The traveling rave/rock/DJ culture circus that is Area:Two rolled into the San Francisco Bay Area yesterday, bringing with it bands, DJs, extreme lifestyle elements, and of course, ENDLESS FUNNY LOOKING PEOPLE. But I digress...The first act of the day was the stellar quartet from Northern Ireland, Ash. They played virtually the same set they had rocked at popscene two months ago, but their energy, attitude and songs shone through, even if their set was sadly under attended due to their 3:45 PM set time.
I scrambled over to catch the end of The Avalanches' DJ set. Yet again, not much different than their popscene set of last November, but it didn't matter here, either: I have never seen a better DJ for a varied party atmosphere than these Australians. There is no pretense, no attitude, no DJ bullshit, just great song choices and incredible DJ skills. The amassed crowd was a bit confused, most likely expecting 4/4 typical DJ fare, but typical this duo isn't. They dropped Chemical Brothers' "It Began in Afrika" seamlessly into the intro to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns 'n' Roses and also worked "Don't Stand So Close To Me" by the Police and an MC5 track in, just in the 10 minutes I caught. Their set is amazing, the perfect DJ set for people who love music and have a sense of humor about it all.
Back to the main stage for Blue Man Group, then. What the hell was THAT, exactly? It was like a fantasy band for role playing gamers. It was like attending Rocky Horror Picture Show and not knowing any of the routines. The show seemed perfect for Las Vegas and the other eight band members' matching outfits made me wonder if they all had matching Nikes and were awaiting their UFO mother ship to take them away to heaven...
Now, I don't know Busta Rhymes from Busta Brown, but for the second straight year, hip hop stole the show at Area: Two. Following in the footsteps of Outkast, Busta and crew managed to convert the standoff-ish, primarily white crowd into a bunch of hootin' and hollerin' fools jumping around just 25 minutes into his set. I have no idea what songs he played, save for the last one mentioning Courvoisier, but the beats were phat, the flow tight and the set tied for the best of the evening. Tied with the next artist, the ultimate pop chameleon, David Bowie.
Bowie came on stage with an amalgamation of band members, about eight strong, and seemingly, all from the Island of Misfit Band Members. There was fake Nikki Sixx/Tommy Lee on guitar as well as cut-rate Little Steven, pseudo Debbie from Curve/Echobelly, wannabe Paul Shaffer meets Michael Chiklis, and discount Johnny Rotten, with the master of ceremonies himself coming on stage looking like Chairman Kaga of Iron Chef. No matter, the misfits backed the man up well, as they worked through classics like "Ashes To Ashes," "Fame," "China Girl," "Heroes," "Let's Dance," and show closer, the timeless and chill-producing "Ziggy Stardust." He also played a lot of material off Heathen, which I wasn't familiar with, and there was no "Rebel, Rebel" or "Suffragette City," but what did I have to complain about, really?
Tour organizer Moby was on next. I'd seen him about seven times touring on Play and this wasn't much different. He played some songs and said some things. But I can't tell you what they were, because I left. I even know where the aftershow party was, but I didn't go there, either. Even Tripwire correspondents need to sleep sometime.