Sunday at The Hangout featured a two hour headlining performance from Stevie Wonder that delivered as many hits (“Higher Ground,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “For Once in My Life,”) as covers (John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker),” and an ultra-funky version of The Beatles’ “Daytripper”).
Before him, The Trey Anastasio Band played a sun-setting two hour show full of jammy covers including The Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Ooh Child” by The 5 Stairsteps, “Small Axe” by Bob Marley & The Wailers, and a most impressive rendition of the Gorillaz classic “Clint Eastwood” thanks in large part to phenomenal vocals by Jennifer Hartswick. While most sets throughout the weekend ended promptly at their scheduled time, The Hangout crowd was afforded a quick encore (also a cover- “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin) before Trey and his band left the stage for good.
“I just ran into Stevie back there,” Anastasio said upon returning from backstage. “He said he wants to hear one more before he starts his set over there.”
Despite Wonder and Anastasio’s rock legend statuses, two additional sets from Sunday’s contemporary artists were particularly memorable: Ellie Goulding and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The lovely and petite Ellie Goulding opened with “Don’t Say A Word”, which also opens her 2012 album Halcyon. Sticking mostly to newer tracks throughout her set, she transitioned between songs with little fanfare. Goulding quickly moved into the title track from the same album and followed it with “Figure 8”.
She thanked her fans after nearly every song with a proper-sounding “Thank you!” in her charming English accent. SPIN recapped her show as being not much to see, but I beg to differ that witnessing such powerful vocals from such a dainty being is a sight to behold. As she pranced around on stage in clunky black sneakers and a partially mesh black short jumpsuit, contrasted on top by bleach blonde hair and pretty pink lipstick, she needn’t not damper her performance with stage antics or props.
“I want to see some hips shaking now,” she instructed as the dancey beat for “Only You”, Halcyon’s best track, started behind her. Small variations from the original made for a slightly different live experience of the song, but remained true enough to the original to be fun and familiar for the truest of fans.
About 20 minutes before she concluded, she was met with wild crowd cheers as she launched into the angelic coos that open “Anything Could Happen”.
As the performance neared the end, she gravitated to material from 2011’s Lights album. Naturally, the set climaxed with “Lights”, the title track that launched her into present day stardom, but not before an effectively reworked version of “Starry Eyed” that was by far the most “rock-n-roll” Ellie Goulding has ever sounded.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
An hour later, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs took a completely different approach to their performance the Goulding did with hers, relying heavily on front lady Karen O’s absurd gestures and otherworldly screech to make their show at The Hangout a memorable one.
“Thank you very much, Ala-BAMA!” she wailed into the microphone early in the set.
The set was career-spanning, first featuring “Gold Lion” and “Phenomena” from 2006’s Show Your Bones.
“This one’s for the pot smokers. The weed smokers. The ganja smokers,” Karen O later announced as she dove into the eerie chants of “Under The Earth” for the newest 2013 release Mosquito.
Upon it’s finish she again screamed in her gritty growl, “Cheers! Hangout! Sunday! Sunday! SUNDAY, motherfuckers!”
About that time, heads began to roll and the crowd went wild.
Midway through The Yeah Yeah Yeahs took it back to their roots and went punk rock on everyone’s asses. To further confuse the audience- who were obviously more accustomed to the band’s newer work- Karen O made suggestive moves by grinding the mic on her chest and later shoving it down her pants.
Humongous balls made to look like eyeballs were released into the crowd to recapture their attention as The Yeah Yeah Yeahs closed with “Zero” from 2009’s It’s Blitz!.