Outside Lands sounds better than ever in its fourth year
STRFKR: Portland, Ore.-based dance pop quartet STRFKR (pronounced "Starfucker") injects emotion into live electronic dance music. Call it that now-retro genre electro pop, call it the LCD Soundsystem effect, call it whatever you wish: just dance.
Do not miss:
Beirut: Beirut doesn't play very often — the last time it stopped in San Francisco was at the Treasure Island Festival in 2008 — but when it does, it's imperative that you watch. The result is an inspired jumble of brass horns and ukulele, Balkan folk, and Eastern European-influenced torch songs. Band leader Zachary Condon's vocals soar live and he emotes convincingly at each stop.
Deadmau5: The tripped-out lights, lasers, and holograms of the show are worth sticking around for regardless of sound. But Deadmau5, nestled in a lit-up diamond cube and wearing an oversize foam mouse head, does bring music as well; it's haunting yet danceable electronica with moving beats and breakdowns.
tUne-YarDs: Colorful, paint-streaked Merrill Garbus (a.k.a. tUne-YarDs) could likely be dubbed acid queen of 2011 — minus any actual drugs. Her looping drums, ukulele, and bass compositions are a dizzying work of art. And if you've seen her weirdo video for "Bizness," you know she's got a few unique ideas floating around. All that brain power manifests itself into a superior live show. Plus, she brought "two free-jazzing saxophonists" to the Pitchfork Music Festival, so here's hoping she'll do the same in her adopted Bay Area home.
Worth checking out:
Fresh & Onlys: The band may on the verge of outgrowing this place, but for now, Fresh & Onlys can be described as very San Francisco. As in, its music is one of a few local favorites to be included in the Hemlock Tavern's meticulously selective jukebox. The garage rockers play moody, '80s-tinged rock 'n' roll — soundtrack music for backseat teenage make-out sessions.
Major Lazer: You know Diplo, that guy who made M.I.A. good? He is also a member of Major Lazer, along with another producer you may know through M.I.A., Switch. Diplo has described Major Lazer's sound as "digital reggae and dancehall from Mars in the future," which: yeah. The show includes eye-popping costumes, hype men, and a refreshing bent towards live audio.
OUTSIDE LANDS MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL Fri/12-Sun/14, noon, $85 Golden Gate Park, SF www.sfoutsidelands.com