‘This Ain’t No Picnic’ – California Irvine Oak Canyon Ranch

An undeniable success - [a]Belle & Sebastian[/a] would be proud...

For the first time in their eight-year career, [a]Grandaddy[/a] are walking around completely unnoticed. Unabomber-looking, gruff, ginger-bearded men with shifty eyes beneath dark sunglasses, charity shop [I]savor faire[/I], and pasty pale skin, for the first and probably last time ever, are completely in fashion.

And though the second annual Picnic, a lo-fi, indie Americana fest, is a haven of sorts for indie boy and girl freaks and geeks, the fact that [a]Grandaddy[/a] are completely indistinguishable on stage is a tragic shame because in true rock n’ roll fashion they are throwing a fit. Don Caballero, on the stage just adjacent, are caught up in a whirlwind of cacophony having decided that even though they don’t know what each other are playing due to some amp problems, it seems a good idea to compensate by just playing loud. After looking at their watches, [a]Grandaddy[/a], feathers suitably ruffled, decide they’ve had enough and cut right in over them. Fantastic. And the songs, full-bodied indie, like ‘Hewlett’s Daughter’, are top too.

They look like such quiet, brooding souls, these indie boys, but the Led Zeppelin within certainly is exorcised, especially with Texas-bred At The Drive In. Like Zack de la Rocha of RATM fronting a wild ’70s rock combo, ATDI are chaotic, tossing mic stands, jumping from amps, and slamming into the photographer’s pit as they speed rock and wail. Shortly afterwards Built to Spill seem to have left the spirit of a motorcycle hotel corridor commando at home, but they do manage to sneak past the credibility police a rather faithful cover of Macy Gray‘s ‘I Try’ in their breezy set.

New Jersey trio Yo La Tengo though, creep up sly and spacey before churning out a rip-roaring extended jam that spirals into guitar twirling mayhem, while on the second stage, Delta 72 channel Keith Moon and Iggy Pop climbing rafters and surrounding shrubbery as they pummel ferocious, glammed up bluesy rock.

Oddly enough though when the most rock ‘n’ roll star of the festival finally steps on stage, he’s plays the most un-rock ‘n’ roll of his career. “To have a day like this, I just think it’s fuckin’ cool,” the pop anomaly Beck stops to ponder. “Music in the state it’s at . I feel like a refugee. There’s some cool shit out there but [the other stuff] takes up a lot of room.” He says before ‘Bottle Of Blues’. Charmingly acoustic, it’s arguably Beck‘s most serious ever performance. He looks like a young Dylan as he strums along with the weight of his generation, relishing in songs like ‘Ziplock Bag’ (first ever live airing he says) and ‘Nobody’s Fault But My Own’. Though he does manage a chirpy ‘Devil’s Haircut’ to close it down, proving that you don’t necessarily have to rock to rock, the Picnic is an undeniable success. Belle and Sebastian would be so proud.

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