Even with last week’s self-imposed Weekly Photo Challenge “homework,” the 2013 festival proved a fun, carefree day of music and food. Outside Lands is a three-day affair, and I could only attend one day. I went with Saturday because of the five bands I most wanted to see, four played on that day (Murphy’s Law, Paragraph 482a: the band I most wanted to see, The National, played on Friday). I arrived early just to see how the crowd would grow and take some “before and after” photographs, such as these two:
One funny irony consists of how totally wired the festival has become (complete with its own iOS app!), and yet at the same time they try to tamp down the “wired-ness” of the concert-goers. Evidently, folks have complained of people screeching into their phones, “WHERE ARE YOU? I’M OVER HERE!!” Hence this sign on one of the portable toilets:
The people have taken notice, and come up with their own interpretations of “funny flags.”
The festival must have had a hundred food vendors of all sorts. Of course, since we are San Francisco, we can’t do normal festival carnival food. San Franciscans do not do junk food: we do le food de junque.
A whole day of eating adds up after a while (all include tips):
- Fried Egg Sandwich w/Bacon & Provolone (excellent) $9
- Garlic Fries with Chimichurri $9 (half-pound, but still…)
- Coffee $6 (seriously?!)
- S’More (excellent) $6
- Lamb Paella (very good, but mine is better) $11
- Social Kitchen & Brewery Pilsener (excellent) $10
- Pacific Brewing Laboratory Squid Ink Beer (outstanding) $11
- Hot Chocolate (very good) $6
The beers are worth a special search if you’re so inclined.
I did see a fairly large number of smokers; however, only one of these smoked tobacco. The rest smoked–well, I think you know what I mean. Two of the cops I spotted were trading air guitar licks with each other, so I have a funny feeling the local constabulary did not make a large number of arrests.
Lots of people arrived and partied in costume, as one might expect. For myself, one great peculiarity is the recent trend (possibly unique to San Francisco) of wearing what I will call “neo-Hippie) clothing. outfits that maybe perhaps possibly kinda sorta somewhat partially echo the clothes worn by hippies during the Sixties. Back then, hippies couldn’t afford anything more expensive; today, neo-Hippie fashion looks if anything too expensive.
Have you ever heard of “furries?” In San Francisco, the term refers more specifically to sexual activities than elsewhere (surprise, surprise). Furries like to engage in various X-rated antics whilst dressed in costume as their favorite furred critter. The furries were out in force on Saturday. As jaded as I have become to people’s personal private peculiar playtime peccadilloes, I must admit that SF’s furry community remains the only sexual sub-genre that can make me stop, stare and say “What the bleep?”
Some miscellaneous pictures.
The music itself? Overall, a very good show, got lucky with my choices. Land’s End opened with the local group Soft White Sixties (new to me), which played solidly for forty minutes, then something clicked and the last 20 minutes scorched the stage and left the crowd crying for more. At Sutro Stage, Milo Greene (named after a non-existent music agent) played the last show of a two-year tour with the energy of musicians who know they can cut loose because tomorrow they can sleep late.
The bands I wanted to see on Saturday began with Gary Clark, Jr. and everyone with whom I spoke agreed that if one group had a monster breakout performance, it was these guys, a hard rock quartet with not one but two reincarnations of Jimi Hendrix (they were that good). If you like guitar, you have to see these guys live. Young the Giant followed and were the only disappointment for me. Thai & The Get Down Stay Downs (new to me) turned in a pretty interesting performance. Jurassic 5 gave my second favorite show of the day and were by far the most danceable of the bands. The Tallest Man on Earth (new to me) performed an impressive quiet little set at Sutro.
The top-billed acts were Nine Inch Nails and Phoenix, and this posed a dilemma. I used to like NIN until Elvis Presley bent Trent Reznor over his knee, spanked him but good, and said, “This, young man, is how you ‘Hurt.'” On the other hand, whilst Phoenix’ music has received generally excellent reviews, I had not been quite as impressed as the critics.
I went with Phoenix in the end, and paradoxically, they played such a good live show that they justified my opinion of their studio work. As technically competent and well-written as their songs sound in the studio, in a live performance Phoenix have an edge, urgency and intensity that sends their music several levels higher.
That was a good day. Sunday I did the dishes, bought groceries, made my lunches for the week. A care-full day indeed, but it feel great to settle down and watch the first of the last eight of Breaking Bad.
Vonn Scott Bair