Outside Lands Festival Diary: Part 2 — Friday, 8/28/09

by Gordon Elgart on August 28, 2009

He seems surprised to be here

He seems surprised to be here

You know how when you have a little cold and you take cold medicine, and when the medicine finally kicks in, your cold breaks?  And you get really sweaty?  Now what if you were taking cold medicine on a hot day at a sunny music festival?  You’d be having my day.  So for me, and surely for many others, Friday at Outside Lands was a fun, sweaty time.

I arrived at around 1:45 to Golden Gate Park and immediately jumped into a shuttle provided by Toyota in order to market their new car models.  I had never heard of this model before, and now, hours later, having not written it down, I have no idea what model car it was.  Marketing fail.  I picked up my comp ticket that I received for my future work, and made it to the gate.  Next started a twenty-minute hike through Speedway Meadow, and on into the Polo Fields, and finally over a little path to Lindley Meadow.  I arrived just in time to see Akron/Family finish their set.  Good thing I went to see them last night!

Next up was Los Campesinos! (The exclamation point is theirs.)  I had a great time with them; they’re a regular party band.  I was glad that my cold medicine was fully kicked in at this point, so I was able to get down and dance a little bit, but their complaining about having their set cut short by a few minutes didn’t win them any fans.  And then they told the audience that they had made a mistake by choosing watching them over watching Built to Spill, and I started to doubt my own choice.  They were fun enough, but I don’t think the big outdoor setting suited them.  I wandered off.

Now it was time to do a little walkabout and see what I could see.  I saw that the Ames Bros had a tent where they were selling their Pearl Jam poster for tonight’s show as well as an all-festival poster they had created.  Cool stuff, but a bit pricy.  Also available was their book, Pearl Jam vs. Ames Bros, a collection of their Pearl Jam posters for the last dozen years or so, for a hefty $40.  As I was standing there at this tent, someone walked up to buy the t-shirt and a poster, which was $70.  The Ames Brother helping out said “for only $10 more, you get the book and a tote bag.”  The guy said he already had the book, and not to worry about it.  I jumped at the opportunity to offer him $15 to go ahead and take the package so that I could get the book and he could get the bag.  So now I’m the proud owner of a great poster book, signed by the Ames Bros!

After that, I hit a tent sponsored by a hair care product company who I won’t mention because they’re not a sponsor of Spinning Platters.  (Call me.)  While there, I sang karaoke which enters me into a contest to win $200, and also got me a bag (handy for carrying a poster book) full of product.  My next stop was to find a spot for Silversun Pickups, at which point I started distributing hair-care products to lucky passers-by.  “Who needs gel?  Who needs putty?”  I don’t even know what hair putty is.  Frankly, I’m scared of it.

The Silversun Pickups started, and while they were great, the drum sound was just off.  There was no punch to the snare drum, and it bugged me.  I noticed that the drummer himself was a bit off during some of the earlier songs, and I wonder if there were overall microphone and monitor issues going on with the band.  They plowed through anyway, and their new material sounded better than the older material.  Then again, I like it better.

I used their final song to begin making it over to watch The National, who were in a different field.  I don’t know their material at all, but I remember liking them a lot when I saw them open the R.E.M. show back in Berkeley last summer.  So I watched them again, and I liked them a lot again.  It makes me think that I should probably be listening to their albums, or at least going out of my way to see them live when they come to town.  I’m clearly ready to be a fan of theirs; what’s stopping me?

Food was next, and the food at Outside Lands is pretty good this year.  A lot of local vendors are selling their stuff.  My personal happiness comes from the fact that you can get Philz coffee, made one cup at a time, just like at their store.  They’re not a sponsor of ours, but I’m a fan, so they get mentioned.  (Feel free to call me.)  I wasn’t too impressed with the vegetarian selections, but I found some black beans and rice, which is a tasty, satisfying meal, even though it’s never mind-blowing to me.

I get to the stage where Tom Jones is going to perform about a half an hour before he’s to start, and what do I see?  An empty spot on the railing, just to the right of the center of the stage.  What’s this?  So I grab it, and immediately realize that this spot is going to end up with one of my shorter lady friends, and I’ll just be a little bit behind here dancing.  So that’s what happened.  Sir Tom Jones absolutely killed.  I was worried about the crowd reaction, but I had no reason for concern.  Everybody ate it up.  Singing, dancing, and throwing panties.  It was all there.  My favorite moment was during “What’s New Pussycat?” when I was singing along.  The woman standing next to me looked at me, surprised, and asked, “You know the words?”

“Yeah.  This is my fifth time seeing him!”

“Wow, you’re a real fan!” So I guess this means I’m a Tom Jones fan.  In fact, this was the only set today I watched from beginning to end.

I got to Pearl Jam a few songs into the set, with no idea of what they’d already played, and was overjoyed that they let me scream “HELLO!”  That is my absolute favorite moment in a Pearl Jam show, and I think I’d put it near the top of a list of “Brief moments in a show by a band that are always awesome.”  Other things that might be on this list include when the bass kicks in during Radiohead’s “National Anthem,” when Geddy Lee sings “concert hall” during “The Spirit of Radio,” and every time Captain Kirk of The Roots plays a solo.

But I digress (as I often do).  Eddie’s voice was totally off tonight.  He even apologized, and asked people to sing louder to make up for it.  The crowd near me wasn’t up for it at all, but luckily the band was.  Mike McCready’s soloing was absolutely epic, as if he was using his guitar to say “got your back, Eddie.”

Tomorrow, I’m back in the AM to work in the Intel Tent at the Crowdfire stations.  If you’re around, stop by and say hi.  I’m the one who looks like a music nerd.

Come back for part 3 when I talk about volunteering, Mastodon, Bat For Lashes, TV on the Radio, Deerhunter and The Mars Volta.  And will I stay to watch the end of the Dave Matthews Band set?  Only if they promise to play “Too Much” for me.  Can anyone get them to make that promise?

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Butterworth August 29, 2009 at 9:18 am

Now you’re tempting me to drive up there

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W.D Nuila September 14, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I am in love with your style of writing, and will keep following your pieces on this site.
Gordon, you’re awesome!

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