Outside Lands is only two years old and it has already deeply disappointed the San Franciscans it was meant to serve. First, the organizers mistook San Francisco for the 90s when they chose Pearl Jam as a headliner. Then, they underestimated the hipness of San Franciscans when they chose Dave Matthews Band as another headliner. And then one of the Beastie Boys got cancer.
While San Franciscans pretended to be saddened by this, they couldn’t help but think that whoever is in control of the universe had granted the organizers of Outside Lands one more chance to do right by San Franciscans. Jay-Z replaced the Beastie Boys in New Jersey, which is fine for New Jersey, but San Franciscans felt in their hearts that they would get someone better, less ordinary, someone strange but familiar like the instrumental versions of pop songs that they play sometimes in elevators. The only thing they knew was that this someone was not Jack Black, except that it was.
And they threw up their hands in anguish, and would have cried if their tear ducts hadn’t been replaced long ago by diamonds and rubies. They couldn’t believe that the Beastie Boys, who were starting to sound really good by then, had been replaced by a band that wasn’t even a band, and that non-band was Tenacious D, which was a joke that San Franciscans may have laughed at if they had looked irony up in the dictionary and the definition had been something like horrible, and snakelike that eats sunshine and music and tiny dogs. But they did look it up, and that was not the definition, and therefore there was no irony and only terribleness.
This might not be so bad if last year’s Outside Lands had not been headlined by that bastion of all that is holy: Radiohead. If there was a novel set at this year’s Outside Lands the epigraph might read: It is dangerous outdoor music festival promoters to try to follow Radiohead, one of the only things that all San Franciscans believe is beautiful and good, with Tenacious D.
So, forgive San Franciscans if instead of going to Outside Lands this year on a charity ticket, which is like food stamps for the hip, they gather near the Golden Gate bridge with a cheap boombox and a box of Franzia, and hold hands, and listen to In Rainbows over and over again. Forgive them, because someone has died, and it wasn’t Michael Jackson.