Saturday was the 6th annual Phono del Sol Festival, the fun and easy going festival, which still feels like a little bit of a secret, run by The Bay Bridged. It’s small, it’s relaxed and it turns a small park in Potrero Hill into a place to discover bands new and local. With a bowl of fried chicken courtesy of Kokio Republic I wandered down just as The She’s were firing up a set of dreamy indie-pop.
Like Treasure Island, the sets at Phono del Sol do not overlap, so you can catch each of the carefully selected bands, with this year’s line-up featuring offering a slightly bigger and more diverse selection than previous; indie, pop and a dash of hip-hop and funk were all included in the mix.
As The She’s closed out their set, The Seshen started off and they were a revelation to my ears. I was not familiar with them before Saturday, however I left a fan. R&B-Funk with a twinge of space-aged undertones made for a unique and enticing sound. Lalin St. Juste was captivating on lead vocals and the large band filled all the space the stage could spare. I could have watched them all afternoon.
As the skaters watched, filling between doing tricks and walking into the festival, it made for a community vibe to the afternoon. There was a friendliness in spirit, which Phono seems to foster – you feel compelled to introduce everyone you meet to everyone you know in this musical expression of kinship. A blanket being created for the victims of the Orlando shooting being made was full of multicolored hands by the end of the afternoon.
Adam Vida followed The Seshen introducing hip-hop to the proceedings. His Thurlian mantra, of love and peace, felt even more poignant given the events of the preceding few days. He reflected on these dark times at the start of the set with a moving acapella piece before taking off his jacket to reveal a Giants tee and getting the party started. The small crowd moved and threw their hands in the air on demand. A throwback to the ‘All That’ theme song was a nice surprise and had a few in the crowd feeling nostalgic.
The day kept on building, with Mr. Little Jeans and Born Ruffians putting in solid performances. By the time of Alvvays’ set, the Mission Stage was pretty lively and looking busy. Their set matched the festival, with an irreverent sense of chill.
For all the relaxed vibes of the day, Chairlift closed out the day with an energetic and fiery set of songs which encouraged those crammed around the stage to move while those on the hill looked on and enjoyed. An emotional start was cut short as the stage lost sound. ‘We’re in a park,’ the sections of the crowd yelled out in reference to Caroline Polachek’s earlier proclamations of being in a park. Soon sound was restored and the Chairlift performed with pizazz and sparkle to close out a fun filled day.
And just like that, with the sun gently setting it was all over. While not as intense as the bigger festivals in the Bay, Phono del Sol makes for a relaxed afternoon enjoying good music, people and food trucks. It is a moment of calm in a city which can sometimes be crazy, and we are already looking forward to next year!