Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday at the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

What a difference a day makes.

"It's like we flew to an entirely different city to see a different music festival," commented the Joker.

His assessment was dead on. Saturday was more than pleasant. The audience was in good spirits and the crowds were manageable. We had fun, saw a couple of bands we would have never seen otherwise, and met some new friends. Overall, it was a sensational day and we did not encounter any of the problems that plagued Friday night's clusterfuck.

We didn't sleep a lot on Friday night, but got some rest which was key. We were up early to meet our friend Betty Underground for brunch at the Pork Store. Awesome biscuits and stimulating conversation. We told her about the madness from the night before and she was happy that she skipped it.

We were prepared to walk to the festival again, however, we lucked out and found an idle cab. He gave us a lift and that saved us about 45 minutes of walking. We ended up seeing a couple of acts due to the extra time such as Abagail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck. Happy afternoon festival music.

That was actually the first time that we spent time in that part of the fairgrounds by the Sutro and Presido stages on Lindley Meadow. We noticed the old fence that was knocked down by the night before frantic fans who couldn't get out of that area. A new fence replaced the old one. The Sutro stage was rather small for a popular artist like Beck. No wonder it was so bottlenecked in there. I hope it's not like that for Widespread Panic's stint, who got bumped over to a secondary stage instead of the main stage. I betcha they were pissed and will tear it up on Sunday.

Lucky for us, Everest was playing just a few steps away at the Presido stage which was located at the other end of Lindley Meadow. I heard one or two of Everest songs before. I knew they opened for My Morning Jacket in Europe and were signed by Neil Young's record label. The rocking quintet from Los Angeles more than impressed us. We walked away as converts and can't wait to see them again. Too bad their set was only 30 minutes.

We walked back down to the other end of the meadow for Devendra Banhart, where we smoked tough. He's most known these days for the guy who gets to bang Natalie Portman. In fact, SomeDude from Hidden Track saw Nat Portman walking around. Devendra made a comment that he wanted to see Tom Petty especially his guitar solo on Breakdown.

We headed out to the main stage for Galactic and their ensemble called The Crescent City Soul Crewe which featured members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Cyril Neville. Man, I missed seeing Galactic without the rappers and the hip hop acts. That was an interesting side project and it was refreshing to see them take chances and move their music in a different direction. I'm a huge fan of hip hop, but I really missed the good old fashioned NOLA slam funk. We got that and then some. The extra horns was delicious and Cyril Neville sat in on vocals.

"I think I like him better than the Houseman," said the Joker.

Galactic opened up with Fema and they played a couple of other deep cuts from their early albums like Baker's Dozen. We were fairly close to the stage for Galactic. Nicky thought they were the highlight of Saturday. I agree.

After the G-men, we returned to the Sutro stage for mellow M. Ward and to meet up with some fellow music bloggers. We hung out with SomeDude for the first time along with Justin from Live Music Blog. Good folks and we got to chat about music and the festival and our experiences up until that point.

We returned to the main stage for Steve Winwood. We caught his set at Mile High Music Festival, but we left early because it was too damn hot. The highlights this time around were his classic Traffic tunes such as Low Spark > Empty Pages. Winwood funked out Light Up or Leave Me Alone in a ten minute jam which was the highlight of his set. He segued into another classic... Dear Mr. Fantasy.

We left the last bit of Winwood to catch Donavon Frankenreiter, who SomeDude described as a "funky Jack Johnson." I sort of liked him more than Jack and they reminded me a bit like ALO. Chris described them as "adult contemporary rock" or "fratacular."

We checked out the CrowdFire circus tent and sat down in the lounge area on those huge comfy couches to rest up for a bit. All the walking around kills my knees and back. I need a few minutes to recharge the batteries.

We left the tent and caught Cake. They opened with Frank Sinatra and did a great job on a cover version of War Pigs. Nicky noticed that they played a few of their older songs. We chilled out on the side of the hill and just soaked in the scene. We left early to catch the last thirty minutes of Primus featuring Les Claypool. They had two massive astronauts sculptures or something on stage.

We wore costumes again and fulfilled no less than four picture requests. People loved our track suits and we got hundred of random comments.

We skipped Tom Petty since we saw him at Mile High and expected him to play a similar set. We wanted to get some food before a late night show. We started to walk out of the festival and could hear three or four songs. Found out (via Justin's twitter) that there were some more technical difficulties with the sound and they had to take a five minute break to fix it. Looks like we didn't miss anything epic aside from Steve Winwood sitting in on a few tunes.

When the schedules originally were released, we sort of decided that Saturday was the weakest of the three-day festival. It was a throw-away-day and we had low expectations, especially after the Friday night fracas. Saturday's overall experience surpassed anything we could have hoped for. Yeah, we had a great time.

We grabbed beers and dinner at the Kezar Pub before we made the trek to the Independent to see Garage a Trois. I gotta say, I preferred the initial incarnation of GAT which included Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, and Skerik. I saw one of their very first live shows at the Saeger Theatre in New Orleans when they opened up for Oysterhead in 2000. They blew me away.

The current version of GAT features Stanton Moore and Skerik but with Mike Dillon on percussions and Marco Benevento from the Duo on keys. They were weird and freaky and funky and a fitting way to end the night.

Two down, one more to go.

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