General Public, Elastica, Phunk Junkeez Rock BFD2

ATN San Francisco correspondent Frank Morales filed these notes on

BFD2, the all-day rock festival presented by San Francisco "modern

rock" station Live 105 on Friday, June 9 at the Shoreline Amphitheater

in Mountain View, just south of San Francisco: General Public sounded

ten times better than anyone else on the bill at BFD2. Actually, by

the time they were about to take the stage, after watching bands for

like five hours, I'd forgotten who was going to go on next. After

seeing a number of not so good performances, I was teasing my friends

that another arty Brit band was going to go on and wimp out. Instead,

General Public took the stage. Tune after tune was excellent. Totally

great ska stuff. These guys used to be the English Beat, and they've

got lots of cool material to draw on. I liked the old tunes, I liked

the new tunes. I was with five other people, and all of us thought

General Public ruled. They had the entire crowd on it's feet and

dancing the whole time. They teased the audience a lot, announcing:

"This will be our last song." Then they'd play something great like

"Mirror in the Bathroom." Then they'd announce another "last song." If

you're into gear (I am) Dave Wakeling, one of the lead singers, was

playing a Vox teardrop guitar; Ranking Roger had on a white suit with

strings hanging off the back. "Rainy Days" off the new album was

excellent, "Sooner or Later" sound good after all these years, and

they did a soulful cover of "I'll Take You There." The set really

rocked.

This year, who ever put together BFD2 had a good idea. They had two

stages. The main stage, and a punk stage. That way, bands could play

longer sets, and you almost always had two choices.

I missed the opening act, Matthew Sweet. As I arrived, Better Than

Ezra was on. Was it my imagination or do they sound like Live? Lot of

emoting vocals a la Live or Eddie Vedder. Melodramatic crescendo rock.

The next to last song they did was their hit, "Good," which was

very good. They did a medley in the middle of "Good" that consisted of

two Prince tunes-- "I Will Cry For You" and "When Doves Cry" --and an

old Frampton Comes Alive tune. Kind of cool to see someone

throw Prince and Frampton into the middle of their own tune.

It was a nice day, warm and sunny but with a cool breeze. The punk

stage was a whole lot cooler than the main. Because of the energy.

Lots of people crammed in, lots of crowd surfin'. Not a violent pit but

a mellow pit. Women were crowd surfing too. The show started at 2 PM

and went until about 11. I left at 8:30 PM, missing Chris Isaak and

Bush and Duran Duran. Excuse me, Duran Duran? I'm not fucking

interested.

Belly came on after Better Than Ezra. Hard-edged power pop sound.

Workman-like set with the exception of "Super Connected," which

rocked, and was played with conviction. After Belly, I went to the

punk stage at 4:15 and saw one of the highlights of the day: the Phunk

Junkeez. They remind me of Infectious Grooves. Two white rappers.

One guy playing guitar through Marshall amps for a hard-edged guitar

sound, a scratcher, a bass player and a drum kit. They played

rap-hard rock fusion music. Punk rap. The singers jumped all over the

place. One singer climbed onto the stage right speaker platform, ten

feet above stage, and dived into the crowd. Played "B-Boy Hard" which

was really rockin, really cool. With a super funky bass line and

thrash guitar. I always thought "hard rap meets hard rock" would be a

good idea 'cause they would like one another. Phunk Junkeez prove I

was right. People were throwing all kinds of stuff into the air. A

shirt, paper cups, even a piece of pizza. And a 40 or 50 gallon trash

can. Someone threw it up and everyone passed it around and bounced it

into the air like big beach ball. That started during "I Love It

Loud." One of the lead singers ripped off his shirt, and changed into a

gold lame short-sleeved shirt. Then they played "Chuck" ("What the

fuck, Chuck"). Gratuitous. Over and over they chant "what the fuck,

what the fuck, Chuck." Boring. But I really enjoyed them. Before the

last tune, one of the singers lamented, "How come no stage divers.

There are only one or two security guys. Why can't you rush the

stage?" After that three people made it up.

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I bailed and went to the main stage in time to catch Elastica.

Minimalist British power pop. Fender guitars with lots of reverb. One

of the tunes had a kind of Peter Gunn vamp. Personally, it didn't

impress me. Minimalist bare bones British power pop that doesn't

appeal to me. Cute. But people towards the front were jumping around.

One girl, who said her name was Nancy, turned to me and asked, "You

writing about this?" When I nodded, she said, "Elastica has no

stretch." Take that as you will. "Connection" get the crowd up. It's

THE SONG, right. After a slow start, I warmed up to them. They

finished with "Connection," "Blue" and a final song I didn't

recognize. They got better. Shoreline is a tough place to play,

especially when you get 10 minutes to set up your gear, and probably

no decent sound check. You could see by the time Elastica hit the last

three tunes, they were beginning to really rock. They won me over with

the last three songs. At the end of their set one of the members said,

"Maybe you can come see us at a club some time." I think they felt a

bit uncomfortable playing to such a large crowd.

After that I went back to the punk stage. At 5:20 I got there in

middle of Sublime's set. Friends have been telling me about this band.

They look like the hardest guys you could imagine. Big, hard-looking

guys. Bald white guys, huge arms, tattoos everywhere. Heavy duty punk

guys. Kind of guys you hate to see wading into the pit 'cause you know

they're gonna bust some heads. But then they played this smooth boy

reggae. Really nice mellow reggae stuff. Really dug them.

I must digress. Everett and Jones Super-Q make the BEST Bar-B-Q

sauce. Usually you have to go across the tracks to find one of their

rib joints. It's the kind of place where you've got to bring your own

container for the sauce. You get ribs on a paper plate with a scoop of

nasty potato salad. But now they've got a new outlet at Shoreline and

believe me that's where I ended up. Me and my friends going for the

good ribs. Cool to find that kind of real food there, really cool.

After Sublime, I went back to the main stage to check out Catherine

Wheel. They came on stage all dressed in tight black and reminded me

of that guy on "Saturday Night Live." I think it was Michael Meyers

who did this routine about a German public access art show on TV.

"Now's the time ven vee dance." He was making fun of the artsy New

York crowd who are into all things Berlin. Well Catherine Wheel look

like that. Short hair, wearing absolute black, all playing black or

white instruments. Drummer has a black drum kit. Really going for the

style. Only color on stage was from the little red cups of water on

the amps. The music was like stadium rock. Really dramatic, everyone

through double Marshall stacks. In style, not sound, they reminded me

of U2 or something. Very much in the stadium rock mode. It was

interesting but I didn't really like it that much. My friends say

their stuff on the albums is a lot spacier. Live they sounded hard

rocky. Several people I was with really liked them. Stadium rock for

sure but they did it well. But they looked too professional and

weren't emotional enough. I like organic things, not people

presenting a show, an act. It felt a little artificial.

Missed Mike Watt at the punk stage while watching Catherine Wheel.

Damn! Missed Ned's Atomic Dust Bin too, which was kind of a drag. I

really wanted to see them. Then it was General Public. They have a lot

of good tunes to draw on, and their experience of doing this for 15

years really shows. Rocked the place for a good hour.

Wish I'd seen Bush. I saw them recently at Slim's and they were great.

Overall, I thought most of the bands I saw had their moments that

sounded good, but their overall sets were fairly weak. Except for

General Public. They rocked! The punk stage bands had a lot more

emotion and involvement; it was more fun. Long day, but fun. Would

have liked to have stayed so I could dust Duran Duran, but what can I

say, all my friends wanted to leave. So we did.