Day 2: Hannibal Moncrief, Hot Chip & Flying Lotus & The Ascent of Nerd-Chic
Hannibal Moncrief saw the future last night. No, he didn't brew mushroom tea and watch Doc Brown tinker with the fabric of the space-time continuum. And no, he didn't spend three hours inside the glowing pink origami bird mumbling the phrase, "cool colors, man." The double-stacks of white batman ecstasy came later, an unsavory development that led to him dancing alone to David Guetta - by the way, girl with the red, white, and blue glowsticks, Indian headdress and moccasins, if you read this, e-mail Hannibal at email@example.com or find him on Facebook. He will sing you stripped down lo-fi fuck folk versions of "Getting Over You," featuring LMFAO. He has also been extensively tested and can report that as of last week, he's officially clean.
The epiphany occurred at Hot Chip, a London five-piece who look like librarians in leisure suits, but make music that aims to split the difference between Kraftwerk and R. Kelly. It's funky, it makes Hannibal want to freak like he was in a Silk video, and it's unapologetically nerdy. In fact, during the semester that Hannibal spent in a musician exchange program in London, he once pantsed Alexis Taylor for wearing his lunch ticket stapled to his Mohair sweater. But Hot Chip had the last laugh, because nerd-chic is in, awkward is the new awesome - these are the seeds that Seth Cohen sowed.
And unlike Hannibal, who wasted his youth smoking Reds and growing his hair out like a heroin junkie grunge god, Hot Chip have been vanguards of the stylistic shift to the bespectacled side. Hot Chip bragged about bumping Biggie in a Peugeot, a line infinitely relatable to a bunch of kids in skinny jeans smoking American Spirits in their Prius'. With steel drums and seamless transitions, Hot Chip left the mic in body bags. Forced to condense their greatest hits into 45 minutes, they tore through "Over and Over," "One Pure Thought," "Hold On," "Ready for the Floor," without letting the energy level dissipate for more than a breathe.
That's why during the last quarter of their set, a conga line spontaneously erupted exclusively featuring kids too young to buy cigarettes. It's a type, alright: backwards baseball cap-wearing Frat Boys, Ray Ban-clad Vampire Weekend fans looking for that ideal my-first-electro, baby-faced Bruins dressed like Bill Walton, circa the Portland Trail Blazers era. Apparently, the new way to get college girls is to sport facial hair resembling "Teen Wolf."
Ultimately, this means two things: Hannibal is three days-deep into a beard that will leave him looking woollier than Zack Galifianakis, Freeway, and Iron & Wine combined, and that Keith Richards, cockroaches and the 80s are the only three things that will never die. It's been said that Kurt Cobain was the last star, and judging from the Coachella lineup in 2010, the theory holds weight. Muse might be huge, but Hannibal couldn't name a single member of the band, and he once sold them a quarter pound of oregano. Suckers.
Vampire Weekend is probably too strait-laced to even drink a Rock Star energy drink. Jack White's here, but performing with Dead Weather, his most concerted attempt to not be a rock star. And even the big names, Pavement, Thom Yorke, and Damon Albarn, are essentially anti-rock star rock stars: intellectuals with polyglot impulses, and an aversion to the excess and pomp that characterized their predecessors. Other than glancing at his own reflection in a margarita that he was drinking out of a stainless steel bowl (don't ask), the closest things that Hannibal has seen to a rock star this weekend are LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Jay-Z, and Flying Lotus -- the former look more like Jim in Accounting than Jimi Hendrix, and the latter two don't play formal instruments.
Naturally, Hannibal and Lotus go way back. Hannibal put him on to J Dilla and Alice Coltrane. Shit, before Hannibal came through and crushed the buildings, Lotus didn't even know that he was related to Miss Universal Consciousness. Hannibal is a connector. But he can objectively report that Lotus dropped perhaps the most impressive electronic music set of the festival. Of course, this isn't saying much when Tiesto, David Guetta, and Infected Mushroom rank among the most prominent acts on the bill. Honestly, if you title songs or name your band after slang for a sexually transmitted disease, you should be blackballed. This shall be forever known as the "Sex on Fire" rule.
Lotus was so brilliant that Hannibal plans to follow James Murphy's advice and sell his guitars to buy turntables. Over the last several years, the Low End Theory set has achieved a critical mass, packing the Airliner every Wednesday, offering a weird and warped West Coast take on dubstep, more stoned and stuttering, offering glitches and sun-stunned melodies that starkly contrast to the oxygen-less monochrome London counterpart. Unveiling a mixture of tracks from his soon-to-be-released third album, Cosmogramma, and his remixes of "A Milli," and "I Feel Like Dying," the man born Steven Ellison performed backed by sexual silhouettes of woman and Japanese anime that Hannibal wanted to have eros with.
Splintering hip-hop, 90s Warp Records, avant-garde jazz, into a wildly new but faintly familiar sound, Lotus ensured that the festival's dance music scene wasn't exclusively infected by people who obsessively dream about waking up nude at Ibiza in 1999. And yes, if you were wondering, Hannibal did not wake up nude this morning, though he did find himself wearing Armani Exchange and bathed in Ax Body Spray. Hannibal does not own any Armani Exchange. If you have any clues to where I got them from, you know where to find Hannibal. --Hannibal Moncrief