As a first-time festival goer, even traveling with seasoned pros, I was still largely unaware of how much planning goes into securing the most desirable musical schedule. Even with the vast number of options, the vast number of people there and occasionally misleading advertisements made last minute changes difficult if not impossible. (Due to an abrupt announcement of a $15 cover, I unfortunately missed CHVRCHES). Being a lover of female vocalists, I probably could have scheduled my time around around girl-centric performers, but alas. So, these are the girly highlights from my week dominated by male-fronted acts.
An atypical powerhouse because she’s so often derided for wailing about unrequited love and boyfriend problems, Bethany makes the cut since she is the quintessential poster child for surfer girl-rock. Headlining the Tuesday night Red Bull Sound Select showcase, Best Coast took the stage just as the sun was setting and the outdoor venue was filling up. She promptly apologized to the “underaged babies” who couldn’t get into the show and promised to make it up to them. Guys and gals alike were singing along in the front row to fan favorites like “Crazy for You,” “Only Place” and “Goodbye.” While announcing that everyone on stage was wasted, Bethany encouraged the audience to follow suit in the spirit of “South by Spring Break.” The singer struggled to remember “Let’s Go Home,” and guitarist Bobb was visibly upset, grabbing the neck of her guitar at one point. The band also debuted 2 new songs, which stay true to the band’s simplistic sound. “What Have I Become” will be released this Record Store Day. The group closed with popular “Boyfriend,” but not before Bethany could throw in some comments about Snacks, Grumpy Cat, and being distracted by the birds in the sky.
Originally slated to perform after Antwon and before Schlomo, who had to cancel due to illness, Charli XCX was hands-down the most lively act during Wednesday’s Hype Hotel day party. The English singer’s outfit, a 90s cropped velvet tee paired with a plaid, tweed mini, clashed wonderfully with her dancey, electronic sound, which reminded me of an updated No Doubt meets Santigold. She belted out her single“You’re the One” and “Nuclear Seasons” while managing to keep up her erotic dance moves throughout her set. The goth-pop cousin of Grimes also gave her take on Gold Panda’s “You,” called “You – Ha Ha Ha” which the crowd was excited to hear. Charli’s set was powerful and energetic to the last, making her one of my favorite ladies in electronic music right now.
Oddly enough, Waxahatchee performed after rapper Antwon as well, about 12 hours after I saw Charli XCX. Much of the overly rowdy crowd at Holy Mountain, a rustic, medium-sized bar/venue with an outdoor stage, cleared out after his set, which was a relief to my waning patience. Waxahatchee’s lovely performance provided some much needed reparation to my shot nerves. Singer Katie Crutchfield’s honest and emotional vocals, reminiscent of local Madeline, laid over the acoustic guitar and drums would have lulled me to sleep had my feet been in less pain. The grungy sound of the full band’s tracks seemed like a natural transition for the group, my only complaint being that the set was a few songs too short.
by Stephanie Talmadge
(Best Coast photo credit: Alex Laughlin)