The Pimps of Joytime’s Brian J. cuts into a deep groove.
THE THIRD ANNUAL OUTSIDE Lands festival, held over the second weekend in August in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, was scaled back a bit compared to the first two events, but it was still jamming with an estimated 80,000 in attendance. A smorgasbord of acts representing myriad genres threw all sorts of stringed goodness at the earholes of eager attendees who flocked from stage to stage.
There was no Barbary tent this year, but the San Francisco sound was well represented by the legacy of the Grateful Dead, Further, featuring OGs Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Greybeard Weir looks more like his old leading man, Jerry Garcia, with each passing year. Weir sported a bright pink Strat-style solidbody with a locking tremolo system. Using at least as many upstrokes as downstrokes, he was as good as ever at stabbing in and out of the holes left by the rest of the rhythm section. He shot gaps like an all-star halfback, keeping the two-chord jam “Fire on the Mountain” interesting for its entirety. Lead guitar player John Kadlecik (Dark Star Orchestra) looked and sounded as if he had been cloned from Jerry Garcia’s DNA.
Vieux Farka Touré gets mystic on a Godin.
Jim James rocks out in his morning, well, actually evening jacket.
Vieux Farka Touré was one of the more exotic acts on the bill, and he killed the crowd with the highest energy of the whole affair. He took everyone with him on a dragonfly ride from California to Mali as he channeled the spirits of Jimi Hendrix and his father Ali Farka Touré via a good-looking Godin. His clean tone really popped, and his solos seemed to shoot right through us.
My Morning Jacket was the most eclectic outfit on display. Singer and guitarist Jim James was super expressive whether he was hammering away at cowboy chords with jangly tones, or copping a Prince-style soul vibe. Lead guitarist Carl Broemel displayed an uncanny ability to fill out James’ cosmic Americana canvas with whatever color was most complementary.
The funkiest band at Outside Lands was easily the Pimps of Joytime. Guitar and singer Brian J. grooved with a seemingly effortless flow that cut deceptively deep. He busted out what sounded almost like Latin surf guitar licks using a capo at the 6th fret of his Les Paul on one of his last tunes. “I was playing in a cumbia style,” he explained afterwards. The Pimps are based in Brooklyn, but Brian J. and bassist Clark Dark picked up cool components in Colorado. “These are quartz frets I got from Eric Stone at crystalfrets.com,” he said as he displayed his instrument. “The material is millions of years old. They never wear down, and the sustain is incredible.”
Hungry and heavy, Wolfmother tore into the Twin Peaks stage. (Left to right: Ian Peres, Andrew Stockdale, and Aidan Nemeth)
Speaking of hard rock, no band at Outside Lands rocked more righteously then Wolfmother. They turned Golden Gate Park into an arena for their riff-heavy, Spinal Tap-approved set. They played their asses off, and clearly had a ton of fun laying down some seriously raucous material. Long live Mama Wolf, and big ups to another awesome Outside Lands.
Bob Weir gets pink.
Gratefully full of life, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.
Caleb and Matthew Followill of Kings of Leon closed the Outside Lands festival with a set full of clever hooks.