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Sizzle & Fizzle: Highs and Lows from the Last Week in S.F. Music 

Wednesday, Aug 15 2012


Metallica put on a huge, fiery hometown show for Outside Lands' second night — the band's first in Golden Gate Park. With a setlist that included mostly great old Metallica songs, tons of pyrotechnics and fireworks, a sprawling stage, and the bandmembers giddily praising their home city, Metallica in S.F. was about as good as Metallica gets in 2012.

• You don't watch Stevie Wonder, you experience him. The soul legend insisted on sing-alongs, the audience's undivided attention, dancing, and celebrating the basic joys of life in his festival-closing two-hour show on Sunday night. Playing his biggest hits, including "Superstition" and "Higher Ground," Wonder also showed off lovely covers of "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "My Girl."

• One of the joys of sharing Golden Gate Park with 65,000 people is overhearing the weird things they say. "Stevie Wonder vs. Skrillex? That's like saying 'legend vs. shit.'" "I just didn't have the heart to tell him he had cocaine all over his face." "All these little art-school punk bitches. Can I just get some fuckin' rock 'n' roll?" "A guy labeled me 'spicy' and I felt pretty good."


• A Neil Young and Crazy Horse show is always going to meet a baseline level of greatness. But it's too bad that, of the 13 songs Young played at Outside Lands, five were brand-new, from a forthcoming album no one has heard yet. The fact that many of the new songs were long, challenging jams didn't make lots of casual fans want to stick around, either.

• Maybe every generation needs its reggae-lite, but Rebelution, really? We were shocked that this many people like such a dumbed-down sound, when the real thing is easily accessible. You guys know Jimmy Cliff still tours, right?

• Outside Lands has to be the only summer music festival where it's very likely to be 50 degrees and blowing fog in your face. Watching the out-of-towners come completely unprepared was both painful and hilarious. But still, even a little sunshine would've been nice — there was basically none all weekend.

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