Sunday, August 30, 2009

Outside Lands Festival

Day 2
Outside Lands Festival
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
August 29, 2009

There was no way Umlaut was going to pay the $$ to attend Outside Lands given the bill. The headliners for the festival's 3 days were Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Tenacious D. (who were a late replacement for The Beastie Boys who cancelled due to MCA's cancer diagnosis..). To be completely and brutally honest, just about the only band I was interested in seeing was Mastodon... who seemed out of place on the 70 band lineup. I must also state for the public record that Dave Matthews is one of my mortal enemies... we hates him.. preciooouss.

Umlaut's life is indeed blessed and the day was probably the most painless, easiest, and mellow big concert experiences I've ever had. First of all, we found parking pretty much immediately just outside of the festival site. When Photo Ray and I arrived at the box office we were handed All Access wristbands and then met up with The Rock Goddess who appeared upon her golden golf cart. We then joined her for a golf cart ride to the backstage area behind the Main Stage and thus our day at Outside Lands began.

Upon arriving at the Main Stage area, The Rock Goddess gave us a quick orientation about where everything was on the festival site... introduced us to the glamorous underbelly of concert festival swag bags... and, most importantly, showed us where the Main Stage VIP bar was.. where one of the bartenders was wearing a Down shirt. Yes! Metal.

After that, The Rock Goddess had to return to her duties enabling Rock Stars and we were left to our own devices. In quick order we had delicious Niman Ranch cheeseburgers and beers... It was all so insanely civilized, and easy, and relaxing I almost couldn't stand it. At that point Photo Ray and I agreed to approach the day as if we were at a barbecue instead of a concert... We would simply wander around and catch whatever came our way since the only band either of us wanted to see was Mastodon at 3:55PM.

So for the next several hours we wandered hither and yon around the festival site... From the comedian in the cool cabaret tent... to the Hip Hop act on *that* stage... to the Jam band on *that* stage... to the Reggae band on *that* stage... It was a good thing we were in "barbeque" mode because most of the music we encountered was too goddamn NORMAL and we still had to wait several hours for Metal. Although I was having fun, I quickly realized that even as organized and impressive as Outside Lands is as a festival, it wasn't really my scene... and I was confused by the Hipster dude wearing a Mayhem shirt. Seriously? Mayhem?? Uhh, because your shoes say you're a poser..

We did catch a bit of The Dirtbombs who I'd seen before... and watched most of Tom Morello's Street Sweeper Social Club from the side of the stage. To be honest, neither act really do that much for me... and Photo Ray and I fell back into our barbeque mode and hung out in the lounge area behind the stage, chatted with a few people and festival staff friends (Hey Nico!), and drank free Heineken Lites.... I know, NOT Metal... but they were free and beggers can't be choosers. It was also cool to catch up with The Rock Goddess whenever she had a free moment from her duties enabling Rock Stars.

Mastodon arrived via the standard white passenger van about an hour before they were due to take the stage with girlfriends / wives and kids in tow... and as their set time neared we moved towards the stage and followed the band up the stairs as they strode forth to rock. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are 3,000 words on Mastodon:

Mastodon about to take the stage...

Mastodon onstage..

Mastodon from the soundboard..

We watched about half of the band's set from stage right and then relocated to the soundboard. After a brief encounter with festival security over our passes, we hopped up onto the soundboard platform.... and realized we were standing directly behind Robert who plays bass in that local Bay Area Metal band. Funny... and METAL.

According to the Umlaut Archives this was my 7th time seeing Mastodon and it was odd watching them in front of a non-partisan, non-Metal festival crowd; it wasn't like seeing them at OzzFest 4 years ago. Their hour long set included great versions of 'Divinations' and 'Oblivion' from their latest Crack The Skye album and I was surprised how good the band's sound was given the outdoor venue (evidently the band had just brought a new sound guy on board only 3 shows earlier... and the guy is obviously doing a fucking great job so far..). After the set, I commented to someone in the band's camp that at first I didn't *get* the band's inclusion at this festival, but after their set I *got* it. Mastodon's evolution into a Prog Metal beast might have alienated some of their old fans, but Umlaut totally digs it and I can see it translating to a festival crowd soaking up some music vibes in the sun (Dude!)... and with Mars Volta playing after Mastodon on the same stage that bigger picture suddenly clicked as well.. Mars Volta > Mastodon makes total sense to me.

It would have been cool to see Mars Volta again, but Photo Ray and I had to split for previous engagements. After Mastodon's set we said our goodbyes and returned to the real world beyond the confines of the Outside Lands fantasy place site.

Gossip: The Front Man and The Drummer of Metallica arrived late to watch Mars Volta.

There was alot of merch for sale... alot.. but I'm still on my self-imposed merch audit hiatus. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. If I had simply left my magic wristband on I could have returned to the Outside Lands fantasy the following day... but alas one day was enough for Umlaut and I removed the magic band with a blade.. and, besides, there was absolutely NO Metal on the 3rd day.. and I cannot condone that.