Submitted by guest contributor Tina Hand. 

“Only positive vibes right now” – Party Favor

The crowd at day two of ID10T Festival + Comedy Conival was tightly packed into the Festival Tent by the time I arrived at 2 PM. Sunday’s crowd, while not much different than Saturday’s, read more like a group from mega-rave Electric Daisy Carnival and less like a cosplay gang from Comic-Con. These were still nerds we’re talking about, but with a lineup including Party Favor and Zeds Dead on the Mad Decent Dance Stage—as well as Crystal Castles and Girl Talk on the Main Stage—the crowd’s priorities had changed. Gone were the full-body costumes and prop blaster guns, and in their place: tie-dye shirts, weed leaf-emblazoned stretchy pants, and layers upon layers of rainbow bracelets. Plus alcohol.

While day one of the festival reminded me to be proud of my nerd affiliation, Sunday’s events offered deeper insight into the community itself. Chris Hardwick said it best during an impromptu set in the Comedy Tent: “festival people are so nice!”

I haven’t been to Coachella in years and Outside Lands has always been out of my price range, so I could just be speaking about ID10T Festival people right now, but throughout the day, I was repeatedly reminded about the kindness of strangers, especially strangers that are being endlessly entertained by comedy, music, star-studded panels, and their fellow festival-goers.

Mothers

After posting up in the Festival Tent for both the Animaniacs Live and Portlandia panels, I headed straight to the Main Stage to catch my first music act of the day. Mothers started as the solo project of Kristine Leschper in Athens, Georgia. Before long, Lescher recruited additional musicians (Matthew Anderegg, Drew Kirby, and Patrick Morales), and the band released their debut album, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, just last year. Mothers’ set at ID10T was filled with emotional and musical peaks and valleys. Their melodies frequently changed tempo, often during a single song, creating a rollercoaster ride of music.

Mothers’ music is captivating. The four-piece band uses their two guitars, bass, and drums to create a sound that could best be described as psychedelic indie rock. Lescher used heavy synthesized vocal effects, almost creating another instrument altogether. “The hands are the organs of feeling,” she sang, as her hands plucked the strings on her electric guitar. I floated into the dreamy tones created by their song, “Fat Chance.” Listening, I imagined that this is what it might sound like inside Sofia Coppola’s mind.

Garfunkel & Oates

The Comedy Tent at ID10T was very popular, which surprised none of the festival-goers and all of the festival contributors. In a tent that was cleverly reconfigured overnight to accommodate more patrons, I sat down for a five-act, 90-minute comedy set. The headliner of that set was musical-comedy duo Garfunkel & Oates, starring Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci. Their tunes, backed by an acoustic guitar and a ukulele, offer a frank and hilarious look at some of life’s unique struggles, like anal sex to stay pure (“The Loophole”) and lullabies for your frozen egg baby (“Frozen Lullaby”).

It has to be noted that the acoustics and sound design of a pitched tent in a parking lot was not fitting for sing-song comedy like Garfunkel & Oates. Their hilarious lyrics are hurled at you in rapid succession as the comedians sing in perfectly-timed synchronization. The combination of their singing style and the tent’s awful audio quality meant that some of their jokes, particularly in the beginning, did not land. But they soon got into the swing of things and brought the audience on-board to their silly and effectively gross songs.

The chemistry between Lindhome and Micucci is undeniable, and no song demonstrates this more efficiently than their closing number “29/31” which chronicles the opposing inner thoughts of the same woman about dating at age 29 and then at 31: Micucci sings of hope and high standards while Lindhome screams back at her: “There’s nobody left! I’m all alone!” Did I mention that their songs are relatable too?

Crystal Castles

The amphitheater stage was obscured by huge pillars of smoke rising from the fog machines that encircled Crystal Castles. It looked eerie and mysterious, like some haunted swamp you might expect the Scooby-Doo gang to walk into, and it stayed like this for the entirety of their set. The creepiness of the setting was not at all lessened by the pantyhose that both Ethan and Edith had pulled over their heads. Crystal Castles is an electropunk band formed in Toronto, Canada in 2006. Current members include Ethan Kath, Christopher Chartrand, and Edith France. Their music consists of brash electronic rhythms and sounds created using Edith’s vocals, Christopher’s heavy drumming, and Ethan on synthesizers and other instruments.

What I noticed as I took in the Crystal Castles experience was the body-piercing volume of their electronic tracks, the head-thrashing of their loyal fans in the crowd, and the attitude with which they performed their set. While Ethan and Christopher played their instruments, still enshrouded in the smoke, Edith shuffled around on stage and sang into the microphone in a kind of dreary stupor. She flopped around like a rag doll, occasionally pouring water over hear own head or into the crowd. At one point, she jumped offstage into the audience and climbed over the first few rows of seats, eluding the security guards that were trying to escort her back to the platform where her bandmates stood.

It’s moments like this that serve to really underscore the “F— You” attitude that Crystal Castles seems to be after. The only disappointment for me was the clear lack of enthusiasm that Edith seemed to have for songs written by or with her predecessor, founding member of the band, Alice Glass. Songs like “Crimewave” and “Vanished” that propelled Crystal Castles onto the charts in 2007/2008 seemed to simply fall out of Edith while other songs drove her into fits of rage and mania. Despite that, the crowd was blown away by their set. As I heard from a fellow fan as we were exiting the amphitheater, “They sound so fucking tight live.” Can’t argue with that.

Animal Collective

I was not at all surprised to see Animal Collective on the schedule for Sunday’s fest. Their experimental mix of psych folk-pop, electronic, and noise-rock garners the attraction of music fans and nerds alike; they had no trouble finding a captive audience at ID10T Fest. Their set began with “Kids on Holiday” from their 2004 breakthrough album Sung Tongs which is a beautiful introduction to the unique sound of Animal Collective. The song includes hard-hitting slow drum beats, electronic melodies, and singing mixed with vocalizations and screaming. This opening song put the audience in a bit of a trance and without much outright dancing, the crowd began to sway together to the beat as the song builds to its climax.

It was at this show that I was reminded once again just how nice people are at festivals. About half-way through the set, a young guy behind me tapped on my shoulder to ask why I was taking notes on the performance. After I told him the reason, without really listening to my answer, he offered me a dried mango from his bag (a very thoughtful gesture in a place where a small salad and soda costs $19). I felt a sense of community with my fellow Animal Collective fans as we danced to the kind of music you hear less in your ears and more in your heart. 

Party Favor

I left the Animal Collective set early in order to catch a simultaneous set at the Dance Stage from up-and-coming DJ and EDM producer, Party Favor. As I neared the ID10T Festival Tent it became clear to me that the Dance Stage was a much bigger part of this festival than I had realized. The tent itself was overstuffed with dancers going buck wild for Party Favor’s mixes and there was a crowd of about half that size listening from just outside the tent, not close enough to see the artist himself but definitely close enough to move with the beat. These crowds were probably intoxicated with a few extra substances, but there was no denying that these fans were drunk on Party Favor (aka. Dylan Ragland).

From his DJ setup on stage, Party Favor spouted common EDM and rave philosophies of making new friends and spreading positive vibes. As his fans danced in a daze of happiness and exhaustion, Party Favor called the shots. “I want to see some girls on shoulders right now” and immediately the crowd obliged: I saw four girls hop on their boyfriend’s shoulders within just two feet of me! The power Party Favor yielded over the crowd stemmed from the undeniable favorability of his setlist. He spun remixes of Millennial anthems like “Get Low” by Lil Jon, “Thizzle Dance” by Mac Dre, and even “the Macarena.” Each song played only for a chorus or two before the next recognizable track was mixed in and the crowd would go wild all over again.

TV on the Radio

Just like in day one of ID10T Fest, my favorite set of the day came from the band right before the headliner. I reached my seat just in time for TV on the Radio’s first song and I was instantly drawn in. This band was formed in 2001 and has since become synonymous with Brooklyn’s indie-music scene. TV on the Radio’s sound is composed of a delightful mix of intense electric guitar, drums, bass, and trombone along with additional instruments (organ, synthesizer, percussion to name a few). Tunde Adebimpe is the lead vocalist; the energy and emotion that he brings to the stage is unbelievable. He dances, claps, and genuinely seems to feel the music, all while delivering powerful vocals over the band’s big sound. Genre-speaking, their music could be called indie or art rock but their sound is more unique than that. And while feeding off the raw energy of their 60-minute set, the amphitheater audience was completely engrossed in their music. If I could attend any one of these performances again, it would be TV on the Radio.

Girl Talk

The final performance on the ID10T Festival Main Stage came from mash-up maven Girl Talk. The stage was a transformed using inflated hands and feet that stood over 10 feet high. Girl Talk stood behind an oversized inflated basketball (I guess it was sports themed?) and spun his famous mash-ups to a hungry crowd of music fans. In case there was any confusion about how to respond to his music, just minutes after he started his set a crowd of fans stormed on stage from behind the inflatable appendages and formed a dance party behind the DJ table. This crowd danced on stage for his entire set, which is a testament to both the power of Girl Talk’s music and the eternal enthusiasm that festival-goers have for dancing. Each mashup of songs, ranging from hip hop to pop to classic rock, bleed into the next as if the beat was never-ending. This performance, with so many different types of music all mashed into one set, was a perfect conclusion to a festival that effectively blends so many offerings. The crowd danced together, some in the audience and some on stage, and we were moving, hearing, and feeling as one.

ID10T Festival was an ambitious offering of music, comedy, and nerd fandom all in one. Chris Hardwick’s vision came together to create a community of fans with lots of different interests and a common love of dancing. This weekend’s events demonstrated that Bay Area crowds are eager for festivals of this kind and willing to show their support for festival contributors, artists, and each other. As I was walking to my car at the end of the night, I came up behind a fellow festival-goer dressed like a cheeseburger and his girlfriend. As he passed the security guard who was shepherding us across the street, he said “Thanks, man. Get home safe.” Then unprovoked, he turned back to me and said, “You too, ma’am: get home safe.” To which I thought, ‘festival people are so nice!’ Man, is Chris Hardwick ever wrong?

Tina Hand is a writer, filmmaker, and very serious business person living in the Bay Area. She loves attending concerts, dancing by herself, and hunting for records at second-hand stores. Her dream is to one day form a mom rock cover band.

 

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