Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SF Outside Lands: Jason Mraz and Bat for Lashes

Hosted on the beautiful grounds of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, last weekend's Outside Lands festival brought great music to the Bay Area for the second year in a row.  While Friday's temperatures were sweltering and Sunday saw a cold fog roll into the city, Saturday--the day I attended-- was picture perfect.  The same could be said about the performances I enjoyed.

I arrived just in time to catch the last of Raphael Saadiq's set, which ended with a joyous round of gospel music that made me wish I'd seen the full performance.

Next up was the irrepressibly cheerful Jason Mraz, who enjoyed a large audience for his set.  Mraz's radio-friendly folk-pop was flavored at times with everything from reggae to a "Copacabana-esque" vibe, which worked well with his entertaining, easy-going stage presence.

I must confess that I've never been a Jason Mraz fan.  I don't mind his music, but his radio singles have always been such light, fluffy lyrical confections that I've never felt the need to delve deeper.  Seeing him in concert didn't change my mind.

There's no doubt that Mraz is fun during live performances.  He's also put together a band of skilled musicians and made a point of putting original twists on his most familiar hits so fans got to enjoy a unique listening experience.  Despite this, there just isn't enough substance in his music for me to connect with it emotionally and nor is there enough of a driving beat for me to connect with it on a visceral level.

While Mraz' set was pleasant, I had no regrets about ducking out halfway through and heading to one of the side stages to check out Bat for Lashes.  My only previous exposure to Bat for Lashes was watching a couple of her music videos online a few months ago.  Since I'd liked what I heard, Outside Lands seemed like an excellent opportunity to find out if I liked enough of her music to shell out for her albums.

Performing on an intimate, sun-dappled side stage (that was completely powered by solar panels, by the way), Bat for Lashes vocals were exquisite.  I tend to have a limit to the amount of time I can listen to female singers who have ethereal, breathy voices, but Bat for Lashes vocal quality never became an affectation. The dreamy quality surrounding her music is also grounded with solid instrumentals that bring it back down to earth.

Did I like Bath for Lashes' music enough to shell out for her albums?  Absolutely.  I had to leave halfway through her set, and if it had been for anyone less than the Black Eyed Peas, I probably couldn't have torn myself away.  Considering the way the audience grew exponentially from the time her set started until the time I left, it's safe to say that Bat for Lashes won herself quite a few new fans at Outside Lands.

Head over to our Pop Wenches You Tube channel at to check out 3 more Jason Mraz clips and 2 additional Bat for Lashes clips, all in high-def!

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