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Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Muse Get Theatrical at Download Fest

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Beck headlines the second annual version of the U.K.-born festival.

The second annual Bay Area installment of the U.K.’s tech-centric Download Festival came to Shoreline Amphitheatre this weekend, bringing with it artists like Muse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Beck (minus festival regulars Wolfmother, who had to cancel due to the premature birth of bassist Chris Ross’ new son). Rogue Wave, TV on the Radio, and the Shins were among the acts that played the Main Stage, with the most electrifying performance coming from Muse. Drawing the curtain on the band’s always-theatrical show, vocalist Matthew Bellamy began singing “Take a Bow” while covering his eyes in a gesture that seemed to say: “We’re rocking so hard I can’t even watch,” and finished with a triumphant “To infinity and beyond” pose.

Not to be out-dramatized, Karen O greeted fans dressed as a Tinkerbell-goes-reptile rock goddess, dancing like a banshee throughout the set and stabbing herself in the heart with the mic after seducing the crowd with the ballad “Maps.” But it all paled in comparison to the final act, in which Beck and his band transformed the stage into a Being John Malkovich-like affair, complete with a mini theater populated by marionettes in the band’s likeness and puppeteers on hand to mirror every musician’s movement. After performing songs including “Think I’m in Love” and “Motorcade” from his new album The Information, Beck played an acoustic version of “Debra” while the rest of the band sat at a fully stocked dinner table nearby. He got midway through “The Golden Age” before the band joined in, providing back up by drumming on the table with silverware, shaking faux fruit maracas, and playing wine glasses straight through the final song of the set, “Clap Hands.” Beck returned to deliver an encore that included the film short “Snakes On A Bus” (starring the puppets) followed by a performance of “Where It’s At” and “E-Pro.” STORY BY MELISSA GOLDSTEIN AND STEPHANIE CASTRO. PROFILE PHOTOS BY JEREMY PAZ AND BAND PHOTOS BY STEFANIE MICHEJDA

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