BottleRock 2014 Saturday: OutKast And Weezer Deliver The Hits, No Age Open For Smash Mouth
Every now and then, it’s good to reorient your perspective. At any given more established or mainstream festival stocked with your usual indie mainstays, No Age wouldn’t come across as too out there or jarring, but between BottleRock’s semi-bucolic surroundings, laidback tone and pace, and generally more rustic or easygoing lineup (the band was playing right before Smash Mouth), the punk duo sounded catastrophic in the best way. Gunshot snares and big slabs of distortion clattered around under a stage banner bearing the name of a local winery. The faithful stood in a small bunch up against the stage throughout an hour set split pretty evenly between newer material from last year’s An Object and No Age’s older material. The rest of the crowd, meanwhile, hung out in lawnchairs or on blankets, casually day-drinking and seeming to not quite know what to make of the band. Their status as an oddity wasn’t lost on No Age. “We were going to play our Spin Doctors cover,” Dean Spunt, the band’s drummer/vocalist, joked in reference to BottleRock’s preponderance of ’90s acts. “But I think we’ll omit that from our set. Seems inappropriate actually.”
After spending an afternoon drifting between ’90s relics like Third Eye Blind and Smash Mouth, I found myself at a slightly more vital relic: Weezer. In a sense, Weezer is not so different from these other stragglers, aside from the fact that they have two albums that are still critically beloved, and that they’re still big enough to play arenas. But there’s also no getting around the fact that the premise of a Weezer set isn’t all that different from a Third Eye Blind set: we’re here for the hits, for better or for worse. To that end, Weezer came out swinging, with “My Name Is Jonas” (during which the PA wasn’t working, but the fervent crowd helped out with the “Workers are going home” refrain) and “Hash Pipe.” Less desirable hits like “Beverly Hills” and “Pork And Beans” were sprinkled amongst less recognizable work that didn’t garner the same enthusiasm from the crowd. While the band certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves the whole time, the set never quite climbed back to the giddy highs where it had started. After they covered Blur’s “Song 2″ — with Rivers Cuomo ceding singing duties to bassist Scott Shriner while he manned the drumset instead — Weezer took a brief encore break before finishing with versions of “Undone — The Sweater Song” and “Buddy Holly” that felt a little bit more obligatory than they deserved. (Sidenote: wondering if Weezer intended the irony of covering the one major American hit from Blur, which the British band had intended as a piss-take at American alt-rock bands not dissimilar from Weezer themselves.)
And then there was OutKast. The crowd ballooned on Saturday compared to Friday, which can be partially attributed to San Francisco natives buying a one day ticket for something to do on the weekend, but it also felt like all roads lead to OutKast last night, who were playing their only Northern California date of their reunion. They didn’t disappoint. Their set probably had the most production and showmanship we’ll see at BottleRock. Andre and Big Boi started the show within a giant mesh cube, Big Boi seated and with his feet up on a table, a greyscale American flag projection on the walls behind them. Sticking to a setlist they’ve now utilized at festivals big and small elsewhere around the country, OutKast have a “take no prisoners” approach early on, opening with “B.O.B.” before “Gasoline Dreams,” and then dropping both “Rosa Parks” and “Ms. Jackson,” all before the end of their show’s first section. Andre was wearing a silvery white wig and a black jumpsuit emblazoned with white letters reading “I’ve Never Had a F@cebook, Twitt@r, or Inst@gram.” A giant product tag hung from his waist reading “For Sale $” on one side and “SOLD OUT” on the other. It was hard not to interpret that as a self-aware commentary on the duo’s long-awaited reunion taking the form of a tour comprised only of festival-headlining sets that must be making them a fortune.
I remember reading some for-whatever-reason mixed opinions of OutKast’s first reunited appearance at Coachella. The only complaint I could muster about last night’s set would be that, aside from “Roses” and “So Fresh, So Clean,” the show was somewhat front-loaded with OutKast’s biggest songs, to the point that the audience went so wild so consistently that the calmer moments during some lesser known or older tracks looked more dead than calm. When it comes down to it, that’s a minor issue. There’s still a day left, but OutKast own this weekend. Seeing a field of people lose it to “Hey Ya!” ten years on doesn’t leave any doubt: the best moments of last night were the sort that remind you how overwhelming it is to be a human, and to see other humans doing awesome things.