M.I.A. delivered a kicking and screaming Beastie Boys mash-up medley Sunday afternoon to tens of thousands at Outside Lands in San Francisco’s woodsy Golden Gate Park. Clad in a garish, gorgeous tiger print dress complete with blazing red tiger ear-shaped shoulder pads, black wayfarer sunglasses, black tights and bronzed sneakers, M.I.A. strutted in fine form, backed by two fly girls and twin, besuited b-boys. The Sri Lankan sprite spat bits of “Bird Flu” into the Beastie’s “Sabotage” and “Intergalactic,” blasting the last of the crowd off their picnic blankets. “Paper Planes” sailed into the closer position after a muted reception to “Born Free” a fast, punky, bass-heavy new song the audience failed to latch onto. “Sorry. Get to know it later,” M.I.A. said.
The new mother and sudden global star behind Kala and Arular seemed reflective Sunday afternoon. “A lot has changed in a year since I’ve been here. I got engaged here. I got pregnant here. I’m kind of fucking scared of this place.” Nevertheless, opening track “Bamboo Banga” and “World Town” had the hoodie and scarfed fans bouncing. Her latest rare performance since giving birth in February satiated new devotees with “Galang,” “Pull Up the People” “Bucky Done Gun” and “Boyz.”
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Earlier on the main stage, jocular Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock brought his journeyman’s sensibility and twin drum kits to a midday set. Touring behind August EP No One’s First and You’re Next, he played the EP’s “The Whale Song,” but after 16 years and seven full-length LPs, the Seattle rock band drew greatly from the past. We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank‘s “Parting of the Sensory” and Good News For People Who Love Bad News for “Blame It On the Tetons” came off flawlessly. “Paper Thin Walls” off The Moon and Antarctica seemed like an apt fit for the chilly afternoon.
Conversely, hot band of the summer the Dead Weather let loose a sexy, bluesy, bashing set, electrified by the rock micro-deity that is Jack White. Underneath a grey, purgatory sky, all eyes were on the black-clad rocker and his 2009 outfit, featuring femme fatale Alison Mosshart of the Kills vamping and channeling the robot rut of Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita and bassist Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs.
White handled the drums as if every note mattered on opener “60 Feet Tall” while petite Mosshart squared off on the sound monitors, all pelvis and snarl. Fertita sprayed cascades of distortion and squall during cuts from the band’s debut LP Horehound. “So Far From Your Weapon” and “I Cut Like A Buffalo” offered dirgy, gut-bucket blues straight from Nashville, and yelps from the crowd accompanied every move by White toward a guitar or microphone. He often sung while playing drums, and played guitar on fine numbers like “Treat Me Like Your Mother” and “Hang You From The Heavens.”
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