Outside Lands, 8.29.09

I suppose I’m a cynical person. I can be bitter, difficult, whatever too. I’ll admit it. So Outside Lands—my first actual OL experience, due to an unfortunate non-Radiohead incident last year which you can ask me about if you want—was really quite pleasant. I’m so glad it was, too. There are all the rumors, you know, it’s outside, there’s mud, there are smelly hippies, it’s hard to see, all that crap. But really, everyone was nice (except for that one bitchy screamer during DMB), the food was delicious, the weather was perfect, and the music sounded amazing. Props to SF for putting on a solid, welcoming event.

I caught 5 acts total, the first being Street Sweeper Social Club, an unusually loudmouthed, chipper rock group whom I breezed past as I entered Golden Gate Park. I’ll give them a little credit for actually instructing people to stand up and enjoy their music, but once you have to do that, it’s usually a sign of a deeper problem. Then I moved on to Jason Mraz, who I couldn’t actually see, but who actually performed a funky, scattered set. I was expecting all the standards (The Remedy, You and I Both, etc) but he only played “I’m Yours” and then expanded with funk and reggae a bit in the rest of his songs. I basically just want to hug him, that’s how cute he actually is. I admire a guy who can come into the music industry and maintain such a clean, happy image. His music sounds so pure and genuine. It’s hard not to like the guy. And his voice is beautiful. He threw in some opera stuff towards the end that was pretty charming, too.

After that, I checked out Os Mutantes, a band from Brazil that I found pretty underwhelming. Their harmonies were great and they seemed like they were enjoying themselves on the stage, but their music wasn’t particularly intriguing. Considering they’re from Brazil, I would have expected something a little more exotic or different. Not the case.

From there, I chose TV on the Radio over the Black Eyed Peas, and THANK GOODNESS. Not only did I get a taste of the annoying Peas during DMB later that night, but TVOTR is actually as good as people kept telling me. I remember hearing them on Colbert and thinking they weren’t that great, but their music is weird enough that it doesn’t really translate on television. Ironically. They are captivating on stage, which is almost funny because no one really moves, save for the lead singer, who doesn’t even move that much. The big dude with the beard barely did anything and he managed to bust out a consistent falsetto and some amazing guitar. The lead singer, meanwhile, kept the crowd going with these adorable hand movements and cute little dance moves. Apparently he was in “Rachel Getting Married,” which is also sweet. Gotta love the double/triple threats. Anyway, TVOTR reminds me of a band that my dad would have liked if he grew up now. The band disregards stereotypes of musical style and race, which is something that’s prevalent but kind of ignored. Honestly, you don’t see too many black guys in rock bands anymore. Maybe on drums or bass, but it’s just not a common thing. They’re all in rap. It’s just the way it is. TVOTR basically says, F THAT. They’ve got good musicians and interesting music, and that’s all that matters.

DMB does the same thing. Let me now transition to the Main Attraction, which for me was obviously my 5th time seeing the Dave Matthews Band. I can say without hesitation that this show was the most energetic one I’ve ever attended. Dave and co. were genuinely enjoying themselves, so much so that I’d actually describe Dave as “chatty”—the end of every song brought a comment, a joke, a noise, a “thank you,” whatever was on his mind. He had a delicious frog in his throat, and he thought we smelled good, and he danced like crazy. He was amazing. I hope to dance like that. He was so awkward that he went all the way around to being cool again. Tim Reynolds was on, especially during “Lie in Our Graves” and “All Along the Watchtower”—I only wish that the set would have been longer than two and a half hours, but it was beautiful, all of it. And Robert Randolph came on to provide some of his smooth slide guitar for the encore. What a treat. Here’s the setlist:

Why I Am
You Might Die Trying
Don’t Drink the Water
Stay or Leave
Corn Bread
Lie In Our Graves
Alligator Pie
Shake Me Like A Monkey
Jimi Thing
Sexy Motherfucker
You And Me
Ants Marching
Two Step
All Along The Watchtower
Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again