You know, Sunday started out so inconspicuously. By day numero trés we were practically marinating in hubris over our stellar planning abilities. Public transportation? Piece of cake. We conquered the BART, the Muni was barely a blip on our radars as we jingle-jangled down Market with pockets full of change. Food? Forgettaboutit. We'd figured it all out. By Sunday we had a plan in place that would inch us as close to the front of the Twin Peaks stage as we were going to get, and with this plan, the idea that we would be experiencing Stars, Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene, and Wilco in their full front-row glory since the stars had aligned, placing our top favorites in the same location for the duration of the festival.
It was flawless. We just had to make a quick pit stop at the Oakland Enterprise Rent-a-Car to add Janelle and I as drivers on the rental Mike commandeered for the trip. He was flying home early for work, and the idea was that in order to get our tired arses back home, we'd add J and I as drivers at the last possible moment: the most cost-efficient and dare I say it, brilliant way of beating the system. I felt particularly puffed up with pride that morning as it was most certainly my idea to wait until Sunday to add drivers. We pulled into the parking lot at 9 a.m. as I was still wiping the sleep out of my eyes and marveling at the mass of erudite brilliance floating between my ears. I hopped out of the car and strolled to the darkened glass door.
Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.Sunday -
wait a second.
Sunday - CLOSED.
Panic. Mike's face at that moment went gray and melted into the looming marine layer. "It's FINE," I chirped, fumbling with my phone. "Um..."
Mike suggested I call the San Francisco Airport, since surely their location would be open. 411 connected the call--ring, ring--"Welcome to Enterprise Rent-a-Car! Our offices are currently closed."
I hung up the phone. We were driving now, aimlessly and without purpose or direction. Mike glanced in my direction. "They're closed, aren't they?"
"I'm going to have to drive it home. I have to drive it home. I have to miss the show and my flight and drive it home," Mike resolved, and the terrible weight of those words began to sink in.
"No, no-nononono-nonono-no-no. No. There has to be something we can do," I reasoned pitifully. Finally I decided to call the Enterprise HQ. A few minutes of John Mayer hold music later,
"Enterprise Rent-a-Car headquarters, this is Chiquita."
Oh, of course.
"Chiquita, I'm having a bit of a dilemma," I said. Her advice was like a miraculous Godsend: Just go to the San Francisco Airport. Yes, they're open. Yes, I have the hours in front of me. Yes, ma'am, seven days a week. Sure, I can connect you. Thank you. Thank you. Is there anything else I can do? Scrape Mike's stomach off the asphalt where it plummeted a few minutes ago? No, ma'am, no. Can't do that.
So with no map and barely a clue, we set out from Oakland to the San Francisco Airport. Three and a half hours after our carefully laid plans combusted into a vaporous cloud over Oakland, we arrived at the festival, found our friends camped out at the front of the stage, and promptly downed an icy Heineken.
Thank heaven for corporate sponsorship.
Driving across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.
A detour, but a fun one; Jeff Buckley was singing at this point
And every breath we drew was hallelujah
Once we settled in, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. Looming above me and lit by the sun was my good friend Adam, who surprised us by showing up at the festival at the last minute. Below is a video he took of the day, and the middle portion is me realizing who he was.
What in the--? ADAM!
But what about the music? Oh, that.
The music, I'm delighted to say, was euphoric. After Stars' so-so set, I settled in and offered up my heart, my dowry, and the fourth finger on my left hand to Andrew Bird, whose honey-smooth whistling and whiplash performance nearly turned my knees to jelly and set my spine ablaze. In his special whistle-language I imagined he said to me, "Laurel, you are the shizz-nit. Can I please be Mr. Laurel Dailey?"
Oh, Andrew. You can.
Our surprise visiter
Amy Millan of Stars
Mr. Laurel Dailey
No, really. I would follow him to the ends of the earth.
Maybe further if he promised to buy me a puppy.
But OH! How that was only the beginning! Broken Social Scene swarmed the stage following my special date with Andrew Andrew Bird's performance. They pulled out all the stops on this, their last show of the summer, coaxing the crowd into a dazed, contented sway during "Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl," and completely, unyieldingly obliterating us all with "7/4 (Shoreline)," "Fire Eye'd Boy," and Brendan Canning's "Churches Under the Stairs." It was a woozy mish-mash of musicians and exhilaration; The final call-and-response Kevin Drew initiated with the crowd sent a shiver racing from the top of my head down to my heels, despite baking in the unexpected afternoon sun. Oh, and did I mention that the guitarist from Pavement came out and played with them? 'Cuz he totally did.
Liz from Broken Social Scene
Collapsing in a heap on the grass following their performance, we were surrounded on all sides by a crush of bodies all vying for a coveted spot near the stage for the grand finale of the day: Wilco.
From the moment I forked over my two-fiddy for this festival, the one thing I was looking forward to the most was dancing in the golden light of late Summer to Wilco, who are, by my estimation, the most perfect festival band to ever grace the mottled grassy hallowed ground of Summer festivals across the world. And I was not disappointed.
As the sun blasted through our waving arms and swaying heads, Jeff Tweedy plucked a handful of perfect songs from his expansive oeuvre and gave them to Nels Cline, who is the definitive and final Guitar Hero of the current world. By the time Tweedy paid tribute to those revered California stars, I and everyone around me, exhaled in perfect unison, the absolute end to an outstanding festival.
I'm saving my pennies for next year.