"Sometimes I think life is just a rodeo,
The trick is to ride and make it to the bell.
But there is a place, sweet as you will ever know,
In music and love, and things you never tell.
You see it in their face, secrets on the telephone,
A time out of time, for you and no one else.
Hey let’s go all over the world,
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls."
Words and Music by John Fogerty
Copyright 1984 Wenaha Music Company ASCAP
Lyrics reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Tickets for NYC-Beacon Theatre go on sale today: OCt. 1: http://ticketmaster.com
In its fourth year, the Outside Lands Festival, in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, hit its stride—and became a San Francisco institution.
Musically speaking, Outside Lands isn’t really as coherent as other festivals centered on a particular genre of music or a particular scene. From its first iteration in 2008, it felt like a big corporate rockfest that just happened to be in San Francisco. There was no particular aesthetic to the music. In year one, it was clear that the model put forth by co-promoters Superfly (of Bonnaroo) and Another Planet Entertainment (a hometown offshoot of Bill Graham Presents) was to present as many different types of music as possible, in order to bring in as many different musical constituencies as possible so as to sell a lot of tickets and thereby establish the festival. Headliners in the first couple of years were Tom Petty, Radiohead, Dave Matthews, the Beastie Boys (who cancelled), Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, and Furthur, all chosen for maximum draw.
But San Francisco has always been the real draw. This year, maybe because after four years, you finally pick up this city’s beat tendencies, Outside Lands really jelled as a San Francisco festival—truly at home alongside the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. The music was as eclectic as ever—something for everyone, really, from a full, two-set Phish show Friday night, to closing dance sets by Girl Talk on Saturday and Deadmau5 on Sunday, to a mellow soul Sunday morning from Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band and Mavis Staples – and big-draw pop headliners Muse and indie darlings Arcade Fire. And quite a few alt-rock, alt-pop and indie rock bands mixed in. And that musical eclecticism is, itself, fairly representative of San Francisco.
But in the end, it was everything else that made Outside Lands 2011 feel like this city’s festival. For example, the vibe, especially on Friday, was Upper Haight hippie meets Lower Haight hipster. Plenty of twenty- and thirty-something in either tie dyes or animal headdresses—or both. Plenty of people in Burner-style costumes (like one guy with a mirror-balled batting helmet). More than ever this year, standard festival fare had been almost entirely replaced by many of this foodie city’s quirky eateries offering local (and often locally-sourced and organic) delights—sweet potato tater tots with falafel snow cones, upscale chicken and waffles, fine organic ice cream, gourmet cupcakes. It wasn’t cheap, but it was good. Then there was the returning Wine Lands, the tent that features local and regional wineries slinging their finest.
Even the merch booths, which often seem like generic travellers on the fest and carnival and county fair circuit, had been infiltrated by hip local emporia—and local poster artists including Lil Tuffy and John Howard banded together as the San Francisco Print Collective to sell fine silkscreened rock posters. S.F. art mag Juxtapoz sponsored an ongoing street art demonstration, with graffiti artists painting elaborate murals live on the Polo Field on long panels (that are probably now worth a fortune).
Most interestingly, the promoters opened up a wooded pass between stages as “McLaren Pass“—featuring a “food truck forest”, the “Choco-Lands” with booths selling sweets, and “The Mission“—a couple of burrito and taco stands. Beneath hanging skull lanterns, evil-looking clowns performed gypsy sideshows, playing music and doing tricks. At one edge of the forest, a couple of Burning Man-style structures—odd artistic shacks made with reclaimed materials—perched amid parachutes that sheltered a sofa or a Persian rug for sitting, or a rope swing that rang giant metal tubes like an oversized wind chime. It was Pranksterism, really—and maybe you could have been up in the forest at Ken Kesey’s place in La Honda.
The locavore, the hippie, the hipster, and the cool overwhelmed the corporate stuff—and that was a welcome … not a shift, but an upwelling, of actual San Francisco culture. This is truly a San Francisco festival now. And in hard times, it brought a lot of money into the city—those local eateries with booths had to be double-staffed for three straight 14-hour days (at least)—and with ten dollars probably the average for a meal item, many of them must have been bringing in at least $1000 an hour. This year, that will earn the promoters a lot of good will.
There was music, too. Too much to see it all, or anything near it all. But the bands were well-spaced and timed to avoid bleed and—largely—tough choices. If you timed it well, you could have, on Friday, caught Outkast rapper Big Boi’s set—then Eryka Badu’s, then returned to the main field for Phish’s second set.
Then, Big Boi never played—his DJ’s computer crashed, you see and he had no backup computer. So, bizarrely, the show did not go on. And that is why every rapper should carry a backup band. It doesn’t speak well to Big Boi’s versatility as a live performer—why not set up Badu’s band—or just her drummer and freestyle it? One would imagine he did not get paid.
Of course, even bands have their problems; earlier on the field, New Orleans funk pioneers the Original Meters were waylaid for what felt like twenty minutes by the failure of guitar hero Leo Nocentelli’s amp stack. In this case, it didn’t speak well for the versatility of the stage hands, who—rather than swapping the amp out for one that worked, and fixing it backstage—monkeyed around with the rig for an excruciating half hour (or so it felt) as drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, bassist George Porter, Jr., and organist Art Neville jammed freestyle. Big Boi could have learned a thing or two from these gracious old men.
When they did get going, their playing was loose—partly the grass field vibe, and partly because their build had been interrupted. But they sounded like the Meters. And most so when Nocentelli was back online.
But back to Big Boi: 40 minutes into a long, crowded wait, this intrepid typist bailed for Phish. As it turns out, BB came out and apologized and said something about how it was better to play no set than a half-assed set. And then comedian Dave Chapelle emerged, and reportedly told a few jokes at the expense of festival attendees. I’m sure that made the crowd happy. The whole mess somehow pushed Badu’s set back—so that you couldn’t catch a whiff of it during Phish’s break, after all. Which was too bad—word was that she killed.
Phish is tight in 2011. It was one to warm the heart of this old-school warrior, with plenty from the pre- Billy Breathes period. A loose, funky “Moma Dance”, a sharply-rendered take on Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia”, smokin’ “Possum”, and “Tweezer“—cold, cold, cold, cold, cold in the west city fog. A deep-pocket “Mound,” and a drop into “Suzie Greenberg.” With the fest’s larger sound problems largely ironed out, the sound was killer, even halfway across the Polo Fields—and Phish took command of the field. It didn’t feel like part of a Phish show jammed awkwardly into a festival (like last year’s underwhelming Furthur set)—it felt like a Phish show (and the first inside San Francisco proper since the Fillmore show in 1998). A heavy “Axilla” led into the “Mike’s Song” > “I am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove” suite. And that was just the first set. Set two opened with the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll,” which slowed down into a space-jazz jam. On “Steam”, the fog machines hissed along with the band (what was this, a Prince record?). This was a driven, upbeat set—“Julius,” “Fluffhead“—classic Phish jam—a hooked-on-disco “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, and a hard-rockin’ “Chalkdust Torture”. The slower take on Bowie’s “Life on Mars?“—perhaps an allusion to the discovery this week of what NASA scientists believe are flows of saltwater on the red planet—felt like a bring-down mid-set.
Chris Kuroda’s lightshow was gorgeously complex – l.e.d. pinspots beaming rich, dark colors—burnt oranges, dark reds and blues—out into the crowd, or creating fire mandalas on three round scrims. Stunning.
Early on Saturday, local folk-psych outfit Vetiver played an electric set, sounding like the Allman Brothers at times, with a dual guitar, dual-keyboardist set-up. The Richmond District sound (the northwest part of San Francisco) seems to be characterized by feedback-laced Telecasters … surf guitars, for a beach neighborhood. Vetiver’s sound was punchy—a choppy, punchy western psych-pop. Their Grateful Dead selection, requisite for a gig in the park, was a fairly faithful “Don’t Ease Me In”.
Saturday night, the Black Keys held court on the big Polo Field, blazing through an hourlong set of blues crunch guitar assault over drums. The field was packed to the gills.
At the other end of the park, in Speedway Meadow, the Roots were jamming through cover after cover – paragraph-long quotes, really—“Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Immigrant Song”, “Jungle Boogie“—more rock than funk, rapping as a means of connective tissue.
Compared to all that, Warren Haynes’ set with the Warren Haynes band felt subdued and very mellow. This is his take on the Jerry Garcia Band concept—with skroinky organ and guitar tones, and raspy saxophone to boot.
Britpop act Muse followed on the Polo Field, and the crowd came spilling for the Gary Glitter-like beat intro to their hit “Uprising”.
And back at the east end of the fest, bearded freak Girl Talk (Greg Gillis) presided over a thousands-strong dance party that packed that field. The mashup artist flounced at his control panel like a muppet Bjorn Borg, all in white, amid a stage packed with dancing festival goers. Girl Talk’s set was intriguing. At times, it felt like a high school dance, with girls in ponytails thrilling to “Thriller.” Then, when it got deep and trancelike and weird—and the bass boomed and shook the trees—it was transformational, danceformational. There, Gillis’ montage was at its best.
Another local act, the Fresh & Onlys, opened the day Sunday, with a noon set of psych-reverbed telecaster pop-punk … the Richmond Sound returns. They’d be at home in the old 924 Gilman/ Lookout! Records scene.
The weekend’s most pleasant surprise was Charles Bradley and the Monahan Street Band. Bradley, a James Brown disciple (and one-time Brown tribute act), laid down mellow Sunday morning soul. Zipped to the waist in a black sequined shirt with wings and scorpions and his own initials, Bradley sang his heart out—he’s a legitimate soul screamer. Neil Young would have loved his take on “Heart of Gold”. But Bradley sang his set along thematic lines, opining obliquely on poverty and racial oppression in America – “why is it so hard to get Ahead in America?” he sang on the admittedly autobiographical “Why Is It So Hard,” as a pair of red-tailed hawks circled up the thermals nearby. He stepped off the stage and worked the crowd, shaking every hand, hugging and kissing every lady he could. Then he crossed himself and blessed the crowd. Without you, he said, I would have let go. The audience had saved him in its embrace—and he was here not only to spread a message of love, but to express his gratitude.
Mavis Staples sang Staples Singers hits later on the field, and was joined by Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler for The Band’s “The Weight.”
Arcade Fire closed the festival down – and they were happy to do it. They are a big band—two drummers, two keyboard players, two guitars (including Butler) and a bassist—and then sometimes co-frontperson Régine Chassagne would come down to sing, or play some strange steampunk handcrank theremin-type wooden siren noisemaker, or the accordion. After an introductory film about the invasion of a small town by city kids, and then Cyrus from The Warriors (“Can you dig it?”), and finally the bandmembers on bicycles, riding through a Spielbergian housing development, the band members bounded onstage through a mocked-up theatre marquee. This is a feel-good band, recasting what in the 80s was called “alternative rock” (think the Cure or Smiths)—and was often morbidly depressing for effect—as an upbeat, band-camp-kids-gone-tribal call to joy. Suburban angst, perhaps, with violins and 80s haircuts, and a smiling gang of Canadians—and 20,000 singing along in a field while a flying V of ducks cuts overhead in silhouette at dusk.
The treat of the week for this writer was seeing ex-Creedence Clearwater Revival songsmith and frontman John Fogerty’s set. Fogerty is one of those veterans you might sort of forget about for a while, and then you see him and realize how much of your life his music means, how deep into your psyche those old Creedence songs reach. And, man, so many songs—up there with ZZ Top, Tom Petty, and The Guess Who in terms of recognizeable radio hits. In an aqua flannel shirt and black neckerchief, Fogerty worked the hometown crowd (“This song may be called ‘Born on the Bayou‘—but I was born right here!”) He had two guitarists behind him (with bass, drums, and keys)—but he played all his solos, unless he wanted someone to double them. And that sound was unmistakeable. Fogerty hit every high note, too—no small feat for an aging rocker. And man, rock and roll. The Creedence tunes pleased, and the newer Fogerty songs snorted and stomped. Fogerty and company played a faithful cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman“—which never fails to also invoke Van Halen. And then Fogerty reached for a blue Eddie Van Halen model Music Man guitar, and played an Eddie Van Halen solo—high on the neck hammer-on, you know the sound—to lead into the heavy swamp boogie-woogie of “Keep On Chooglin’”. Fogerty blew the harp, ran back and forth across the stage, exhorted the crowd. He was loving this—and he, too, thanked the crowd profusely, blessing them for singing along. Prevented for years by his former record company from playing his own songs—and even sued over “The Old Man is Down The Road” for sounding too much like himself—Fogerty was long known as a rightfully bitter, bitter man. That man was gone. And this man was loving playing those old songs, and loving breathing life into them anew.
Of course, ultimately, it was the bitter classic “Fortunate Son” that captured the spirit of 2011, this year of antitax revolt madness.
Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale
Or, perhaps, of any American year.
Then, the whole weekend felt like a recipe for economic revival:
A festival in every town.
Monday, August 15, 2011
With a glorious pink moon slowly rising over the Polo Field on Sunday, Arcade Fire stormed the stage with “Ready to Start.” Thousands of dust-caked fans pushed forward on the lawn, raising their fists and shouting along with the Grammy-winning Canadian group’s lanky front man, Win Butler.
“This is one of those times where we feel like we have to pinch ourselves,” he said after the song came to a thundering close, a crooked smile spreading across his face.
The organizers of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival - Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment - couldn’t have scripted a better finale for its fourth year.
After the organizational setbacks of the first few festivals - permit issues, neighborhood complaints, canceled headliners - this was the year when it felt as if the whole thing came together almost effortlessly.
“It seems like this year the city has so embraced the festival on every level,” said Another Planet’s Gregg Perloff, taking a brief breather backstage on Saturday.
Outside Lands is not just a rock concert. It’s an all-encompassing concept - a miniature city that rises in the middle of the park and bustles with great local food, beautiful people and nonstop music from every imaginable genre on about a half dozen stages.
Earlier on Sunday, Butler had taken the stage to duet with Mavis Staples on a version of the Band’s “The Weight.” Wearing a thick striped hoodie, lopsided haircut and Ray-Bans, Butler could have been mistaken for a contest winner from the auto insurance booth across the field.
Outside Lands might be the only major festival where 93 percent of the musical acts on the bill could walk the grounds without getting recognized.
The headliners certainly had their fans - particularly the Vermont jam band Phish, which played nearly 3 1/2 hours of droopy guitar licks to twirling dancers on Friday. But the rest of the acts on the three-day bill drew less discriminating crowds.
On Sunday, the kids waiting for the Swedish electro-pop troupe Little Dragon to take the stage in Lindley Meadow sang along to the sounds of John Fogerty floating through the trees from the Polo Field. The 66-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival filled his hour-long set with classic rock staples such as “Bad Moon Rising” and “Up Around the Bend.”
But turntables were as prevalent as guitars. One of the biggest draws of the weekend was Girl Talk, the 30-year-old Pittsburgh DJ Greg Gillis, who on Saturday in Speedway Meadow did nothing more than stitch together hundreds of familiar riffs and beats from other peoples’ songs in rapid-fire bursts.
If you didn’t know where to head at any given time, all you had to do was jump into the nearest stream of young people. It was almost impossible to go wrong with more than 70 acts on the bill, including the Black Keys, Foster the People, Best Coast, the Arctic Monkeys and the Roots.
Sure, the Decemberists’ quirky, baroque pop felt a little more than grating on the enormous Polo Field on Sunday, but the British rock band Muse had no problem owning the same space the night before with its blinding light show and gigantic riffs.
The official capacity for each day was 60,000 people, but it often felt like more.
There was one notable no-show.
Outkast rapper Big Boi, who earlier in the week was arrested on charges of drug possession in Miami, abruptly canceled his set after a long, confusing delay during which he came out onstage and told the audience, “I’m waiting for the DJ to get it together.”
He never returned. Comedian Dave Chappelle appeared in his place, momentarily appeasing the crowd with a bit of humor and a lot of heart. “I’ve waited a long time to be at a concert with a beach ball,” he said.
Chappelle and the rest of those in attendance got that and so much more.
Follow Aidin Vaziri at twitter.com/MusicSF. E-mail him at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
POSTED: August 15, 11:45 AM ET | By Benjy EisenComment 0 Win Butler of Arcade Fire. C Flanigan/WireImage
With so many major music festivals pulling from the same small pool of bands these days, festivals have become less about the lineup and more about the experience itself – the geographic location, physical features and special installations that, hopefully, make each one unique. Or, at least, worthy. To this end, Outside Lands has an unfair home court advantage – its permanent residence in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park rests on the same hallowed grounds where the very cradle of American rock music first started rocking back and forth in the 1960s.
“The whole San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury scene was very influential in everything that I do, even before I got involved with any of the guys from the Grateful Dead,” guitarist Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule, Allman Bros.) told Rolling Stone shortly before taking the stage with his new solo band on Saturday. But the Bay Area and its surrounding territories have become known for more than just bell bottom blues, electric shuffles and spaced-out jams. San Francisco is a mecca for foodies as much as music buffs and, of course, many of the world’s finest wines are squeezed from grapes grown just outside the city limits. And so Outside Lands has become the Bay Area in a bottle – the food court has transformed into a satellite operation for many of the area’s finest restaurants and, by Sunday, comments about the fried mac and cheese fingers from Andalu were as commonly overheard as those about any actual bands, per se. The festival also hosts Wine Lands, a wine-tasting village along the main promenade that easily had a crowd the size of any other given side-stage at any given moment. Fans here discussed reds and whites with the same aplomb of bloggers discussing their choice between Little Dragon versus Wye Oak (who, unfortunately, shared a competing time slot on Sunday afternoon).
Taking all the fun of Bonnaroo and delivering it, literally, to the front door of Haight-Ashbury, where the wild things once roamed, the unified spirit of those original San Francisco bands was very much alive and in the air, everywhere, throughout the weekend. Local heat-seekers the tUnE-YarDs and Stone Foxes both played to, what they claimed, were their largest crowds to date. After their set, Stone Foxes’ Spence Koehler told Rolling Stone that when Outside Lands first launched in 2008, he bought tickets and came as a fan. “Every year the dream has been that one day we’ll get to play Outside Lands,” he said. “And this year, it finally came true.”
Meanwhile, classic rocker John Fogerty mostly kept to mega-hits from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days. And while many, if not most, in the audience recognized those tunes from car rides with their parents, Fogerty couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm. “It’s great to be in my hometown, playing some of my homemade songs,” he said, before launching into radio-perfect versions of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” “Proud Mary,” and “Fortunate Son.”
The sale of single-day tickets ensured that Friday’s vibe crossed streams with Phish tour. Throngs of Phish kids visited the park to watch their band jam as if they really are the rightful heirs to the Grateful Dead’s throne – something even the locals had to consider. Phish put on their festival face, showcasing their compositional epics (“Fluffhead”), power hitters (“Chalkdust Torture”) and deep-end explorations (“Tweezer”). They also offered Golden Gate Park their own guided tour of rock history, playfully covering clever selections from David Bowie (“Life on Mars?”), the Velvet Underground (“Rock & Roll”), Frank Zappa (“Peaches en Regalia”) and Ween (“Roses Are Free”).
On Saturday night, British rockers Muse proved once again that they can anchor a stadium-sized festival in the States and pull it off in a way that’s every bit as grandiose as their lyrics claim they can. Performing nearly the entire Side A from their most recent release, 2009’s The Resistance, Muse also sprinkled older hits such as “Supermassive Black Hole” with improvisational moments of guitar rock glory, riffing on everyone from AC/DC to Nirvana. When ring leader Matt Bellamy started teasing the traditional classic “House of the Rising Sun” on guitar, the entire audience sang along. It was unplanned and perfect. But Muse had a lot of these spontaneous moments, and it was during these times when the band truly touched some kind of greatness. Of course, the laser beams helped, too.
Sunday night’s grand finale set from Arcade Fire came with its own fireworks, as the band sang about life in the suburbs from the heart of one of the nation’s largest city parks. The show was filled with all the usual anthems from the band’s esteemed trilogy, while frontman Win Butler repeatedly confirmed his love affair for the Bay, admitting that “this is one of those times where we have to pinch ourselves, because we actually get paid to go to San Francisco and play a show.” Butler also seemed thrilled with Outside Lands itself – “I spent a lot of the day out in the field and went to all the food vendors,” he said. “There’s just such a great vibe out there.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Butler assisted Mavis Staples on harmony during her daytime set for a cover of the Band’s “The Weight.” Butler relayed that Staples – who famously sang “I’ll Take You There” with the Staple Singers – told fans, “We’ve been taking you there for 60 years – just take us there for one second. We’re only as good a band as you are.”
This symbiotic band-fan relationship was out front throughout the weekend and it was the blurring of this line, in particular, that really gave the festival a different vibe than many of its contemporaries. Bands became fans, fans joined bands and, at one point, even the mayor showed up to voice his approval.
Yes, this was the year that Outside Lands finally became the festival it always promised to be — which is to say, one of the greats.
John and the band ripping into a killer version of the CCR classic
“SWEET HITCHHIKER”-Sturgis, SD 8.11.11
John sits down with ABC News’ Bob Woodruff (Interview)
ABC News’ Bob Woodruff interviews JOHN FOGERTY, backstage at benefit for ‘AMERICAN THUNDER MUSIC FESTIVAL’-To Benefit The Bob Woodruff Foundation-A Salute To Wounded Warriors”-Sturgis, SD (Buffalo Chip)
To learn more about the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
John and Jeff Bridges share a fun ‘musical moment’ together backstage..
For more info about this event:
‘Pretty Woman’ Calgary Stampede Private gig June 13, 2011
Special thanks and love from all of us to all of you! Loved seeing so many of you on the road on our Canadian Summer 2011 Tour…appreciate each and every one of you who came out! xo- For a complete wrap up of our amazing Summer 2011 Canadian tour-click here
Prior Lake, MN-Mystic Lake Casino
June 17, 2011
WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN
LOOKIN’ OUT MY BACK DOOR
BORN ON THE BAYOU
HOT ROD HEART
DON’T YOU WISH IT WAS TRUE
LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT
HEARD IT THRU THE GRAPEVINE
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN
KEEP ON CHOOGLIN’
ROCK AND ROLL GIRLS
DOWN ON THE CORNER
OLD MAN DOWN THE ROAD
BAD MOON RISING
GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY
‘OH LAWD..STUCK IN LODI AGAIN…’-Friday night SONOMA JAZZ FESTIVAL..wine country, and an amazing audience-what more could we ask for…whatta night..
(LODI, BORN ON THE BAYOU)
RT @Nela138- thanks for posting this great pic from Santiago, Chile-glad u
had fun at the concert!