Gang of Four Cap Off Splendid Saturday at Download 2008

Gang of Four vocalist JON KING / Photo by Tracy Nunnery
Gary Moskowitz

For about 10 hours last Saturday (July 19), more than 20 bands and a handful of stand-up comics performed for several thousand Bay Area music fans at Download 2008's San Francisco stopover. The result was a telling mash-up of what music fans are listening to as 2008 hits its mid-point.

Kansas City's Vedera played a seamless, polished second-stage set that at times sounded like a revved-up Sundays, with occasional growled syllables from Kristen May. Meanwhile, Chicago's Flosstradamus rocked a younger dance crowd on the main stage with four turntables and two laptops, calling out to the dancing crowd to, "Jump in your seat! But don't get too crazy, now."

Datarock, decked out in matching red track suits, performed a high-energy set of disco punk that floated somewhere between slightly annoying and full-on entertaining. "This one's for the ladies," they shouted, before launching into a set that highlighted some speedy funk rhythms and, unfortunately, a poorly mic-ed tenor saxophone.

M83's brooding cascades of long keyboard tones -- mixed with pulsing kick drum beats and power fills -- were dark and dramatic without projecting pure doom and gloom. Nashville outfit De Novo Dahl's sense of humor, on the other hand, was in full effect. The band wore matching yellow-and-orange-striped vintage bathing suits on stage, and at one point asked the crowd, "How many people out there know that sexiness is an attitude?"

"I'm not in love with you, I love what we do," sang Natalie Portman's Shaved Head during what was arguably the most well-attended second-stage set of the day. Yeasayer, however, were obviously awed by the environs of their main-stage placement, as vocalist Chris Keating announced, "I feel like we're playing in a baseball stadium, and it's totally weird," before the Brooklyn four-piece engaged the crowd in their slinky, echoey sounds.

Mute Math were very concise with their brand of guitar arpeggios and keytar-playing, and native Londoners Alberta Cross displayed they've worked hard developing a folksy, southern rock sound with plenty of lyrical storytelling.

Comedian Brian Posehn was one of the handful of non-musical performers, and regaled the crowd with stories about strippers, hard-ons, and how much he'd like to own a samurai sword.

By the endof the night, tt was arguably tough for show closers the Jesus and Mary Chain to follow Gang of Four. The icons completely nailed a tough, tight, and precise set full of their trademark distorted post-punk aggression-cum-poppy rhythms, the very sound that had influence on many of the bands who had played throughout the day.

Check out photos from Download 2008 in San Francisco after the jump!

Gang of Four's Jon King / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

Gang of Four's bassist Gail Ann Dorsey / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

The Jesus and Mary Chain vocalist Jon Reid / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

The Jesus and Mary Chain guitarist William Reid / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

The Jesus and Mary Chain / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

>> More photos from Download 2008 in San Francisco after the jump!
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Datarock / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

Datarock / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

M83 / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

M83 / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

Yeasayer / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

Yeasayer / Photo by Tracy Nunnery

>> Back to the story

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