Only for my closest friends would I traverse San Francisco from the Outer Sunset to Fisherman’s Wharf and back, a journey of no small consequence. Well, for them and the Buena Vista’s famous Irish coffee. Off I went.
The drive, which can take 45 minutes on a average day, passed in under 30. My parking angel stayed with me. Getting a table at the Buena Vista on the other hand, not so easy. Aquiring one on a crowded Sunday morning requires circling around seated diners as they pay the bill, asserting your intention to take over, then sliding into a seat the second it’s vacated. My friends and I followed the script, only to be upstaged by some folks who announced, “We’re sharing your table,” as they claimed the other half. Well played.
Sharing a table isn’t a problem as long as everyone sticks to the etiquette of ignoring the other party. Like when you’re in an elevator or on a subway. We all exist in our personal space and as long as you don’t intrude into mine or require me to acknowledge you in some way, perfect. Their group stayed inclusive. Our group stayed inclusive. Which wasn’t much different from my Outside Lands experience, except I was a group unto myself.
Media tent moment: I’d taken a seat in the prime corner, momentarily bereft of hotshots, and was happily contemplating my schedule when a crew sat down a table over.
“So, who are you guys with?” some bearded standing guy in a tight T-shirt asked them.
“Juxtapoz,” one of the seated guys answered from behind his Ray-Bans.
“Whoa,” bearded guy said. “You guys are the shit. Seriously. I haven’t even unfollowed you.”
Meanwhile, swank-hatted ladies in bubble shades crowded in and sighed at their phones. I collected myself, stepped over their big purses, past the Juxtapoz photogs who were still being stroked by bearded guy (a Juxtapoz-er, ha!) and went for some fresh air, a heightened awareness of my baggy jeans and Tevas accompanying me. I probably grabbed another free beer on the way out and I definitely tipped, unlike many of my media brethren. I worked in the service industry, damn it. I paid dues. I loved the privilege of having a comfy, safe retreat from the crowds – thank you, oh lord, for this press pass, amen – but the music was the reason.
Brothers Comatose: Kicked ass. Covered Ryan Adams’ “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad Is To Be High),” one of the all-time great songs, and aced it. Tears welled. I loved Brothers Comatose and everyone who loved Brothers Comatose, and, yes, this was without any alcohol influence, wholly sincere. Music moves a girl, especially when done with the sort of gracefulness that lingers.
Jenny Lewis: Stretched out on the grass, in the sunshine, with several hundred other fans soaking in the sweetness of Jenny Lewis. Her songs are like having your favorite candy passed out for free. I would’ve stayed the whole time, but –
Spoon: These guys are just stupid good. Every song is good. Their demeanor is that of laid-back guys you want to hang out with at the river or maybe while they jam in their garage, but they’ll take a break when you bring out the cheese plate. They won’t complain you bought horrible gluten-free crackers by mistake. They’re wonderful. Smart, funny, friendly. They should run for class president. I’d be annoyed if they didn’t distract me with one perfectly crafted, slightly off-kilter song after another.
And then I had to split, get to the car, get on the road. Long drive home. I ducked past the fans, out the gate, strode the mile-point-five to my car, pausing in admiration as the sun shimmered off the Pacific like it was posting for an N-Judah postcard.
Goodbye, San Francisco. You did me right.