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Review: 5 Highlights From BFD 2012

In Music

This year’s BFD had the best vibe the venerable summer festival has had in years. Was it the absence of white-t-shirted bro-bot Sublime fans? Maybe the recent proliferation of fun pop bands on alt-radio? Who knows, but this one was a blast from start to finish.

One of my favorites, and I’ve been going since the very first one. Here are five quick takes on my favorite moments from Shoreline Saturday:

5. Grouplove vs. Kanye West: If there was any band at BFD less likely than Grouplove to take the stage to Kanye’s “Monster,” I didn’t see them. The fact that they did it anyway was hilarious, and in line with their clearly demonstrated mission not to take themselves too seriously. Keyboardist and co-lead Hannah Hooper is a superball on stage, and in general this band looks to create chaos on stage whenever they can. That they write the bounciest pop songs ever is neither here nor there. Back to “Monster,” they really ought to go full bore and just cover it. Another funny nod came near the end of the set when they turned their big hit “Tongue Tied” into Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

4. Jane’s Addiction vs. Mythological Themes: Still, Grouplove had only the second best entrance of the night. Top honors have to go to Perry Ferrell and company for their bizarre, Divine Comedy-sized opening, which featured girls in white dresses raised to the rafters and chased by flying demons. All this while a snazzily dressed Ferrell smiled that Joker-esque smile and sang “Underground”: “I came back to pay respect/To another fallen angel.”

PHOTOS: View the MetroActive photo gallery.

3. Dirty Ghosts vs. Trends: This San Francisco band was my favorite act on the Local Band Stage (regrettably, I got there too late to see Young Science). Noisy and loud in a way that makes a statement, they remind me of early Sonic Youth, with how they manage to be catchy and dissonant at the same time. Sleater-Kinney fans still looking for a fix (and no matter how great Portlandia is, doesn’t it kind of suck that Carrie Brownstein is going to be busy for the foreseeable future?) need to check this band out. They’re raising a big middle finger to rock that’s gotten too slick and mechanical.

2. K. Flay vs. Milpitas: The best quote of the day came from this unstoppable SF rapper: “BFD, are you ready to take a trip with me? Let’s spiritually go to Milpitas, and go to the mall!” I’m still not totally sure what she meant, but I have to admit, I kind of gave it a shot. No astral projection was forthcoming, but K. Flay’s set was probably the best I’ve heard her do. With the Subsonic Tent’s emphasis on electronica, her backbeats were way pumped up in the mix. A couple of times this messed with the vocals, but overall it blew me away.

1. Wallpaper vs. Sanity: If you’re not yet on the Wallpaper bandwagon, where have you been? Ricky Reed’s live show is, as he described one song, “so stupid it went to the liquor store to get bananas.” He’s just doing mind-bending stuff right now, especially on stage. A lot of credit goes to his partner in crime, singer Novena Carmel. At this show, she rocked pink hair, a polka dot blouse and a keytar. At the end of “Stupidfacedd,” she jumped on Ricky’s back, rode him like a horse, and beat her chest. It was nuts, and yet the only way to cap a set like this one.

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