Friday, August 12, 2011


The Outside Lands music festival is going on in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park as we speak. Three-day and VIP single-day tickets are still available if you want to see a mind-boggling assortment of indie rock acts: Phish, Arcade Fire, The Shins, The Decembrists, OK Go, John Fogerty, The Arctic Monkeys—and that's not even a fraction of the enormous three-day lineup. Think of a West Coast Woodstock, for established bands and newbies alike (and hopefully without all that mud).

The reason I bring it up is Muse. I'm nuts about this British indie alt-rock band, as you may know if you read my previous column, and I'm delighted to spread the word that Muse will be the headliners Saturday night at Outside Lands. (That's Muse frontman Matt Bellamy over there, on guitar.) With discernible trace elements of Radiohead and Queen, mixed in with some Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, and surf/space guitar, this powerhouse trio puts on a killer of a live show. (Check 'em out on You Tube and see what I mean.)

Art Boy and I went to see them four years ago, on a previous trip to SF. They were already headliners back in Britain, routinely filling places like Wembley Stadium and playing enormous venues like the Glastonbury Festival. But we were lucky enough to see them at the relatively homey Bill Graham Civic, where we thronged with the crowd about 20 feet from the stage. It was just about the most fun I ever had at a live music concert.

Looking back, my only regret is that we caught their live show before they'd produced their exceptional "Resistance" album (a song cycle so insidiously listenable, it played in its entirety on a loop inside my brain for weeks after we first got the CD. Who needs an iPod?) However, they played just about everything else from their previous four albums that night at the Bill Graham, every lick, every harmony and falsetto as deft and textured as the original recordings. Folks heading out to hear them at the Outside Lands fest are in for a big treat.

I couldn't be more thrilled that Muse is finally getting the attention they deserve, not just in the Bay Area, but in the USA as well. And I think it's great that we have James Durbin to thank in part for introducing the band to mainstream Middle America via American Idol. His cover of Muse's "Uprising" (from "Resistance") was a highlight of AI Season 10, and continues to be a big solo for James during the AI summer tour.

(Btw, did you read June Smith's great Sentinel review when James and the AI tour played San Jose last month? Here it is, in case you missed it.)

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