Last weekend I was at the Outside Lands 2011 music festival in Golden Gate Park. It was a great event with three days of music from four stages. And San Francisco's relentless grey summer fog lifted for two days -- it was a very happy crowd.
Discovering new music all in one place is a great way to spend three days and there was lots of music that was new to me.
It was also good to be in a large mass of people, and I realized how rare it is to be in large crowds in the tens of thousands and to see so many people at the same time. It felt like I was checking in with my larger community, the one I only see through other channels, mostly media channels of one kind or another. Yet here was a totally unmediated experience.
I started thinking about the word and taking it apart: "un-media-ted" and how wonderfully descriptive it is, especially in the context of our media soaked experience of the world.
How much of the world do we get to experience that is unmediated -- that is not consumed through one kind of media or another? There's not much, at least not much that's meaningful.
I realized that meaningful unmediated experiences of the world are rare and that's why it felt extra good to have this experience at Outside Lands.
In that spirit, I'm putting together a collection of videos I've found on Youtube and elsewhere, that capture some of the spirit and fun of Outside Lands.
It's all found footage from fans, most of it is shaky, some of it is extremely well shot, but all of it comes from fans that are really into the music, you hear the crowd sing, the camera waves with the hands in the air... there's some great scenes.
Say it ain't so...
Up top is an example of Foster the People doing a cover of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So." You are right in center front, in the middle of the crowd, singing along. It's the closest we can get to an unmediated experience of being at Outside Lands.
And I've collected lots more of these found fan videos into
, it's essentially a crowd generated documentary pieced together from hundreds of video camera phones.
I've organized the project in Pearltrees because it has a great media viewer and you can easily share the entire collection. Plus, I can recruit a team of people working with me to curate the collection, by searching for new uploads, checking the quality of the videos, and throwing out the worst ones.
If you were at Outside Lands, or you are a fan of some of the bands there, please team up with me on this Pearltrees project -- you can become part of the first Pearltrees documentary!
If you missed Outside Lands 2011 please browse my Pearltree, you can choose by artist name and jump straight to their performance.
I'm still curating the collection but the first five have been sorted according to the best videos, the weakest are left in a "rest of videos" pearltree. But the work is not done so if you'd like to team up with me and find and add new videos, please send me a request. It's really easy to use Pearltrees in a collaborative project.
Here's the Outside Lands collection I curated for The Decemberists. Check out the incredible "Down By The Water." Another great found video. There's lots more.
Here's the Arcade Fire collection. Check out the first video (below), you are right in the middle of the crowd happy and excited to be there, waiting for the band to come on. Then as the band starts "Wake Up" a crowd favorite, everyone is singing and waving, and you'll be too! There's tremendous emotional power in these videos. It's good payback for the camera shake you have to endure at times with these videos. (I'd love to run them through iMovie's anti-shake correction, it wouldn't take long.)
Don't miss the second video too, the incredible performance by Mavis Staples and Win Butler in a cover of "The Weight."
The most memorable show was Girl Talk, which surprised me because listening to the music before the festival I was just mildly interested. But the show was so good.
It was just one man and his computer. He had the whole meadow full of happy and singing people -- the vibe was tremendous. Fans filled the stage, and you couldn't tell where the performer and audience started or ended -- the whole performance became one happy, pulsating crowd. And the music was a superb mix of musical icons, cultural passages that each evoked a mass of additional connections. A great live show.
Outside Lands 2011 watched from the crowd...
Here's the entire Outside Lands found footage Pearltree, you can browse it, you can add it to you collection, which means when I update it your copy gets updated too. Also, you can team up with me and help me curate the entire project.
I hope you enjoy this collection of found fan videos. And you can leave comments on the videos to thank the hundreds of fans that created this documentary of three days of great music at Outside Lands 2011.