It was around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night at Outside Lands, when Stevie Wonder and his band went into "Living For the City," that the festival's reverence for the past became most painful.
Over on the Twin Peaks stage, Skrillex, the black-clad millionare monster at the top of EDM food chain, was just about to do his Bladerunner-bass thing. Flocks of younger fans, having already gotten their fill of Stevie, were streaming back across the Polo Fields toward him and the other side of the festival.
Wonder had used the hour he'd been onstage not just to play his own songs, but to invoke the whole 20th century of Black American music: He'd tipped his hat to Michael Jackson with a gorgeous cover of "The Way You Make Me Feel." He'd covered the great bluesman Jimmy Reed. Later he would revisit the Temptations' "My Girl." And of course he played his own songs -- which, like "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)," and "Higher Ground," are more like basic elements of the American atmosphere than mere hits, they appear so regularly in everyday life.More »