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Sizzle and Fizzle: Highs and Lows From the Last Week in S.F. Music 

Tuesday, Aug 12 2014
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Sizzle

New Orleans genderfuck trickster Big Freedia, blue-haired and attended by acrobatic dancers of both genders, engaged with the audience through stuttering monotonal beats. It was maddening until it became hypnotic, and the twerking onstage further pushed the audience into some kind of weird ass-trance. "Release your wiggle," Freedia said, and we did, to the best of our knowledge/abilities.

Dum Dum Girls, Haim, Jenny Lewis, Lucius, Lykke Li, Imelda May, Kacey Musgraves, Tegan and Sara, Garfunkel and Oates — even though the big closing acts were all male, there was some serious girl power on display in this year's lineup, many of them female-only outfits.

This year saw more than ever image-bearing things-on-sticks to indicate where a certain group's camp was. These totems introduced a tribal element, roving groups that worshiped at the altar of big-haired Rob Lowe or Danny Devito as Frank Reynolds or a giant pickle, and turned the crowd into an interesting landscape of cartoons by which the hordes could navigate.

Fizzle

The best part of the Kanye West performance Friday night was the audience hollering "Where's Kim?" at him, because at least there's honesty in the fact that this Kanye thing is becoming some big cosmic joke. Early enthusiasm at the diamond-masked man playing through red light, smoke, and nothing else on stage waned as he got on a rambling tirade about lovers and haters and then proceeded to muddle "Blood on the Leaves."

At the Barbary Stage, there's some good comedy, but man is it a pain to get into. You have to line up at least 30 minutes before the show and even then may not get a seat — and at a free outdoor music festival in which people go from stage to stage as freely as a 23-year-old hula-hooping in tribal-inspired bell-bottoms, the Barbary's pacing is all off.

This year's festival saw many reports of scalpers selling fake tickets online, resulting in people waiting in long lines only to be turned away at the gates. This, we suppose, is the inevitable result of a festival getting so popular it sells out within a day. People waiting to pull the trigger find themselves desperate and seeking relief in the unsavory corners of Craigslist.

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