Fun day at the festival. Great weather to match a great batch of very new and relevant bands.
Street Sweeper Social Club: I knew Tommy Morello and Boots Riley weren’t messing around when they took the stage to the Darth Vader orchestra music from Star Wars (den-den-den-dent-da-den). Street Sweeper drew a huge crowd and delivered with a very big attitude high energy set that showcased songs off their recent album as well as a choice pair of covers – M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes and L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” This was easily one of the best sets of the day.
Nice and hot at the festival Saturday: as opposed to Friday’s dense muck humidity. At one point yesterday I overheard someone say, “What’s up with the Bonnarroo weather?” Peculiar indeed, that the normally foggy or mild sun of S.F. summer weather was drawing comparisons to Tennesse in mid-June. Having attended this festival in pervasive fog last year, I can say that the sun and heat did wonders for the overall vibe this time around.
Buzz band Portugal: The Man, metal monsters Mastodon, and Brazilian psychedelics Os Mutantes put in strong and eclectic showings midday. It was easy to avoid the main stage all day today. TV on the Radio came out in late afternoon sunshine for a stellar set that ranks with Street Sweeper as the day’s other great performance.
Speaking of the overall vibe: I was watching TV on the Radio when it occurred to me that the entire atmosphere amongst the crowd was extremely friendly and positive. No scuffles, arguments, or drunken train wrecks. (FOTA Catherine Bigelow seemed to agree, remarking “Expensive? Yeah. But a wonderfully, artistic experience that pays homage to the history of SF Sound!”) As I was thinking this, the guy next to me turned to his friend and said, “Man, isn’t it great that there’s no idiots here starting shit? It’s like everyone is just making there own path around the place.” Furthermore, security was extremely hands off all day (I suspect/hope there won’t be an Outside Lands version of the Coachella taser video).
The food at the festival has been excellent: Sure the prices are occasionally bordering on price gouging ($6 slice of pizza), but the selection is amazing – Philz Coffee, Maverick, Dosa, Frog Hollow Farm (selling fresh fruit). Definitely a huge leap forward in the world of festival food. If only Zeitgeist had a booth selling Bloody Mary’s…
A quick look at Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band before heading back to watch the Mars Volta: It was a great pairing really, that Dave Matthews was on the south end of the field representing obscenely mainstream radio (as FOTA Andrew observed, “Viewing Dave Matthews from the opposite end of the Polo Field, you can hear the adult contemporary just fine from here.”) while the Mars Volta was at the far other end of the festival (spectrum) as the most avant guard outfit that still commands real name recognition. Their performance can be summed up with two different quotes I heard tonight. First, some guy chatting up some pretty girls – “The Mars Volta…the Mars Volta scared me.” And then, from Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the singer of the Mars Volta, “I think it’s very appropriate that we are headlining the Twin Peaks stage. Just remember not to drink the coffee….because there’s a fish in the percolater!” Yes, the Mars Volta. Heavy. Weird. Excellent.
The fog: started coming in slowly at the end of the night. A lot of cold concert goers (Appeal reporter MiHi Ahn noted “Cold now. Locals pulling out fleece jackets. Visitors have hard nipples”) in shorts and t-shirt….myself included.