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Outside Lands 2011: The Stone Foxes

Photo by Grady Brannan

There was a chilly breeze wafting through the forest on the walk to the Sutro stage, but as soon as we arrived to see San Francisco's own Stone Foxes get underway, things heated up–really fast. It didn't matter that the afternoon was young and still gloomy or that most of the crowd could still count themselves as sober. Compsure was lost, and anyone with a working set of muscles found themselves writhing around like maniacs. It was the first time I'd seen bona fide headbanging and a ferocious mosh pit in the park. Just the way it's a meant to be. 

And boy, were the Stone Foxes digging it. The hometown heroes played as if their lives depended on it, all taking turns singing their songs bombastic, raw, unhinged 70s rock n' roll (the skronk of their sings recalls Led Zeppelin or the White Stripes) that are made to drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes to. It's bluesy stuff–they even cover Slim Harpo's "I'm A King Bee"–and that makes it sexy. Drummer and sometimes vocalist Shannon Koehler busted out harmonica solos, and the entire band threw tambourines into an overjoyed crowd. Their songs like "Stomp" are complete barn burners, getting people so riled up that Koehler exclaimed from behind the drum set, "This is the tastiest treat a man could have besides ice cream, because ice cream is delicious. But this is pretty damn close."

A ton of musicians seem so uptight and serious onstage, so there's nothing like a band so in its element–no matter how world famous or small they are–that cracking a joke or two ain't no thing.