Outside Lands – Day 1 2012 Outside Lands – Day 1 2012

Words by Aaron Lavine // Photos By Ben Irwin

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PAPA

After fighting through the throngs of people coming into what seems like it’s going to be a packed and energetic festival, even at noon, we decide to catch one of Pinpoint’s standouts from SXSW, PAPA.  I’m torn, because I really love the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, but I’m way more into New Orleans jazz than most people, so in deference to you, dear reader, PAPA wins out.

PAPA played a catchy set of sunny, synthy, keyboard-infused blued-eyed soul with a little touch of punk edge.  Singer and drummer Darren Weiss, née of Girls, leads the group with a pretty voice, maybe too pretty for my taste, and what seems to be genuine affection for his fans.  Despite a mostly apathetic but listlessly head-bobbing 12:45 crowd—which I’m sure had more to do with the time slot than the band—Weiss impressively jumped off the seven foot stage to run up and down the front row of fans, doling out high fives in the process.  The band’s Corey Feldman look alike guitar player went as far as wearing a Giants t-shirt, pandering for the San Francisco crowd.  PAPA gave a yeoman’s effort and provided a good start to the day.

 

TANLINES

On our way to the main stage, we stopped to catch a few songs from the of-the-moment Brooklyn-based indie/electronic duo Tanlines.  Tanlines sound exactly like you might expect an of-the-moment Brooklyn-based indie/electronic duo to sound.  It’s danceable, slightly derivative, electronic pop music.  The songs are good, if you’re into that sort of thing.  A few songs was enough for me, and I left to find some music where the guitars still sounded like guitars.

 

TWO GALLANTS

First, off, fuck you, Two Gallants, for picking the much more pompous sounding way to pronounce your band name, and for making me feel like an asshole for mispronouncing it for years.  I wasn’t paying enough attention in school on the days when they taught us how to use the accent marks to indicate pronunciation, but just think of all the ways that you could pronounce Two Gallants, and then say it the way that makes you sound like a dick, and that’s the way they pronounce it.

By 2:00, the crowd had started to fill in, and a lot of them headed to see San Francisco’s own Two Gallants.  Two Gallants plays guitar-based country/folk-tinged blues rock, and tended more towards the rock end of the spectrum for their Outside Lands set.   They had the crowd singing along, and thankfully played my favorite, the country rocker “Las Cruces Jail” about half way through their set.  Singer Adams Stephens’ voice, especially on the more up tempo songs, is the high point for Two Gallants: he sounds angsty, like he’s holding something back, but might explode any second.

 

FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS

Fitz and the Tantrums were next on the main “Lands End” stage.  As always, Michael Fitzpatrick and his band absolutely brought it.  Also as always, at least for the guys, sexy as hell back up singer and percussionist Noell Scaggs stole the show, flirting her way through the set with a swagger that lets you know she knows exactly what you’re thinking about her.  F.A.T.T. is old-school, big, horn-heavy (blue-eyed) soul music, and these guys can all really play.  Great music to shake your ass to.

BECK

After catching a couple songs of a perfectly adequate and serviceable set from The Walkmen at my girlfriend’s insistence, we headed back to the main stage to see Beck.  It seemed like Beck, like a whole lot of people on Day One, was excited to see Neil Young, as he launched into a cover of “After the Gold Rush,” after already doing a particularly Beck-ish version of Dylan’s “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.”  Beck played the hits: “Where It’s At,” “Devil’s Haircut,” and “Loser,” among others, as well some of his mellower live standbys such as “Golden Age” and “Lost Cause.”  No surprise here, Beck delivered a great, fun, set as promised.

TENNIS

DIE ANTWOORD

I don’t get it.  I must be missing something.  Rave rappers Die Antwoord drew a huge, enthusiastic crowd.  The kids getting into it up near the stage must be scoring better drugs than me, that’s the only possible explanation.  It’s a mass delusion.  There is nothing good about them.  Die Antwoord sucks.

I thought frontman Ninja’s voice was grating.  Then his female counterpart Yo-Landi started rapping and I couldn’t wait for Ninja to get back on the mike.  Her voice is squealy, and just plain shitty.  I know they’re trying to be shocking and provocative, and possibly trying to be funny.  But they’re not that shocking, they’re not that provocative, they’re not funny, and they’re not talented.  There is absolutely no reason Die Antwoord should ever sell a concert ticket.

FOO FIGHTERS

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the world’s biggest Foo Fighters fan, but they killed it.    They were the best band I saw all day.  Their songs are great on the radio, but the Foos are a band that has to be experienced live.  The dose of pop that comes into some of their recorded music gives way to a really heavy, powerful live show.  Drummer Taylor Hawkins, who almost pathologically never once stopped smiling, was beating the shit out of the drums through the whole set and worked up such a sweat that he ended up shirtless a few songs in.  It was freezing, by the way.

Dave Grohl stalked the stage, even throwing in a Chuck Berry by way of Angus Young duck walk, as he sang and growled out the lyrics to one hit after another.  Grohl was also excited to see Neil Young, and only stopped playing long enough to quip that they had to hurry up and get through the rest of their songs so that he could see “Neil Fucking Young!”

 

NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE

Like Beck and Dave Grohl, I was really excited to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse.  Unfortunately, it was sort of a let down.  Even more so for Pinpoint’s big boss man Ben, who looked like he got punched in the stomach as we were walking out of the park at the end of the night.

An hour into the set, they had played maybe three or four songs, maybe five, including what I’m pretty sure was a newer song that I enjoyed at first.  The lyrics were poignant.  Neil Young used to walk like a giant on the land, but now he floats like a leaf in a river.  Him and some friends were going to change the world.  Good stuff.  It had a catchy riff that had me bobbing my head and tapping my feet.  I was still enjoying it 10 minutes in.  Around the 15 minute mark I was getting bored.  Then they started with a few minutes of noise and distortion that sounded like it could have come off of Metal Machine Music.  That was cool too.  After that, there was about five minutes where Neil Young, guitarist Pancho Sanpedro, and bassist Billy Talbot all played the same note over and over again, once every four seconds, in time with drummer Ralph Molina.  Over and over and over again.  More noise and strange solos after that.  All in it went close to 30 minutes.  That was followed by a fantastic version of “The Needle and the Damage Done.”  The crowd went wild.  It lasted about two minutes.  Another painfully long jam followed before he charged through a quick version of Cinnamon Girl.  I’m sure it can get boring playing the same songs for 40+ years, but this isn’t Bonnaroo or some shit, and the extended jams weren’t doing it for me.   Or anyone I talked to (except for one guy, and the newspaper).

Neil Young and Crazy Horse can still play.  Neil is still full of piss and vinegar and rock n roll energy, and that’s why that set was so frustrating.  They could have blown my mind, but instead left me feeling underwhelmed.

Ranger Dave and his Cadets – Day 1



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