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Outside Lands/Saturday: The Dirtbombs – Street Sweeper Social Club – Mastodon – TV on the Radio – The Mars Volta @ Golden Gate Park, 8/29/09

August 30, 2009

I said I wouldn’t go.

I absolutely hated last year’s festival. I didn’t care for any of the headliners this year, but they kept adding ‘my’ bands to the supporting roster…and then I decided to try my luck at getting a press pass, and I scored. A festival is much easier for me to cope with when I’m there for free!

The other thing that made a difference for me this year was going early. On Saturday, I waltzed in around noon, strolled around the near empty park to get my bearings, and walked up to the center rail at the Twin Peaks stage, where I would be spending my day. It also helped that everyone I wanted to see was on the same stage- nothing pisses me off more than having conflicting schedules. Oh- and it was hot….for now.

First up, The Dirtbombs, from Detroit. I thought they were a fun kick off to the day- garage rock with two drummers (one of whom is Jack White’s nephew). The female guitarist rocks alongside the vocalist / lead guitarist, whose playing behind his back was like a little appetizer for what was about to come from Mr. Tom Morello.




I’ve seen Street Sweeper Social Club a lot this year, but I was still bummed out I missed their show at The Independent the night before. However, this festival set was the best of theirs I’ve seen yet. Part of my love for them will stem from the fact that they were the perfect opener for the perfect tour (NIN/JA). I guess you call it music to GTBITM.

Boots was in a snarky mood; he said “we’re more than a band, we’re a social club” three times throughout the set in full on deadpan; he introduced the covers by saying, “this one’s not on the album”. In addition to playing the usual ‘Paper Planes’ (no- M.I.A. didn’t come out and join them), they played ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’- ain’t gonna lie, it was rad. I had missed Boots’ dance moves. And Tom’s superhero guitar tricks. I’m very interested to see what happens next with these guys.






Apparently, during the live YouTube stream of this set, there was a close up of me- one of my twitter followers let me know. My response: “Did I look hot?” Her response. “Yeah- and I saw you tweeting at the end- LMAO”. Haha!

It was funny to watch a woman on the side of the stage try to do earmuffs on her kid every time they (and we) shouted ‘motherfuckers’. She gave up halfway through. Another interesting observation: Bill, the guitarist from Mastodon, walked out side stage with his little kid in big headphones to watch part of the set.

Here’s a video from the stream (not featuring HRC).

I truly couldn’t believe I was seeing Mastodon next. I can’t imagine there are a ton of crossover fans between the bands- but they are two of my favorites!

When I saw Mastodon earlier this year, it was a transcendental experience. It was one of those sets where I went home, pulled up their tour schedule, and thought about taking vacation time to follow them around a bit. Good thing I controlled myself, because in October and November I’ll be following the Mastoklok (Mastodon + Dethklok) tour around.


They came out and launched into ‘Crack the Skye’ and played it straight though. Due to the epicness of their last show, it could only go downhill…unfortunately, Brent was plagued with guitar problems. He stormed to the side several times to ‘chat’ with his guitar tech. Last time, I commented how he didn’t seem like the type to punch anyone in the face…I changed my mind. So, there were several gaps in the songs and parts that were just botched. Perhaps he should set up his own equipment, like I saw Bill and Brann do (which surprised me). I did admire his neon sunglasses.


Troy, the bassist, is such a great performer. He really connects with the crowd, looking everyone in the face, screaming and pounding his chest. It was definitely through his energy that a small pit formed towards the end of the set, causing HRC to get knocked into the barrier just enough to get bruises on her knees. Had to happen!


I got really lost in the album- filling in the gaps where there were sound issues. I really can’t wait for the Mastoklok tour!


Total girl comment- the Mastodon guys have good hair. I mean, Bill’s neo-mullet alone carries monumental style points.

Oh- I really don’t want to fend of a beach ball bouncing around the crowd while I’m watching metal. Stop. It.


I gave up my rail spot for the rest of the day. I walked around and became horrified by the large, drunken crowd. I was standing in line for the lovely outhouse (which is the one thing this festival seemed to not have organized- these were not cleaned enough, whereas the trash cans/recycling/compost areas where spic and span and had attendents to make sure you threw your garbage in the right can), and a girl behind me gets my attention: “See, all of us (points behind her), we were here.’ Me: ‘yeah, and…?’ Her: ‘You can’t just cut’. Me: ‘I’ve been here the whole time’. Her: ‘Oh’. Me inside my head: ‘You fucking dumb bitches are why I hate these things!’

By the time I got back to the Twin Peaks stage for TV on the Radio, the crowd had packed in, so I lingered towards the back. The sun was going down and the temperature was plummeting with it. My sunburn was now keeping me warm.

Last time I saw TVotR, at the Download Festival (pre-HRC), I was really let down. They were not dynamic at all- the bassist stayed turned around the entire time and never moved. Three years later, it seems like they’ve changed a lot for the better. I’m just not sold on their music. They performed the first part of their set with a horns section- which just felt odd after Mastodon. Once they dropped the horns and played some of their heavier numbers at the end of the set, I felt better about it.

The Mars Volta is a band that has flown under my radar. This is the beauty of festivals…sort of. Next time this band comes around, I’ll definitely go check them out; but I wouldn’t say that I even count this as seeing them, as I was far away. But they make a good festival band- prog rock fits with festivals as it travels well in the outdoor space. They also had a good stage set up for viewers of all distances. The silhouette of the band members’ big hair, a cool looking backdrop, and a white microphone and cord created a nice effect for us that were watching from far away. The singer’s voice is amazing- what a range. And he’s got some moves to- damn near gymnastics. And, of course, the fact that he mentioned that they were playing on the Twin Peaks stage and quoted “There was a fish in the percolator” completely won me over.

Stay tuned for part 2.


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