OUTSIDE LANDS IS BECOMING AN ANNUAL MUST DO AS I T TAKES root in Golden Gate Park, which happens to be within walking distance of my apartment. On the same grass that legends such as Garcia, Santana, and Hendrix played many moons ago, a host of local and imported guitar gurus conjured oodles of inspiring noise over the last weekend in August
One of the homegrown guitar heroes was Eric McFadden. His trio held court in the cabaret-style Barbary Tent all weekend. The former P-Funker’s squalid gypsy rock sounded like Django meets Van Halen with guttural vocals.
“It was advantageous to play all three days,” the dreadlocked gunslinger told GP. “By Sunday, we were accustomed to the acoustics inside the Barbary’s antique, mirror-walled wooden tent. And the dancers from [local circus/variety group] Vau de Vire Society figured out ways to work with our music, so that our performances complemented and inspired each other.”
The performers on the big stages seemed to hail from everywhere except the City by the Bay. Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard demonstrated why he is the Keith Richards of the Seattle scene. His rhythm guitar provided a strapping backbone for the band’s solid performance before an enormous Polo Field crowd on a downright balmy Friday night. Mastodon’s Saturday show on the Twin Peaks Stage was so loud that I could envision “for sale” signs popping up in the surrounding neighborhoods. The Mars Volta followed, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez delivered the most insane set of rock guitar the park has hosted in decades. His mastery of daredevil riffage, confounding timing, lead shreddery, otherworldly effects, and natural stage presence was mesmerizing. Ween’s closing set Sunday night in the freezing fog was freaky and impressive in its balls-out nature.
“That was so cold that it hurt,” laughed Mickey Melchiondo, a.k.a Dean Ween, in his backstage trailer. “It wasn’t conducive to playing guitar, but I did my best to get warmed up and play through the discomfort. Festivals are strange for us because it’s a challenge to represent Ween in a short time span in front of a relatively unfamiliar audience. But the die-hard fans came out to represent, and Golden Gate Park is such a beautiful place to perform that it was totally worth the effort.”