Outside Lands Diary, Sunday, August 12th, 2012: Jack in the Woods

by Stephanie Skidmore on August 18, 2012

My baby was stolen. Like the Lindbergh baby in the night* my beautiful 15 year old silver Honda CRV was removed from her place on the streets by some unnamed hooligan. We had many memories, me and that car. I learned to drive with her, I took up her up and down the coast of California, and I’m pretty sure I lost my virginity in that car (sorry Mom and Dad! Teenagers ya know?) (Also lets just gloss over the “pretty sure” portion of that sentence). So when I discovered on Sunday she was gone, it was with great sadness that I started my last day of Outside Lands. And then! If that wasn’t enough I was forced to take the N all the way from the Mission to Golden Gate Park! Yuck! (No seriously, yuck, I was so close to people that I almost lost my Muni virginity. Ya know what I’m saying!? Ok.) Silver beauty, it goes without saying, I miss you desperately.

I wandered around the park grumpy, glaring at every faux Ray-Ban, neon wearing fiend. “You don’t know my pain, neon wearing fiend!” I was secretly yelling. I was nobody’s friend.

So it was in my solitary state that I decided to cross the park to see the end of Big Gigantic’s set. On the way, I walked by Choco Lands, and noticed a crowd gathered next to what I thought was a yellow food truck. Being hormonal and emotional I jumped at the chance for free chocolate. (Gloria Steinhem- I live to make you proud!) But upon arriving I saw no chocolate. No, friend, all I saw was band equipment. “Cool” I thought, some crooner will come out, sing a few, and then toss some promotional chocolate to the crowd. I planted myself, front row under the keyboard (prime chocolate diving spot) in anticipation. After about 10 minutes nothing happened. No band. No music. No chocolate. But the crowd was getting bigger. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this” said the guy next to me, who was obviously anxiously awaiting someone to, in fact, tell it to, “but that’s Jack White’s pedal board.” Oh holy mother of god. I am sitting front row for a surprise Jack White show.

AND THEN. If that wasn’t enough, Tom Morello showed up and stood amongst the crowd. At this point I finally realized “fuck the free chocolate.”

We were all instructed to sit down so that everyone could see and hear, and then with little fanfare Jack came walking up through the crowd with his full band, all ladies. (Side note: I saw Jack White’s set later that night and his band was made up of all dudes. Who else is baller enough to travel with two complete bands??). He strapped on his guitar and started into “Love Interruption.” Because of the set up, the vocals were barely audible. They were hooked up to the speaker in the record truck. But the band was amazing. All of them were supremely skilled musicians, able to pick up on Jack’s wink of a cue. Combined with the ethereal setting of the woods in Golden Gate Park, the moment became truly other worldly. How the hell did my day go from being robbed to this??

After 4 more songs, Jack and his ladies ended with “Hotel Yorba” and had the whole crowd clapping and singing along. Then like a Tim Burton Santa Claus, Jack was gone as quickly as he had come.

Tom Morello was still inconspicuously** standing to the side of the truck. A roadie handed a guitar to him, and Tom shook his head no, much to the protest of the crowd. Now I’m all for what Tom stands for, and I loved me some Rage Against the Machine, but my god is that man a ham. After a few fake outs between the roadie and him, Tom called to the crowd “should I play a few!?” (see excellent picture of this below) Yes Tom! You should play a few on your guitars that are sitting outside, tuned for your songs, waiting to be played! Thankfully after a few more “should I or shouldn’t I” pantomimes he picked up the guitar and played. Because he didn’t have a backing band his vocals rang through the woods.

“What? No, you don’t want me to play guitar and sing songs… OK, I guess I can…”

He ended with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” including the “censored” verses. By the end, the entire crowd was on their feet howling at the moon, singing along, and jumping up and down. A righteous and appropriate way to end this intimate and surprise performance.

We all filed out of the woods giddy with emotion and future Facebook uploads, and unable to completely process what had just happened. I knew that my silver beauty was the furthest thing from my mind. As was chocolate. I left that show feeling grateful and inspired. I called the first person I could think of that would appreciate what had happened; my brother. Without him, music would have remained a mystery to me. It was because of his influence, and really loud stereo, that music changed my life. I have no doubt that without him, I would not have been in the woods for that moment, or even at the festival.

So that is how music once again saved. It took me out of my self-loathing, narcissistic funk, and brought me back to the things and people I appreciate the most. Because of the new altered state I was in, later that night Stevie Wonder made me cry tears of joy. But I’ll leave that story to El Editoro. 

* not only a timely story, but also a reference to Kristen Schall’s (Miranda July?) set with Kurty Braunholer on Friday.

**nothing Tom Morello does is intentionally or accidentally inconspicuous.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paige K. Parsons August 23, 2012 at 12:30 am

Pretty cool story!

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