Olympic gold medalist, X Games superstar and part-time actor/musician Shaun White brought the first-ever Air + Style contest to the States last weekend, taking over the Rose Bowl grounds for two days of extreme sports, music and art. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, “The Flying Tomato” has become quite the renaissance man these days.
Air + Style officials, in fact, estimated that approximately 40,000 folks attended the event, but we’re a little skeptical of that number after a sparse turnout Sunday thanks to some unforgiving weather. While many attendees, including quite a few media members, only showed up for Saturday’s festivities, we made our way back to Pasadena to catch more live music and brave Sunday’s torrential downpour.
So, with plenty of highs and lows over the course of the weekend, here are 10 things we took away from two action-packed days at Air + Style.
10. These ph-ancy pants
OK, we know she’s dating Shaun White, but Phantogram lead singer Sarah Barthel undoubtedly took home the “Best Outfit” award, donning a pair of leopard sequin pants during the band’s hour-long set on Saturday. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear Barthel’s vocals all that well, but that wasn’t exactly her fault. That was for the sound guy to figure out — or not. More on that below.
9. Surf’s up
One of the few highlights on Sunday was a 45-minute set by alt-rock group Surfer Blood. Hailing from Florida, these four dudes brought a much-needed, high-energy set during the heaviest rainfall of the day. The band kept mentioning the rain and how much they appreciated everyone sticking around to see them. It seemed that the crowd didn’t mind — they just wanted to rock. Their big hit “Swim” was the perfect fit for the rain-soaked crowd, who could have swam around in the pit if they wanted.
8. Not so Sharpe
Edward Sharpe, aka Alex Ebert, made a big splash in 2009 with songs like “Janglin” and “Home” from Up From Below, but it’s been all downhill since then. Ebert broke up with then-girlfriend/vocalist Jade Castrinos, kicked her out of the band and is now resorting to using audiences to sing Castrinos’ parts. But when only a few hundred people show up to see your set, that doesn’t really work too well.
7. Getting colorful
One of the festival’s big positives were the live paintings on Saturday by three talented artists from the greater Los Angeles area. Craola, Jeff Soto and James Haunt each brought a unique graffiti style to their individual walls and were very gracious in answering questions from lots of drunken festivalgoers.
6. Cult following
We didn’t know much about Cults before their 4:45 p.m. set on Sunday, but the New York indie-pop outfit had the small, yet lively crowd at the Flood Magazine Stage cheering them on in the rain. Even with the band’s instruments getting soaked, forcing them to lay down towels over them when they weren’t being used, you could tell vocalist Madeline Follin and guitarist/keyboardist Brian Oblivion were having a good ol’ time — and it rubbed off on everyone else.
5. BIG air
Another obvious high point of the weekend was the gigantic, 16-story big air jump in the middle of the Rose Bowl fairgrounds. About 30 truly gifted athletes launched themselves into the dark grey sky on Saturday and the beginning part of Sunday, and it was quite fun to watch in between the musical acts. Sunday afternoon’s rainstorm put a damper on the ski final, which had to be canceled, but the few attendees who made it back for Day 2 didn’t seem to mind.
4. Flaming hot
The last time we saw The Flaming Lips come through LA, they were sharing the bill with Tame Impala and Wayne Coyne was dressing up as “Carrie.” The Lips didn’t bring their “A” game that night at The Greek Theatre, but they sounded a whole lot cleaner and tighter on Sunday despite only getting to play for a total of 30 minutes (their set time was scheduled to be one hour and 15 minutes) due to weather-related equipment issues.
3. First-time festival problems
The lines at all the concession stands and bathrooms were absolutely horrendous. If you were lucky enough to notice the makeshift beer stands next to each stage, then that saved you easily an hour for each beer purchase. We heard that people were waiting in line for a $10 PBR for over a hour! Those who came back on Sunday were rewarded with no lines anywhere, but that came with the price of getting completely drenched.
2. These guys rocked
While Diplo had the majority of attendees fist-pumping their way through his hour-long set on the Main Stage, Portland-by-way-of-Alaska psych-rockers Portugal. The Man followed EDM’s most misogynistic DJ with one of the best sets of the weekend. The LCD projections, some of them featuring frontman John Gourley’s drawings, on the diminutive Flood Magazine Stage jived perfectly with a performance that was highlighted by covers of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”
1. Kendrick Lame-ar
Compton native Kendrick Lamar’s headlining set on Saturday could have been amazing, but the volume was just too low. After constantly hounding the sound guy in between each barely-audible song, Lamar finally got the volume turned up, but it was only for one song — and he chose to redo “m.A.A.d city” again?!?! We can thank Pasadena’s noise ordinance laws for that one or the festival organizers for choosing to host the event outside the Rose Bowl.