Live Shots: Phono Del Sol


Hosting an all-day outdoor festival in the middle of a chilly SF summer was a crapshoot, but the Bay Bridged bet well. The sun sizzled so strongly over Phono Del Sol attendees and bands last Saturday that one musician had to call out into the crowd for coverage.

La Sera's Katy Goodman (also of Vivian Girls) had to take a pause from her creamy crooning – likely at that moment singing of a break-up – to borrow a baseball hat from one of a few dude lounging in the grass just out front of the Potereo del Sol Park stage.

To stage right a handful of skaters glided through the skatepark, mostly rolling just above lip of the half-pipe then back down again. To stage left, a sea of women in sundresses and men in flimsy T-shirts stood behind the fence drinking $5 cups of beer, or munching Kung-Fu Tacos or Kasa Indian Eatery rice plates from the bank of food trucks.

It was a prime, summery, music-punctuated Saturday in San Francisco for the second annual Phono Del Sol, with a good turnout of fans parking themselves along the shade-covered hills first, then slowly filling in the direct-sun center bowl.
Host Broke-Ass Stuart popped up between each act with a Pauly Shore joke or witty aside, and DJs Andy Cabic, Kevin Meenan, and Zach Rogue, kept the music pumping while the acts set up. The break-down times were quick, leaving precious minutes to rush to beer and food. And Vitamin Water offered free, sticky-sweet beverages to those in need of non-alcoholic liquid between acts.

After Sacramento's Sea of Bees left the stage, Stuart described its sound as “make-out music” and implored the then-sparse crowd of fans to kiss their partners, a rare awkward moment.

La Sera's Goodman next arrived on the concrete stage, wearing one of those seasonal sundresses, and opening with dreamy, girl group-esque ditty “Break My Heart.” She asked for that aforementioned cap a few songs in and swayed steadily throughout the set, occasionally mentioning the “chill” vibe at the intimate fest.

Gardens & Villa came out pan-flute first, kicking off the set with “Thorn Castle” off last year's self-titled LP, an insta-indie pop classic. As the director of the band's video for “Spacetime” noted during the Phono Del Sol appearance, Gardens & Villa (that's "vee-ya”) sounds precisely the same live as it does on the record – a notable achievement as the album was a joint project with legendary producer Richard Swift.

A cluster of sun-chasers later gathered to dance by the stage in a sinewy fashion during minimalist psych act Unknown Mortal Orchestra's riff-heavy performance. You could get lost in those dance moves as the guitar crawled on.

The closing performance, by SF's own the Fresh & Onlys, was the perfectly appropriate finale for such a pleasurable afternoon. Peppered with tracks off the upcoming Long Slow Dance, the swirling, hooky garage band's set was both familiar and enticingly...fresh.

In a cap and camo jacket, swarthy singer-guitarist Tim Cohen seemed in relaxed spirits, repeatedly asking those in the crowd to hold up their kids (they obliged). He later addressed the general grass-sprawled audience, “you guys look like little kids at an assembly.” Pause. “That's what happens you take acid.”

Only complaint? The entire bottle of sticky-sweet Vitamin Water I spilled on my weather-appropriate sundress. That and the sunburn.

Also from this author

  • Love rumbles

    Who is Charlie Megira? A Berlin rebel with a Bay Area connection

  • Down at the Rickshaw

    One of our favorite independent music venues celebrates 10 years of rockin' -- with a week of great shows

  • Rockin' New Year's Eve

    Let 2013 all hang out at these musical blasts