Biggest disappointment: Dead Man's Bones. My apologies to Mr. Ryan Gosling for speaking frankly. I appreciate the fact that he's branching out from acting and giving kids in the Silver Lake Conservatory Children's Choir a chance to express themselves musically. It was stirring to hear the nearly 15 youngsters clad in various costumes sing the refrain, "My body's a zombie for you." And Gosling, like many actors is a competent singer. But the gloomy songwriting and sparse arrangement of Dead Man's Bones, which consists of Gosslin and Zach Shields on guitar and keys in front of a choir still lacks musical richness and sophistication, not to mention enough material to adequately fill an entire set. This was evidenced when each of the young choir members engaged in a best costume contest judged by audience applause which lasted several minutes. Sadly, the biggest thrill was the novelty of watching an Oscar-nominated actor play music with a bunch of kids.
Worst audience reaction: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Ted Leo is one of those punk rockers who also happens to be a competent musician. His songs have always been catchy, edgy and manage to draw on unconventional influences such as Thin Lizzy. Unfortunately, during his set, most of the people watching him showed little enthusiasm for what he was doing. During the closer, "Biomusicology," he spoke into his drooping mic: "Have I pissed somebody off so much that I can't get help with this mic?" He asked the question again before a stagehand came out to render assistance.
Most deserved audience apathy: Panda Bear. Standing on a darkened stage, the genius of Animal Collective played two notes through a loud synthesizer for 10 minutes. You could almost hear people scratching their heads.
Worst set placement: The Rapture. Judging by the crowd's rapturous response to these New York dance punks and festival headliners, I may have been the only one who noticed this. But their catchy brand of bouncy, synthy music felt like an extension of !!!. The two were separated by one time slot, were featured on the same stage and are of the same genre. That said, The Rapture delivered a tight, energetic set that got progressively more kinetic toward the middle when they played perennial favorites "Whoo Alright Yeah Uh Huh," and "Echoes." During these jams the show took on the feel of a massive backyard party. At one point the band was joined on stage by a pelvis thrusting, underwear-clad fan who was chased to the end of the stage where he jumped into the crowd.
Best call and response: Big Freedia. The New Orleans "bounce" rapper sounded the call "I've got that gin in my system." and thousands of hipsters responded, "Now someone's gonna be my victim." Dig the booty dancers.
Overheard: "Come on, let's wrap this shit up," yelled one fan at the end of The Rapture's set. The same fan was seen dancing during the last number.
The crowd: A hipster mecca. Guys wearing prison striped tank tops, cut off jean shorts, straw fedoras and pork pie hats. Girls in spandex leggings, sun dresses, big floppy-brimmed hats and parasols galore.
Most surprising act of mercy: As the throngs were exiting the fenced area at show's end under the watchful eye of two LAPD officers, one genius decided to start throwing rocks at their cruiser. The cops quickly reached over the chest high fence and grabbed the guy who immediately said he respected the work they were doing. Instead of pulling him through the fence like a piece of cheese, they told him to get his ass home.