If you are a time traveler, can you go back to Cameron, the high school senior and let him know that he will sing Welcome to Paradise with Green Day and Alive with Pearl Jam on the same week. It'll just be 15 years ... but don't worry, neither Billie Joe Armstrong nor Eddie Vedder will pull a Kurt Cobain.
This past weekend, Mary and I experienced Outside Lands; if you want to listen to music from the bands who played there, you can check out this Pandora station.
Day 1 Friday
We got to see:
Built to Spill
Mary and I got a nice spot not too far from the main stage, close enough to be intimate with the performance, but far enough to avoid the commotion (so we thought). Since I was pretty excited about seeing Pearl Jam, we decided to stick to the main stage for the whole day.
Built to Spill I was unfamiliar with their music, but it was fun. It was a nice start to the day, good jamming music that got your ears ready. Started me happy. I'll give it a nice solid B
Silversun Pickups just plain rocked. They had so much fun and really gave off a great festival vibe! You could feel that they were excited to be there and appreciated the fans ... and I became more excited and appreciative through every song. They have a great chemistry with the chick bassist, hair-flinging drummer, jamming keyboard player and energetic, passionate lead. You can actually check out one of their songs at Outside Lands here. Without a doubt, a solid A.
Incubus rolled in with the sun starting to sneak behind the stage. Brandon Boyd, the lead singer, said he had a cold (lead singers having a rough time will become a trend at Outside Lands, with Adam Yauch being the first and most extreme to suffer. Sending healing love), but he championed through with a bottle of wine. And of course they rocked ... it was freaking Incubus. It was fun seeing DJ Kilmore scratch with the massive vocals and guitars. I'll give the experience an A-
Pearl Jam was supposed to be amazing ... but it doesn't always work out that way. The whole thing started off poorly when we had blanket encroachers who really didn't care about the music (obviously not enough to show up several hours early like we did) and then Eddie Vedder's voice was ... well this. Despite the hoarse voice and personal area disruption, it was quite incredible to watch and participate. They threw down a pretty good set with lots of standards, but he didn't banter with us too much - most likely to retain his voice for as much music as possible. I got to sing Alive with them, so it still goes up there as one of my favorite music memories. At the end of the set, he gave all the credit to the audience and since we were around a poor patch of audience it took away from the experience. I'll go with a B (A+ for the music, B for the hindered performance and a FAIL for the people who came into our space just before the set started and ruined it.)
Day 2 - Saturday
We started the day with a nice Mexican brunch at Chilayo.
We had planned to roam around all day but when we stopped for some incredibly delicious pizza (I Love Spicy Pie - only available at music festivals! Seriously, if you are lucky to see their booth, jump at it!), we ended up grabbing a great spot in front of the VIP section where we had shade when we sat, a barrier to lean against, and little chance of the festival doucebaggery we experienced at Pearl Jam, so we decide not to roam, but to just chill at the main stage and watch the great line-up.
Black Eyed Peas
Dave Matthews Band
Good friend, Dana had recommended we check out Raphael Saadiq and we were close to the performance at the allotted time, so we decided "Why not?" It was fun. He and his group had this great Motown-gospel-funk vibe. Lots of charisma and energy .. and lots of moves. He brought some local love, including one of his gospel mentors to the stage. A nice vibe to start the day. Another solid B to start.
Jason Mraz was the big surprise of Saturday. I went into it thinking of him as just another Jack Johnson, Gavin DeGraw, Howie Day type performer ... but somehow less so. However, he vaulted himself up to beyond them. He was groovy and authentically loving towards the audience and the world. He's playing with Brett Dennen at the Greek next month - but we are thinking we may need a music break... Nice A- here.
Black Eyed Peas you know what? I had fun. Sure why not. This is when seeing the Black Eyed Peas makes sense for me. They make me smile, but I'm not going out of my way to see them. It was good funky fun. Will.i.am had one of my favorite quotes of the experience. We were also starting to build a solid camaraderie in our area; solidified about stopping latecomers from infringing. Good ole B.
Dave Matthews Band - First of all, watch a full DMB concert here on Hulu, if you want. DMB was fun. I am a bit disappointed I did not see them live before the passing of their AMAZING sax player. I've always liked DMB, but never been a HUGE fan. Nothing about that changed on Saturday night. It was fun - good music (not quite as many standards as a casual fan like myself would have liked), but I can see why so many people go apeshit over him. He had one of my favorite lines also, "I went and saw a band called The DoDos last night. I like the DoDos." You have to say it like Dave Matthews to appreciate how funny this was. I'll give the experience a nice B+
Day 3 - Sunday
OK, this day, we agreed to leave the main stage and wander. Which was easy, because we had some bands we really wanted to check out on 3 different stages. Although I must say - I am too old for 3 day music festivals (well, when they come off the heels of a week camping, a Sacramento weekday Green Day concert and the start of a new semester for Sam and me.) By the end, I was toast - music was bouncing off my ears. (So to keep with the theme - just quick run downs of the Sunday music.)
Lenka - a light, bouncy performance by a fun Australian woman. It was intimate because of the small crowd and good fun.
The Avett Brothers - the Sunday surprise. These guys are loud, but intimate. Funny, but thought-provoking. Authentic music and sincere appreciation for getting to do what they do. If you get a chance to see them, please do. Oh, and this one is for Eric (and siblings everywhere). This song like all of their songs is much more raucous in person.
Calexico - We just got a good sampling of a few songs but it was wonderful
Modest Mouse - OK, technically, we've "seen" MM - but really we listened to a couple of songs and watched the big screen while eating some Spicy Pie lunch from a distance.
Lucinda Williams - We actually could only handle a couple of songs. I love Lucinda, but my energy was spent - and her songs are cathartic draining.
Brett Dennen - Luckily, we got to his stage a bit early. Brett came out for some publicity photos and after he finished those, he just walked around hugging and taking photos with fans. He's such a lovely soul. He gave an incredible set, including his new single Hope for the Hopeless (sans Nathalie Merchant)
Band of Horses - I didn't know about Band of Horses before the line-up for OL came out. Probably the most significant impact of OL 2009 is that I have fallen in love with a new band. Cease to Begin is becoming my 2nd most listened to album of 2009 (21st Breakdown by Green Day will take the take due to overall love by Mary and Sam and the need to concert prep for them.) I must admit though ... I only had about 5 songs in me ... and then I turned to Mary and said, "Can we go?" We were spent, missing Sam and ready for indoors.
Sunday was a good free flowing day that deserves an overall grade of an A- ... just beautiful.
OK, that was Outside Lands from our perspective. See you next year???