City Slang: The Hard Lessons surprise DIY

For me, DIY Sunday kicks off with a stunning set from Phantasmagoria on the Metro Times Stage. Somehow, I had managed to avoid seeing these guys live despite the many hearty recommendations I had been given. Oh well, the wait was worth it. The combination of loops, percussion and stunning female vocals brings to mind Bjork’s “Hyperballad”.

Over on the Pabst Stage, Augie & Korin of the Hard Lessons were billed to play, though the name made it a little confusing. Was this to be an acoustic set? In fact, it was a semi-secret Hard Lessons show, and the trio rocked. Aside from the killer tunes the band has up its sleeve, it was cool to see Augie hand his guitar to an audience member while he climbed the amps. Also very sweet to see the new parents wave at their baby. Awww.

Bars of Gold stomped on stage, annoyed a whole bunch of people, pleased their fans, stomped off and that was that. These guys are both brutal and beautiful, but it was just so much fun watching the bemused faces on those not in on the secret as the vocals belched by like hobo barf. Wonderful.

For some reason that I have yet to determine, Deastro cancelled his appearance. That’s a shame, though any disappointment was forgotten when the Barrettes strolled on the main stage. The all-girl barbershop quartet (including Korin Hard Lesson) reimagined local classics like Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, the White Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba” and the Electric Six’s “Gay Bar”, as well as tunes by Metallica and the Beastie Boys. Lots of fun.

Hip-hop duo Passalacqua opened their set by screening its new music video. But the end of that, the crowd was already bouncing. All that the pair had to do was keep it going, which they did with some slamming beats, tight rhymes, and live drums courtesy of Scottie Stone.

That just left Amy Gore & Her Valentines to finish things off, at least at the outdoor stages. The band was typically fantastic too. The cover of the Monkees’ “Stepping Stone” is better than the Pistols’, while the cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City” was a welcome dose of honky-tonk. Originals like “Static” sound better with every show. Can’t wait to hear the album.

Dammit. No more festivals until Blowout.

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