Getting to the festival on bike might have sound like a great idea initially. And it really was, the problem was the way back: not only was it was cold and foggy, the streets inside the park were too dark at night and full of drunk people, so it was quite dangerous too. Hence, for the second day of Outside Lands I decided to take the bus thinking “I’ll be thankful later tonight when it drops me right at the corner of my house”.
I like to go to festivals as early as possible, because usually that’s your chance to discover interesting, new upcoming artists. I never understood those who pay the full price of an expensive festival ticket and they get there just in time for the last act. But who cares, right? They are missing out while I’m catching the last half of Goapele’s show, a great neo-soul singer from our own Bay Area who looked fabulous rocking a summer dress with converse shoes while doing a cover of the Godfather of Soul.
Right after her show, I ran to the next stage where another lovely Bay Area original was about to start. Their name is Rupa and The April Fishes and if you ask me, they are San Francisco’s best-kept secret. A multicultural mélange of eclectic and non-conventional music styles ranging from the Mediterranean and the Eastern European sounds to some very Latin elements (traditional Mexican and tango). Add a bit of circus performance, a group of talented musicians that look like they just jumped off the screen of the movie Amélie, and a beautiful charismatic singer who’s fluent in French, English and Spanish. I couldn’t ask for more. But there was more, The April Fishes newest acquisition is this Serbian stand-up bass player who infused the band with just the extra energy they needed and this might be their much deserved ticked to national crossover.
In any case, Café Tacuba was scheduled for a press conference two hours before their show but their plane got delayed, so they cancelled it. I endured the whole Lupe Fiasco mediocre performance (sorry but I just hate how now all rappers think they need a back-up band for their live shows and end up sounding like rock. What ever happened to “two turntables and a microphone”?), only because I wanted to make sure I got a good spot for Cafeta’s show.
Luckily, their flight delay didn’t conflict with their show. With “No Controles” Rubén Albarrán stormed the stage wearing his big white hat down to his nose and the crowd went instantly nuts. “¡Que todo el mundo eche desmadre y se ponga a bailar!” he said. From then on, the energy level only went in crescendo finding its peak in their biggest classic “La Ingrata.” Naturaly, a group of hardcore Mexican fans instigated a mosh pit.
The down-tempo, off-beat quasi-rap of “Chilanga Banda” calmed the waters only for a few minutes and then Rubén (who now for their album Sino wants us to call him Ixxi Xoo– yeah right!) announced “this is one of our oldest songs” and invited all the women in the crowd to join them on stage to dance to “La Chica Banda”. The show ended with their 2002 cover of Los Tres’ “Déjate Caer” where as usual, the whole band leaves their instruments behind and perform a hilarious boys-band choreography.
I was exhausted already, so after Cafeta I laid down on the grass for a while listening to Ben Harper from a prudent distance. Then I ran into some friends who where really excited to see the headliner of the day, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, so I tagged along. Similarly to what happened to Radiohead the night before, Tom Petty started experiencing PA problems to the point he had to cut his show in half and take a break “so they can fix it or the sound system is going to blow up” he explained. At this point, fans started to get really pissed off at the concert promoters. How is it possible that both headliners had PA problems? None of the other bands did.
So to make up for it, when he came back from his forced break, Tom announced “while I was backstage I ran into an old friend of mine” and he invited rock legend Steve Winwood to come on stage and play a couple of songs with him. The night closed with thousands dancing to “American Girl” and everybody happy again.
Now, I knew that Muni had added supplemental bus services after the show. Still, I waited for over an hour and a half to finally be able to climb into one of those crowded buses that seemed were carrying cattle. For a moment, I even considered calling a friend to come and pick me up and believe me I would’ve walked home if my feet didn’t hurt that much. Forget it, I’ll risk my life again, but on the third day I’m going back to bicycle riding.