In May (I told you I was behind on reviews) I hit up the annual Sweetlife Festival, which brings together great bands and great food at Merriweather, sponsored by the salad/froyo chain in town Sweetgreen. It poured rain for large chunks of the day, so who’s glad they paid the extra 25 bucks to get access to the pavilion? This kid. Everything outside of the pavilion was a mess of mud. Highlights below:
Best Food: I had a delicious pork sandwich from Pepe (one of many food trucks there), iced coffee from some fancy schmancy pop-up coffee place, and an oatmeal cookie sandwich from the local vegan bakery Sticky Fingers. All were good, but the cookie wins hands down. I’m as shocked as you that something from a vegan bakery was my favorite.
Best Band Name: Local rockers Shark Week were the first band on the side stage. Both their name and music were delightful and I would have loved to listen to it for much longer than their short 25 minute set.
Band That Was Trying Way Too Hard: Knocked Up Kids had way too much going on – saxophone, a DJ, stand-up bass, two singers. And the vocals were very Jason Mraz-y. No me gusta.
Best of the Side Stage: The award has to go to MS MR, with a solid runner up award to HAERTS, who are very enjoyable other than their inability to spell HEARTS. They had a low-key stage presence but still put on a good show. MS MR had more energy and intensity, and thus deserve the win. I was tempted to sneak out of the main stage pavilion to see Youth Lagoon on the side stage later in the day, but I didn’t want to lose my awesome seat going into Passion Pit and Phoenix. I also skipped Holy Ghost! because I’ll see them at Merriweather later this summer when they open for New Order.
Best Style: Beyonce’s little sister Solange has style for days. Her set on the main stage was great (including covers of Dirty Projectors and Selena). She was a great dancer and had a cool dress. “Losing You” during her set was one of the highlights of the day.
Best Individual Performance: Karen O live is a revelation. I’m so glad I finally got the see Yeah Yeah Yeahs live. She rocked a bedazzled leather jacket and led the crowd in a fairly epic dance party. Their afternoon set definitely kicked up the energy of the festival. I would have loved to see them perform later in the evening in more of a headlining roll. “Maps” was a giant sing-a-long. The set covered all the YYY albums, leaving nothing that I was hoping to hear off the setlist, and I didn’t take my eyes off of Karen O for a second (sorry other YYY members). The records might be a group effort, but the live show is all about KO.
Surprise of the Festival: I found Kendrick Lamar’s set to be surprisingly enjoyable. Everyone else seemed to know all of his songs. I’d never heard of him until they announced the Sweetlife lineup. What am I missing?
Dependably Awesome Band of the Festival: Passion Pit is always fantastic. Their set at Sweetlife was no different. It was a very set to their latest stint at 9:30 club, ending with “Little Secrets.” Their solid club performances translate well to the festival environment.
Best Headliner in Sweetlife History: I enjoyed The Strokes a few years ago, but boy did Phoenix just crush their set this time around. They had a better stage presence and energy level than I would have guessed given their general demeanor.