Over the Weekend: Black Keys, Common, Les Claypool, and N.E.R.D at NASA Ames

Categories: Last Night
Richard Haick
Black Keys, Common, Les Claypool, and N.E.R.D at Yuri's Night 
Saturday, April 10, 2010 
Better Than:
partying on the moon.

Q: What Russian cosmonaut made famous for being the first human to orbit earth in 1961 would eventually bring burners, hip-hoppers, rock fans, and space nerds together for a giant yearly blowout? A: Yuri Gagarin.

He may not be a household name to most of us, but for space geeks, Gagarin is right up there with Darwin in terms of historical importance. "Yuri's Night" is an annual worldwide party celebrating his efforts as the first person in space--took over NASA Ames in Mountain View last weekend, with a big party Saturday afternoon and night. 

Richard Haick
Seeing a multistage music festival/space exhibit/rave take place at the NASA campus was a somewhat other-worldly experience in itself. An eclectic lineup of bands performed against backdrops of enormous domes and giant, windowless concrete structures. While the main stage was outdoors on what felt like a sprawling runway, a nearby hangar hosted a continuous burner party featuring a range of impressive DJs and giant metal structures that could have come straight from Black Rock. Next door, in yet another giant hangar, NASA scientists, artists, sustainability experts - and seemingly anyone who could ever be associated with the word "space" - exhibited their goods and ideas.

Richard Haick
The outcome of this odd collection of activities meant  Yuri's Night attracted a very eclectic crowd: fur-and-glitter covered, hula-hooping burners; gray-beards with their 10-year-old space-obsessed kids; and hardcore hip-hop fans who knew all of Common's lyrics were all well represented. Although one hanger attracted mostly crowds of that first, furry ilk, worlds collided at the main outdoor stage. That's probably because, as it turns out, NASA scientists are as skilled at picking musical lineups as they are at penetrating space.  

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