Friday, August 22, 2008

Outside Lands Music Festival Preview

Today is the start of the best musical festival to hit San Francisco in my lifetime. Last year was the first annual Treasure Island Music Festival, and it had a fantastic lineup including Modest Mouse, Spoon, and Built to Spill, but it was too late to really be considered a "summer" festival.

This year, Outside Lands will bring down the house in Golden Gate Park, featuring Radiohead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and (unfortunately) Jack Johnson. It's the first time anyone has ever played a night concert in Golden Gate Park, next to the infamous Haigh/Ashbury district of San Francisco, and Radiohead is popping that cherry. Here are my thoughts about each day:


It's pretty much smoothe sailing as far as conflicts go on the first day. Steel Pulse has a set to open the festival at 5pm, and then I'll be moving around to see Cold War Kids and Manu Chao. The problem comes in at the beginning of Beck's set from 6:40 to 7:50. He plays across the grounds from where Radiohead will headline the night at 8, and there's no way to get a good view if I stay for the Beck set. I've seen the man before, so I'll probably end up staying for the very beginning and then booking it over to the main stage to get myself ready for the only show I've wanted to see all summer long.


With the second day starting a little after noon instead of at 5, more conflicts start to arise. Early on I'll probably see one of my favorite local bands Rupa & the April Fishes (who I wrote about last year, and then I'm faced with a difficult decision. Lupe Fiasco and M. Ward play pretty much conflicting sets. I've heard a lot of Ward, but I really want to see another Chicago rapper, so I'd probably take my chances with Lupe. Then Regina Spektor gets some time to herself with no real competition, and then another road block. Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals go up against The Walkmen for about forty minutes, but Harper plays for about a half hour longer after The Walkmen finish, so I'll try to catch parts of both sets. Most likely I'll end up skipping Cake and Primus conflicting sets to set myself up for Tom Petty, because that Super Bowl performance made me wish I paid more attention to him back when he played the Bridge School Concert.


The weakest headliner by far in Jack Johnson means finding other sets during the day, and surprisingly two stages close to each other provide the best entertainment for the day. Stars kick things off around 2, followed by Andrew Bird, The Cool Kids, Broken Social Scene, Rogue Wave, and Wilco. The other bands competing with them are probably okay, but that lineup straight through with no conflicts is damn impressive to me. Then if you'd like you can waltz on over to Jack Johnson and just chill in the San Francisco air, and take in the first big summer music festival in San Francisco. Here's hoping it's one kick-ass time.

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