Hangout Music Festival, Day 3: 05.22.2011

Putting a cherry of excellence atop an already stellar weekend, Sunday’s lineup included such heavy hitters as Portugal. The Man, Drive-By Truckers, Ween and The Black Keys.

Native Alabamians the Truckers enjoyed a homecoming of sorts, playing selections from their recent albums The Big To Do and Go Go Boots, as well as some old favorites (including the opener, a blistering version of “Lookout Mountain” and the closer, a rollicking sing-a-long to “Let There Be Rock”) to a packed tent. Ween opened their set with the all-too-apropos “Bananas and Blow,” what with its tongue-in-cheek Buffet-esque riff. Their set was packed with vintage gems like “Spinal Meningitis,” “Buckingham Green” and “Ocean Man” (obviously they had to do that one, right?) plus a stellar cover of David Bowie’s “Let Dance.”

If the tent was packed for Bassnectar and Pretty Lights, there isn’t a word for what it was during the Girl Talk set. Or perhaps there is – fire marshal. Yes, they called him. The layout of this tent was frustratingly inept as it pushed up against the only Artist, VIP and Media entrances, effectively trapping people backstage after the crushing crowd fanned out. Because of this, we heard most of the set from our backstage prison. Suffice it to say it was a Girl Talk show. Lots of dancing chicks, toilet paper streamers, balloons and funny white guy dance moves. The set seemed pretty similar to the one he pulled out for his last show here in New Orleans.

Closing out the day (with the exception of Paul Simon, who I’m afraid I had to miss – I had to be at work at 8am today!) was The Black Keys. They played a set heavy with material from their newest release, Brothers, including the now ubiquitous “Tighten Up” and the steady growing favorites “Next Girl” and “Howlin’ For You.” The sound was tight and the crowd was pleased. It was a great note on which to end the fest.

On that note, I’ll sign off. Make sure to pick up a copy of Antigravity Magazine’s June issue for a full review with pictures. If you’re not in New Orleans and can’t get your hands on a physical copy, you can download the issue in pdf form after the first of the month at www.antigravitymagazine.com. Big thanks to the Barryfest crew for joining us on this little adventure and I hope you enjoyed our coverage.

–  Erin Hall, Antigravity Magazine

 

The most intimidating slot in a weekend-long music festival is not, as many may assume, the final performance of each evening.  It is undoubtedly being tasked with kicking off each day, especially the final stretch of a sun-drenched beach bash that has been as transcendent as it has been exhausting.  As a festival-goer, a rocking first act makes you forget that you have have been asleep for only 13 of the last 56 hours, have spent the other 48 systematically waging a war against sobriety, and haven’t consumed a vegetable that was not a pizza topping for the better part of a week.

Dead Confederate rose to the occasion on Saturday, but the stakes were the markedly higher on Sunday: I was up and at ’em at an ungodly hour to ensure that the-less-than reliable Hangout shuttle system would not cause me to miss Portugal. The Man‘s 11:30AM set, so I arrived at the front gates not just violently hungover, but with the highest of expectations.

Portugal. The Man made it all worth it, enveloping the very decently sized crowd with brilliant takes on some of the most delicate psychedelic-pop-rock-from-another-planet I’ve witnessed in person.  Considering the band’s sound is characterized by walls of stylized synths and a lead singer who’s range starts at the upper-bounds of the vocal register, it was amazing to see just how well the music translated to the stage (especially selections from the mind-bendingly awesome The Satanic Satanist such as “The Sun” and “Do You”).

– Matt Rosenthal, Barryfest.com

 

I’m inclined to say that part of the genesis of Akron, Ohio’s the Black Keys – no matter how minuscule – lies in Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s desire to build on the foundations of Band of Gypsies, a Jimi Hendrix side project launched after the dissolution of the Hendrix Experience that, given the chance, had the potential to blow the legendary guitarist’s former work completely out of the water. At times, the similarities between that project’s sparse recordings and the Black Keys’ live show are glaring: all that’s missing are the coolly-toned, high-energy female backup singers from the demo of “Message of Love”.

Nevertheless, after the Keys’ performance at Hangout Fest, I completely get it. The idea of emulating Band of Gypsies, if true, is amazing. Off the top of my head, I can name five or six never-was bands and side projects that deserve their comeuppance, and Band of Gypsies is certainly one of them. That act would have undoubtedly seen Hendrix enter the 1970s at the same level as heavy-hitters like Led Zeppelin. And judging from the attendance at their Hangout Festival performance, that’s the kind of success the Black Keys are currently enjoying.

On the other hand, I’m also inclined to believe that the band’s success is the result of much more than simple mimicry. Auerbach and Carney, whose raw and unpredictable interplay could only be the result of ceaseless practice, preparation, and attention to their material, seem to have a singular understanding of the nuanced and paradoxical relationship between high-energy rough edges and note-for-note perfection. Ultimately, this is the reason why, among the current sea of blues/garage/indie rock bands, there is only one Black Keys.

Taylor Gray, Barryfest.com

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