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Outside Lands/Sunday: Cage the Elephant – Atmosphere – The Dead Weather – M.I.A.

August 31, 2009

The last day of Outside Lands was a cold one. It went from 85 degrees the day before to around 60. Brrrr……

I thought I was early again, but walking up to the giant crowd at the Twin Peaks stage proved me wrong. The crowd had come early for buzz band Cage the Elephant, from Kentucky. I ended up sneaking up to the rail regardless….I got skillz.

These guys totally won me over with their bluesy rock and excellent wild stage performance. Lead singer, Matt, cannot be contained by the stage. Perhaps he is the elephant who cannot be caged? He jumped off at least three times, mic and all, people scrambling to make sure the cord went with him. The final time he went crowd surfing, standing on someone’s shoulders at one point. He’s got a bit of a Joe Cocker vibe with his spastic moves. He told a funny story about sitting outside on the street in SF the night before, and someone came and gave him a piece of pizza and said something like ‘things will get better’. You should definitely check them out.







It was odd to have Atmosphere between Cage the Elephant and The Dead Weather. HRC used to go see Atmosphere a lot back in her Hip Hop Chick days in Austin- back when Slug was a bit more down and dirty…and angry. These days, he’s a happy, mellower fella, which kinda aggravated me last time I saw them. But it worked better for me at a festival. He started off with ‘God Loves Ugly’, fluidly rapping through the set, customizing things for SF. ‘Trying to Find a Balance’ took me back to my grad school days. Brother Ali joined him for most of the set. I missed hearing ‘Shrapnel’, which is my favorite track. At the end of the set, Slug spoke of how festivals introduce new people to his music, and how there is an area backstage called ‘the land of free shit’, where he got something he couldn’t take on the plane. So, he wanted to give it to this little girl in the front row- so sweet.



A surprising amount of people left from the rail after Atmosphere, allowing me to get in a pretty prime position for what would be an epic set from The Dead Weather. Well, except for two girls next to me who were big time Jack White fangirls. It was cute to listen to them shriek when he took the stage, and only take pictures of him throughout the entire set. I personally have never completely bought into the Jack White craze- I respect his talent, but have never considered him an RSILF like most girls I know. Also, I have been slightly resistant to this Dead Weather craze- whenever I hear so much buzz about a band, I tend to need to just wait and see it live. People have been literally pinging me about them for weeks making sure I was going to check them out…so I knew it must be good. But you never really know until you see it for yourself.

Wow. It began before the band even came on the stage. Classy crew in black with blue ties setting up the most beautiful, classic looking equipment. White guitars with shiny gold- just beautiful. And then when the band hit the stage, it’s like I was hit over the head with a giant sledgehammer of their X-factor. They are truly unique, full of charisma, and obviously talented.

I had seen Alison in The Kills recently, so I knew of her appeal, but I liked her much better in this band. She’s just magnetic; she never ‘breaks character’ even between songs or when she takes more of a supporting role in things. She’s intense yet vulnerable up there. There are times when she glares and wipes her mouth with her arm that make me melt….and I’m totally straight!

Of course Jack White was awesome, transitioning from beating on the drums to playing guitar and singing. He’s one of a kind…though I could understand him better when he spoke Spanish at the end of the set than the few words he said introducing the band…seriously, his jive talk is almost out of control.

To say that sparks fly when Jack and Alison sing together during ‘Will There Be Enough Water’ would be an understatement. I looked at them thinking, ‘I wanna feel like that with someone again’. I believe my tweet after the set was ‘if those two aren’t in love, maybe they should be’. I understand Jack is married, but…wow.

I was equally as mesmerized by Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence. Everyone is a multi-instrumentalist in this band; really admirable. Since this is technically a supergroup- meaning that they probably have an expiration date- you must go see them now. Travel for it, do whatever, you won’t regret it.

Check out a video from the stream of The Dead Weather here.









I was very interested to see the M.I.A. set, as she was none to happy about not opening for the Beastie Boys anymore. She ended up containing any rants, replacing them with a rap over Intergalactic Planetary->Sabotage which was a nice homage to the guys.

My progression of M.I.A. shows has been interesting- the can’t be beat 100 person Rickshaw show, to the Mezzanine, to a giant festival. She does well on the festival stage- all of their bright colored outfits- her crazy Snow White-esque dress- and dance moves feed a large audience well.

She had these ridiculous dancers- two white boys (twins?) that had some crazy moves. At one point, they threw out horns- a ton of them- to the crowd. At first, I thought this was not going to end well- but I couldn’t hear them interfering with the set at all.

She seemed pretty into the set considering her publicized disdain for the appearance- at one point she seemed to ask for ‘Jimmy’ to be added to the set on the fly, but the A/V probably didn’t include it so she couldn’t add it. At one point she jumped down and sang from the rail, holding someone’s hand. She talked about SF- how she got engaged here, and then pregnant shortly after being here (I think)- so she was scared of what would happen after this performance.

I love dancing to M.I.A. It was the perfect ending to the festival that restored my faith in festivals. Yes, I left before The D came on- I didn’t need Jack Black when I’d already had Jack White.






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