Saturday, June 21, 2008

Outside just keeps getting better and better

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.

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