Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is the annual free concert in Golden Gate Park that offers just the right amount of bluegrass along with a whole spectrum of other music. I’ve been going every year since the aughts and it still amazes me that it’s completely free (thanks to the generosity of Warren Hellman and his descendants). You don’t even have to pay a “mind tax” because there’s no advertising. By contrast, Outside Lands – which is held in roughly the same exact location in the park – is smaller, chock full of branding, and costs almost $400 for a weekend pass. Not to mention, the lineup at the free Hardly Strictly show is normally just as good, if not better some years. If I’m going to be herded like cattle at a music festival, I’d much rather pay $400 less for it.
Here’s an astonishing list of just a few of the dozens of bands that performed at the free 2016 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival:
Pacifica’s annual Pacific Coast Fogfest was this weekend in downtown Pacifica near the beach. If you live in the Bay Area long enough, you’ll find that every small town or modest sized neighborhood has their own annual street festival like this – and they’re all exactly the same. The same food vendors are selling chicken teriyaki on a stick, the same crafts vendors are selling punk rock toddler onesies and melted wine bottles, and the same middle-aged blues rock band is playing Eagles covers. This was no exception. Going into one of these events, you can only hope there will be enough local flavor or public drunkenness to differentiate it from all the rest. On this merit, I would rate the Pacifica Fog Fest a 3/10. It was basically the same as the nearby Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, but without the pumpkins. However, Pacifica did have a sand sculpture of a whale and a booth that served a scary red, yellow, and green drink called the “Fog Cutter.” Plus, it’s hard to beat a sunny 85-degreeee day on the coast. Would I go back next year? As long as it’s not foggy.
Bon Iver has a highly anticipated new album coming out next week called 22, A Million, which he introduced to the world via glitchy electronic first single, “22 (OVER S∞∞N)“. The titles of both the new album and lead single might make you wonder, “What’s the deal with with the number 22?”
Well, the New York Times interviewed Justin Vernon this week about the new album, and it turns out it’s not that interesting of a story. Basically, it’s just his high school football jersey number.
He has always been drawn to the number 22. While growing up and playing sports, he chose it as his jersey number; he also, he said, sets wake-up alarms to 22 minutes after the hour. As he chopped up the phrase “It might be over soon” in the sampler, “soon” began to turn into “two, two”: 22. […] Being 22 is me,” he said, “and then the last song being a million, which is this great elusive thing: like, what’s a million? The album deals a lot with duality in general and how that works into the math. I was big into Taoism in college, and the paradox of duality, and how it’s always one thing and the other — you can never have one thing without the other. So it’s 22 being me and a million being the Other. That was a way to look at it as a circle.”
I like Bon Iver. I really do. His first album is a classic and the only time I’ve ever witnessed him live, at the Fillmore in 2009, was truly one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. However, I think the man is out of ideas. Naming albums and songs after your football number isn’t exactly art. My prediction is this album’s probably going to suuuck.
Here’s “22 (OVER S∞∞N)”:
If you’ve read this far and still aren’t happy, do yourself a favor and check out Bon Iver Erotic Stories. You will be happy.
Edit: I’ve thought about this one long and hard, and it turns out I was wrong. With the exception of 10 Death Breast, this album is excellent.