This year’s Frost Music + Arts Festival was a resounding success, with the highest attendance and the greatest diversity of talent in recent memory. Frost brought to Stanford a wide range of visitors, from dour pubescents donning shorts so high-waisted they threatened to tickle their armpits, to jocund tech titans looking for the opportunity to capitalize on their downtime to optimize productivity. The lineup featured Siberian Front, AlunaGeorge, Kaytranada, and Flume.
Here are, in no particular order, some of the things this Saturday taught us.
The AlunaGeorge Disease
When I think of this duo, I think of that “You Know You Like It” song that is as annoying as pinkeye, and probably just as contagious. Once the seamless fluidity of Aluna’s voice escapes the speakers, hips begin to move with the same ridiculousness as the characters in this childhood-defining Fanta commercial. Nothing can stop you from grooving, save for, perhaps, the shocking apparition that is the 4’8’’ high schooler in front of you, flailing aimlessly in a molly-induced frenzy at 2:50pm on a Saturday afternoon. Mouthing “relax, for the love of God,” you shudder, and you groove anyway.
But there is, indeed, a kernel beneath AlunaGeorge’s pizzazz, and it is made up of a sonic concoction of funk, balladry, and electro-pop; and it erupts onto the stage, making the act eminently likeable. A command is established over the audience by virtue of this liquid nature; so when Aluna looks at you and says, “Get down and dance,” you do – and you like it.
Someone help the hypeman
Once in a blue moon, a tipsy git will take it upon himself to be the performer’s unwanted hypeman. He will push his way to the front of the crowd, probably take off his shirt, and turn his back on the stage. He will then proceed to goad the rest of us until we are sufficiently turnt. He will thrash, salute, and scream until his friends show up. We will hope they’re there to retrieve him, but they will simply disrobe and join in.
Siberian Front might go far
At the risk of emulating the hypeman from #2, I want to say how impressed I am with Siberian Front’s performance. There’s a joy in the creative mind that pens these songs, a positive charge that shakes one out of the savage torpor of the commonplace and into an emotional vortex. Considering how they managed to get an arguably tepid crowd to grow relatively wild, I have faith some of their members will go far beyond the short-lived fame of a college band.
In her seminal book “On Photography,” Susan Sontag writes: “The destiny of photography has taken it far beyond the role to which it was originally thought to be limited: to give more accurate reports on reality (including works of art). Photography is the reality; the real object is often experienced as a letdown.”
Come on, Instagram.
Never have I been more acutely aware of the devices around me, collecting content; never more aware that, in fact, no other era has been as obsessed as ours with doing things for the sake of the experience. We study abroad, we move to the city, we enter our line of work—all for the experience. But then, the experience itself never suffices, for whatever reason, and we resort to the futuristico-antiquarian project of recording it. Perhaps we never even gave it the chance to suffice. We look away from the performer we’ve paid handsomely to see and direct our gaze onto the screen where we are recording. The red circle extinguishes; we select recipients to the message; we press send. In the ‘send’ button, we hope to find connection, and perhaps even the completeness that has long evaded us. Connection, which we crave as much as we disdain, is never more than just an attempt at being less lonely. And here we stand; surrounded by people, staring at our screens.
Kaytranada loves his Redbull
But my wings still clipped.
Flume: Lost in the Thrill of It All
I suspect it isn’t a coincidence that Flume’s is the type of music that would fascinate a generation obsessed with the momentary loss of self.
I hoped to find something behind the deliriously dissonant vocals and the spectral falsettos, the masterful execution of crowd control and the paranoia of timelessness germane to Flume’s music. Laughable as it may be, I wanted to learn something, because that’s what art is—an examination of the things about being human that needle us and won’t leave us be until we take them on. I see it in a lot of artists, commercial and non-commercial alike. Perhaps my expectations and Flume’s intention never aligned; or perhaps I am blind to whatever he was trying to do. Or perhaps the very point of his Twinkling Disneywave revolution is, indeed that, there needn’t be a truth learned—simply put, that there is no ‘there’ there.
Photo credits: Alex Tamkin
This story was updated on May 18.