Save us from grunge blowback
Blame Pearl Jam: Q-Tip puts his hand up to his ear, imploring the audience to make some noise. He’s sporting multicolored Nikes, knee-high black socks, camouflage shorts and a Nigerian independence day T-shirt; basically, he’s dressed like the shortstop on a recreational co-ed softball team.
But Q-Tip’s not playing games this early evening; he’s channeling the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. “I dedicate this set to DJ AM,” he announces to a stunned Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival crowd, who—after 20 minutes of acting like a stiff, “Stuff White People Like” congregation—finally loosen up. And this inspires the 39-year-old rapper and former member of A Tribe Called Quest: He runs across the stage; eggs on his tight-as-all-hell, dub-inspired backup band; and even climbs up the rafters.
Q-Tip also inspired the ticketless to riot. Midway through his set, a band of 20 or so hipsters pop out of the Golden Gate Park woods, bum rush the rent-a-fence, leap over and disappear into the crowd. One guy somersaults and eats shit. Events staff tackles a dude gentlemanly lifting the fence for two girls. Security pores through the woods like those guys with key chains hunting down E.T.
Thievery Corporation performs next, but they’re boring. Their music is like the soundtrack you’d hear in a Steven Soderbergh film, you know, when the story changes location and you have music playing over an establishing shot of Tijuana or Morocco.
Ghosts of Eddie Vedder’s constipated baritone crash against Thievery’s Middle Eastern-inspired smooth rock. And, seduced by ’90s nostalgia, I follow Vedder, which takes me to the Polo Field, where tens of thousands bounce as Vedder squeals, “I would rather starve than eat your bread,” while yuppie vendors shill Tomales Bay oysters and vegan avocado-kale soup.
I wait 30 minutes for Vedder to apologize for engendering a legion of soulless 30-year-old bros who’ve misappropriated their own emotional suffering, but he never does.
Later, at downtown San Francisco’s Hemlock Tavern, Sacramento’s Mayyors have sold out the bar and I can’t get in. I blame Pearl Jam. (Nick Miller)
Still pouring sugar: Drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a 1984 car crash but kept his Def Leppard gig after teaching himself to play again with a rigged-up kit featuring a series of pedals operated by his left foot. Recently, the musician called SN&R from a tour stop in Houston to discuss drumming, country music and Def Leppard, who perform tonight at Sleep Train Amphitheatre with Cheap Trick and Poison.
On your new album there’s a duet with Tim McGraw, and you also recently performed live with Taylor Swift—how did those collaborations come about?
My brother used to work with Tim McGraw; we’re close, so of course he’d invite me to go see Tim play. Tim told me he was a huge Def Leppard fan and he’d come see us play in L.A., and eventually we recorded that song in Memphis. He even came up with the title of our new record.
Do you ever worry about your fans’ reaction to such country collaborations?
Not really. It seemed pretty far out of left field when we first starting doing the country stuff, but then we all play the same three chords—it just depends on how you dress it up.
You’ve been in Def Leppard since you were 15. Did joining the band so young have an impact on your decision to keep drumming even after your accident?
I started playing when I was 9 or 10, and then I started to lose interest over time. I got jaded, I suppose, [but] when I had the accident it really reignited my interest in and love for drumming. Out of this negative thing came the most incredible thing and the chance to connect with other people through the Raven Drum Foundation, which my wife and I formed in 2001. Right now we’re concentrating on programs for men and women coming out of war zones. Using drumming, breathing and visualization techniques can really help to give someone a positive experience. (Rachel Leibrock)
Soundblazing: Ross Hammond’s called his new CD An Effective Use of Space, and the name is apropos for the way it captures the jazz musician’s exploration of the relationship between noise and geography—the way surroundings can define a sound and vice versa. Here the songs start from a seemingly simple point of departure—a simple note, a straightforward melody line, a quick burst of sound—before sprawling into an unmapped sonic trip. With aid from Lisa Mezzacappa on bass and John Hanes on drums, the music glides easily between the sleepy and bombastic, sensual and aggressive. Listen for yourself at 8 p.m. this Friday night at Beatnik Studios, 2421 17th Street; $8-$12 sliding scale; www.rosshammond.com. (R.L.)
Zapped poop?: I’d misheard the name of one of the bands, so when I showed up to the John Natsoulas Art Gallery on Saturday, Master Musicians of Bukkake wasn’t what I had in mind. But the disappointment didn’t last: The band, clad in monk habits and beekeeper’s masks was ridiculously doomy, with heavy percussion, tiny Eastern finger cymbals and a frontman dressed in a suit entirely comprised of microwaved Spanish moss and baby formula. As I sat on the floor and contemplated how one could possibly make a suit out of said items (structurally, anyway), I recalled how a year ago local act Mom had flung her own microwaved feces onto the gallery’s floor. Then I decided to stand up. (Lindsey Walker)