Cat Power/Social Distortion Cat Power has such a spotty live reputation that she's hard to pass up, epecially at a music festival. We all want to see the implosion when it happens. However, she once pleased me greatly (and made me somewhat of a fan) at one ACL Fest around the time her R&B-heavy The Greatest album came out (2006), but after that I sort of lost touch. But instead of a meltdown, Sunday she followed Mavis Staples -- no easy feat there -- with a challenging, haunting set of piano-heavy orchestral pop that started out a little unfocused but sharpened considerably and rocked harder the longer it went on.
It reminded me of Sinead O'Connor a little, which is a big plus in my book. I can only assume most of the songs were from last year's Sun album, which I have not heard, but her set certainly made me want to go listen to it, perhaps even buy it. For her (or anyone), I'd say that's a success.
Social Distortion I chose because they have been one of my favorite bands for many, many years, one of the few I would stick around to the very end of a two-day summer outdoor music festival in Houston to see. Sunday, because the end of their set would mean that this grueling, mind-blowing (so many kids), muggy and by all appearances enormously successful fest would be over, Social D suddenly became the best band in the world. Also, they sounded fantastic. CHRIS GRAY
Gogol Bordello "It's Gypsy rock," I told my friend, trying to convince him to join me for Gogol Bordello's Sunday-night FPSF set. "It'll be fun. You might even get pick-pocketed."
But I kid. Bordello's set, however, was no joke. Front man Eugene Hutz and his merry band of misfits kept the energy at its peak for the entirety of their set, performing hits like "Start Wearing Purple" as the Manhattan-born rockers introducing countless festivalgoers to their own brand of punk. It may have been the most fun I had all weekend. MATTHEW KEEVER