“Let’s pretend it’s not noon and jump around like we’re fucking idiots,” gooftronica auteur Dan Deacon gleefully exclaimed on Sunday (Aug. 5), and the soon-to-be overflowing Dance Tent was happy to comply. Despite the fact that the keyboard that’s pretty integral to his brand of electro wasn’t working, Deacon thrilled. First, though, he confounded. He started the set with a prolonged plea to whoever was listening for a harmonious time, followed by the first fifteen of what would be 75 chantings of his Dadaist mantra “horsey horsey.” Got it?
Beyond the eccentricity was undeniably catch dance music, combined with admirable camaraderie with his audience. He didn’t play a single note on the stage, preferring instead to let out his electric wails surrounded by the fans. A tight circle of fans and photographers quickly surrounded him, obscuring the view for everyone else (a pretty apt metaphor for indie rock, no?), but his gregariousness was enough to break through to everyone (ooh, the metaphor continues- now it’s a conceit). Toward the end of his truncated set, he widened the circle to the edges of the tent so there could be a dance-off.
Rule Number One: Be “sassy as fuck.”
Rule Number Two: The person dancing in the middle picks the next person to dance.
Rule Number Three: Don’t be a coward.
“Even the Lord gets down on these sassy ass moves,” Deacon exclaimed to the crowd. Deacon left the stage after a mere half hour, leaving an audience that was begging for more.
Luckily, Girl Talk was up next. Gregg Gillis appeared on stage looking dapper in a suit and Pepto-Bismol pink sunglasses and announced he’d be making a little music with his computer, but what was to come no one was prepared for. The manic laptop alchemist starting stringing together hit after hit, mining the Billboard cupboards for everything from the Jackson 5 (“ABC”) to the Band (“The Weight”). Things got crazier as Gillis took off his jacket and unbuttoned his top couple of buttons, but it all really broke loose sometime between Avril Lavigne and Ludacris, as the audience invaded the stage and began throwing confetti. One contingent brought out water guns to drench the audience, further perfecting the most perfect moment of the festival up to this point: the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” flowing seamlessly in to Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” capped off by Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland 1945.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuine moment of delirious joy, and the hyperventilating audience exiting the tent at the end of the set testified to this.
Energized and elated, the next stop was Soviet songbird Regina Spektor‘s set. Alone with her piano, she looked rather out of place — until you heard that voice, that is. The ululations of “On the Radio” and the plaintive wail of “Summer in the City” began the pleasant come-down from the dance tent bacchanalia, and the sparse audience was wrapped around Spektor’s deft fingers. She concentrated mostly on material from most recent record Begin to Hope, but closed with a trio of songs from earlier records and a well-placed cover, starting with sing-along “Us” and joyfully meandering “Ghost of Corporate Future” before offering a delicate take on John Lennon’s “Real Love.” To close the set, a profusely thankful Spektor offered “Samson,” and sent the crowd off with tragic romance and winsome strains.
The sun had gone behind a sea of clouds, and a gentle breeze was blowing across the grassy area in front of the South Stage, carrying the ubiquitous black and white volleyballs with it. As the art rock Austinians Explosions in the Sky built mountains out of guitar fuzz, the audience stretched out and let the sounds wash over, back and forth. This was stoner rock nap time, perfect for letting one’s mind wander and one’s fluid levels even out.
Walking back to the Spin tent, one could hear the shrill cries of 12-year-old girls excited for Panic! At the Disco. Their mall emo permeated the air as blog entries got tapped away, when suddenly a song familiar from earlier in the day came from the Panic kids’ direction: the “The Weight.” Ahem: what the fuck? If you can say anything about Virgin Fest 2007, it’s that it never fails to surprise. JEFFREY PARKER