Take Me Over” (think Men at Work) and “We Are Explorers.” Always cognizant of where they came from, the quartet also reached back to perform “Saturdays” from their freshman album Bright Like Neon Love. That first album was released almost ten years ago, which is somewhat hard to fathom. What’s even harder to fathom is that Cut Copy has been making music for about as long as Brooklyn-based duo Ratatat who performed later to a more industrial light show (i.e., there were holograms and lasers that made up for the otherwise very dark stage) that helped shift the focus towards the music (like “Montanita” and “Loud Pipes”).
A lot of people lined up early to get a good spot for 23-year-old wunderkind Porter Robinson who definitely satisfied the crowd with his unique sound. Robinson’s set included his hits “Sad Machine” and “Lionhearted” with remixes (Nero’s “The Thrill“) and many loads of confetti strings.
Tycho (formerly of Sacramento proper, but now San Francisco residents) was sandwiched between Robinson and Pretty Lights, which proved to be a perfect calm in-between two very energetic artists. Tycho’s ambient electronic music (“Awake” and “Spectre”) helped reset the mood and provided perfect background tunes for a nearby group of fire performers. I still wonder how watching the fire breathers and fire twirlers would have felt with the more industrial electronica from Pretty Lights. I don’t think we’ll ever know.
NOTE: Originally published on Blogcritics.