In 1979, London adventurer Gary Numan pumped out the spectacular "Cars,"
an impeccable pop tune whose bouncy synths and awesomely-corny whiplash-snare effect helped usher in the idea of commercially successful electronic music. For a crowd mostly familiar with "Cars" and his similarly excellent Pleasure Principle
debut, the Numan on stage was a stylistic surprise, more nu-metal than New Wave. Pulling from his recent, Reznor-like Splinter,
Numan's new work sounds like an industrial EMD, with overdriven guitar pummeling its way to the forefront.
Fred Armisen / Iceage
packed the small-ish yellow stage to see Fred Armisen, then promptly left when they found out he was doing a music set. In a weird caricature of a UK punk band, Armisen put on his best Strummer accent for the gig, pounding through mid-tempo '80s punk.
It seemed like the bit was intended to take light-hearted jabs at Austin, with inter-song banter pointing out the oddities of the city. But none of it was specific enough to really land (unlike The Daily Show's recent work
), delivering closer to Armisen's bland SNL
days than his cutting material with Carrie Brownstein
It's a shame that Armisen was doing a pastiche version of European punk when the real thing was on display a few stages over in Iceage. Elias Rønnenfelt of the Copenhagen quartet spat in his slurred, baritone yelp, moping around on the stage like a punk rock Hamlet. The band performed their new record Plowing Into the Field of Love,
bringing their third LP to life with stunning results. On record, Love
is a disorienting thing, with odd disruptions in time and tone. But when the young band performs live, the sheer weight of Love
takes over, as the loud, clean guitar tone howls with anger.
If you're looking for a missing link to connect the legacies of Rakim and Kendrick Lamar, you couldn't do any better than the internal rhyme powerhouse of Nas. Throughout Illmatic
and It Was Written
, the Queensbridge emcee expanded on Rakim's insatiable
language with crisp images of New York life. Meanwhile, it's easy to imagine Kendrick Lamar with a Xerox machine borrowing onstage moves from the Nas playbook. Theirs is an evolution with language as its driving factor, with each emcee at the top of their generation's ability in lyricism.
A recent inductee to the Legacy Tour club, Nas performed all of Illmatic
for its 20th anniversary, which means a lot of bar-finishing from the audience. Nas brought the fire on the album's nine tracks, with the New York '90s Pete Rock production style of piano and heavy bass driving the performance. "Old people over there, hands in the air," he joked, blasting through the rhymes of his teenage years.
Good news for people who love millennial Modest Mouse: the Washington State legends played mostly from their 21st century catalog, despite recently reissuing of '96's This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About
and '97's The Lonesome Crowded West.
But no matter what era of the Modest library you pick from, the idiosyncracies of Isaac Brock will ring true.
Despite the threat of bleedover from other stages (the festival was condensed this year, due to construction at Auditorium Shores), Modest Mouse pulled off a dynamic display, from quiet reflections like "The World at Large" to huge stadium piece and smiling guitar line of "Float On." With multiple horns and drummers, the set came alive to the largest audience of the day.