Outside Lands Music Festival Day 1 Photos & Top 3

Words by: Kayceman & Dennis Cook | Images by: Dave Vann

Outside Lands Music Festival :: Day 1 :: 08.28.09 :: Golden Gate Park :: San Francisco, CA

The second annual Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival brought unusually warm weather to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Reveling under the clear hot sun without a fogbank to be seen, the crowds slowly trickled in swelling to an estimated 30,000-plus for Pearl Jam's two hour headlining show. From Autolux, Akron/Family and The Dodos early to Zap Mama, Built To Spill, Silversun Pickups and The National mid-day all the way to Tea Leaf Green, Tom Jones, Q-Tip and Thievery Corporation later, there was music of all variety and with such incredible weather and manageable crowds the vibe was overwhelming positive.

Kayceman's Top 3 From Friday

1. Pearl Jam - Almost two hours of unrelenting rock from acoustic slow burns to mid-tempo tension to all-out ball-busters, Pearl Jam is still one of the best rock bands on the road. Featuring only two songs from the forthcoming new album Backspacer, both "Got Some" and "The Fixer" came off well, but it was classics like "Alive," "Animal," "Better Man," "Evenflow" and particularly psychedelic versions of "Corduroy" and "Black" that made the show. Beginning at sunset and playing into a gorgeous, warm night, even Eddie Vedder's end-of-tour-beaten voice couldn't slow the band as they closed a stellar performance with two Neil Young covers, "Throw Your Hatred Down" (off 1995's Mirrorball which Young recorded with Pearl Jam) and "Keep On Rockin' In The Free World."

2. Built To Spill - Although it should have been louder, Built To Spill's swarming guitar madness made up for any volume deficiencies. Playing a hit-heavy set that included "The Plan," "You Were Right," "Car," "Unconventional Wisdom," "Carry The Zero" as well as one new track, "Hindsight," from their album due in October, the band moved from spacey free-rock jams to punked-up aggression to patient restraint. There's a reason BTS received more shout-outs than any band all day with both Eddie Vedder giving respect and Silversun Pickups frontman Brian Aubert gushing, "Built To Spill is one of the greatest bands ever!"

3. Silversun Pickups - After this set, it should now be clear to all why this L.A. indie quartet is playing major time slots at festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella and Outside Lands. They freakin' rock! Any volume issues from Built To Spill's set had clearly been regulated and SSPU was big - HUGE actually - and loud like it needs to be. Less Smashing Pumpkins than a year or two ago, this band has grown into their sound. Overdrive guitars, feedback storms and some of the best scream-vocals around made songs like "Swoon," "There's No Secrets This Year" and "Kissing Families" fierce and cathartic.

Special Reunion Slot: A Tribe Called Quest - At Q-Tip's funner-than-hell hip-hop set (which was sadly dedicated to DJ AM who passed away Friday night) featuring a live band, fans got something super-duper special when Q brought out Phife Dawg, his partner from Tribe, for "Award Tour." Upon the song's conclusion Q was visibly giddy, beaming as he remarked, "Don't know if y'all will ever see that again."

Dennis Cook's Top 3 From Friday

1. Tom Jones - Oh my Lord, Tom was glorious! There's something enduringly entertaining about old school showmen like Jones, who continues to sing like Zeus himself while exuding a manly aura that makes one want to paw him, regardless of one's sexual orientation. Backed by a crazy tight, super talented band, including a swinging, forceful horn section and on-point back-up singers, Jones showed no signs of slowing down, ranging through his giant catalog and showing off the way-better-than-expected new tunes and setting off waves of pure joy with generation crossing hits like "She's A Lady," "It's Not Unusual" and his saucy cover of Prince's "Kiss." It was pure Golden Gate Park magic to see grandmas cutting loose with tattooed love boys and hardened bikers, everyone belting out the words with massive grins.

2. The National - After close to a decade this Brooklyn band is proving one for the long run and a real cumulative powerhouse on a festival stage. Not a dud note in their hour set, which dropped one beautifully crafted, emotionally delivered number after another. The jangle is strong in this band but it's often layered over music that vibes with the poppier end of Radiohead, though The National's dark side tends to be more lyrical than sonic. "Fake Empire," which was used extensively during Obama's White House run, including accompanying the video that ran just prior to his election night speech, was enormously well received by the hyper blue state audience. At one point, Aaron Dessner said, "I just killed a bug on my nose," and then dedicated the next song to the fallen insect. Class act in every way.

3. Midnite - While a good portion of the crowd seemed either bored or perplexed by the St. Croix-based reggae institution, they nonetheless delivered as deep and heady-spiritual a display as their genre offers. Built around sustained, insistent rhythms and inspired textural shifts, there's not a lot of peaks and valleys, and Bob Marley's influence is almost nil, which, shooting straight, is what much of the buttermilk colored audience seemed to be craving. Too bad, because Midnite played an elemental, intense set that exemplified why they've built a large and ever-increasing worldwide fanbase.

West Indian Girl - featuring Guest Vocalist Miranda Lee Richards
The Dodos
Built To Spill
Vau de Vire & Madd Vibe Orchestra
The National
Tom Jones
Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam

Late Night at the Golden Gate Gramble at Mezzanine...

GramJam: Jeff Miller, Eric McFadden, Bradly Bifulco, Steve Adams

Check back for lots more from Outside Lands...

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[Published on: 8/29/09]

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