Even in a jumpsuit with enough pockets for the apocalypse, no one is fully equipped for this weekend. People will lose flutes in teepees and see alligators in guitar-neck shadows chomping on the heads of musicians; and emerge from Pioneertown alleys on Sunday morning without pants.
Alex Ebert + Har Mar Superstar
Pizza!, the latest addition to Manimal Vinyl’s roster, opened festivities with upbeat songs about skulls and the recession. “Did that boy just say the N-word?!” exclaimed a leather vested motorcycle man.
Weave’s outfits—surfer dudes on Venus, splattered with braille. The band beamed energy from their instruments that formed a constellation of Siouxie Sioux and tropical animals above people’s heads. A nod goes to Ivory’s commitment to a high bikini line.
Corridor, aka Michael Quinn, comes on epic—like leaping from a building but not hitting the ground. His music belongs to the ethereal realization you won’t crash. The wind whipped his hair wildly as he drummed on his cello. He shares alternacoustic mystique with Kurt Vile, except Quinn’s more metal. Bill & Ted might arrive and whisk him away to the future.
Tiffany Preston beats the cowbell like it’s a drum pad and vice versa. As the biting wind trapped Rainbow Arabia‘s notes in the air for a second, it became appealing to sew a thread passing back and forth between cowbell, pad, Danny’s keys, congas, and back to guitar. The wind disentangled Tiffany’s voice from the mic effects—noticing her natural sound’s ornaments.
Prolonged exposure to We Are The World nears brain-washing. People think Ed Sharpe has a cultish power? I’m more likely to join We Are The World—their costumes as monk habits, and prayer as a Ryan Heffington dance routine. Beneath the sensory aerobics, I noticed, they all wear different shoes.
We Are The World
Respite from the World’s immaculate vision was found inside Pappy & Harriet’s, hopping and twisting around a shiny ghettoblaster’s pixie stick, midi karaoke beats. Matt Jones has Sonny Bono hair. His Jonesin’ partner, Jen Jones, crosses Debbie Harry and Tifffany—the latter accentuated by shoulder pads. The couple resides in San Francisco, exchanging romantic one-liners with distortion set on 11.
New band members appear with Fool’s Gold all the time. But here’s hoping a rosy-cheeked preteen playing percussion tonight makes the permanent roster. Six chickens, seventeen marbles, and two helicopters also squeezed in on stage. The intro to “Suprise Hotel” lasted for miles—teasing that tropical guitar line between Lewis Pesacov and Matt Popieluch until the audience fully surrendered—before Luke Top uttered the song’s first word.
Fool’s Gold (*see the kid in the back right!)
With instruments and band members protruding in all directions, Ed Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros swooned on stage like an amoeba. The audience was sucked in. Alex Ebert suggested a volunteer get even closer and suck his ________. I imagined Ebert pulling a bathplug out of his pants and the whole audience slipping into a glowing light between his legs.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
A fifteen-minute jam during Amanda Jo Williams’ last song put the country butter in psychedelic. Having a full band lay into her songs slowed things down so the rhythms could crack their joints. Amanda’s kooky voice usually whisks the audience away on horse rides after bunnies, but tonight the spread-out sound kept the audience stomping within these four walls.
Amanda Jo Williams
When both members of Hecuba collapsed on the floor, their heads touched the way Lady And The Tramp share a noodle. Fog gathered. Keeping a hand playing the keyboard, Jon Beasley rubbed his face on Isabelle Albuquerque’s cheek while she hunched over her knees. The audience huddled around as its ship reached the heart of outer space.
Laco$te’s X rolled around, climbed tables, and bent backwards during a short, electric set—so high charged it blew some fuses, including the band members’. Most people believed the sound splitting was a deliberate trippy effect. Laco$te could’ve mimed their remaining songs and kept the audience bobbing along.
Cold did not care much that the sun wanted to shine on Sunday. Voice On Tape’s echoing moans and romantic guitar strumming made me want scotch and a gambler’s ring.
Voice On Tape
He’s My Brother She’s My Sister performed when the air was white. You could barely see them when looking at the musicians straight on. This band’s day-after-glamorous-debauchery plus a banjo felt so right—considering the far-out night many people were still living. The audience slapped its knee and sloppily clapped along to what might have been Manimal’s theme song.
He’s My Brother She’s My Sister
Shivering, lacking vitamins and sleep, the audience sat cross-legged on Pappy’s dancefloor during Ariana Delawari. Gentle detailed guitar was punctuated when she struck hard chords or sincere moments—her eyebrows pleated like a sea for rain. Lulled, you forget she might be singing about politics and terrorism.
Voices Voices was the last thing I could see before the boogie-man chased me home. For a finale to the melting rainbow they stirred until dissolved, the girls should have ridden off on motorcycles across the darkening desert—trenchcoats flapping behind them.
Lips chapped the minute they tasted the air at Pappy & Harriet’s—those allergic to Chapstick have since cracked and ripped every time a smile recollects the Manimal Fest journey.
—Daiana Feuer (words and photo)