Golden Voice's inaugural First City Festival arrived to Monterey, California this weekend. Fine weather and relatively reasonable crowds (see: First City's older sister Coachella) lead way to an excellent first day at the Monterey County Fairgrounds and bang-for-your-buck festival lineup.Blitzen Trapper: I've seen Portland's Blitzen Trapper made into an easy target for the consistency with which they hit summer festival circuits. Nonetheless, the group keeps doin' what they do and showing up. Six full length albums and over a dozens years into their career, they certainly know how to handle their jobs at festivals. While their early afternoon set did not blow me away, it made for a bright & entertaining start to First City's Saturday. Black Angels: Having seen a blistering, passionate, poignant set from Black Angels in their hometown of Austin, Texas during SXSW this year, I was thrilled to see them on the festival lineup. While their dense, swirling brand of riff-driven psychedelic rock might be better suited for a dark, packed bar off Sixth Street, a (sun) baked crowd took eagerly greeted their set. One thing that struck me during their First City set was the band's ability to conjure such a thick coat of sound upon the audience with relatively few notes. They are masters at stretching each sound into affected, transformed, gripping tones settled upon irresistible grooves. Father John Misty: My appreciation for Josh Tillman's transformation from Fleet Fox drummer into the current Father John Misty has been well documented on this site a number of times. So I won't continue on about Tillman's apparent liberation & evolution. However, I will say that even after seeing him a handful of times this year, I am still entertained. The songs of Fear Fun continue to grow on me, but Misty's stage banter ("do you have any idea how much money it took to hire that jet to fly over during that last song?") and dance moves still haven't become stale to me yet. Beach House: Beach House's marvelous gem Teen Dream took home our favorite album of 2010 and their performances during the ensuing tours showcased the slow, haunting, captivating tracks of Teen Dream. Ask anyone who saw Beach House during that phase whether or not Victoria LeGrande seized their attention. Anyhow, perhaps it was the hot, dusty afternoon or maybe it was the schedule pairing against the livelier Father John Misty or, hell, Beach House might just not pop as much gusto into playing the songs of Bloom and Teen Dream after hundreds of shows on the road. But five or six other First City patrons that I spoke with also felt that the Beach House show came off a bit flat, albeit enjoyable. MGMT: MGMT have weaved a perplexing tale since their meteoric rise with the hits of Oracular Spectacular. For the record, I still hold that album as one of the best releases over the past decade or so. After watching MGMT live a few times in recent years, it always strikes me that Ben & Andrew are two guys who wrote an incredibly catchy album, yet never wanted to be vaulted to the position they found themselves in. Congratulations was a solid album and the title track ranks among their finest, in my opinion, but it's hard to separate the album from MGMT's stated desire to move in an antithesis direction to the "Top 40" market. All that being said, I was very curious to see how their First City Set went. Their set list featured all three *mega hits* ("Kids", "Electric Feel" and "Time To Pretend") without any of the resentment or lethargy that sometimes came along with their earlier live takes on those songs. They legitimately seemed down to play the songs. Likewise, they still ventured into their ever expanding sonic explorations with the new, third album material. It seemed that MGMT had found a healthy balance between the identity they fled from and their new, more free experimental selves. Washed Out: With the release of single "It All Feels Right" from Washed Out's newly released Paracosm LP, I'd been giddy for their First City Fest headlining spot. Given the background of Ernest Greene's bedroom style project, I expected a slimmer live arrangement than what Greene brought for the Washed Out set. Akin to Bon Iver's live presentation, Washed Out featured a crew of accompanying musicians who helped flesh out the complexities of Greene's compositions. I will hear Paracosm much differently after seeing Greene's group expand each of the layers on stage. Rather than headphones music, the live take featured a grand, full, nuanced experience.