Updated: Jan 18
Outside Lands music festival, San Francisco. This year, 2017 is its tenth year. big lineup for this three day festival, and approximately 75 acts graced the stages in Golden Gate Park this weekend. Every act was impeccably timed, though there were a couple cancellations, one was 'Queens of the Stone Age' and the other was 'Tribe, called Quest'. So if you were attending the weekend for one or both of those bands you may have been sorely disappointed. This festival was definitley attended by more millennials than any other demo. For the physically challenged music lovers - this was probably not a music festival for you. There was what seemed like miles of terrain and the stages were much further apart than Bottle Rock, or other festivals I've attended. I went to OL on Saturday and Sunday, and had hoped to cover more stages than I was actually able to get to, due to the distances. In order to get anywhere in the festival, it is a trek, with far too little good signposting for the stages and few staff that were knowledgable for directions. Getting around was difficult to even the physically fit. If you want to be at one stage for a band or two, and another in between, you better have your running shoes as its nearly impossible to go from one stage to another if the next bands timing is back to back. I narrowed it down to the bands I really wanted to catch, and some were still too far and not scheduled enough apart to realistically get to in time for the band. Friends tried to make plans to meet up with me during the day, but due to the distances between locations in the park, meet ups were abandoned by all. Shit happens.
I started my weekend with Mondo Cozmo, they played the furthest stage in the festival, The Panhandle stage. Lead singer, Joshua Keith "Josh" Ostrander is an American singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now based in Los Angeles and records under the alias Mondo Cozmo. Named after his much loved dog. His music is indie/alt rock. Mondo Cozmos first hit "Shine" was #1 on Billboards Adult Alternative chart in January 2017. Mondo Cozmo has a full band comprised of Drew "The Kid" Beck on electric guitar, Chris Null on acoustic guitar and bass, James Gordon on synth and keys, and Andrew Tolman on drums. At Outside Lands they played a great set with audience participation when they sang their hit,"Shine". I think we'll be seeing more of Mondo Cozmo in the future and I'd see them again if the opportunity arose.
Then I caught some of Japanese House at the Twin Peaks stage. A good band I had never heard of before this day. This alternative music reminded me a bit of the Evanescence style.
I then headed to the Sutra stage for Dawes. Dawes, is under the genre of folk but I disagree...its more a contemporary indie rock style. Dawes is a four piece band from L.A., made up of two brothers, Taylor (guitars and vocals) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums), along with Wylie Gelber (bass) and Lee Pardini (keyboards). However they were a five piece at this festival. Over the past couple of years Dawes has proven that they are a band that will be around for a while with their consistency in touring, and recording, resulting in their growing popularity. They had a strong set at OL, and Dawes songs get airplay on triple A stations nationwide. They've released five albums to date, starting in 2010, in Laurel Canyon, So Cal. Their latest album has a more electric sound to it, a style which frontman Taylor Goldsmith dubs "dad rock". I'm a fan of their music and suggest checking them out.
Royal Blood was up next at the big stage, "Lands End". I saw them perform from the media tent, halfway back in the field. They sounded good and I would be interested in seeing them on their own sometime perhaps when they play a venue like The Fillmore or smaller.
Then came my fave of the day, Cage the Elephant! Wow what a treat to see this band today. They were SUPERB! I've seen them before, but never like today. The lead singer, Matthew Shultz, is like a modern day Iggy pop with a few Jagger moves thrown in for good measure. Formed in 2006 and relocated to London, England in 2008 before their first album was released. The band currently consists of lead vocalist Matthew Shultz, rhythm guitarist Brad Shultz, lead guitarist Nick Bockrath, guitarist and keyboardist Matthan Minster, bassist Daniel Tichenor, and drummer Jared Champion. The band's first album, Cage the Elephant, was released in 2008 to much success, spawning several successful radio singles and gained the band a large following in both the United States and the United Kingdom. They displayed heavy influence of punk rock, mostly British punk in my opinion and a strong Iggy influence to boot! Cage earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2015 for Best Alternative Album. Cage's fourth album, "Tell Me I'm Pretty", produced by Dan Auerbach, and won for Best Rock Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. The band's newest release, "Unpeeled", is a live album, released in July 2017. Matthew Shultz gave a performance at OL10, that will be remembered for a long time to come. Running to and fro on the catwalk, into the audience and at all ends of the huge Lands End stage. I've seen Iggy and the Stooges several times and whilst watching Cage, I thought how great it is that theres a rocker out there, Matthew Shultz, that will be carrying on the torch, once Iggy stops performing. Which I hope will be never, but life happens and its something that cannot be avoided. But I am happy to report that as of a month ago, Iggy is still rocking and rolling, (see Burger Boogaloo blog post: https://www.altermanimages.com/single-post/2017/07/01/Burger-Boogaloo-Live-At-Mosswood-Park-Oakland), and doesn't look as if Pop is slowing down anytime soon. As far as Cage the Elephant goes, this is a band not to be missed. Especially is you lean towards punk rock. They were the most entertaining band of the day for me both visually and musically. I look forward to their next show in the Bay Area...I hope to be there for sure! If you haven't checked out this band...what are you waiting for?
After Cage the Elephant was the headliner for this Saturday night at the festival, Metallica. I've never been a fan but never disliked their music either. I must say Metallica put on quite a show, complete with fire and epic performances by the band. Metallica is an American hard rock band based in San Rafael, California. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles when vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield responded to an ad posted by drummer Lars Ulrich in a local newspaper. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. They put on a great show and the audience was no doubt having a great time witnessing their epic performance. Hetfield gave it his all, shredding and singing all the Metallica faves. Great show indeed!
Sunday is a day I've been waiting for because I am a die hard Who fan for several decades. I grew up wanting to be the female Keith Moon...no, it never happened, but will always have a special place for the crazy loon, Moonie! The Who, in their fiftieth year in the music industry has given so many people some sort of sound track to a moment in life. Whether it be "My Generation" or "Baba O'Reily"...theres something in The Who discography for all. Before I get to The Who...a little about Lorde who was on the big Lands End stage just before The Who.
Lorde, a 21 year old singer songwriter from Auckland, New Zealand, born, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Conner. She's received Grammys, Brit Awards and several music awards from NZ. At OL she was stunning in a long black lace gown and donning white Adidas trainers on her feet. Really great performance, played all her hits, including "Royals" "Greenlight". Jack Antonoff from Bleachers came out and played acoustic guitar whilst they sang a Paul Simon tune together. She spoke of how they are very close friends and how grateful she is to be hanging with her friend so much at the festival. In 2013, Lorde was named among Time's most influential teenagers in the world, and in the following year, she was part of Forbes's "30 Under 30" list. All in all Lorde gave a great performance as always. This is my second time seeing her and she seems to get better with age.
Now The Who...Fifty years after stealing the show at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, British rock icons, the Who were back in California closing out this year’s Outside Lands Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 13. They were the final act of the weekend. The Who have been with me through thick and thin. I went to Who concerts as a teen and through my adult years in the U.K.. Sadly, Keith Moon had died before I got a chance to see my fave drummer who I wanted so badly to emulate. Pete Townshend has always been one of the great guitarists, and then theres Roger Daltrey...every girls heart throb. I was a Daltrey super fan, with posters on my walls and I have many of his eight solo albums in my collection. "Ride a Rock Horse," his second solo album was signed by him to me at the Tower record store I used to work at in LA. as a teen, so this part of the OL blog is coming from a Who superfan. To this day, The Who is the only badge I wear on my camera strap, and have seen them numerous times. I'd see them again today and tomorrow, if I could. All the members were amazing tonight, Pete and Roger, 50 years after they began giving the world great music. Recently, Roger has struggled with his voice. Tonight many of the songs were re worked to accommodate his reduced vocal strength. And to be honest, 50 years on, of those powerful Daltrey vocals, its no surprise his vocal strength is slightly diminished. No more will we hear his special lengthy screams in songs. Pete carried Rogers' loss of vocal range for some of their set. However, Roger gave it his best. And Rogers' best is still better than most could ever achieve. It was obvious that he was disappointed in himself not being able to do what he used to do. In an interview in 2013, Daltrey was talking about making a new solo album because "the Who don't do enough gigs for me. If I stop singing at the age I am now, my voice will be gone within two years. So I've got to keep it going. It's like a car engine you've got to keep running." In 2015, Daltrey recorded a cover version of Pete Townshend's song "Let My Love Open the Door" for Teen Cancer America adverts. In February 2016, a full version was released, with all of the proceeds going to TCA.
Bottom line, The Who is still The Who. Pete was, as always - spectacular! Still an epic guitarist, doing his signature windmills throughout...he was amazing. As was the rest of the band. Simon Townshend, Petes younger brother on guitar...another great performance by Simon. Simon Townshend is an artist in his own right, and has 9+ albums of his own. You should definitley check out his solo career. Obvious that the Townshend blood is of the musical nature. Their father was a sax player and their Mum was a singer.
And then theres, Zak Starkey, son of Ringo. A shining star...wow...what a performance. Zak Starkey plays nothing like his dad, but if there was a drummer that may be a Moonie reincarnate...it would be Zak Starkey! Complete with Moons facial expressions and heavy hitting drumming. Zak Starkey gave an incredible performance and I was blown away! A memorable drummer for sure..
The two hour set was packed with so many favorites. But how does one chose only two hours of the best Who songs. That would be a task to chose for anyone. And considering they played to a young audience, I was surprised how many knew their songs. The audience sang along to most tunes, especially Pinball Wizard. They played 22 songs in all starting with "The Seeker" "Who are You" "My Generation" "Baba O'Reily" "Love Reign O'er Me" and ending with the epic, "Won't get Fooled Again." The band was tight and haven't lost their charm. If you've never seen The Who, I highly suggest seeing them at least once in your lifetime. They are now, and will always have a special place in the musical part of my heart. I hope they live forever, I know their music will always be a soundtrack to all our lives, a moment in time, we will always remember a Who song attached to a some sort of memory. The Whos' 50 years in the music business is a beautiful testament of aging and duration....and they've passed the fifty year mark with flying colours!
As Townshends genius lyrics stand strong in the history of music, so many of his legendary lines we can recite with ease...but one in particular comes to mind for me a lot these days, aging myself and especially when I see my aging rock heroes. I think the following lyric has nothing to do with chronological number of years as much as it means getting old in the head, either way Pete said it right.... "I hope I die before I get old." Long live The Who!