The Top Five Covers of Outside Lands 2010
|Al Green's soul medley on Sunday had us wearing a stupid grin.|
5. "Deep Ellum Blues" by the Levon Helm Band
In a tight running with Helm's version of the classic tearjerker "Long Black Veil," this Grateful Dead cover had the 70-year-old former drummer of the Band out from behind the kit jammin' on a mandolin. Paired up against the guttural throb of Bassnectar on the other side of the festival, Helm's steerage of this song's deep shuffle proved to a mixed-age crowd that dance-worthy grooves don't only come from boxes with buttons.
Maybe this doesn't count as a proper cover, but it plastered far too many grins on the faces of Saturday's throng of Strokes fans not to mention. Singer Julian Casablancas, having warned us of his fairly intense state of intoxication, decided to have a little fun during "Last Nite," and threw in a couple winking lines from Tom Petty's iconic "American Girl." This juxtaposition has a history -- the Strokes basically lifted Petty's riff for their breakout single, and Petty has more or less said he doesn't care. So in keeping with the self-mocking tone of Casablancas' between-song comments on Saturday, the singer decided to remind us just how much debt he owes to the great Petty. Like the rest of his mumbling, it made us laugh.
Speaking of debt owed to former greats -- partial repayment of which is often the point of playing covers in the first place -- Bob Marley's youngest son lit up a big crowd Sunday evening by playing one of his father's hits. Sped-up just slightly, but with much of the instrumentation totally intact, Nas and Marley's "Could This Be Love" was immediately recognizable and kind of thrilling -- no matter how tired we are of seeing Bob Marley posters on college dorm-room walls.
2. Soul hits medley by Al Green
1. "Time" by Furthur
"Time," as almost any fan of rock music can tell you, begins with an explosion of alarm clocks. On Saturday evening, when an eerily familiar alarm-clock rattle radiated around the sprawling polo fields of Golden Gate Park, we wondered for a tiny moment what it could mean. Then the washy opening chord progression of the Pink Floyd classic rushed through the giant main-stage P.A., and what we had hoped for came true: Futhur were covering Floyd. The former Dead members more or less recreated the watery instrumental dimensions of the original, and even their vocals didn't sound that bad. The killer, though, was John Kadlecik's soaring rendition of the original guitar solo, which left us dazzled enough to almost not get bored when the band took the song into endless-jam territory. But the first five minutes were so good, those alone can count as the best cover of Outside Lands 2010.
These are the great covers we caught at Outside Lands. What other great ones did you witness? Tell us in the comments.
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