Sunday, August 24, 2008

SF Outside Lands-Day 2

Yesterday was Day 2 of Outside Lands. It went much better than Day 1. I'm talkin' night and day. After picking up some food, so we could avoid wasting time in the lines, we made our way to the park. The lines on the way in were quick and we made our way to the Sutro Stage, which as a nice hill that gives a decent view of the stage. We set up shop on a blanket and settled in for Devendra Banhart. He's pretty eclectic and I dig his music for the most part. He did a great set, including a cover of Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime". Next up was M. Ward. He rocked and threw in a couple of mellower tunes. Surprisingly, he had two drummers, and the sound was tight. I really dug his show. Rather than moving stage to stage we just stayed at the Sutro stage for a few shows. Next up was Regina Spektor. She plays all her own stuff and mostly performs with just her voice and a grand piano. There were a few times when her sound got drowned out by the blowback from the other stages, but she powered through. By this time our group of 4 had become a group of 8 or 10 as friends arrived. The party was groovin'. While waiting in a bathroom line, I also got a treat of being able to hear nearly all of "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" from Steve Winwood's set from one of other stages. No "Back in the High Life" or "Valerie." Sadly.

After Spektor, we made our way to the Lands End stage for Ben Harper. After some crowd wrangling we found some friends at a nice spot and created our own little ghetto. The rest of the crew trickled in. Harper did what he always does--rocked. He makes you think too. But in a good way. We held our ghetto in preparation of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who were closing Saturday's show. I've never seen Petty (I don't think), but he's the kind of person whose songs you know. He wins the prize for yesterday. I was far more impressed than I thought I'd be. At one point they took a break to fix something on the piano and they came out with Steve Winwood. That was a treat.

Time is running short, so I'll finish this later.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

SF Outside Lands-Day 1 Impressions

So yesterday was Day 1 of the OutsideLands Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The festivities began with a pre-game party at a friends friends house. It was a nice mid-afternoon get together before heading to the Park. Following some shenanigans there, we began the 25-30 minute walk to the park, with a road soda for each of us in our backpacks (you can drink once you get in the park).

Anyway, the streets and trails of the park were pretty crowded with people making their way to the festival grounds. Friday's shows were slated to begin at 5:00. The lines to get in weren't bad at all and security was all but non-existent. We waited in line for a spell to get our ID wristbands, heard Black Mountain while waiting, so that was band 1. Once we regrouped we headed over to the Lands End stage all the way at the other end in the Polo Field. There we caught Manu Chao, but mostly while waiting in the painful line for food and beer. Those basic tasks took close to 40 minutes. Next up was Lyrics Born, on the Avenues Polo Field stage right nearby. If there was a saving grace for the day, it was LB. He rocked. I've never seen Lyrics Born before because he rarely makes it to the East Coast. He rocked and was well worth the hassle. Joy, his backup singer, has one of the best voices in hip hop, or any other music style, and can bring a chill to you. And she did.

Following LB, we moved over to the main stage to see Radiohead, with a "quick" pitstop first. Yeah, no such thing as quick. The polo field was surrounded by porto-potties, but had one access point to get to them. People were climbing over or under the fences to get to them. We headed to the end point of the fence only to be greeted by massive lines. Me and my friend Shane went to the woods, as were most men, and some women. A fence had been knocked down and people were walking in at will. Two dudes walked by and said, "See? I told you we didn't need tickets." Nice. That's what $250 gets you if you play by the rules. Anyway, we attempted to meet with some friends, via text message. The stage area was overly crowded and it was hard to move from the back of the lawn towards the front where our friends were. We pushed along as best we could, but it was in vain.

Overall, the main stage was as shitshow. The sound got knocked out twice during two separate Radiohead tunes. The band was unaware and you could see them still rocking on the video screen. The other big problem was that for a field that big there were only two video screens, on either side of the stage. Radiohead was doing a four-image split, kind of Beatleseque. It sucked. The sightlines were horrid, and the crowd was kind of crappy. The most interesting thing was the girl who was doing interpretive dance to each song. I never saw someone interpretively dance to "Idiotique." But so it goes.

Overall, unimpressive first day. Let's hope Day 2 is better.

And now I must go to get ready for another day. Links and photos to follow.