Undercover Cover Lovers

Heading into last weekend’s Cultivate Festival in Golden Gate Park, I was admittedly more excited about the beer and wine tasting than I was about the musical performances. And while I’m not saying anything changed, necessarily, at any point during my Saturday afternoon*, I did have a great time from my stage-right lawn vantage. No surprise, I suppose, considering how much I enjoy a good cover tune…

The day started, as all good weekend mornings should, with brunch and nerdy music arguments. IP’s assertion that the best Shins song is their cover of Postal Service’s “We Will Become Silhouettes” was less controversial from the perspective of a Shins fan (I think I was the only one) than it was from the general music fan’s stance on whether or not any band’s “best” song can be a version of someone else’s song.

Disagreeing with IP only makes him more resolute. Jimi Hendrix was invoked, but nobody seemed to want to weigh in on “All Along the Watchtower.” But when he dared suggest that Starfucker’s finest track was their Cyndi Lauper cover, shit got intense.

“You can say that it’s the best version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” argued RF. “But you can’t tell me that it’s their best song.”

“Sure I can.”

“There’s something wrong with a band whose best song is a cover.” Everyone at the table agreed. Except IP.

Fast forward a few hours to me standing in Hellman Hollow with a beer in one hand and a plate of Chipotle pork belly gorditas in the other. MMJ was kind enough to hold all my provisions so that I could look through my phone at all the people looking at the concert through their phones. At one point the couple in front of me was simultaneously recording the entire set by [that one guy who was in that one early-aughts pop punk band but then was in some other band and is now performing solo but apparently only playing material from that some other band. with a piano] on their two separate devices. Fascinating.

ooh, nice camera angle, honey.
ooh, nice camera angle, honey.

RF, et al, packed up and left just as Charli XCX was starting her abrasive set. I lost sight of them when she and her band started up with “I Want Candy,” but they must have still been in earshot, because our nearly identical texts to each other crossed streams: “There’s something wrong with a band whose best song is a cover.”

Neon Trees closed it out, and they were my reminder that a good performance by a mediocre band is still a great way to spend an afternoon. Especially when they inflate a giant brain onstage and perform The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?”

*Ooh la la saison: props to Pine Street Brewery for their “Menagerie,” but a thumbs down to Pacific Brewing Laboratory for their hibiscus “Nautilus.”

Oh, and one final postscript: thank you, Chipotle, for sponsoring this free event. Don’t listen to the crazy lady who is protesting your “exploitation of Mexican culture.” Hell, I didn’t even realize “Mexican Grill” was part of your chain’s name. MMJ will be the first to tell you that what you’re serving ain’t Mexican.

missingmexicansWhen I think Chipotle, and the image they’re trying to convey, I think local ingredients (wasn’t that the theme of the food and beverage offerings?) and giant black-and-white closeups of barn doors or warehouse hooks or somesuch architectural oddities.

If anything, maybe we should protest the lack of local bands in their festival lineup.

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