Yo La Tengo performs at the Arrow stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Photo under  Creative Commons by btwashburn
Yo La Tengo performs at the Arrow stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Photo under Creative Commons by btwashburn

Festival Review: Friday Recap

By Airha Dominguez

With temperatures in the nineties, festival-goers walk barefoot on the grass, refill their bottled waters, and reapply sunscreen after each performance. Thousands have gathered at Golden Gate Park for day one of the fourteenth annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival started back in 2001, when founder Herman Warren, worked with other San Francisco organizers to create a festival that celebrated music. Originally, the festival was one day, one stage, and twelve performances. Now, the festival is a three-day long event, with seven stages and 120 performances.  This year’s performers include popular headliners like Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, Social Distortion, and Ryan Adams.

Yo La Tengo, an indie rock band from New Jersey, was one of many artists who performed Friday night at the Arrow Stage. Ira Kaplan, the vocalist and guitarist of the band, played his electric guitar passionately, closing his eyes and focusing on the music while fans danced. 

Alternative country star, Ryan Adams, performed with a more romantic tone at the Banjo Stage. Adams performed, “Come Pick Me Up,” the melodramatic ballad from his debut solo album, Heartbreaker.

Friday’s festival gathered a diverse audience, from college students to families with their kids.

Sofia Mehta, a country music lover, made her own schedule of the bands she wanted to see, and kept the sheet of paper folded in her wallet.

“My friends like different music, but everyone comes to see different musicians,” she said. “I’m here to see John Prine who is a legend of the country music.”

Jennifer Adrian, a San Francisco resident, said this was her first time attending this event. She waited to see Ryan Adams perform.

“It’s crowded, but everyone is very respectful,” she says.

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The crowd during Built to Spill’s performance at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Saturday October 4, 2014. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Festival Review: Overall Recap

By Calla Camero

Fans made the most of San Francisco’s heat this past weekend by attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. Temperatures reached a record high on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the heatwave and festival were in sync perfectly with one another to bring the city’s residents together.

The lineup this year did not disappoint as classic bands like Social Distortion, Poor Man’s Whiskey, The Aquabats!, Built to Spill, Whograss, Deltron 3030 with the 3030 Orchestra and more, joined one another to produce not just bluegrass-folk-dancing music, but also headbangers and rock anthems alike. The fourteenth annual music festival has certainly extended its genres beyond its early bands of “strictly” folk and bluegrass.

Doug Martsch (guitar) and Steve Gere (drums), of band Built to Spill, perform at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Saturday October 4, 2014. ( Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)
Doug Martsch (guitar) and Steve Gere (drums), of band Built to Spill, perform at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Saturday October 4, 2014. ( Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

The change in music did not seem to bother the audience. According to promoters, the festival drew an estimated crowd of 750,000 people joining in on some free music, free sunbathing, and extremely expensive food. Nevertheless, people of all ages showed up. The audience included a mix people, from an older crowd and college students, to families with moms and dads jamming together with their children, many of which couldn’t sit still due to all the commotion. It seemed as though the whole city was there for a good three days together.

Attendees dressed accordingly for the classic San Francisco event despite the extreme heatwave. A woman was seen wearing ram horns whilst holding a wine cooler and jamming out to Built to Spill. A man in a sequence and rainbow onesie, all pulled together with a silver cane made an appearance at the (very fitting) Gold Stage on Saturday afternoon. There were tons of aloha shirts, flower headbands and flower crowns, since this is San Francisco after all.

Overall, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass weekend had a great turnout, despite the expensive food, blistering heat, and the Giants game to distract from bringing people together and remembering what the festival really represents. Good music and good people.