Welcome back to the Boulevard Ear, a regular feature on The Bay Bridged, where our man about town examines a community’s live music offerings. What is it like to be a show-goer whose experiences are dictated entirely by location? Follow Todd as he explores Bay Area music venues by neighborhood, finding a variety of independent music along the way.
We received, at the sizable largesse of a valued friend, access to Outside Lands 2013. As your observer of the larger picture, the scene from which the music springs and whence it takes place, we undertook to view the festival from the point of view of people, and things happening.
We won’t reflect at length on the social meaning of the event. It is here, and, even though as a trawler of lanes paved with concrete we tend to observe this criteria for our wanderings. . .
room capacity < 250 gate price < $20 . . . snobbery is anathema to our desire to observe and report. The boulevard can be anywhere, and so we will survey, in images mostly, what sort of main street was co-constructed this weekend.
The juxtaposition of electric cigarettes and ATM machines next to the beverage booth seems as fitting a starting point as any to capture what is contemporary about our concert-going experience. The VIP area here was laconic leading up to the National’s set.
Meanwhile, across the dusty avenue between the polo field and Lindley Meadow, Chic, who told of starting their first tour here in town, clearly had no intention of letting their last minute shot at a huge stage go to waste. They hit fifth gear out the gate. One simply cannot do justice in writing to the effect of a superlative horn and rhythm section playing together.
Many words and images have already been posted about Sir Paul’s set Friday night. We will only add that, when one has heard the song “Yesterday,” over a thousand times, in elevators and doctor’s offices, and spent much of one’s youth wishing never to hear it again, to hear the man who actually wrote and sang it perform it in person, with the Kronos quartet, when one has reached the stage of life where the song actually speaks to one, that is quite a sensation. We may say as well that McCartney was also quite refreshingly silly.
Pleasant surprises await at the Sutro stage, where we find ourselves closer to Thao and the Get Down Stay Down than when last we saw her at Amoeba Records!
The genial Thao crowd can’t resist her fired up set. A banner on stage left reads, “Marry me, Thao.”
We catch the end of Jurassic 5’s equally thrilling set in the VIP tent at Land’s End. No points for originality to point out that the crowd is tonier in here. But one must go on to applaud the geniality and neighborliness of the assembled as well. It succeeds in making one feel both important and democratic.
As a tonic, the mood in the woods towards McLaren Pass is significantly motlier.
Further investigations will have to wait, since Grizzly Bear are wrapping up their tour at the Twin Peaks stage. Here, the ratio of audience in the general vs. the spartan VIP section was strangely mismatched.
The cozy quality of the general section seemed a plus for some.
This was our chance to see the festival come up to speed in the early hours. The VIP tent offered limitless seating for Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.
The viewing area also invited the stout and hearty to celebrate their proximity to these incandescent New Orleans stalwarts.
Wandering, we survive the DJ domes and happen upon Camper Van Beethoven, extending their music making in the Toyota booth.
Back in the nebulous area near Choco Lands, a bona fide slice of boulevard is happening, complete with dancing and revelry.
Not to come up short, we inspect the vintage tent where the Barbary comedy club is under way, before wandering back to headquarters to put up our feet and compose our dispatch to our discerning readers.
On the way, in the woods above the fencing, we find another emblem of our boulevard spirit.