For those who attended Virgin Mobile FreeFest at Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Saturday, the day was divided into part-clean/part-messy halves: Before and after the rain. Before: electro-pop acts CHVRCHES and Icona Pop played the second stage, delighting the kind of fan who already knows the former’s every song, despite their album not coming out until tomorrow, and still dances to the latter, even when they’re not playing “I Love It” for 45 minutes straight. (But really, download CHVRCHES’s The Bones of What You Believe when it’s released. They’re nosier than you might expect, and far more consistently introspective than many of their genre peers.) After: under the massive tarp shielding the pavilion from the elements, which is where I spent most of my soaked day.
Luckily, there was a solid enough bill before the all-important festival headliner: MGMT’s hostile psychedelia came off as too aggressively bizarre, weird for weird’s sake; but the spirited Avett Brothers kept the energy upbeat, at least for those who enjoy ALL the strumming on wooden instruments that from afar look like props. Then came Vampire Weekend. I, like many of you, found their first two albums cold. It was pop elitism, so technically proficient and stifled that it was tough to form an emotional reaction to anything beyond the rare “Bringing Up the Gun.” That all changed with this year’s Modern Vampire of the City, a fantastic, textured album that’s well crafted, not showy, and most importantly, heartfelt. The group’s 90-minute FreeFest set was scattered between songs from all three records, but the older material sounded warmer when filtered through the new Vampire Weekend, whose name you no longer have to follow with, “Yeah, yeah, I know.” Also, Ezra Koenig wore a Nets jacket the night after playing Barclays Center.
Anyway, here are some photos from FreeFest, all taken by Nadia Chaudhury.