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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By Mike Ruby
I'm posting this article immediately after selling off my Lollapalooza ticket. It was difficult to part with, but this cloud has a silver lining that could lift the spirits of festival-goers nationwide. Outside Lands, which I've since nicknamed Silver Lining Festival '08, is less than a month away, making attendees giddier than a kid in a candy shop.
I, for one, couldn't be more ecstatic. At the ripe old age of nineteen, I've been to a lot of concerts in my day, but I've never seen either Radiohead or Beck live, let alone in the same evening. I have, however, attended one or more performances by Primus, Ben Harper, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Coup, Tom Petty, Cold War Kids, Rogue Wave, and Toots & the Maytals, and it's safe to say that every one of them is well worth seeing again. I'm also intrigued by Lyrics Born, The Black Keys, and Mike Gordon (sans Phish), all three of which are said to put on excellent shows.
With any freshman festival, you never know how it will turn out or how it will be received. Outside Lands has the potential to become the new Coachella. On the other hand, it could bomb worse than Britney at the VMAs. I find the latter to be very unlikely, but again, you never know.
It's high time that San Francisco host a major festival, and I couldn't be happier that Golden Gate park is being utilized to its full extent. I find the venue to be more beautiful and suitable for a festival than Chicago's Grant Park or even Central Park in NYC. In a cramped and compact city like SF, the park provides a haven of open space. Not only that, but places within the park such as Stow Lake, the DeYoung Museum, the tea garden, and the Academy of Sciences have been a few of my favorite destinations since I was born not too far from there. Now that I live across the bay in Oakland (aka San Francisco's bastard stepchild), a find that something new and exciting happens every time I go into the city, and I predict that the SF atmosphere will make the Outside Lands experience that much more powerful.
As August 22 draws nearer and nearer, my excitement level has been going up exponentially. Every element of Outside Lands is unbearably intriguing. I'm even a little excited to see Jack Johnson for God's sake. That's how you know you've created a damn good festival. Silver Lining '08, here we come.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
By Andrea Moreno-Beals
The best part of any festival is discovering a fantastic new artist or band that you have never heard before. I had such an experience when I stumbled upon the main stage set by Latin jazz rock fusion duo Rodrigo y Gabriella.
I had just finished listening to what had been up to that point the highlight of my Rothbury weekend — folkly bluesman Taj Mahal. How could it get any better than sitting in the first row right in front of an artist I have loved for years but had never seen live. And he played many of my favorite songs of his that I had been hoping to hear.
When Taj finished up, I wandered over to the main stage to see what was going on there, and sheer amazement rapidly spread over me with every step as I approached Rodrigo y Gabriella's show.
At first I couldn't believe they had booked just two guitar players on the main stage, especially since they didn't seem to be playing any kind of rock n' roll. Soon I realized that they weren't singing either.
It was all instrumental music that they were playing, and yet they had a huge crowd of thousands of people in front of them ecstatically moving to the rapid and invigorating rhythms of their flamenco-style arrangements. The energy was infectious. It was like they were the source of a huge wild fire that had spread over the field full of people.
For the first time that weekend, I was taken out of time and place by the music I was hearing — transported to that place of sheer joy and inspiration that only a live music experience can send you. Bravo for an unforgettable festival experience.
By Dustin Edward
Now that the first Rothbury Festival is in the books, it serves as a case-in-point of how to give a big boost to a local economy and save the farm (or ranch, in this instance). Bring in the biggest stages with the best gear and put on the biggest name artists. That'll bring out the people, and everything else follows.
That's what any festival is about, making a city of the people, and creating mass coherence through shared experience. In this case, Rothbury City was built by some of the nation's finest — young, old and corporate alike —people from across the land doing what they do best. I think everybody left honored to have been a part of it.
It took a lot of organizing to get this fest started, and I appreciate being able to see a show as good as any in the nation, right in my backyard.
As great as it was, Rothbury hardly felt like a Michigan festival. The "vibe" that goes with Northern Michigan festivals is some of the best in the land. You'll find voices that speak to your heart. You'll find a town of people who recognize the importance of sharing, sustainability, community building, and music.
First, there weren't many Michigan artists onstage and in the lineup, only two that I counted. This is a state that can support a three-day festival with strictly Michigan artists (check out Hoxeyville). It was a shame that Rothbury missed the chance to include more of the local culture.
I understand that the festival was designed to draw attendees from across the region. A lot of the locals just couldn't afford the high ticket price, or if they did, it meant that they were going to have to miss out on other Michigan fests.
That's the hard line of sustainability that we're dealing with as a planet. It's hard to throw a big festival while maintaining truly sustainable practices, including investing profits back into the community. Sustainability is not just a matter of recycling waste from a festival. It includes the full life-cycle of everything that goes into it—and out of it.
Growing a festival organically takes time. To get Rothbury off the ground and on the map in its first year, the organizers needed to bring in most of the infrastructure from outside, and to transplant the festival in our local soil. Hopefully this transplant will be harmonious and healing to its surrounding environment, and not an invasive species getting a hold over this region.
It is up to us now to do our part to help it grow in the right way. All of the reports I've heard give me hope that the festival promoters are going to work more with Michigan's local culture to make this a Michigan summer music festival fixture, starting off the season with a bang.
Then we Michiganders can head off to Blissfest, Hoxeyville, Dunegrass and Wheatland, to name a few — festivals with years of history and a roots connection with the local scene.
The peninsulated region of Michigan might as well be an island, so every action comes back around. If people are going to come here from afar, that is great. Let's introduce them to peninsula vibe and give them a taste of our culture, whether it's our super beer, our local businesses or our amazing musicians.
And as we enjoy the smaller budget local events, we can use that perspective to understand how we can best integrate Rothbury '09 into the Northern Michigan festival community — there's room for everybody to be a part. Whether that happens by creating a local stage (a little Michigan festival within a national festival) or by having smaller acts in between bigger acts, we can make it even better by building it with the local community.
Next year at Rothbury, we can be patronizing a world-class Michigan brewery like Short's, Bell's or Founder's while listening to some world-class singer/songwriters from right here in our backyard. All the people that travel long distance to see the big acts will take that peninsula vibe with them back to their own lands and spread the word about the culture brewing right here in Michigan.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
With Rothbury underway this holiday weekend, the next of the big new rock festivals for 2008 is Mile High Music Festival, two weeks out at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City CO, outside Denver. Today, the festival announced its jam-packed five-stage lineup. Here's a few observations:
The two big headliners, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Dave Matthews Band, close each night on the SanDisk Main Stage, beginning around 9 pm and without competition from the other stages. A late-night Rebel Alliance Jam runs both nights in a side tent after headline act, running till 1 am.
The other open air stages are the Bullsnake and Lizard stages, and two covered venues are the Bison and Elk tent stages. Each will host from four to six acts on each of the festival's two days, and each will have appeal.
Besides the headliners, the Main Stage will host John Mayer, O.A.R., Citizen Cope, Rodrigo y Gabriela and more. At Bullsnake, you can catch The Black Crowes, Michael Franti, Steve Winwood and Flogging Molly. Lizard features some of the best local bands, but also acts like m.o.e., Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.
Head for the tents for relief from the afternoon sun. The Bison tent stage has Andrew Bird and Spoon on Saturday, Leftover Salmon and The Roots on Sunday. On the Elk tent stage, JJ Grey & MOFRO and Lupe Fiasco are the Saturday draws, while Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Pinback hold forth Sunday.
The five-stage schedule offers an infinite set of choices that will drive some attendees crazy trying to fit everything in. My advice is to pick four or five artists that you want to be sure to see start to finish, and then fill in as many partial sets of others that you can reasonably do.
But don't expect to see every act you are interested in — if you try you'll find that you didn't stay long enough to really enjoy any of them.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
By Dan Ruby
After trying out several sites during its 13-year history, Gathering of the Vibes is settling in for an extended stay at the 370-acre Seaside Park in Bridgeport CT. The festival and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch will sign a five-year contract that will keep The Vibes in place through at least 2012.
This year's event comes off July 31–Aug. 3 with The Neville Brothers, The Black Crowes, and Phil Lesh & Friends headlining. This will be the second consecutive year at the site since the park was renovated several years ago. GOTV also took place in the same location in 1999 and 2000.
In a statement, Mayor Finch said, “We’re excited to continue developing Bridgeport’s relationship with Gathering of the Vibes. The Vibes is an exceptional addition to Bridgeport’s blossoming arts and entertainment scene, as well as a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Park City to thousands of out-of-town guests from throughout the country.”
The four-day festival attracts as many as 20,000 attendees per day. In addition to hosting 40 bands on three stages, the festival features environmental activities, custom arts and crafts vendors, and kids program. Public transportation options are plentiful, making the site easily accessible from anywhere in the region.
The festival and city officials will hold a public contract signing event June 27 at the Seaside Park Bandshell, and the 2008 festival opens for business just about a month after that.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
By Mike Ruby
It's always refreshing when a brand new festival emerges onto the scene for the general public to sink its teeth into. Outside Lands has done just that, and while its still two months away, the festival has already proven itself to be the new kid on the block who's intriguing mystique lures people in. I'd put my money on Outside Lands selling out, especially after its latest additions to the lineup. Toots & the Maytals and Rogue Wave are two new ones that I thoroughly look forward to. I've been a loyal Toots fan ever since I discovered them during a reggae festival at Berkeley's Greek Theater. Considering how long the Maytals have been around, they carry themselves on stage as if they hadn't been playing the same songs for thirty years. Their performance at Outside Lands is not to be missed.
As for Rogue Wave, a band from my home town of Oakland CA, their indie vibe ought to integrate quite nicely into the already diverse lineup. Frankly, it took Rogue Wave a couple albums to get their sea legs, but at this point in time, they're ready to rock. When I watched them open for Death Cab a few days ago (also incidentally at the Greek), the band played with enough energy and confidence to turn the thankless job of being the opening band into a legitimate performance. If you've never seen Rogue Wave, circle them on your festival schedule. Also recently included are The Walkmen, Mike Gordon, Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet feat. Bela Fleck, Vienna Teng, Howlin' Rain, Everest, The Dynamites and Carney. Not too shabby.
Like Rothbury, another freshman summer festival, Outside Lands has a group of headliners that would make the average festival-goer require a clean pair of undergarments. Personally, I'd say that the Radiohead/Beck/Primus trifecta seems like more than enough reason to attend the festival. On top of that, Tom Petty, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and the Coup sweeten the deal and The Black Keys and Ben Harper are icing on the cake.
As part of my previous post, I stated my views toward Jack Johnson and how he is less than deserving of the closing slot. However, looking at the size of his fan base, lots of people clearly see in his music something that I don't. So if he's gotten successful enough to headline the final day of a three-day festival, more power to him. The same goes for Wilco and Widespread panic. I don't really get all the hype, but in all fairness, I haven't seen either live, so you never know. The important thing is that all the other bands are still there and the great vastly outweighs the mediocre.
My hat goes off to the producers of Outside Lands. If it turns out as well as I think it will, San Francisco is in for an event the likes of which it has never seen. Hang in there. There's only two more months left to go. Stay tuned for more posts on Outside Lands.