Thomas Mars of Phoenix
This weekend, Live 105’s Not So Silent Night festival lived up to its name. Listeners from all over the Bay braved the cold with one common goal in mind: To warm up and listen to some great music.
Both nights featured a diverse lineup, with everything from synth pop to rock. As I walked onto the Oracle floor I saw a varied crowd, and people of all ages and dress code. I stalked an older couple to find the “good food” (which was just pizza and chicken tenders). It had been a while since I experienced a crowd so accessible: They were there to enjoy the music, not to be seen. I suddenly felt uncomfortable wearing my red heels.
Capital Cities kicked off the festival and were able to pull off a small dance party. Their selling point was definitely their trumpet player (I’m a sucker for brass), as he eased us into the night with a couple covers and their single “Safe and Sound.”
But the real party started when Arctic Monkeys took the stage. The lights dimmed low and red as the spacious Oracle Arena was transformed into an intimate lounge. They played a mature, blues heavy set featuring many songs from their newest album AM.
Seeing Davey Havok of AFI was a big surprise simply because his image has changed so much. His vocals still had that classic, wild sound we all remember him for, but you can’t help but view his stage presence in a new light. The band kept the crowd warm and even started the pit for a second. Then came Queens of the Stone Age, who were pleasantly heavy: everything about their performance was effortless and inviting, despite the growl and bite of their songs. During their set I watched some of the dudes in my close peripheral, going hard, devil horns in the air.
Vampire Weekend then transported us to a parallel dimension; where rock music and floral backgrounds exist together. They were the darlings of the night and as expected, their performance was brilliant but a little too soothing. Kings of Leon continued with a musical nightcap. While they sounded great, their presence was a little bored and disinterested.
I arrived late the second night but was lucky enough to catch the last half of Lorde’s set. I want to briefly note that she was the only female-leading act of both nights. As a woman, I felt a sense of camaraderie and was proud of Lorde’s confident performance. She knew she was guiding a new generation of young music lovers. With her minimal stage setup and modest outfit (a skirt and a cardigan). She had no gimmicks. We watched and listened as the music spoke for itself.
Phoenix was one of the bands that originally brought me to Not So Silent Night. Their set was loud and upbeat. And when the frenzy of dancing and chanting began during “Liztomania,” I was quickly reminded that I was at a sold out show comprised of nearly 20,000 patrons. Thomas Mars frequently surfed the crowd and he was adamant about testing how deep into it he could go. It was both impressive and silly. Their performance carried a ton of character and unfortunately before we knew it, their shortened 50-minute set was over.
Thomas Mars of Phoenix
A curtain was drawn over the stage in between sets. The arena became dark and we heard Win Butler’s eerie voice singing “My Body Is a Cage,” but he wasn’t on stage. He was instead standing directly on the floor amongst the crowd, isolated in spotlight. The funeral march sounds of the song grew intense and as it climaxed, the curtain fell to reveal the bandstand of Arcade Fire.
Win Butler of Arcade Fire
There was no hesitation as they continued on with Reflektor, and the pace of their set did not stop. At one point Butler plucked an iPhone out of the audience, staring into it’s camera quizzcally. We watched everything he and wife Régine Chassagne did with wonderment, partially hypnotized by the sparkling lights of the disco ball, our bodies constantly swaying.
By the end of their set, the floor was covered in confetti. The lights came on and we woke up from our trance, satisfied.
Written By – Lolly Dormido
Photographs By – Darryl Kirchner
Check out the full photo set below: