Sunday, August 15, 2010

Outside Lands, Day 1

I arrived in time for the multi-ethnic "gypsy-punk" collective Gogol Bordello, led by the shirtless and raving actor/singer Eugene Hutz. Chip bags flew into the air, the crowd was soaked in wine, and Kings of Leon fans lost their shit over the course of a raucous hour-long set that consisted of tight material but was damaged by poor sound.

While interrupted by synthesizer spasms, microphone blackouts, and a light drizzle of San Francisco fog-rain, My Morning Jacket brought their brand of experimental yet anthemic heartland rock to what frontman Jim James described as "Field of Heaven II" (a reference to a particularly beautiful venue in Japan). Oh yeah, and let's not forget the freaky eyeball-adorned stage.

On my way to Cat Power, I got myself a beef skewer and stopped by Wolfmother briefly. I was surprised by frontman Andrew Stockdale's vocal... um... similarity to Robert Plant.

Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power, took the stage just as the weather was about to turn really cold. The Atlanta singer-songwriter cast a spell over the audience with her minimalist balladry, and it appeared at times as if she was bringing on the dusk.

I climbed a haystack with a milkshake to take this photograph of synth-slaying art-rockers Wild Beasts. By this time, the Deadheads had headed off towards the main Polo Field stage and the Strokes fans were just beginning to pour in.

As an alternative headliner to "Furthur" (what's left of the Grateful Dead), post-punk revival heroes the Strokes attracted a sizable crowd and banged through a 70-minute set of concise three-minute songs. There was no pretentious bull in the Strokes' music whatsoever, despite an extravagant light show that featured an onstage history of video games and something that looked a bit like the opening Route 66 sequence of Repo Man, albeit with more triangles.

At the show, I encountered The Heretics' Ryan Meagher (during a brief stop at Bassnectar, not shown), Handshake's Evan Greenwald (manning the Blue Bear School of Music booth), and the SHE's' Sami Perez (during Wild Beasts).

Day 2 coverage coming soon.

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