Phono Del Sol 2014, with Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Wye Oak, Nick Waterhouse, Blackbird Blackbird, White Fence, Tony Molina, Yalls, A Million Billion Dying Suns, The Tambo Rays, Bill Baird
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Potrero Del Sol Park
Dogs, kids, scrubby looking rock 'n' rollers, more dogs, kids, their parents, rock 'n' rollers, and skateboarders: Saturday's Phono Del Sol festival drew a mellow, diverse crowd to Potrero Del Sol park, which consists of a few grassy knolls and a skatepark tucked in between the 101 freeway and Potrero Avenue in the lower-right corner of the Mission. The afternoon weather was typically indecisive for summer in S.F. -- it was possible to find both breezy shade and warm sun. But the real draw was of course the music, and a few acts -- most notably Thao and the Get Down Stay Down and Nick Waterhouse -- broke through the inevitable distractions and chatter of an afternoon in the park to put on thrilling sets. A few others, like Wye Oak, didn't.
Nugyen, who closed out the festival, was the highlight of the later afternoon. Brandishing a massive old jazzbox acoustic/electric, the singer steered her sizeable band through highlights from her latest album, We the Common, like "City" and "The Feeling Kind." You could tell she's been doing this -- thrilling people from onstage -- for a while: Using music for social good hasn't kept her from mastering the art of showmanship. Waterhouse, who preceded Nugyen on the Potrero Stage, churned out his disciplined, revivalist soul backed by a meaty brass section, and while dressed like an aspiring yachtie. At one point we heard him play a song and thought, "Oh, that's that song from the Lexus commercial." But it wasn't. He played "Time's All Gone" -- the actual song from that Lexus commercial -- last in his set. So we can say confidently that Nick Waterhouse has a number of songs that would sound good in a Lexus commercial.
Wye Oak and Blackbird Blackbird made less of an impression. Both seemed to somewhat drown in the chatter and noise of the afternoon -- a time for which the subtlety of Wye Oak and the nighttime-y-ness of Blackbird Blackbird are rather ill-suited. (But this applied to some extent to everyone. As good was Waterhouse was, his sweaty, smoky R&B was made for a dark room, not a sun-drenched bandstand.)
Photographer Christopher Victorio was on hand to document the afternoon -- here's more of what he captured: