Monday, August 31, 2009

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly, VN Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig
What: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Calif.
When: August 28–30, 2009
Why: Think Woodstock. Without the mud or nudity.

The Scoop: The East Coast might have its All Points West Music & Arts Festival, but, you know, it’s in New Jersey. Year Two of San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, which I’m trade marking as All Points East™, might be 3,000 miles from the birthplace of the three-day, any-kind-of-band-goes fest. That’s OK. Since it is held in August—the same month Woodstock took place—and within shouting distance of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, I think it only fair that we take back what rightfully should have been the City by the Bay’s all along. Forget Coachella, Bonnaroo, or any of those other posers. San Francisco now owns the multi-stage mega-concert. There’s no competition.

Where else can you enjoy a beautiful, outdoor, mild-weathered, perfectly organized production all within a major city’s limits? No desert storms, no off-the-beaten path drives, plenty of toilets, great food, social consciousness, seven stages, and no need to camp. Leave the park at night, come back the next day. And why not, as many of the bands play after-hours “night shows” at local venues?

The three day line-up had something for everyone, in no particular alphabetical order: Band of Horses, Black Eyed Peas, Incubus, M.I.A., Dave Matthews Band, The Mars Volta, Mastodon, Modest Mouse, Jason Mraz, Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, Pearl Jam, Q-Tip, Silversun Pickups, TV on the Radio, Tenacious D, Ween, Lucinda Williams, even Tom Jones—yes, that Tom Jones, who rocked the house lawn like nobody’s business. At nearly 70, Tom not only still has it, he could teach a few of the younger kids a move or two. And thankfully, bless the gods, Tom’s pants aren’t as tight.

He's not unusual: Tom the Bomb.

We attended all three days of the festival, watched a combined 16 shows, got plenty of exercise and Vitamin D, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves to the point that we couldn’t believe this was “work.” Our dual mission: scope out the veg-friendly artists, which included Jason Mraz and Conor Oberst, and spy on the eco-efforts of the exhibits, to make sure they were as billed. “Whether it was Jack Black making love to the crowd, or the groovy beats of Jason Mraz, there was something for everyone at the Festival,” including free Heineken in the press tent, says a happy Lyndsay Orwig, VN’s office manager. “I was pleased to see many of my favorite bands, who played both old and new songs, and kept a smile on my face the entire weekend. I am hooked, and will be going back next year.”

"I'm Yours": VN's Lyndsay Orwig checks out Jason Mraz

Mraz and Oberst gave impassioned performances, while Lydia’s Organics, our friends from Sambazon, and Whole Foods Market were among the food vendors that catered to those on the lower end of the food chain. While there was plenty of dead stuff being sold, veg options were available— we could even get kombucha on tap.

Lydia's Serves up raw vegan chow...

...while Whole Foods offers Kombucha on tap.

The environmental efforts were stellar, with ample recycling and composting stations, solar power stations (one stage was powered by the sun), and a slew of fine exhibits, including Toyota’s Prius, Garden for the Environment, and the TRASHed Recycling Store. Life is good.

Now, if I could only get Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb” out of my head...

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