Day Two of Kanrocksas began much like the first, light rain followed by intense heat. The good people of the land of tents and RV’s, Kamprocksas, shook off the remaining confetti from the Flaming Lips prepared themselves for another day of music in the home of Dorothy.
Today’s headliner would be Muse, although other big names like The Black Keys, OK Go, and Best Coast would also be enduring the summer sun.
Gardens & Villa
There is a primordial ooze of plinking guitars, spacey-synth, light vocals and bands with an altogether eighties inspired sound. The challenge for a band of this ilk is to rise out of that goop and separate from the pack. Judging from the set they played at Kanrocksas, Gardens & Villa have yet to accomplish this.
Prior to this I hadn’t heard much outside of “Black Hills” and “Orange Blossom”, the band’s two singles. I still can’t say I heard much more than that. The boys from Santa Barbara opened with “Black Hills”, to a lukewarm reception. Note: If you act like you are too cool for your venue, you instantly become not cool enough for your venue, the crowd can always tell when you don’t really think they are ‘beautiful’.
Apart from the two singles, which, in the defense of the band are catchy, well written tracks, the rest of the set was fantastically mediocre. A self-indulgent wooden flute solo, does not individuality make.
G&V closed out with a cover of Gary Numan’s “Cars”. Perhaps the best decision of the afternoon was playing someone else’s music. However, they did nothing too creative with the cover, and I was bored before they made it half way through the classic ‘80s hit.
I’m not ready to give up on them yet though. Like I said, the two singles show genuine promise, but the band must produce more. The sound is there, but the content is still lacking.
Bethany, Bobb, and Ali were one of more anticipated acts at Kanrocksas, and they did not disappoint. Although the band had been, as Costentino put it, “Around the world and back in the last week and Kanrocksas was getting wacked out and strange Best Coast,” the music spoke for itself.
The brave souls that suffered through the heat at Stageasaurus Rex were treated to some top class garage/surf pop, bathed and marinated in reverb. By a few songs in (for Best Coast that’s about five minutes) the L.A. natives, visibly weary during sound check, seemed rejuvenated. The set included some new material and the majority of the less-new material (it can’t really be called old yet, can it?).
Negative Nellies may cite the simplicity of the set and call it dull, but I don’t see it that way. This genre is about hot summer days and sticking to the couch with your beau. On this hot summer day Best Coast gave Kanrocksas endless amounts of chill.
Way over on the Ad Astra Stage (“Ad astra per aspera” is the state motto) OK Go drew a decent crowd. The infamous YouTubers have always overshadowed their music with their gimmicks, and it was no different at Kanrocksas. A cheese-tastic robo-voice straight out of Saw XXVII (or whatever number they’re on) encouraged, nay commanded, the crowd to chant “O-K-Go!” to bring the band out. About one third of the audience reluctantly obliged the invisible robot, but apparently that was good enough, as the band members, each dressed in a different color, took the stage.
I though that now, at long last, I would get to hear OK Go, without being distracted by treadmills or some other scheme, but alas, I’ll just have to lock myself in a dark room with some headphones to do that. Whether it was eye catching outfits, noting how awesome it was to play church bells, or lead man Damian Kulash taking his guitar down into the audience to play some “hippie shit,” there was always something happening to distract from the actual sounds coming out of the instruments. It was the exact opposite of Best Coast and The Arctic Monkeys before them, rather than letting the music speak, OK Go spoke for the music.
Maybe for good reason. It’s not that the guys aren’t good musicians, but the material they are producing is uninspired, generic, pop. It would seem that the massive success of those treadmills has distracted the band from the reason that they became a band in the first place, music.
If they could combine the genuine ability they have to put on a visually engaging and entertaining show, with some material that has a distinct sound (see Flaming Lips), OK Go could really be a band to listen to, rather than just watch.
After OK Go, I scampered over to the Critical Mass DJ tent to catch the end of Kerli‘s set. Floating around the stage like a pixie dressed in all white, excluding her red skirt and pink hair, Kerli and her band blasted bubble-gum techno at a small but dedicated crowd.
Like Major Lazer on day one, Bag Raiders take the award for best show of the day. When an artist is genuinely enjoying themselves onstage, it’s infectious. Because Bag Raiders, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, and Cage the Elephant were all playing at the same time, the tent at Bag Raiders was only 1/3 full, but the boys from Sydney played like they sold out a stadium. The crowd steadily grew as Chris Stracey and Jack Glass pumped out the bright, funky grooves, heavy in electric toms, pads, and disco licks more contagious than the bird flu. Stracey sings lead with a little help from auto-tune (in the best way), and they really bring the energy to a type of music for which live performances can often retreat into knob turning and button pressing.
“Sunlight” really brought the crowd alive, with the entire house hanging on each sun-soaked synth pad and singing along at top volume. The duo closed with their hit “Shooting Stars”. They treated Kanrocksas to an extended breakdown prior to the final chorus that ended a set that, for me at least, brings Bag Raiders from a promising prospect to a cannot miss.
I realized that if I didn’t eat I would not make it through Girl Talk, The Black Keys, and Muse (see below), so I headed over to vendor’s row and macked on some of the most delicious curly fries that I have ever put in my face-hole. It was in the process of stuffing my face with this greasy godsend when the twitterverse informed me that Krafty Kuts was tearing the roof off at the DJ Tent. I killed the rest of my curly fries and high-tailed it over there to catch the end of the set.
I unfortunately only made it to hear the last five-seven minutes, but I was impressed by what I heard and saw. Martin Reeves had the onlookers chanting “KRAF-TEE-KUTS”, and was filling the tent with absolutely filthy breakbeats. I really wish that my curly fries had not held me hostage, but alas I am a sucker for plates full of fried potatoes.
Tinie is a club rapper, by this I mean that lyrical prowess and flow are less important than how hype the crowd gets. Tinie is good at this. His beats are pretty much just dance grooves that any glowstick twirler would be ecstatic with, and his flow works quite well with that type of hip-hop.
Due to some rescheduling, Mr. Tempah went on about 15 minutes late, and the crowd was just about ready to abandon ship for Girl Talk when he finally climbed on stage. Any qualms the Tempah-fans had were quickly dispelled by the time the first la la la’s of “Frisky” hit.
I would’ve liked to stick around longer, but the reschedule forced me to split time between Tinie and Girl Talk and before I knew it, Girl Talk required my presence.
I originally questioned why Girl Talk would be playing the Main Stage, but as soon as the monster came into view my questions were answered. The numbers amassed around the stage were larger than even Kid Cudi garnered, and as night had fallen by this point, the glowsticks were out en force.
No real special effects for Mr. Gillis aside from the video feed running on the screens on either side of the stage (probably due to the amount of lasers Muse had under the sheets onstage already). The sprawling stage would have seemed empty if it weren’t for the section of the audience that had been invited up to bump ‘n’ grind to the samples. Gillis played mostly tracks from All Day, but played some older stuff too. His top 40 stew was delicious.
The Black Keys
I saw The Black Keys at Lollapalooza last year, and since they haven’t really come out with any new material, I expected to be a bit bored by the show. That was a silly notion I had.
It doesn’t matter how many times you see the Black Keys; it’s always impressive. Especially as the band has gained a significantly larger following due to the success of Brothers (QRO review), and the shows are packed with people in various stages of Black Keys discovery. At Kanrocksas there were the die hard fans who shredded along with every riff Dan Auerbach (QRO solo album review) ground out, the fans of Brothers looking confused while Dan and Patrick played alone before the full band came onstage, and of course there were those who simply swayed along until Dan started whistling “Tighten Up”.
Playing in front of a giant inflatable tire and totem pole, the proud Akron-ites played a set typical of their recent tour(s) but it was not stale.
Time for the day’s headliner, and time for Kanrocksas to be sent out in style. Who better to rock the pants off the heartland than Muse?
They brought it right from the start, kicking the entirety of the assembled masses in their collective asses with “Uprising”. Muse moved through their catalogue of styles and songs, hitting on Black Holes and Revelations and all the mainstays from earlier in their career.
Special effects consisted of a honeycomb of video boards, a light show of typical Muse intensity, and of course the lasers. It was truly a sight to behold the lasers dancing across the immense looming grandstand of the Kansas Speedway, while beneath it’s ominous lean Muse led more than 27,000 people in rocking as hard humanly possible.