As expected, prolific San Francisco garage rocker Ty Segall took the main stage in mid-afternoon and immediately claimed it as his own with a furious sound and a confident presence that belied his young age or the fact that he’s spent much of his time in the musical spotlight before late recording alone in his bedroom.
Touring in support of the brilliant Slaughterhouse and fronting a tight quartet he calls the Ty Segall Band, he leaned heavily on the songs he wrote for that album with the new group, mixing indelible pop melodies and raucous clangor and stretching some tunes out into expansive but never really indulgent jams that amply justified his description of this music as “evil space rock.” Oh, and he also made the rare concession this weekend to the absurdity of the festival setting by leading a chant of “Oi, oi, oi,” followed by a kick-butt cover of AC/DC’s immortal “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Now that’s rock’n’ roll.
From that adrenaline rush, the tempo instantly shifted into nap time as New Jersey indie-rockers Real Estate that was perfectly lilting and I dare say even lovely at times. But is lovely what anyone really wants at 4:30 in the bright sun on the middle of a festival bill? The group essentially had one song and one tempo, yet the set went on… and on… and on… and on. Sure, the temperature was in the mid-’90s. But my God, I’d have killed for a cup of coffee.
Per the rest of the weekend, my plan had been to leave the secondary stage to my WBEZ colleagues and catch the reactivated Chavez on the main stage next, hopefully forgiving bandleader Matt Sweeney for his time in the ill-fated Zwan. But the Pitchfork-powers-that-be spread the word that Lady Gaga would be appearing with Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar on the smaller platform, so along with seemingly thousands of others, off in that direction I went.
For all the positive buzz on Lamar, and despite some admittedly impressive freestyle chops, his set was a tremendous disappointment that left no hip-hop cliché unturned. Left side/right side shout-outs, exhortations to chant “f--- that” and wave your hands in the air, a song paying homage to “p---- and Patrón,” countless mentions of weed and blasts from the air horn to hype everybody up—all of it simply was pathetic. But even worse was the fact that Gaga—and several in the know swear it was her (“She’s here! She’s really here!”)—did nothing but stand on the side of the stage, gently gyrating and enjoying being notice.
So much for giving one to the little monsters. Though I suppose we still can hope she’ll sing “Horchata” with Vampire Weekend.