Live 105's BFD, with Jane's Addiction, Garbage, Cake, fun., Neon Trees, and more
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Better than: Listening to Live 105 for 12 consecutive hours.
True to its name, Live 105's BFD was a big fucking deal yet again this year. We're talking more than three dozen acts on four stages for 12 continuous hours of live music and kick-off-the-summer party mayhem. The price was reasonable -- lawn tickets with up-close access to all but the main stage for a mere $10 -- and kids of all ages were out in force on an ecstatic mission: to bask in the South Bay sun, soak up the sounds of favorite bands, and drink and dance until puking or passing out (or both). On all fronts, Bay Area concertgoers did not disappoint.
From the throbbing floor of the Subsonic Dance Tent to the relatively serene outskirts of the lawn, BFD was all about spectacle: girls in bikini tops or bare-midriff blouses, Daisy Dukes, and fishnets (often torn); shirtless boys with sculpted abs, sprawling tats, and fluorescent shades; outsized bellies and boobs and intoxicant consumption -- an entertaining combo, to say the least. Under the flashing lights on stage, frontmen and women (notably Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell, Garbage's Shirley Manson, Cake's John McCrea, Fun.'s Nate Ruess, and Neon Trees' Tyler Glenn) performed with theatrical flourish. Even when the music was so pop-sweet it hurt our teeth, the showmanship and professionalism of the musicians was worthy of respect.
Curiously, there were no stars, or maybe everyone was a star. From local blues rockers The Stone Foxes to virtuosic white-girl rapper K. Flay to groove-deep BFD alums Silversun Pickups, all the acts shined brightly. Most of the sounds were electro-heavy and amped to eleven, and yet there was still a feeling of diversity. For instance, DJ St. John spoke only through his laptop, live-mixing propulsive beats and leaving the stage presence of his show to a pair of, um, talented go-go pirate-dancers. Meanwhile, SoCal punks Pennywise used the mic to proselytize between songs about environmental causes, like "the whale wars," and to urge "Frisco" scenesters to "fuck anyone who tries to tell you how to live your life!" A rousing, middle finger-waving version of "Fuck Authority" was an unexpected highlight of the day.
Beyond the raucous party atmosphere, if there was a unifying thread at BFD, it was the '80s. Naked and Famous were all 4AD psychedelic wash, Duran Duran, and the Cure. Neon Trees was New Wave pogo city in striped pants and spiky dyed hair. Jane's Addiction's best songs (in a surprisingly vigorous set) were (not surprisingly) from its late '80s album Nothing's Shocking. No one wanted to hear their new material, "Twisted Tales," etc., which seemed silly by comparison, both musically and lyrically. Garbage, though technically a '90s phenom, looked like an '80s flashback (think Annie Lennox flanked by Social Security Administration bureaucrats). Silversun Pickups' sound was anchored in monster reverb, chorus, and '80s-era digital-delay effects. And Fun.'s singer couldn't shift his hips without copping moves by Mick Jagger and John Cougar Mellencamp popularized on MTV way back when the network really was music television.
Needless to say, the nostalgia parade was unsettling. So we drank. And we danced (we couldn't help ourselves). And unlike some of our less seasoned party-happy brothers and sisters, we never did fall down.
Revelation: We finally understand Cake's appeal: for everyone with a broken heart and a bad attitude who somehow manages to muddle through one day at a time.
Stupid move: Live 105 didn't include the Local Band Stage in the festival flyer that listed the performers and set times for all the other stages. What's up with that?