I entered the Outside Lands Festival grounds a bit peeved. See when you try to find a spot at the Lands End stage (Main Stage), people have already claimed seven or more spots with a God damn blanket and their huge lawn chairs (which I thought were banned). So here I am walking on people’s blankets and they’re giving me these dirty looks like I just pooed in their soup. Hey man, you decided to call property on six square feet of lawn and you expect me to tip-toe around your shit? I don’t fuckin’ think so.
Anyway, after pissing off people I could care less about, I caught Zion I perform a moderately fun set. After all it was noon, how much rockin’ can one do? A lot actually, the crowd was pretty into them despite the fact it was majorly filled with camped out Dave Matthews Band fans at the average age of 40 years old. Zion I played mostly new tracks off their new album, The Takeover but I got what I wanted when they performed songs off 2005’s True & Livin‘. Things got crazier when the Oakland’s original ghost rider Mistah F.A.B. showed up to help out with a few songs. A good way to start the day.
I wondered around for an hour and camped in front of the Panhandle Stage to catch Portugal. The Man. While I waited I got to see afro-rock group Extra Golden pump out a few more songs. They seemed very happy to be there and the small crowd they generated were into it I guess. A nice change of sound.
Now I have been trying to see PTM for years now. Ever since 2006’s Waiter: “You Vultures!” I have been trying to see what my friends called “one of the most unexpectedly amazing live bands I have ever seen.” Fair enough. After about three songs into their set, I was convinced.
The band is tight and extremely talented. They create perfect pop songs that blended pretty well with the bright and sunny 80 degree San Francisco weather we were having today. Their early 70’s throwback rock, R&B, and vintage soul with the latest innovations in melodious experimentation proved worthy for this sunny afternoon.
I had to book it to the Twin Peaks Stage in order to just catch the mighty Mastodon rock the fuck out. Another band I had missed several times, Mastodon brought it today. Opening with songs from this year’s Crack The Skye and gradually breaking into older material showed how the band had evolved as more than just a run-of-the-mill metal act.
The best part of this stage wasn’t just the band though, it was the random moshpits that were sprouting out of nowhere. This was both fun and aggravating for the crowd. I however, was loving it. Watching everyone’s reaction was great and seeing these metalheads clash with these uptight hipster punks was a sight to see. Anyway, Mastodon has a monster presence when they perform and seemed quite happy with the crowd’s enthusiasm. A nice addition being that none of the bands on this year’s line-up sound remotely like them.
45 minutes later TV on the Radio performed their last set in a long time (according to them). With Kyp Malone’s much anticipated solo project Rain Machine going on tour soon and the band extensively touring for last year’s Dear Science, they are taking a long much deserved break.
So what we got today was a highly energetic and moving hour long set filled with many songs off the brilliant Dear Science and many lovely familiar tracks like Staring At The Sun and Wolf Like Me. They play fast and slow with an equal amount of passion, and it’s a treat to see both.
I have been a fan of The Mars Volta ever since their formation and had passed up seeing them live until tonight. Here I was, about to see one of my favorite bands of all time rip up the stage like I had dreamed a millions times before. Opening with Goliath off last year’s amazing The Bedlam in Goliath, lead vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala immediately jumped and flopped around on stage all the while still able to hit the high notes.
That’s not all. All within the first song he grabbed the sign displaying their band name on the side of the stage and began to beat the everliving crap out of it. Also, he laid chestdown on the stage and started grabbing the presses’ cameras and singing into them. All the while I was thinking, “If this is what will be going on for the next hour and half….AWESOME!” Well he didn’t exactly go apeshit the whole set but Cedric and the rest of the band were most definitely full of energy for the remainder of the show.
Playing a perfect balance from all five of their albums, including this year’s impressive Octahedron. My “Oh-shit-o-meter” went off the charts when they played my favorite songs off their 2003 masterpiece De-Loused in the Comatorium.
Singing along and freaking out, I came to the quick conclusion that this may be one of the best shows I had ever seen. Now four hours after the show, I’m still pretty certain that what I had just witnessed was not only the best of the festival (sorry Q-Tip), but one of my favorite shows of the year. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I’m pretty much sold.
So today worked out pretty well. Tomorrow is John Vanderslice, Modest Mouse, M.I.A., and Tenacious D! Maybe some other acts in the middle and earlier in the day. We’ll see.