Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Fest

Well… I made a vow to myself to check out the local music scene in the area in and around Exile. Slowly but surely I have been trying to get tuned in to satisfy that vow. The bad news is that the exact area in and around Exile is pretty much a desert of live music. Actually, it is pretty much a desert period. If it weren’t for irrigation and systems and sprinklers the place would be brown and probably have a lot of scorpions. Specifically in this case, however, it is a desert of music.

The good news is that just outside of Exile there is a pretty good mecca of music. San Fran has a ton of little music joints with all sorts of different modes of sound. There are almost too many choices. But as most people will recognize that isn’t much of an obstacle to stop me.

So the downside of living 5 minutes from work is that I don't get to listen to the radio much. I am sort of surprised how much I rely on that medium to get information in the Internet age. And especially for local music information there is still no better way to find out what is happening locally. Luckily I was talking to a coworker who casually mentioned to me about this music festival that was going on in San Fran.

This is the second year for the Outside Lands music and arts festival. Three days of music, food, and and all the crazy sights that you would come to expect from a place like SF. I will give the city some credit for putting up a compelling venue in the middle of Golden Gate Park. The big problem with holding an outdoor music festival in Golden Gate Park is that GGP is located in San Francisco and the weather there rarely climbs above 65 between the months of January and December. Fortunately I lucked out with a rare day! There wasn't even any fog! Twisting the arm of my friend Jim to go with me, we set out for the grounds.

Being only the second year for this music festival I think that the organizers are still trying to figure things out a little bit. They tried putting together some interactive entertainment areas that all had corporate sponsors. Except for the Beatles Rock Band there really wasn't much interactivity going on. Intel sponsored a stand that had a lot of people in blue wigs handing out what I hope was an energy drink in a test tube. The Heinekin “experience” was really just a place to buy beer matched up with a dance club that looked strangely like that really uncomfortable scene in Zion from Matrix: Revolutions. It came across just feeling a little “corporate” for a music festival.

Those corporate sponsors were balanced out by the Height Ashberry sponsored the first aid tents. For those not familiar with SF Height Ashberry is the center of the hippie 'head shop' culture in town. It is known for being for being the place the Grateful Dead liked to party after one of their shows! I really wanted to find out what kind of 'herbal remedy' they were providing.

But of course I went to the festival for the music. At that the festival didn't disappoint. The day that we decided to go The Black Eyed Peas and Dave Mathew's Band were the big draw. I am going to go right out and say it now, I think Fergie is hot. For all the Fergie hatters out there you now know what side I am on. Hot and getting hotter. Her current look with the brunette hair... oh yeah! More importantly however is that the Peas were all talented enough that I found a new appreciation for their music. They really brought their 'A' game and worked up the crowd.

Before DMB was scheduled to go on the sun had started to set. And now SF started to show it's true colors. Gone was the unusually sunny day and in it's place was a typical SF night. Cold and moist. DMB started off their show with some stuff from their new album and as they finished up their opeing song Jim decided that he needed to buy a tee shirt to keep warm. Expecting the sticker shock on merchandise that caught Jim by surprise I decided to tough it out. Jim decided to attempt to haggle with the guy at the stand based off the fact that he didn't like the colors of the shirts available for being way overpriced. His negotiations landed him last years tee shirt that the guy pulled from his own bag sold him half price.

This negotiations and a brief trip to the other end of the festival to give a quick listen to this band called the Mars Volta (think the Parliament Funkadelics with Jimmy Hendrix on guitar fronted by Lenny Kravitz) brought as back to DMB about an hour after we left them. I am fairly certain that they were still playing the exact same song. Now I know that DMB has grown into a jam band over the last few years but this is ridiculous. I think that they played seven songs over the course of their two and half hour set!

I was happy to hear hear classics like Ants Go Marching but does the song really need to go on for 10 minutes that could be used to play songs like Crash and Stay? His version of All Along the Watchtower, however, is really amazing. I didn't think that you could do that song better then Hendrix. And they finished strong playing a great cover of Sly and the Family Stone's 'Everyday People' (which of course we all know is significant because that was a song played by Sly 40 years ago at Woodstock). He coolest part was that the Peas coming on stage to sing backup. Little things like that are the reason why I really love festivals.
All in all this was a good start!

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