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Most Charismatic Set: Zola Jesus
I thought seeing her climb the Guggenheim railing, wrapping in flourescent lights, as a string quartet played was probably the best I'd see Nika Danilova perform, but this late-Friday set cleared that bar it pretty easily. Working with her standard arrangements, a live drummer, a violin player, and someone manning the synths, she prowled the stage like a white bengal, copped Regular Jesus poses, and took a climactic turn on the cymbals. Pop star mode: ON.
(Note: In a festival packed with indie-rock luminary dudes, it was performances by young women that were consistently the weekend's most exciting.)
Least Charismatic Set: Built to Spill
Built to Spill brought the hits Friday night, rattling off classic indie-rock songs like "Dystopian Dream Girl", "Car", and "Carry the Zero" in an impressive string that suggested a confidence that they might never run out. They were also some of the least energetic performers around, standing in place, staring at feet, sort of ignoring a large late day audience entirely, except for a meek "Thanks" or two. They looked a little like disinterested dads up there, idly debating the best way to get the backyard barbecue lit.