music festivals – chicago versus san francisco

Yesterday, I attended the last day of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

I arrived in time to see Ben Kweller, followed by Elvis Costello and then Gogol Bordello. The show was intimate, in a forested park and the sound was great. But moreso, maybe my years in San Francisco distorted my expectations, but this was what I expected of Lollapalooza.

The smell of pot mixed with the smell of sweat and patchouli. People from 3 to 73 dressed in carnival ware – one outdoing the other. Slender men and women – most of whom could have walked out of any fashion magazine (especially if you consider High Times to be a fashion mag). Fantastic weather, great sound, very communal atmosphere. And hippies as far as the eye could see.

This was more in line with what I expected at Lollapalooza, but none of that was really present there. To me, Lollapalooza seemed more like a midwest college party, with far more heft.

If Hardly Strictly were the typical festival, I’d be more inclined to go, quite frankly. It put on display one of the things I really enjoyed about living here – not to mention that it was entirely free.

So, one more day on the west coast, then back to Madison for the final push before we launch NewTunes. Sorry for the break, but good to be back writing.



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