Festivals. What are they if not high priced hassles with no parking, ten dollar beers and port-o-potties you always convince yourself you are never going to use again but always end up caving when it’s time to break that seal? God, I hate festivals. But Outside Lands, you sure are the lesser of these money-sucking evils. And your Sunday lineup was the perfect cap to a three-day musical binge.
Sunday’s foggy weather rivaled the ashy skies of Silent Hill; it was that damn gloomy. So what better a setting for Nashville’s The Dead Weather to make their Bay Area debut? Now that’s what we’re talking about when we utter the term “super group.” Never mind The Raconteurs. This is the band Jack White should have started a long time ago and now has with The Kills’ Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and fellow Raconteur Jack Lawrence. If you didn’t know that Mosshart is this generation’s take on Joan Jett, and how could you by listening to those crisp, poppy Kills beats, you do now. White’s down and dirty blues roots transform this Londoner who normally walks on the mild side into a Joplin-like goddess. Filthy and sneering, The Dead Weather drips with badassery and is truly the band to know this year.
And if festivals are good for anything else, it is their ability to showcase well-deserving indie bands such as Ohio’s Heartless Bastards who have gained solid momentum this year and are on the verge of exploding their meaty folk into the mainstream underbelly. Any fans of The Decemberists will gladly gobble this act up. Singer Erika Wennerstrom brings back classic female crooning with a vengeance. Think the scene in Elf where Zooey Deschanel sings Christmas songs in the shower. Wennerstrom evokes the same warmth and charm yet holds her own as a strong rock woman.
Henry Rollins may have said it the best. “…Fucking Ween.” Oh, Ween. What are you if not the answer for those who hate The Dead but still feel the need to fill the stony, college rock void in our musical repertoire? What are you if not brilliant with age and intoxication level? You are stupid music for smart people. You are the godfathers of twisted on a sweetly retarded level, like Forest Gump. And you’re still kicking. Aaron Freeman can still sing the hell out of “Take Me Away” while Mickey Melchiondo can still shred out a monster version of “Johnny on the Spot.” Ween, as that drunken college co-ed kept screaming to the back of our heads despite numerous dirty looks, we love you.
It is almost impossible to remind yourself while watching M.I.A. that she is someone’s mother. One badass mother, mind you. Who else could rightfully and tastefully pay homage to ailing Beastie Boy Adam Yauch with a sick sampling of “Sabotage?” And all while wearing oversized, red, vinyl cap sleeves that somehow didn’t look stupid at all? M.I.A. was the perfect party topper complete with Hammer-era dancers and blindingly brightly colored stagewear. The Beastie Boys would have been met with a worthy opener had they been able to attend. But who better to take their place than the self-proclaimed greatest band in the world?
“I’m fucking forty,” confessed Tenacious D’s Jack Black. “But I’m fit. I’ve been doing yoga. I’ve been taking flax seed oil.” Black proceeded to let a body double show how he can still do “flip flaps” across the stage. Fight ensues with Black and Kyle Gass, leading to “Dude (I Totally Miss You),” yada, yada, yada. I hate to say that you’ve kind of seen them all after witnessing your first D show. Not to say that this matters at all, whatsoever. If you can watch The Masterworks over and over again, you can see The D just as often.