The final day of an adventurous festival is always exhausting but fans find a way to rally through, even after they just spent the last two days in the mud. While on Sunday the mud was trying up on the fields of Randalls Island, it was still a mission to get through.
We arrived just as Portugal. The Man were on the Gov Ball Stage, while it was later in the afternoon, still not many spectators were in the park as one would have imagined, it seemed like this New York crowd was going to take their time to get to the festival. Portugal. The Man delivered as always and still drew a respectable crowd, it was even rumored that Sunday headliner Kanye West was watching the band from off the stage. The Alaskan art-rockers delivered a set that was a blend of old material and new tracks off their latest, Evil Friends. While their sound and stage presence were as good as ever, they had smiles on their faces the whole time playing such a massive area. From there it was over to the SKY Vodka Tent for Twin Shadow. The neo-new wave star drew in an impressive crowd that were dancing their heads off during his set under the tent. Backed by a full band, Shadow knows how to work a room and big crowd, especially when more of his sonically upbeat songs like "Five Seconds" were played, there was no stopping that audience from having the time of their lives. It was then off to Gary Clarke Jr., the guitar virtuoso also drew in a respectable size crowd and as his fame gets bigger, his sets get heavier. Gary, like Edward Sharpe the day before, would transform the gross grounds of Randalls Island into the Woodstock-era with his classic guitar and blues riffs, it was a pleasure to watch and see how far he has come over the years.
By the evening it was a split decision over Yeasayer and Beirut. It was funny to see how fans would react to these bands because at this moment the lines for Silent Disco were the longest they were all weekend, yet, the people the saw the live gigs had a good time. Yeasayer were inside the Tent and throwing an electronic-rock party with all the trimmings. With hands in the air and feet stomping in the mud, it was enough to get everyone amped and ready to roll from there on till the end of the night. In the meantime, Beirut were bringing their Mediterranean inspired brigade over at the Your Doing Great Stage and may not have had hands in the air like Yeasayer but still had people dancing into the evening amber. While many that were at the stage to see Beirut were finding real estate across the way for The Lumineers. The Americana folk inspired band drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend and while many were really at the stage to hear "Ho Hey," the bands biggest single, the rest of the show seemed a bit flat for those that were not true fans of the band. All the energy that most of the bands were giving off from the day seemed to be thrown away, it was a very interesting crowd watching this group as most made makeshift places to sit and others chatted with their friends, the bands true fans, again, were the ones loving it as they were right up against the stage and areas where the band would perform after they jumped into the crowd.
After that, it was time to kick things up a notch, Bloc Party would be the perfect answer. "Hello, we are Bloc Party from London, England, thanks New York for turning up," the alternative British band drew the biggest crowd all weekend inside the tent and threw one of the best live performances of the weekend. Sounding the best anyone did all weekend, they could have easily been a headlining act and were proving as their crowd got bigger as their performance went on. These seasoned festival vets even knew what to please fans as they went heavy on songs from their biggest and best album, their 2004 debut, Silent Alarm. While Bloc Party were doing their thing, fellow Brits The xx were taking some of the calming moods The Lumineers gave off and added a beat to it. The moody shoegaze outfit saw their set crescendo through their performance. Starting off very minimal and quiet, it would build and build and beatmaker Jamie xx would speed up tempos, drop heavier beats and the band would feed off of that and improvise. As the sun was setting, they brought on a light show just as moody and curious as their music and did not leave anyone disappointed.
While Sunday was easily the best day, not just for music but for weather and some comfort, it was all leading to Kanye West. The diva would do exactly what people would expect him to do on his first festival headlining slot in years and on his birthday weekend, he would start his set 20 minutes behind schedule. Opening with "Black Skinhead" and "New Slaves," and backed by the same graphics and band he used on Saturday Night Live last month, West seemed like he was about to go off on an explosive party or self implode on stage. Following with the songs "Mercy" and "Cold" off last summers dull Cruel Summer compilation, West then debuted the new songs "On Site" then into classics like "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and the show stopping "Power," then went right into debuting "I am God" off his forthcoming Yeezus album. West, who is known for being a showman really didn't show anything. He performed about 90% of the time from the top stage right corner. If not for the screens and projects, no one but those up close would actually see him. Yet, maybe that was the motif, with his Messiah complex, maybe West wants to be heard and not seen, much like God? It is a question I kept asking myself through his whole set. Taking his sweet time in between songs, when West did deliver it was thanks to the energy from the audience not from him on stage. The new tracks just sound like a man loosing his mind and while he has had episodes in the past, it really seems West doesn't care anymore and the fact that he is brining a child into this world, I tend to feel sorry for the kid looking at who his parents are. Halfway through his set, he said, "This is about the time in the show where I usually complain," as the audience laughed, he talked about the state of music and radio, "Honestly, when I listen to radio, that ain't where I wanna be no more," he said, "At this point, I could give a fuck about selling a million records, as long as I put out an album that you can rock to all motherfucking summer." West would then forget lyrics to "Good Life" and would leave fans upset as the climax of the song was cut short. It was then he would go back and forth between new songs and classics like "All Falls Down,""Stronger," and a fantastic live remix of "Diamonds." Yet, once it seemed he was living up to be the entertainer we thought and knew he was, he lost it again with his unusually long and uninteresting extended version of "Runaways." Before leaving the stage, "Black Skinhead" would be played, again, and at which point the crowd seemed to have enough. Which was also the perfect sentiment for his festival - enough.