The final day of Outside Lands Festival was a very foggy and chilly day in Golden Gate Park. I got a bit of joy seeing these LA hipster brats in their designer t-shirts freezing their asses off.
I made it in time to see Australia’s Lenka play a few songs including her single The Show as well as a brand new tune. She was having a good time despite the tiny crowd she generated. Plus she was cute as all hell. When an audience member asked her when the new album was going to be out she responded, “Fuck if I know, next year maybe?” Adorable. [Lenka Kuestionnaire]
I strolled up the John Vanderslice stage a bit confused. There had to be about 15 people in the crowd and he was going to perform in the next five minutes. Here was this talented singer-songwriter and creator of one of the best albums of the year, Romanian Names, and no one was here to appreciate it.
Gradually people started to trickle in and he eventually generated a sizable crowd. And for good reason, he brought his usual sweet and goofy personality mixed with his vulnerable and moving songs. This was a treat for anyone there to witness it. Playing plenty off his extensive catalog and a few gems off his new record including my favorite, Tremble And Tear. An impressive performance from this criminally underrated artist.
My real test was to figure out whether I was stoked enough to see Dead Weather and Band of Horses or Modest Mouse, M.I.A., and Tenacious D. For some people this would be an easy choice, however for me I was torn. I figured I would catch Dead Weather and Band of Horses on their next tour and see Modest Mouse for the first time, see M.I.A. again, and witness the rockin’ that is Tenacious D. So I trekked over to my least favorite stage, the Lands End (Main) stage. The Lands End stage reminds me what I don’t like about festivals; the smell (you know what I’m talking about, that mix of BO, bad medicinal pot, and greasy fair food), loud ignorant people, and being compact with people I otherwise would never converse with. Well here’s a short list of characters I ran into while I was waiting for the Lands End acts.
- The Guys Fascinated and Obsessed With The Beach Balls
- The Two Valley Girls From Hollywood That Had Nothing Interesting To Say For 45 Minutes Straight But “OMG Why Is She (M.I.A.) Taking So Long?”
- The Guys Who REALLY Wanted To Be Seen On The Jumbo-Tron
- The Dude Who Smoked (I’m Not Exaggerating) 20 Blunts. “Dude….I’m so high..I….I can’t walk.”
Moving on. I’m a casual fan of Modest Mouse (I own The Moon and Antarctica and Good News For People Who Love Bad News, that’s it), but what I got was a decent performance filled with a few familiar tunes and some not so much. I have no idea whether tonight’s audience favored newer or older material. A nice thing happen though, Float On wasn’t played. Thank you Modest Mouse for building a genuine setlist for all of us and not randomly throwing a radio single in there. Bravo.
The show rocked on and the crowd sang along compellingly. Lead vocalist/guitarist Isaac Brock was short on banter which was also nice for a guy that is famously shitfaced during each show. Modest Mouse songs start (or end) like a lullaby at times but explode with precise time signatures and loud choruses, which was all on display today on this cloudy afternoon in San Francisco.
This was my second time seeing M.I.A. The first time was a week after Kala was released. Her shows are typically very energetic and this was no exception. The difference from this show and my first M.I.A. concert was the crowd’s energy, which was close to nothing. It didn’t make much sense. She had these twin albino crunk dancers going apeshit, two more hype dancers, she jumped into the crowd several times, they even tossed out a few dozen annoying plastic horns for the crowd to play with. Still, no dancing, no arm waving, just a few head nods. Keep in mind I was directly up front and I was squashed with Tenacious D fans who were vaguely familiar with anything from M.I.A. So I assume it was different at other parts of the crowd, but where I was standing, they were dead.
I however was having a blast with these random strangers I had just met. Dancing and singing along like I usually do. It was hard to keep any level of enthusiasm with the crowd at such a boorish energy level. I still don’t understand it. Anyway, she played a new song which I’ll post in the coming week. I forget the title but it sounds like Tricky crossed with …well, M.I.A.Very experimental and loud. I liked it.
All in all, she rocked, as usual. It’s just a pity the crowd sucked ass.
It was time for The Beastie Boys’ replacement, Tenacious D. I would have preferred The Beastie Boys but I figured seeing the D wasn’t too bad of a trade off. After listening to their first full length album and watching a borrowed copy of The Pick of Destiny, I was hyped up enough to see the epic rocking that is Tenacious D.
It was a blast! They’re not a full fledged rock show though. They are more of a combination comedy act with skits, battles against the devil and something called The Metal, and a lot of dueling acoustic guitars and balls out rockin’ the fuck out.
It was very entertaining to say the least. You had to kind of let yourself except that this was more of a ‘show’ than a rock concert and once you did that, you were having fun.
Playing classics like Fuck Her Gently (haha, classic…), Wonderboy, and Tribute were great to watch along with some Pick of Destiny songs, and a handful of Who covers during the encore. Not a bad way to end the night and these exhausting but overly satisfying festival.
Outside Lands Overall Conclusion? While an epically embarrassing line-up and an audience of people who embrace shitting music, my journey through the festival was 90% a success.Lets rank my top 5 moments…
- The Mars Volta. They know how to put on a fucking show. Just an amazing thing to witness.
- Q-Tip. Playing Tribe Called Quest songs alone was great but his stage presence was amazing. A born performer.
- Portugal. The Man. They need to be experienced live. The band plays like they’ve been doing this for decades.
- Pearl Jam. You can tell that this is a band that has the art of performing live down to a science. Fantastic.
- John Vanderslice. It was great not only to hear him play new favorites, but old favorites as well…all the while outside in the foggy San Francisco afternoon. Gorgeous.
I had a great time and may go again next year if all goes well. See you then!